If you are looking for something really original, unique, hand-crafted, made in Madrid, these are “mis favoritos” places to shop:
1. Casa Hernanz (18, Calle de Toledo.) This shoe shop is certainly the most known of all the factories of espadrilles in Spain. Everything has been handmade since its beginning over 160 years ago and it has been owned by the same family for five generations. Observe the long wooden counter that dates back to the19th century. The espadrilles were traditional footwear for peasants, but in 1960 Yves Saint Laurent’s top models wore them at a fashion show. Since then, they’ve been deemed high fashion. Experience the unique service at this historic shoe shop. No credit cards accepted!
2. Casa de Diego (Sol Sq.) This is the most famous atelier and shop for holding hand fans, walking sticks and umbrellas. It opened at Puerta del Sol in 1858. All the items are first-quality and hand-made and the fans are real works of art, like the fan used by Princess Leticia at her wedding. Here you’ll find a wide inventory of fans, ranking from plain to fancy. Some fans tend to be a bit overpriced, so shopping around may increase your chances of finding a real bargain.
3. La Violeta Shop (Canalejas Sq.) This shop sells sweets made with violet essence (the flavour of Madrid). It was a success from the very beginning. We do not know why King Alfonso XIII decided to make this special kind of sweets but probably because there are many violets in the mountains located at the north of Madrid. Legend says that King Alfonso XIII usually bought violets for his "official" wife, Queen Victoria Eugenia and also for his "second" wife. At least in this type of arrangement it was an easy way not to mix up the presents!
4. Loewe (7, Gran Via St.) Luxury Madrilenian brand specialized in finest quality leather goods and accessories since 1846. This is the most elegant leather store in town. My favourite is the Leather Icons, essential pieces of leather clothing designed in a minimal style. And I´m already a fan of Loewe´s Amazona style bag, a classic bag for cool Madrilena girls.
5. Seseña (23, Cruz St.). The best place in the World to buy a Cape (The cape is a stylish outwear piece that opens in the front, covers the shoulders and has no sleeves). Since the 16th century, the Spanish cape has been always the garment of choice for those who like to dress with distinction and today is still symbolizes classical fashion. In fact Dior introduced the Capes in his 2012 Winter Haute Couture Collection.
Are you exhausted yet? Enjoy a Chocolate! Chocolateria San Ginés (5, Pasadizo de San Gines). The fried strip doughs with a hot thick chocolate cream (“Chocolate con Churros”) is a Madrilian specialty, and this is the place to try it. They are eaten for breakfast, at mid-afternoon, or before going to bed after a night out; the place closes at 4am! Or what do you think about a cocktail under the stars? The urban landscape that you can see on the terrace roof of the Me Hotel (Santa Ana Sq.) will be your best trip souvenir.
Thanks for the shopping tips, Gemma! If any travelers want to know more about Madrid’s contemporary culture and its storied history, start a conversation with Gemma, and maybe meet up with her on your next trip to the Spanish capital.