Let’s face it: I like shopping, and living abroad only makes hunting for treasures more fun. I’m talking about clothing, shoes, and accessories here (not souvenirs or rugs, about which I’ll write about in another post).
It might seem like Armenia is not ideal for this kind of shopping because the selection of stores is limited. But I've lived here over a year now and found that there's plenty to see and buy!
STORES & LOCATIONS
Dalma Garden Mall and Yerevan Mall was where it all began for me. Both malls include plenty of familiar stores and carry the latest collections, including:
Clothing stores Zara, Mango, Stradivarius, Bershka, and Massimo Dutti
Clothing stores F&F, Marks & Spencer, Next, Top Shop, Pull & Bear, Miss Selfridge, Monsoon, shoe store Baldi, and accessory store Accessorize
Clothing stores New Yorker and Bugatti, and lingerie store Etam
Clothings stores OVS, and shoe store Geox
Clothing stores Jennyfer, Lacoste, Promod and LC Waikiki
Clothing stores Levi’s and U.S. Polo Assn., and shoe store Crocs
Accessory store Parfois
Shoe store Aldo
I have to add that, especially in Yerevan Mall, there are several more stores that are worth visiting including Russian stores like Zarina and Elis, and a little shop called Z&A Store which is an elegant outlet store for high-end designer brands.
Pretty soon, I realized that many of these stores also have shops downtown, especially on and around Abovyan Street. In addition, there's a Orsay, Mexx, and Etam there, and a cute store called Blossom (see picture) that I discovered by asking a girl in a restaurant where she bought the great sweater she was wearing.
For more upscale shopping, you can hit Northern Avenue, which is a relatively new pedestrian street with shops like Burberry, Calvin Klein, Desigual, Emporio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, Karen Millen, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger. And shoe shops Ecco and Clarks.
On Mesrop Mashtots Avenue you can find Escada, Max Mara, Rio Galleria, and Marc Cain. Also downtown is Betty Barclays, Debenhams, Edelweiss, Gerry Weber, Outlet, and Podium (all on Teryan Street).
For sportswear, there is Nike (Hanrapetutyan Street) and Puma (Komitas Avenue). Inside a sports complex there is also Reebok (Pirumyanner Street).
I've also explored Armenian designers. I’d seen a few of their shops at the malls but found them intimidating—and a little outrageous. Then I found this article about 7 Armenian designers and decided to visit some the shops downtown.
The first store I hit was Kivera Naynomis, where I felt out of place. The storefront doesn’t even identify it as a clothing store and there was nobody there except for the sales rep who stared at me intently the whole time I was there. All the clothes were very dressy and the prices were definitely on the high side.
Once I was back outside, however, I realized that I actually liked some of the dresses. So I checked the website and realized that—especially in the sale—they're relatively affordable for high couture. So I’m not writing the store off; I'm just gonna wait until I need a fancy gown.
The store I visited next, 5Concept, was more exciting and succesful. It has a modern vibe and features over 15 Armenian fashion designers, including Petoor, Loom Weaving, Ruzane, Z.G. Est and Naghash.. The clothes I saw were trendy and different (although not quite edgy). The quality seemed high.
Funny anecdote: they sell some really nice and affordable pop art t-shirts at 5Concept. One of them read: smart & pickly (see picture). I thought it said “smart & picky” and I wanted it, but then I noticed the “L” and asked the sales girl what the meaning was since, as far as I know, that’s not a real word. She was somewhat embarrassed and told me she'll contact the designer and ask him to change it.
HOW EXPENSIVE IS IT?
What about the prices, you may wonder? Some people think shopping in Yerevan is more expensive than in the US or Europe. However, that's not necessarily true.
Some brands are cheaper than in the US, and/or equal to prices in Europe. I found a pair of Mango slacks, for example, which cost US $40 in Yerevan and US $60 in the US (online). I also looked up a Zara suit that cost the same amount in the US as it did in Yerevan. I also find that Aldo, one of my favorite shoe shops, is surprisingly affordable here.
On the other hand, I bought a Mango blouse that was actually cheaper in the Netherlands (online) than it was here. So I guess it all depends.
Since Armenians are such good dressers, you can find nice selections of clothing, shoes and accessories in the shops—just a little bit more “bling” than I'm used to.
There aren't many big sales (there is little opportunity to get stuff for 70% off) but prices are generally on the lower side. Maybe they do this in order to keep it affordable for Armenians.
Strangely, children’s clothes are very expensive in comparison, especially in the above-mentioned stores and other children shops inside the big malls. Kids clothes pretty much cost the same as adult clothes, which I think is weird, even though it’s often very cute stuff. I buy kids clothing online usually (although I can’t always resist the great stuff they sell for kids at Next) and I think most Armenians buy it elsewhere.
Last week I went shopping on Northern Avenue and got a little tired of the seeing the same stores when I noticed a buzzing little shop called Miniso; it’s a "Japanese design" variety store from China, which has several shops in Yerevan. I bought a large stuffed animal, popsicle molds, lipsticks, hand cream, and a smartphone armband.