Trading in Luxury – Article

By Toby Main

Few towns have a heritage of luxury trade as rich as that of Amsterdam. During the mercantile boom of the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, the city became the hub for the finest goods the world had to offer: Spices from far-flung lands, exquisite clothing and furniture from the ateliers of France, Italy and beyond. To this day, Amsterdam remains a veritable shopper’s paradise for those with discerning taste and money to spend. High-end stores range from designer fashion houses to unique boutiques and outlets for custom-made items you couldn’t find anywhere else.

De Bijenkorf
With a name that means “the beehive”, Amsterdam’s grande dame department store holds a vast variety of luxurious goods under one roof. On the edge of Dam Square, this palace of high-end wares will keep you entertained for hours. The selection extends from fashion, handbags and shoes to housewares, luggage and electronics. On the ground floor, luxury ‘shop-in-shops’ include Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Gucci. In 2017, de Bijenkorf unveiled the jewel in its crown: an elegant 52 square-meter Personal Shopping Lounge where individuals can book an appointment with a specialist adviser, who then tailors to their desires. A light-flooded space decorated in marble and glass, the lounge offers exquisite views over Dam Square, where trading used to take place in the open air.

P.C. Hooftstraat
Named for the 17th-century poet Pieter Cornelisz Hooft, P.C. Hooftstraat has been an exclusive shopping destination since the 1970s. Located near Museumplein, this street is your first stop for big-name designers such as Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabbana, MaxMara, Ralph Lauren, Hermès, Prada, Gucci, Moncler and more, alongside high-end jewelers such as Boutique Tourbillon. When it’s time for a break, grab a coffee at the chic new café Georgette with its distinctive green marble bar and watch the fashion district go about its daily business.
Van Baerlestraat
When you’ve had your fill of P.C. Hooftstraat, wander over to Van Baerlestraat. Here you’ll fin a number of renowned Dutch fashion designers such as preppy Pauw, wacky The People of the Labyrinths and Fred de la Bretoniere, with its functional yet elegant boots and handbags. For extra pampering, schedule an appointment at the Soap Treatment Store for a facial, manicure or massage.

Willemsparkweg
From Van Baerlestraat, head deeper into Amsterdam-Zuid, down lovely Willemsparkweg. Visit Oog in Oog for designer (sun)glasses or try on an elegant dress at Thalian’s. Lovers of distinctive furniture and lighting will want to visit Edha Interieur. Nikkie sells a range of womenswear, underwear and athleisure by Dutch fashionista Nikkie Plessen – a woman so well connected she managed to persuade Kate Moss to be her spokes model. Nearby, tempting cafés and restaurants allow to grab a bite and rest your feet.

Utrechtsestraat
Right in the city center, Utrechtsestraat starts at Rembrandtplein then crosses Amsterdam’s most famous canals. The street has a mix of shops, but gets more luxurious with each passing year. You’ll find men’s designer fashion from Comme des Garçons and Acne Studios at Cowboys 2 Catwalk (check out the glass mezzanine) and delightful, bright womenswear from Diane von Furstenberg and MSGM at Angel Basics, while Zwartjes van 1883 sells well-made leather shoes that will last a lifetime. For contemporary interior design, visit Mobilia Woonstudio, a destination for superlative furniture since 1975.

Diamond life
Amsterdam has been a trading center for sparklers since the 16th century. You can still buy loose diamonds, though you might prefer jewels you can wear out of the store. For the inside scoop on the diamond industry plus an opportunity to shop, visit Gassan or Royal Coster Diamonds. Smaller, specialty jewelers sit on main shopping streets across the city, but for big names such as Cartier or Tiffany & Co, head straight to P.C. Hooftstraat. Currently, Italian luxury house Bulgari is working on a special-edition Van Gogh range to celebrate Italian-Dutch friendship after it provided the financial assistance to facilitate the safe return of two Van Gogh paintings. Stolen from Amsterdam’s Museumplein, they turned up years later in Naples.

Hot Chocolate
Fact: Amsterdam boasts the world’s largest cocoa harbor. So it’s no surprise that the city has plenty of specialized stores to meet the exacting demands of even the fussiest chocolate connoisseur. For days when supermarket bars just won’t cut it, Puccini Bomboni, Pompadour and Huize van Wely number among the artisans creating some seriously tempting treats.

This article is part of the magazine Amsterdam Luxury Selection dd September 2017.

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