An ever-inventive city, Rotterdam is always finding new ways to go green, from its floating farm – a futuristic world first – to its sustainably minded start-ups. The shopping scene here also has a pleasingly ethical bent, with a focus on all things eco-friendly and artisan-made. Invest in a handsome wool scarf knitted by a local granny, or kit your home out with Fairtrade finds at eco hub De Groene Passage. Purchases should be stowed in one of Susan Bijl’s nylon bags, seemingly owned by every local; Rotterdammers like to be stylish while they’re saving the world.
Plastic bags are so last century, in case you didn’t get the memo. Swap yours out for one of Bijl’s reusable nylon shoppers. They’re useful but also very chic, with myriad colourways, minimalist lines and a cool signature stripe. The compact flagship store stocks the entire range, from MacBook sleeves and clever folding backpacks to a fashion-forward oversized raincoat.
In an age of fast fashion, this Rotterdam startup takes a very different approach, selling accessories knitted by Dutch grannies at the brand’s sociable knitting clubs. Made of natural yarn, the pieces run from mittens and beanies to blankets – though our hands-down favourite’s the cocooning, cable-knit Teun scarf. Check out highlights from the range at department store De Bijenkorf.
Forget jumping on the green bandwagon: Rotterdam’s sustainable shopping centre’s been in situ for over 20 years. Stock up at the organic supermarket, attend a yoga class, or lunch on feelgood veggie fare at the self-service canteen. Smaller stores in the complex stock Fairtrade homeware and gifts, from hand-woven Senegalese baskets to paint-speckled Portuguese ceramics.
This Rotterdam menswear label’s both stylish and environmentally conscious (often an elusive combination). Everything’s made in Europe and designed to last, from the soft pima cotton tees to the classic merino crews. Pledge your allegiance with a slogan-embroidered sweatshirt (‘I am one of the Good People’) and look out for seasonal standouts like the colour-block bomber jackets.
Reboot your wardrobe in ethical fashion at this beautifully-curated vintage store. Its rails are lined with treasures (neatly pressed and modestly priced), from ruffled silk blouses and 60s mohair coats to sequin-spangled frocks. The stock is ever-changing, with pieces snapped up fast: if you’ve taken a shine to those two-tone cowboy boots, it’s advisable not to hang about.
Rotterdam’s impeccable design credentials filter down to its retail scene.
Taste the international flavours of this buzzy European port.
From experimental architecture to tempting street food, Rotterdam is a thrill to explore.
Image credits: © de Groene Passage; © de Groene Passage; © Stuart Milne; © Cindy van Rees; © de Groene Passage; © The Good People; © Dear Hunter; © Shutterstock; © Zeezout; © Rotterdam Marketing