This summer I was fortunate enough to spend the month of June fulfilling my life-long dream of taking a tour around Europe. Besides seeing the famous sights, I was naturally very eager to pick up the big-ticket items such as leather in Italy, lingerie in Paris and anything Burberry in London. Additionally, I was excited to walk down the streets of Europe and shop in little boutiques and chain stores that I had never heard of. What I wasn’t expecting was to walk down the famous Las Ramblas in Barcelona and see three H&M’s, two Zara’s and a Nike store. It was like being at home even though I was thousands of miles away.
A local guide in Florence said to my tour group “on a crowded street, we used to be able to tell who was native to Italy and who was a tourist based strictly on the way they were dressed. Now, it is difficult to tell because your group dresses like your Italian contemporaries” and vice versa. With the advent of online shopping, we now have access to stores that originated in foreign countries. Social media and livestreaming has allowed us to gain style inspiration from fashion weeks in London, Paris, Milan and even Australia. Fashion that was formerly marginalized and specialized to one region is now available at our fingertips due to modern technologies.
Despite being familiar with many of the stores I saw, there were a few that I had never heard of before. Pull & Bear is a popular store that I saw more in Southern Europe and originated in Spain, Stradivarius is another store that I saw frequently in the same regions and originated in Italy, and Maje which originated in Paris. Many of these fast fashion and bridge brands were mixed in on the same streets as big designer brands from Chanel, to Louis Vuitton, to Van Cleef & Arpels.
Of course, the shopping in Europe did not disappoint—I came home with an extra carry on full of souvenirs and a load of shopping bags—but I was interested in the idea of globalization in the fashion industry. If you want to save a few thousand dollars on airfare, you can still “dress like a European” in just a couple of clicks online.