The Dutch capital didn’t become the epicentre of a Golden Age without knowing a thing or two about trading – and the legacy of canny consumerism lives on in 21st-century Amsterdam. This is a city with over 10,000 shops. Pretty much everywhere you go, you’ll find creative merchandising and seductive shopfronts, even down to bike-rental stores.
A few districts are almost entirely given over to retail therapy. To the west of the Canal Belt, The Nine Streets (De Negen Straatjes) is a grid of parallel lanes, packed with tiny, independent shops. They’re fun to browse but also ridiculously Instagram-friendly, with their sweetly wonky windows and carefully-curated stock, from gifts to low-key, wearable pieces from indie designers. Over in Oud Zuid, PC Hooftstraatis the place to go for international designer labels, but if it’s art and antiques you’re after (or just the odd Delft tile), then make for the Spiegelkwartier, a stone’s throw from the mothership of masterpieces, the Rijksmuseum.
Whether you’re looking for a tube of mayonnaise flavoured with locally made gin or a T-shirt proclaiming your allegiance to a particular district (‘West is Best’), this indoor market offers the best of quirky Amsterdam creativity under one roof.
The Maker Store is part of the De Hallen development in a former Victorian tram shed; refuel with gourmet bitterballen or Vietnamese street food at the adjacent food court.
If you find yourself admiring the sunnies or specs of a well-dressed local, chances are his or her eyewear is from Ace & Tate. The Amsterdam-born brand burst on to the scene a few years ago, offering fashion-forward acetate (get the name?) frames, at a fraction of the cost you’ll pay at the big fashion labels.
This cosmetics brand is a great example of Amsterdam’s knack for conscious capitalism, with €1 from each sale of its soaps, lotions and candles going to fund sanitation projects in the developing world.
If the wind’s blowing in the right direction, you can smell its citrusy signature scent (No. 92, Objets d’Amsterdam) a few streets away from the flagship store.
It’s only right that the definitive Amsterdam address – number one Dam Square – belongs to a grande dame department store. This multi-storied emporium’s name means ‘the beehive’, and it’s easy to see why.
Its floors devoted to cosmetics, luxury goods, books and homewares are always buzzing, particularly during its widely-publicised sale events, while the chic self-service café on the top floor is a great option for food on the fly.
Just across the canal from the city’s famous floating flower market, this multi-brand mens- and womenswear store lives in the former home of iconic Amsterdam nightclub RoXY. The beat goes on by way of funky-but-functional streetwear from labels such as A.P.C. and 3.1 Philip Lim.
Footwear junkies should make their way to the basement, where 90 minimalist sneakers from the house brand seem to levitate against the back wall.