We all love a trip to the mall’s high-street chains, but the UAE’s shopping scene is also home to loads of independent boutiques – perfect for when you’re looking for something unique
What is it: Of all the S*uce boutiques in the UAE, S*uce On-Sea is our favourite. Situated just back from the beach at JBR, it’s a one-stop shop for holiday clothes and accessories. Every brand has been chosen to fit the quirky feel of the store, and while they aren’t all budget-friendly, you can pick up a swimsuit or bikini for a few hundred dirhams. You can even find those overly-Instagrammed inflatables (go on, we know you want one!) Shop style: Airy and white with a beach feel. Brands stocked: Stella McCartney swimwear, Linda Farrow sunglasses, bohemian French label Sundress. What the founder says: ‘S*uce On-sea is a beachside concept store entirely dedicated to the cool, the unusual and the niche when it comes to beachwear and resort wear,’ co-founder Zayan Ghandour tells us. ‘It was a very natural step forward for us to create S*uce On-Sea, and its personality is so intrinsically tied to the core S*uce identity that the On-Sea customer is not too different from our main S*uce shopper. She is looking for cult brands and exclusive styles, in everything from swimwear to lounge wear.’ Perfect for those whose style is: Beachwear every day. What else you can buy: Giant flamingo and pizza inflatables. Price indicator: $$$ Average price for a dress: Dh2,000 Where to find it: The Beach, JBR.
THE CARTEL REBORN
What is it: The cARTel Reborn is the second concept store from The cARTel and recently opened its doors in D3. The art gallery-meets-fashion store stocks around 160 edgy and unusual independent brands for men and women, all chosen by founder May Barber, who works with designers from all around the world. The new store has the addition of ‘the box’ where designers are encouraged to ‘think inside the box’ so they can express their artistic creativity. Shop style: Dim lighting, geometric shapes – like an art gallery for fashion. Brands stocked: Juan Hernandes Daels; Lamat by Ivana Damjanović; Exocet by Yasmine Jaber; Endemmage (right) Pangolin; Consistence (far right) and cARTel’s own signature Cage bag (below). What the founder says: ‘The cARTel Reborn caters to a range of women and men looking for something unique and exclusive to contribute to their individualistic style,’ says May. Perfect for those whose style is: Minimalistic with an affinity for geometry and intricate designs. What else you can buy: Accessories and bags. Price indicator: $$$ Average price for a dress: Dh2,000 Where to find it: Shop 105, D3, Dubai.
What is it: Vesimi stocks a huge selection of traditional and contemporary Indian clothing. Whether you are looking for a heavy wedding dress or a modern skirt and cropped top, Vesimi has women’s and menswear for every occasion. You will notice some of the traditionwear are one-off pieces that can stay in store for a long time, but the contemporary collections are always being updated and have a much larger selection of styles and sizes. Shop style: A treasure trove of items, this converted villa is endless, with room after room of clothes. Brands stocked: Manish Arora, Ridhima Bhasin, Pankaj & Nidhi and Ridhi Mehra. Perfect for those whose style is: Traditional Indian with a modern twist. What else you can buy: Costume jewellery and traditional shoes. Price indicator: $$$ Average price for a dress: Dh1,700 Where to find it: Villa 80C, Jumeirah Beach Road.
What is it: Signature Studio stocks collections from designers based in Pakistan, the only store of its kind in the city. While their designs are always the latest, they pride themselves on being affordable. New collections are flown in monthly, so there’s always something to see. Shop style: The pastel walls create a warm and inviting feeling. Brands stocked: Sammy K, SNL by Sofia Naveed Lari, Cross Stitch, Maria Rao and JV Haute Couture. What the founder says: ‘Signature
What is it: This menswear boutique features luxury designers from all around the world. The clothes are for fashion conscious men who want to stand out. Shop style: Modern and manly. The stained wood floor gives a rustic feel to the metallic decor. Brands stocked: Rick Owens; Juun J; Boris Bidjan Saberi; Yohji Yamamoto; Ann Demeulemeester. What the founder says: ‘Our clients are individuals with unique taste, and it’s for us to provide them with a totally different experience, hence we’ve created an atmosphere that caters to this,’ Studio is all about curation of Pakistani fashion wear from our carefully selected designers,’ says Anna Shoaib. ‘We strive hard to bring trends and cuts that are most suitable for our customer’s fashion needs.’ Perfect for those whose style is: Traditional but likes trends. What else you can buy: Elegant costume jewellery. Price indicator: $$ Average price for a tunic: Dh400 Where to find it: Shop G22, Bay Avenue, Business Bay, Dubai. Bobby Chehrazi tells us. ‘In this environment, we’re very relaxed, as it is all about the personality of our clients and the product.’ Perfect for those whose style is: Men who want to make a statement with their wardrobe. What else you can buy: Unisex perfumes and eyewear from Japan, Germany and Denmark. Price indicator: $$$ Average price for a shirt: Between Dh350 and Dh15,000 – so there’s something for most budgets. Where to find it: Building 7 in d3.
What is it: On Dubai Garden Centre’s top floor, The Mez brings together stalls and shops from a range of local designers and brands. You can find swimwear, accessories, shoes and baby clothes. Shop style: A shop within a shop, The Mez has a market feel to it with different stalls and areas for each brand. Brands stocked: Beach Hut; Sandal Souq; Lou Harvey; Sweet Baby Street and Moxilicious. What the founder says: Says Desert Group CEO Michael Mascarenhas: ‘Dubai Garden Centre is the go-to hub for families and individuals alike, a home away from home in a natural environment. The Mezzanine is a lively space where the products offered bring vibrancy and life to our personalities.’ Perfect for those whose style is: Beachy accessories lovers. Also great for mums looking for something unique for their babies. What else you can buy: Moccasins for babies, laminated bags, coolers, wallets and vanities. Price indicator: $ Average price for a swimsuit: Dh250 Where to find it: Dubai Garden Centre, Shaikh Zayed Road.
LOVES HOP PRAY
What is it: Aimed at Dubai’s art and design crowd, it only stocks limited-edition collections and special collaboration merchandise – perfect if you’re looking to find something that you won’t get anywhere else in Dubai. This new store in Jumeirah was founded by designer Preeti Chandra in order to bring together select independent lifestyle, fashion and home brands. Shop style: Very artsy and creative with shabby chic décor and cute displays. Brands stocked: Italian fashion brand Que Guapa, Arabian streetwear brand Free Minds, and the Love Shop Pray collection, which is designed by the founder Preeti Chandra. What the founder says: ‘The customer base consists of fashion-forward and social media-savvy individuals, which means they have access to information about the latest lifestyle and fashion trends,’ says Preeti. Perfect for those whose style is: An Instagrammable artsy mismatch of styles from around the world. What else you can buy: Brightly coloured chairs with bird and leaf designs, costume jewellery, embellished and printed loafers and beach bags with silver sequins and fringing. Price indicator: $$$ Average price for a dress: Dh2,000 Where to find it: Villa 333, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 1.
THE RACK BY KACHINS
What is it: The Rack by Kachins brings together some of the hottest designers from India that otherwise can’t be found in the UAE. Kachins Group are Dubai-based suit makers that have been here for over 35 years. Shop style: Gold décor and waterfalls lead to a golden interior that is reminiscent of the era of the Maharajas. Brands stocked: Anamika Khanna; Tarun Tahiliani; Anita Dongre; Pankaj & Nidhi and Payal Singhal. What the founder says: ‘It is a treat for the fashionistas who admire the work of Indian designers but cannot own something due to their non-availability in the UAE market,’ creative director Neetu Ramchandani tells us of the recently opened boutique. ‘Our clients will enjoy personalised attention helping them get the desired look with the most flattering silhouettes.’ Perfect for those whose style is: Brides-to-be; and those who love Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s glam style. What else you can buy: Western-style designs with an Indian twist. Price indicator: $$$$$ Average price for a lehenga/sherwani: Dh10,000 Where to find it: Villa 446, Al Wasl Road.
ETOILE LA BOUTIQUE
What is it: Founded by Ingie Chalhoub, creator of home-grown fashion brand Ingie Paris, Etoile La Boutique stocks pieces from local and international luxury brands. The brand selection ranges from Christian Dior to Sachin + Babi, with a few of the most on-trend pieces from each brand. Head to the back of the store to find the evening gown selection – perfect for any glam UAE event you have coming up. There’s also a great shoes and accessories range with everything from quirky bags to statement sunglasses. Whether we’re splashing out on a black-tie dress or spending a couple hundred dirhams on some new sunnies, there is something we love every time we go into this store. Shop style: Its golden walls give an ethereal feel. Every item in this store will make you look like a princess. Brands stocked: Christian Dior, Carolina Herrera, Ingie Paris, Antonio Berardi and Rochas. You’ll also find pop-ups from local brands – Kage currently have their collection there. What the founder says: ‘I wanted to create a piece of art in the world of fashion,’ Ingie tells us; ‘a gem that would be surprising and reassuring at the same time.’ Perfect for those whose style is: Glam with a fashionable edge. Or any woman who loves a red carpet event. What else you can buy: Fashion books by Dior and Bulgari as well as quirky make-up and laptop cases. Price indicator: $$$$ Average price for a dress: Dh3,000 while sunglasses and accessories can be had for Dh200. Where to find it: Mall of the Emirates.
Sunglasses Dh685, Hadid Eyewear
Dress Dh1,330, Rhode
Dress Dh1,635, Rhode
Romper Dh130, SweetBabyStreet
Shoes Dh285, SandalSouq
Blue top, Dh6,070, AntonioBerardi
Red dress, Dh4,610Isolda