Cape Town is fast becoming a fashion and design destination competing in the same league as New York, Paris and Milan.
And while it’s usually the landscapes, adventure and food that drives visitors to the city, Cape Town also boasts incredible shopping destinations that include the top international brand and local designers with a uniquely South African edge.
Whether you’re looking for high end fashion, bespoke designer ware or the best vintage, here are the top five places to shop in Cape Town.
V&A Waterfront Precinct
With Table Mountain as its backdrop, the V&A Waterfront is a mixed-used, 123-hectare precinct that has become the number one spot for tourists when visiting Cape Town and locals looking for a day out.
The V&A Waterfront is the city’s most popular shopping destination with over 450 stores selling everything from fashion, homeware and curios, to jewellery, leather goods and audio-visual equipment.
If you’re looking for unique, local items, explore the Watershed, a vibrant craft and design space bursting with fresh fashion, art and flavour. It offers 150 makers offering over 365 local brands including the best in local art, ceramics, jewellery, clothing and more.
The Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre is the largest mall in the city center and houses brands from international designers such as Gucci, Burberry, and Chanel to South African favourites.
The revamped Alfred Mall, anchored by the AAFRICAA store, along with 5 other tenants, fills the transition between offerings at Watershed and the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, presenting an exciting boutique offering of design, art and craft.
AAFRICAA’s flagship design emporium is a 450sqm lifestyle mecca and must-visit destination for locals and travellers alike and is a unique new concept store for curated contemporary African design, offering a dynamic retail platform for the continent’s leading contemporary brands and designers.
Kalk Bay is one of the oldest seaside villages located on the coast of False Bay, which hosts an array of cultures, a fully functioning harbour, trendy restaurants and stores. With a history of fisherman, heritage and a laid back culture you are sure to leave Kalk Bay wanting to visit again.
Kalk Bay’s eclectic mix of historic buildings, cobbled streets, bohemian bric-a-brac shops, vintage bookstores, art and antique galleries, and creative locals is what makes it so charming, offering a unique shopping experience unlike anywhere else in the city.
Start your meander along the Main Road at either end but make sure you get to do both sides and find time to explore the little lanes that run up from the Main Road on the mountainside.
Collectors have a choice of rare books, vintage furnishings, old comic books or a Kentridge or Beezy Bailey artwork. With a number of galleries to choose from, you will find a collection of artworks in Kalk Bay that range from well established artists to those who are making a name for themselves - from etchings, to sculptures and ceramics.
Visitors wanting souvenirs or trinkets to take back home can spend hours browsing and it is up those little lanes that real treasures can be found. Or shop the boutique clothing stores ranging from elegant to the quirky.
While Cape Town has its finger on the pulse on all things design and fashion, sustainability in shopping is at the fore. This has made thrifting a big part of the city’s fashion scene, and the neighbourhood of Observatory is no doubt the haven for the previously loved.
Situated on the banks of the historical Liesbeek River, and the foot of the Devil’s Peak mountain, Observatory is a mix of alternative culture, deep social conscious, and creative residents.
This quirky neighbourhood with mostly old Victorian laden streets and steeped in history offers thrift shopping and good bars, and some of the best second-hand records found around Cape Town. The proximity to the University of Cape Town and the eclectic mix of bars and thrift shops means there is always a student buzz around.
Established in mid-2014, Nevernew is one of Observatory’s staple vintage stores. The shop is always buzzing with a mixture of stylish students, Obs locals and vintage-seekers from far and wide.
The store stocks a vast range of second-hand gems. They stock good quality and affordable retro clothing items, with menswear and ladieswear for whatever you please. You can also find a selection of shoes, with accessories like belts and bags on offer too.
Voom Voom Records is one of the best record stores in the country, where you can find old vinyl, singles, tapes, cd's and South African gems. The store also has a vintage clothing and accessories offering.
The Old Biscuit Mill
The Old Biscuit Mill is where Cape Town’s culinary delights meets its fine local design. Located in the vibrant community of Woodstock, The Old Biscuit Mill is home to dynamic office spaces, a range of workshops and designer stores, decadent restaurants, food stalls as well as an inspiring line-up of day and night-markets, festivals and productions.
Explore the Old Biscuit Mill and meet some of South Africa’s most innovative and creative designers, artists, photographers and connoisseurs of fine taste and décor. It boasts some of the city’s best creative enterprises, where local and artisanal goods and craftsmanship are on display.
Find one-of-a-kind fashions, quirky travel mementos, local artisanal products and gifts and an impressive trove of other unique Cape Town Treasures.
Encounter eclectic artworks and intriguing designs showcased by the dynamic community of artists, designers and craftsmen that call the Mill home. This is where décor, fashion, furniture and lifestyle boldly take centre stage.
There are many fantastic designers with stores at the Biscuit Mill. You’ll find trendy ladies clothing with a classic twist at Harpers Rose Boutique, while Karoo Moon sells locally handmade leather handbags, accessories and designer jewellery, as well as clothing, confectionery, and gifts. Imiso Ceramics sells beautiful high-end interior design pieces, and Livision is the go-to place for stunning wood and metal furnishings.
The Century City precinct is Cape Town’s up-and-coming luxury destination for retail, business, activities, restaurants and staycations.
This 250-hectare precinct is the true definition of modern urbanism and is dubbed as lifestyle ‘smart city’ that offers a playground to live, work, play and most importantly shop. It also features beautiful outdoor spaces, such as the award-winning, 16ha nature reserve Intaka Island, at the heart of Century City.
Century City is home to Cape Town’s largest shopping centre, Canal Walk, with a wide selection of stores and thousands of the best local and international brands to choose from for the best fashion, retail, leisure and entertainment for the whole family, all under one roof.
Canal Walk is any trendsetter’s dream with over 400 stores, including iconic brand names such as Hugo Boss, Fossil, The Body Shop, Mango, Nike and more can be found in special interest outlets, markets and numerous boutiques.
Canal Walk has evolved into a must-visit tourist destination. It attracts thousands of international visitors every year with its spectacular architecture, spacious malls and unparalleled array of local and international retail brands as well as the unique Afri-Bizarre, which showcases the work of local retailers and craftsmen.