Barcelona: The New Mecca of Shoes
For shopping addicts, there is no fix as satisfying as finding fabulous shoes at an attainable price. These days, sadly, if you’re craving a fashion forward style in luxurious material that won’t leave your feet looking as if they’ve been through Chinese binding, the price tag is upwards of $400. In Barcelona, however, shoes are a right – not just a privilege for those who can afford it.
We first noticed it at the airport. Ever take a look around and see what kind of footwear people are travelling in? It’s usually a sneaker, an Ugg, or something equally comfortable and cringe-worthy. But walking towards baggage claim in El Prat is a preview of the best shoes in Europe. Cute and sporty wedge sneakers, chic over the knee boots and smart patent leather flats donned every pair of Spanish feet in the joint.
On the way into the city, we stopped at a small convenience store and, low and behold, right next door was a tiny shoe store! We knew right then and there, this was a city that understood the importance and power of fabulous shoes. It would be our quest to find the most amazing shoes (both style and quality) throughout the city.
Our journey began on Rambla Catalunya, a sprawling boulevard located in Grácia (not to be confused with La Rambla, Barcelona’s most famous shopping street that is little more than the Spaniard version of Times Square – you’ll want to avoid this). The first major find of the day was a tiny boutique that from the window alone boasts colorful prints and smart looking shoes. Inside we found sandals with clean lines and modern hardware, remarkably similar to Celiné’s summer footwear, but at a fraction of the price. A pair of perfect leather gladiator sandals were €69 (we wanted them in every color – black, white and camel!) Your entire summer sandal wardrobe could be had in this place for under 500 bucks. Not bad.
If boots are what you’re after, a few blocks down is Hakei. A Madrid-based brand, this store is an absolute must-stop. Ankle boots, cowboy boots, metallic boots and studded boots all looking like they would sell out of Barney’s in a minute, lined the walls of this rustic-meets-modern shop. Ranging in price from €90 to €190, each pair is slightly unique. You can tell right away when you open the shoe box, the smell of lush leather filling the air, that these are the kind of boots that are special – the kind that will have everyone asking you where they’re from, the kind that will stay in your closet for at least a decade. This place is the real deal.
High off of our newly acquired boho ankle boots, we continued on to Portal de l’Àngel, located just off of Plaça de Catalunya. This little pocket is made up of half a dozen charming, tiny streets that intersect – a very different feel from the sprawling boulevards that Barcelona is famous for. Here too, shoes are the main attraction. Shoe stores are lined up, one after another, their windows packed with dozens of different styles. We even spotted a cobbler sitting in a doorway, making bespoke espadrilles by hand.
Bimba & Lola immediately drew us in with a window metallic wedge sandals and glittery loafers that reminded us of Miu Miu’s glitter-finished brogues. Prices ranged from €65 upwards.
During our shoe spree in Barcelona, one shop girl actually giggled at our over-the-top delight at discovering a pair of color-bock wedge sandals for €70.
“Don’t you have good shoe stores in America?”
“Sure. But not lining every street and boulevard,” we replied.
“Really? Isn’t that how it should be?”
The Must Guide:
Bulevar Rosa, 55-57
Rambla de Catalunya, 57
Bimba & Lola
Carrer de València, 272
Written by Guest Contributors Chloe Popescu and Iris Friedman for EuropeUpClose.com
After having huge success with both a jewelry line and clothing line, mother-daughter writing team Iris Friedman and Chloe Popescu have united their passions for travel and fashion to write about shopping, style and culture across Europe.