Stretching in a straight line from the Notre Dame to the Saigon River, one will never tire of a joyous stroll along the quaint tree-lined street of Dong Khoi. Whichever way you start is up to you but if shopping is your foremost agenda, you’ll do well to start from the Saigon River. From there, numerous salons, boutiques, art galleries, bookstores and the like are lined all the way up to Lam Son Square, where the magnificent Opera House stands. Past that, either go on a sightseeing trail leading towards the beautiful brick façade of the Notre Dame Cathedral or branch off into any of the other main shopping thoroughfares like Le Thanh Ton or Ly Tu Trong.
All things considered, shopping in Dong Khoi is a satisfying melee of sight and sounds, promising everything from high-gloss fashion boutiques to crammed antique shops and industrial cafes cum galleries. Be sure to take it all in!
ARTISANAL LEATHER GOODS & ACCESSORIES
Chic, local leather boutique – Cincinati, boasts a stunning and timeless collection of leather bags and accessories. A bagaholic’s dream – the store is laid out with bags in a variety of classic and on-trend styles; from messenger satchels and weekend duffels to hobos, totes, and oversized clutches. Expect nothing less than artisanal craftsmanship and quality from these dedicated leather crafters, whose luscious leather bags tend towards a discreet, everyday sort of luxury.
SOPHISTICATED, STREET CHIC FASHION
Located in the same building as the popular L’Usine, Devon London is the perfect hunting ground for urban fashionistas with slight minimalistic tastes. Founded in Hanoi, Devon London is the brainchild of Devon Nguyen, naturally adopting her modern and eclectic style. Expect timeless and sophisticated fashion given a street style edge. Slogan tees and carelessly draped tops ooze effortless appeal while trendy culottes, slim peplum shirts and modified jumpsuits display an original and unconventional approach to fashion staples.
PREMIUM SILK CREATIONS
Khai Silk is the premier destination in Vietnam for refined silk clothing, accessories, and fine tailored designs. The luxe boutique is home to a stunning variety of elegant silk scarves, ties and cravats flush with sinuous patterns and prints, along with a distinguished range of bags, shoes, belts and suits fashioned from linen or ‘washed silk’. With locations scattered throughout Saigon, Khai Silk is not easy to miss, but their flagship boutique along the ritzy street of Dong Khoi boasts three floors of traditional Asian and contemporary silk creations.
HIP, CONTEMPORARY FASHION & LIFESTYLE
Hidden away along the well-trammeled streets of Dong Khoi, yet still drawing a sizable crowd, L’Usine is undeniably one of Saigon’s hippest spots. Exposed brick walls, sprawling arched windows and wrought-iron window frames add to the rustic charm of L’Usine’s loft-like space. A treasure trove of locally-designed clothing, accessories and homewares, L’Usine is well-stocked with creature comforts like the kooky cupcake bowls and apothecary bottles from Wetter Indochine as well as a select range of Vietnam-based designers such as Trois Filles and BoAime.
RETRO PROPAGANDA POSTERS & ART
Fancy a bit of Vietnamese kitsch? Load up on vintage propaganda art at Lotus. Every inch of precious wall space in this long and narrow gallery is plastered with retro propaganda posters from the 60s and 70s. The originals don’t come cheap but smaller high-quality reproduction prints are also for sale. Take home a little piece of Vietnamese history or simply step in to admire the punchy retro artwork and posters.
POSTMODERN EMBROIDERED FASHION
Everyone loves a tale of rags-to-riches and former war refugee and self-taught designer, Mai Lam, serves that on a platter, along with her renegade brand of fashion that’s heavy on hand-embroidered details. Mai’s trademark embroidery is a passionate depiction of her personal family history and the tumultuous memory of war. Read: painstakingly hand-sewn embroidery added to the backs of vintage U.S. army jackets and the traditional Vietnamese ‘ao dai’ reinvented for casual everyday wear. Even if the fashion doesn’t necessarily appeal to you, Mai’s striking gallery-style boutique at the historic Hotel Continental is worth a peek.
AUTHENTIC VIETNAMESE ANTIQUES AND CRAFTS
A musty little antique shop it may seem but Nguyen Freres is chock full of authentic Vietnamese treasures. A little eerie yet deeply enchanting, Nguyen Freres stores aged bronze figurines, ceramics, lacquered statues, embroidered textiles and blankets, tribal crafts, vintage silver jewellery and interesting artifacts uncovered from the Mekong riverbed. Elsewhere in the shop, Buddhist sculptures, Northern Vietnamese art and traditional garments woven by ethnic minority tribes reflect Vietnam’s rich and diverse cultural history.
MODERN, REIMAGINED SILK BROCADE
Taking the traditional Vietnamese silk brocade well into the modern age is Thuy Design House. Dubbed “the woman of brocade”, fast-rising designer and painter Thuy Nguyen experiments with traditional materials and shapes to arrive at her signature bold and resplendent designs. Lavish brocades in fiery reds, blazing yellows and emerald greens emblazoned with dragons and phoenixes find balance in sharp structured cuts and contemporary silhouettes. By reinventing traditional forms of dress such as the ao dai, Thuy liberates women to find freedom in their fashion choices and beyond.