Modern-day Istanbul does well in celebrating its past, whilst looking to the future. Creativity in the city is at an all-time high, with Turkish contemporary designers making themselves heard; the shopping, much like the city itself, is as vibrant as it is varied. Swerve the tourist traps with our edit of Istanbul’s coolest concept stores.
This “Haus of the Open-Minded” is the antithesis to the roster of fast-fashion chains occupying Abdi İpekçi street, in buzzing Nişantişi: the previous occupant of this sprawling three-storey building was none other than British high-street giant, Topshop. Canny then, for Openhaus to capitalise on its footfall and showcase a smart edit of independent Turkish design; bringing together contemporary fashion, art, books and homeware in an airy gallery space. But this isn’t the place to agonise over a purchase, as the store’s content changes in its entirety each month; marvellous for supporting burgeoning creative talent but crippling for buyer’s remorse.
Harbiye Mahallesi, Abdi İpekçi Cd. No.2
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Missed the latest Yeezy drop? Don’t sweat it. The second branch of Turkey’s first “sneaker boutique”, in Erenköy, has developed as big a hipster following for its in-store concerts, mix-tape cover design contests, art gallery and café, as it has for its unbeatable collection of trainers. Owned by sneakerhead and ex-Harvey Nichols menswear buyer, Can Soylu – this is the place to track down limited-edition sneaks, as well as more exclusive brands like Etnies, Kr3w and Emerica.
Kuloğlu Mh., İstiklal Cd. No:103 ; +90 4443754
This eclectic store was set up by husband-and-wife team, Tayfun Mumcu and Banu Bora, after a run-in with Suzy Menkes, who is said to have bemoaned the lack of concept stores in Istanbul. Bora has had a long-standing career in fashion – having worked with the likes of Jasper Conran, as well as building her successful eponymous label – while he has a background in interior design. Midnight Express has three outposts dotted around the city – focusing on jewellery, homeware and fashion – and is popular with Istanbul expats for its range of price points (particularly the affordable own-label range) and hard-to-find designers.
Bebek Mh., Küçük Bebek Cad. No:3/A; +90 212 2632111
If you’re looking for the city’s sharpest gents, you’ll find a decent number of them in the north of Istanbul; at Reşitpaşa’s achingly cool one-stop tailor and barbershop, Papillone. Ömer Üçer and Eren Akgün specialise in Italian fabrics and have set up shop with their long-time barber, next to a retro Volkswagen repair shop; you’ll arrive to a vitrine of chic smoking jackets, peeking out behind lines of vintage Beetles parked on the street. If you’re after a full suit and are short on time, leave yourself around five or six days for the express service.
Emirgan Mahallesi, Posta Yolu Cd. 225/A; +90 212 229 00 40
Don’t be put off by its location (Kanyon; a somewhat soulless shopping mall) – this place is well worth a visit for its unique edit of small, independent lifestyle brands and trendy industrial décor. The brainchild of Yaprak Aras, a former editor at Vogue Turkey, and musician Alican Tezer, Souq was conceived originally as a weekly bazaar for artisans in the Karaköy area but has since set up home permanently in Levent. There’s everything from silk shawls by local brand Rumisu to colourful headphones by Istanbul-based Happy-nes but, for the latest on the city’s creative scene, you’ll want to keep an eye on the store’s weekly events.
Esentepe Mah. Büyükdere Cad., Kanyon AVM; +90 212 265 11 99