Ipanema has always been something of a testing ground for new trends, be they gastronomic or fashion, both for the rest of Brazil and the world at large. The name alone immediately conjures up images of the beautiful, bikini-wearing girls of Tom Jobim’s poetry, both classy and sassy, something that has made ‘Ipanema’ a marketing commodity all of its own.
All of which boils down to some impressive shopping opportunities, equally impressive prices, and shop windows that act as a spyhole on the behavioural trends of the future. Almost as fast as the seasons change, so the price of a square metre of commercial space increases, one shop decides it no longer likes the sums and another enters to try and make them add up. Puma and Mont Blanc are two of the more recent victims on glittering Garcia D’Avila, replaced by insanely priced footwear and perfume, so Time Out Rio put the credit card well out of reach and hit the streets best known for supplying a little lap of luxury.
Avenida Visconde de Pirajá
Visconde is a classic high street, where chic stores lurk within malls and galleries leaving random little independent shops peddling everything from dusty homeware to dollars to provide the window shopping. By the corner of Rua Joana Angélica stands Fórum de Ipanema, an emporium of high-end beachwear including Blue Man, Lenny, BumBum and Salinas, as well as the slightly more formal Maria Bonita Extra and the plastic fantastic (well, resin if you’re going to be picky) jewellery of Sobral.
The preferred shopping point of the Ipanema youth, Farm, is also found on this block, qute literally the underground headquarters of the entire brand. Even its signature smell gets girls reaching for their purses, let alone the model-esque staff all making the clothes look eminently desirable. Clever sods. The Marmite effect can be seen in full evidence with the like-it-or-loathe-it design of Gilson Martins, taking Rio landmarks and imprinting them on bags and purses, and a fresh addition from Buzios, Caravana Holiday, brings the laidback flavour of the peninsula to town.
Rua Garcia D`Ávila
Undoubtedly the Park Avenue of Rio, ‘Garcia’ is home to the biggest jewellery stores in town H Stern, Amsterdam Sauer and Antonio Bernardo, where the prices are enough to make any bride blush. Throw in international big hitters like Luis Vuitton, Ellus and NK Store and dining options Alessandro e Frederico and ¡Venga! and you have three blocks that could occupy the lunching ladies for a whole day, causing husbands to panic simply with a deftly turned-off mobile phone.
Rua Maria Quitéria
One road along from Garcia sit the biggest names in Brazilian fashion, side by side and ready to vie for the attention. From Fórum’s simple jeanswear to the street style of Redley and classic tailoring of Richards, the strip along Nossa Senhora da Paz bulges with options, whilst across Visconde, HomeGrown collects together the coolest streetwear brands, skate styles and art under one first-floor roof. Just down by Prudente de Moraes, the alluring Brazilian Soul promises much of the Osklen style – sleek, beach friendly and oh so Brazilian – but the prices are jacked up to catch out the unwary so just think before you buy.