As soon as you enter the shopping malls in Rio you are back in the first world. The English word “shopping” has entered the language as the generic term for ‘mall’ in Brazil, and Shopping Leblon is the newest. There is little architectural interest – just the same white multi-tiled levels. Brand wise there are all the usual labels that you see internationally, like Polo Ralph Lauren. You know you are in sports-mad South America with all the sport specialty stores that carry every conceivable brand, from the big guns Nike and Adidas to homegrown niche labels, like surf and windsurfing trendsetters, Mormaii. The British riding look is huge here as well, as it is in Buenos Aires.

The other local slant: it’s a great one-stop destination for exploring the local design scene - from swimwear to shoes, fashion, leather and sunglasses. I look for good, contemporary fashion with really local flair when I travel – in Brazil it’s about bright colours and flowing, cruisey casuals. I am a fan of really good chain stores for wardrobe basics and the best one here is Zara..

Zara does new drops every 12 days, which is why they are so successful: signature pieces are never exactly repeated. If you have forgotten to pack a bedrock item, like a black jacket or tailored skirt, you can always find them - with ever-changing, on trend pieces as well. Between the kids and the womens’ fashion I always come out with something.

I’m not a mall person but Leblon has a few charming touches – there is a piano player in the café and the food court has quality, fresh food and views over the lagoon and Corcovado mountain. Another bonus: a valet service will actually direct you to a waiting taxi inside the shopping centre (Lower ground in the car park)... and 2 seconds later you’re out on the road - but leave before 5 so you’ll beat the chaotic Rio traffic.

Bookmark and Share

Shopping Leblon | Av Afrânio de Melo Franco 290, Leblon , Rio de Janeiro | View web site
View All Black Book Entries for Rio de Janeiro

Rio’s ‘fashion mall’ is slightly more "upmarket" than the other malls – it has an elongated, catwalk shape, softer lighting, all the upscale international luxury brands and top Brazilian designers… so naturally it attracts glamorous and wealthy shoppers.

The childrenswear lines are a little too "precious", with prissy, preppy details like smocking and mary-janes; not the fun and funky Brazilian kids stores that I find irresistible (like the TOTEM label who do happy prints – and whose credo is ‘music, family, surf, travel.’) Look out for one of the best local chains, FARM. Brazilian girls snap up their summer dresses: bold, splashy graphics in vibrant, pop colours. The gorgeous high-end stationary and paper stores are great for lightweight gifts too.

Although you can cover a lot of ground in a mall, at heart I much prefer ambling along a great street and taking in the atmosphere: it makes for far more interesting shopping experiences. It’s not just the great bag or shoe at the end of the rainbow that makes shopping abroad so special but who you meet and what you see on the way.

You’ll find lots of interesting local brands dotted along the high streets of Ipanema.
The RUA VISCONDE DE PIRAJA is a great place to start. At CONTEMPORANEO (437) you’ll find a lot of Brazilian design talent under one roof. Alongside local art exhibitions and a café, local fashionistas rifle through all the latest Brazilian collections - from internationally successful rock star label, Alexandre Herchcovitch to local discoveries that no-one back home will be wearing, like Reinaldo Lourenco and Gloria Coelho. Stretchy yoga fabrics for women, children and men with uniquely decorative, Indian-inspired graphic design.

Other stores in the neighbourhood stand out, like ANIMALE - a French label that Brazilians have taken into their heart and is all over Brazilian Vogue. Chic, boxy tapered jackets in buttery leather; funky suits in a charmingly cheeky ‘artful dodger’ silhouette, slinky lingerie. FORUM’s flagship store on Rua Barao da Torre, 422 is worth a look and ISABELLA CAPETO does amazing work, with intricate Latin/African beading and embellishment that takes her pieces to the next level.

Bookmark and Share

São Conrado Fashion Mall | Estrada da Gávea 899, Gávea, Rio de Janeiro | View web site
Contemporaneo Brasil | Rua Visconde de Piraja 437, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro | 2122876204 | View web site
Sementiera| Rua Visconde de Pirajá 414, lj 211, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro | 55 (21) 2521-8408 | View web site
Animale| Rua Joana Angelica FORUM , Rua Barao da Torre, 422, Ipanema , Rio de Janeiro | View web site
Totem| Rua Visconde de Pirajá 547, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro | Tel 55 (21) 2540-0661 | View web site
View All Black Book Entries for Rio de Janeiro

No-one rocks a bikini like the Brazilians (giving new meaning to the term, brevity is the essence of wit) so naturally you should pick up some glam swimwear while in Ipanema. As the song goes, A Girl from Ipanema goes walking… She won’t have to go very far along the beach to get the attention of a Man Friday in these bikinis.

BLUE MAN and BUM BUM IPANEMA are both on the Rua Visconde de Pirajá and are famous for their flamboyant fabric range and incredibly flattering cut. At Bum Bum it’s fun to mix n’ match many different styles in the same pattern, including sarongs. ROSA CHA holds the title for most over-the-top, sophisticated swimwear - with halter top cuts, jewel detailing, and artfully peekaboo, cutaway patterns that pretty much make her one pieces honorary bikinis. These are show stopping – the red carpet evening gowns of the swimwear world!

The men in Rio strut their stuff too. Today Brazilian guys swim in local speedos, called sungas, which are worn under board shorts for the cafés and everywhere else afterwards. The beach is never really far away from people’s minds here!

The eco fashion movement is hot in Brazil and GILSON MARTINS has the most innovative fun with it. He re-imagines and transforms material like plastic into fashionably ironic handbags with a kitschy twist on famous Rio icons like the Christ statue on the mountain or bikinis.

One of Brazil’s true fashion finds is OSKLEN, a label with its own voice that would hold up in New York and London. I loved the tight, tapered leather jackets, stripy light knits, maxi dresses where one colour melts into another and radically tailored minidresses. The label actually started in a seaside resort town that we visited, Buzios but you should look up a store if only passing through Rio. You are bound to find one unique piece that will have every girlfriend asking, where did you find that? We have never seen it!

Bookmark and Share

Blue Man| Rua Visconde de Pirajá 351, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro | Tel 55 (21) 2247-4905 | View web site
Bum Bum Ipanema | Rua Visconde de Pirajá 351, Ipanema, , Rio de Janeiro | 55 (21) 2287-9951 | View web site
Rosa Cha| São Conrado Fashion Mall Estrada da Gávea, 899, shop 221 F Gávea, Rio de Janeiro | View web site
Gilson Martins| Rua Visconde de Pirajá 462, Ipanema, , Rio de Janeiro | Tel: +55 21 3816 0552 | View web site
Osklen | Rio de Janeiro | View web site
View All Black Book Entries for Rio de Janeiro

What’s the ultimate laid-back beachcomber essential?

Brazil’s most iconic brand is the flip flop with personality: havaianas. When the rubber thongs were developed in the ‘60s, based on the traditional Japanese slipper, the whole world was ready to loosen up and they took off like wildfire. There is no better place to start a collection than on hometurf in Rio. Jonathan and I have never seen such a multitude of models and colors - from flowers and butterflies to block colours and abstracts.

Copocabana Beach has all the havaianas you’ll be able to carry at MISS and MG BAZAR– which stocks every “new release.”

Bookmark and Share

Miss Bag| Av. N. S. De Copacabana 959, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro | tel 2236-0931. |
MG Bazar| R. Figueiredo de Magalhães 414, Copacabana , Rio de Janeiro | tel 2548-1664. |
View All Black Book Entries for Rio de Janeiro

We’ve Got More on Rio de Janeiro...


Koh SamuiPhuket


Soneva Gili
Back to Home Page
Choose a Place we've visited around the World
Where to Stay around the World
Places to Eat around the World
Things to See & Do around the World
Where to Shop around the World
More travel tips and advice