For seasoned globe-trotting shoppers who are always on the hunt for something new, nothing is more disheartening than returning from a Mediterranean jaunt with a valise full of banal beach booty: overpriced straw totes, jars of sea salt, body oil—you know the drill. As luck would have it, a new spate of retailers spanning the Mediterranean coastline provides a welcome respite from ubiquitous polyester pareos and bottles of extra-virgin olive oil.
“We search for quality pieces from around the world to create a shopping experience that’s surprising to our customers,” says Jacobo Tilve of Noss boutique in Ibiza. To wit, Tilve stocks hard-to-find labels in his sleek white emporium—a stark contrast to the sea of kiosks hawking neon nightclub gear in the party capital of the world. Sasa Joka espouses the same luxe-minded philosophy, filling Maria, her shop in Dubrovnik, with coveted designers like Rick Owens and Balmain with nary a peasant blouse in sight.
Blame it on e-commerce, which continues to narrow the divide between mainland metropolises and their seaside resorts, but this new generation of style-savvy boutiques has all but cured island retail malaise with merchandise rivaling that of any fashion capital. We scoured Europe’s shorelines, from the Côte d’Azur to the Balearic Islands, for ten retail pit stops geared toward the discerning customer. From a design destination in the Majorcan mountains to an ultra-hip concept store in the port city of Cagliari, these shops are anything but second-rate.