One might think shopping in warmer climates is all about amassing a carry-on luggage’s worth of sequin-encrusted caftans, smock-sleeved blouses and basket-woven totes. Not anymore. A handful of under-the-radar global boutiques are upping the ante with insider fashion labels for a well-heeled clientele for whom serious retail never sleeps—regardless the time zone.
Mileage points notwithstanding, for some travelers the most exciting part about hopping the pond is the shopping. After all, is there a greater moment than eliciting a compliment on a blouse you found while trekking through some faraway land? (“Oh, this? It’s from a hole-in-the-wall shop in Tel Aviv.”) But ever since runway shows started broadcasting endlessly on media outlets, remote resort shops have begun to catch up with the fashion capitals of the world.
“Our clients are looking for special products not present in massive markets,” says Mario Gierotto of Balinese high-concept shop SKS. He stocks his store with international brands fit for a stroll down Manhattan’s Greene Street. “It’s my mission to allow them to shop without going overseas.” Indeed, worldly purveyors of style have started stocking their shops with current season merchandise appropriate for Bergdorf Goodman’s second floor—a far cry from the not-so-old days of navigating ubiquitous Gothic quarters fraught with logo T-shirt and sand-in-a-bottle shops.
Even resort retailers stateside have jumped on the bandwagon, deliberately shunning bikinis and board shorts for season-defying merchandise that flouts typical vacation dress codes. “A lot of the people have second vacation homes in the Hamptons and want something edgier than your average shop on Main Street,” says Jesse Warren, who keeps his Southampton boutique Tenet stocked with a wide range of cult designers for chic-seeking weekenders. Tiny boutique Gypsy in Nantucket trades in über-preppy Lacoste for ultra-luxe Lanvin. Add a dose of decadent parties during high season and you’ve got style destinations worth converting currency for.
As the holiday season approaches, a spate of hyper-curated boutiques beckons the most stylish explorer. From a high-fashion Caribbean emporium in to a bling Mecca in the Alps, sartorial wayfarers are never too far from the most fashionable finds.