Sorry if in the unlikely event that you are one, but the women of Madrid aren’t even close to competing with the Parisiennes in the style stakes. However, aside from the disparity with its decidedly unglamorous inhabitants, Madrid really does hold it’s head up high in the art department (El Prado being one magnificent example) and with it’s huge choice of no brand shoe and bag loveliness.
After landing in Barcelona, we took a train straight to Madrid in order to halve our car journey, through the wilds of Spain, to Seville where we have to be for a wedding on Saturday.
So ostensibly arriving in Madrid straight from Singapore, it’s uber refreshing to be away from all things branded. Yes, they have the all the usual suspects on Calle de Serrano, but even on this street the shops are a lot less shouty than they are on Orchard. Owning luxury branded goods just isn’t important here and doesn’t form a big part of people’s lives…and the city’s all the more lovely for it.
Instead, with a little imagination, you can find beautifully crafted shoes or bags, often in the softest leather, for next to nothing. Sure it’s inevitably, and rather charmingly, going to be a make no one has heard of but it will be as well made, if not better made, than the big guns who exist everywhere. That, and no one else will have it back home.
A case in point are my wonderful espadrilles from Casaner, the premier shop for espadrilles in Spain apparently. Founded in 1927 by Luis Castañer it’s now run by his grandchildren. The scoop is that Hermes (and other labels including Kate Spade) use these guys for their own line of espadrilles; but in Madrid you can pop in to the store and pick up a pair for next to nothing. The sales staff even show you how to tie them (I think after watching me fail pitifully, she could stand it no longer). You have to root around though and there are some rather hideous offerings that almost obliterate the goodies, but that just makes it all the more fun. I love my shoes from here so much, they are steaming and haven’t been off my feet since I bought them.
I also had more great shoe success at El Rastro market, held weekly every Sunday. Being in Madrid on a Sunday (by chance) as well as being a girl who loves a bargain, there was no way I was going to miss this one. Great shoe buy (to the left) for the princely sum of 17 euros.
Prado image via University of Houston