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Gijon: a modern shopping mecca

While Catalonia is widely thought of as cosmopolitan, Spain's Asturias region is better known for farm produce than for its cutting-edge design. All this is changing, though, and Gijon (pronounced he-hon, with two very guttural 'h' sounds), on the country's north coast is making a name for itself as a modern shopping mecca with chic clothes and accessories shops, often managed by the designers themselves.

26 May 2011
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Pick up a street map of Gijon at the local tourist office and start your tour in La Troupe, in Calle Instituto, where designer Lucia Garcia Antunez sells her original hats. The young Asturian studied millinery with Charo Iglesias, a regular associate of Roberto Torretta and Elio Berhanyer. In 2006, she founded the handcrafted jewellery brand Años Luz whose products are also available at the store.

Still in the Calle Instituto is the designer Carmen Nieto's first shop, which doubles up as a studio, workshop and showroom. Her women's collections and children's range 'Carmencita' are already marketed throughout Spain. On the same street, Alouette and King's Road both offer a selection of national and international names. Alouette offers a little glimpse of Paris chic, while at King's Road, along with men and women's fashion, footwear and accessories, you can buy designs by the Asturian Hilda Sordo.

Two shops selling vintage fashion have opened their doors recently in Calle La Merced, both run by young Asturians who have returned to their roots and are busy making it big. At La Twin, under the management of Cristina and Jon, you'll find exquisite second-hand designs by Lanvin, Prada and Karl Lagerfeld, among others, as well as a wide assortment of furs and leather. At La Merced, 3 Alicia Carballo and Yann Billaud bring together an exciting collection of clothing, accessories, decor and vintage furniture and combine it with new designs from Cuprum, El Encanto and Alexander Mazuelas. The shop also organizes cultural activities and serves as a showroom. And another must-visit on La Merced is La Buena Pepa, Gijon's first coffeeshop-boutique.

Just a few streets away is La Lucha, where the London-based Asturian Soledad Senra presents her designs for Manolita Watlin, an avant-garde name who have dressed the iconic Kate Moss and graced the covers of Elle.

The original pieces from the personal workshop of designer Susana de Dios, and Naomi Gonzalez's hats bags and other accessories available from Telojuroxmibolso are yet more reasons to count Gijon as a trendsetter in designer shopping.

But the city isn't only about fashion, and boasts a wide range of other first-rate stores. The Central and Paradiso bookstores offer a fantastic selection of books and music; Coalla Gourmet, El Gallego and La Tienda de Nuria on La Merced provide a choice of all things tasty; yet more hats are to be found at La Sombreria, along with a range of umbrellas, and there are several fine shoe shops with a selection of major names. Nor should you forget the fragrance inspired by Asturias, Gijon by Eva Begg, available from tourist information points.

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