City Gift Guides - Issue 169 - Magazine | Monocle
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1.
Los Angeles

Los Angeles is sprawling but sticking to neighbourhoods is one way to tackle it. Start at BDDW’s brand-new outpost in Hollywood, selling suggestive ceramics painted by Tyler Hays that make for a saucy stocking filler. A short stroll west is North Sycamore Avenue, where bold frames and sunglasses by Jacques Marie Mage can be found at the French designer’s boutique, along with gifts at department store Just One Eye. Refuel at the airy bakery Tartine, then take a cab down Sunset Boulevard to Mohawk General Store, which has expanded on its men’s and womenswear offering with a home shop full of exquisite one-off designs as well as pantry staples by Flamingo Estate. Explore the small boutiques around Silver Lake – a paint-mottled mug from the studio of Peter Shire or a fine bottle from Silverlake Wine makes for an easy gift – before continuing east to The Good Liver in the Arts District for Finnish gardening tools and bronze kitchenware from South Korea. Next? Culver City for art and design books from Arcana, and then a quick cab to Tortoise General Store, where co-owner Taku Shinomoto presents his own Hasami Porcelain alongside a selection of Japanese-made linens, bags and artworks.

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2.
Athens

To get a taste of Athens’ positivity, head to Hyper Hypo for the best art books and magazines by local talent plus international titles. Another recent addition to downtown Athens is Mouki Mou for a pared-back range of clothing, jewellery and household objects. For more artisan-made wares, head to Anthologist – a glamorously appointed showroom on the top floor of a neoclassical townhouse, stocking everything from vintage kilim rugs and woven bags from Mexico to Afghan robes. Elsewhere in the city centre is the flagship store of Ancient Greek Sandals, a footwear brand which has stepped up with an elegant homeware collection. Next door is Naxos Apothecary, where shoppers can pick up soaps, scents and skincare products made using herbs from the Cycladic islands. A short walk leads to the Exarcheia neighbourhood, a hub for small independent brands and makers. One such is the excellently named It’s a Shirt, run by Athenian designer Christina Christodoulou. From her shop on Asklipiou street, she sells clothing made at her father’s workshop. Finish with some melomakarona (Greek honey biscuits) at Asimakopouloi, a bakery and chocolate shop that has been family-run since 1915.

3.
San Sebastián

Harking back to its turn-of-the-century heyday – when Spanish royalty would holiday here – is Perfumería Benegas, which opened in 1908. Seek out their own line of products, Colonia Benegas, which are scented with a delicate mix of jasmine and orange blossom. Another of the Old Town’s retail institutions is Casa Ponsol, a hat shop founded in 1838 where you can pick up a warm woollen txapela (a type of Basque beret). Nearby is Elkano 1, an artisan cheese shop selling varieties from across this corner of northern Spain. Down the street is Loreak Mendian, a homegrown clothing brand with a pared-back range inspired by founders Victor Serna and Xabi Zirikiain’s surfer lifestyle. Should the weather not be in your favour, it’s a great place to find a raincoat. A short walk from here is Chocolates de Mendaro for melt-in-the-mouth truffles. Or if you’re looking for a present to feed the mind, continue towards the cathedral to Librería Donosti. This family-run shop stocks everything from children’s books to literary fiction. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, head around the corner to Box. You’ll find an array of artisan leather goods: with wallets, bags and briefcases that can be customised.

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4.
London

London is a big beast to tame. Open by meeting in Notting Hill to fuel up and find some nibbles at Pastella & Butler’s for the best in cheese and chutney to line your friends and families’ pantries – plus a pastry or two for yourself. Then onto Marylebone for a wardrobe refresh at menswear multi-brand shops Trunk Clothiers and John Simons before a peruse of the tailoring at Casely-Hayford and running gear at Tracksmith, plus a look at TWC’s new menswear outpost on Chiltern Street. The Monocle Café is agreeably close at hand, too. Now, to restore your spirits let’s head to Berry Bros & Rudd in St James’s, the city’s oldest (and probably best) wine merchant, which has survived in the same shop on Pall Mall since 1698. From here, providing your bags aren’t too heavy, it’s a stroll up to Soho for a look at Studio Nicholson’s sparing and elegantly done shop on Broadwick Street. As rain mostly falls on London in the stead of promised snow, an umbrella is not only handy but a great gift – dash to James Smith & Sons, operating on New Oxford Street since 1830, for a bespoke brolly. From there it’s a short walk to stationery shop Present & Correct on Bury Place. At Coal Drops Yard by King’s Cross, MHL is a good stop-off for shirting and cosy knits, while Kitchen Provisions offers a great selection of Japanese knives and covetable cookware. Finally, head up to TwentyTwentyOne on Upper Street for a few final design-minded finds to round off your spree.

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5.
Zürich

Start your journey with a hunt for homeware at Edition Populaire. Its careful selection of items is intended not only to be useful but also to add a gentle touch of colour; you’ll find stools designed by Martino Gamper and Charlotte Perriand bedside lamps. For those looking for more, it’s only a few steps over to household specialists Slow Goods to find Swiss-made crafts for the kitchen table and durable pots and pans that will age well and look good on the stovetop. Continue towards Welschland for a fine selection of excellent cheeses, wines and cured meats from French-speaking Switzerland. To find a trove of rare LPs and selected vintage items – anything from furniture to posters – head to 16 Tons at Anwandstrasse 25, which has been trading in tasteful finds since 1989. For taste of a different variety, Confiserie Teuscher, with two locations in Kreis 1, remains a favourite for those with a sweet tooth. Pick up a box of Champagne truffles for yourself and one of the assorted praline boxes for your loved ones. Garçoa is a more contemporary option in Kreis 5, where the young, Swiss bean-to-bar company takes over the Eisvogel ice-cream shop during the colder months. For your beauty regime, the knowledgeable team at Parfumerie Spitzenhaus off Bahnhofstrasse will ensure you’re looking great and smelling the part. There’s also Süskind for hard-to-find fragrances, Fabrikat for stationery and three Soeder shops for skincare. For a wardrobe top-up including ample choice of accessories, head over to Opia in Europaallee, where you’ll find brands such as Rierand jewellery by local brand Yan Jiang Studio. Finally, this being Zürich, weekend opening hours are limited, so for those hoping to find the perfect present on a Sunday, head to the selection of Swiss-made products at the Landesmusem Boutique near Hauptbahnhof or, of course, visit us at Monocle’s headquarters, café and shop in Seefeld.

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6.
Toronto

First let’s pick up a record or two at mainstay Rotate This or Invisible City Record Shop, home to a record label of the same name and a small wine bar where you can review your purchases. Several of Toronto’s independent menswear shops have revamped their interiors this year. They include Muddy George on Bloor Street West (for offerings such as cosy Shetland wool jumpers by Harley); Sydney’s fine in-house tailoring on Queen Street West; Lost & Found for Beams Plus;and Il Bussettoleather goods. Elsewhere, Blue Button Shop’s Japanese design offerings remain a Monocle favourite. For the letter-writers on your gift list, head to Wonder Pens, Toronto’s best independent pen and stationery store, which opened a decade ago this year. For print enthusiasts, pick up hard-to-find indies at Issues, Toronto’s newest magazine shop, founded by Nicola Hamilton in 2022. Type Books remains a staple and Flying Books, a few doors down from The Monocle Shop in Little Italy, is excellent. 

7.
Hong Kong

In Central, there is Wine Brothers for Aussie labels, LQV for all things French and La Cabane for natural and biodynamic bottles (it also stocks homegrown chocolatier Conspiracy Chocolatefor those with a sweet tooth). Head to the Fine Wine Experience in Sai Ying Punfor Hong Kong’s largest retail selection of wines from the Jura to Japan. Teetotallers can make their way to nearby Plantation Tea Bar in Shek Tong Tsui for exquisitely packaged teas and artisanal teaware. Menswear needs can be fulfilled at Salvo (for twill trousers, patterned shirts and mohair jumpers), while those with athletic loved ones can swing by Lane Eight for stylish and sustainable running shoes. Both are located in Wan Chai’s Stastreet Precinct, dense with wonderful shops such as Perfumer H and Kapok – and you can pop by The Monocle Shop. A little further east, Causeway Bay’s Okura select store offers Japanese womenswear and lifestyle brands, while nearby Still House and Hide & Seek offer menswear and accessories. Finally, The Lion Rock Press is the go-to gifting option for nostalgic Hong Kongers – think hand-painted Star Ferry Christmas-tree baubles and beautiful prints of city scenes by Hong Kong artists.

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8.
Sydney

Let’s meet at the Strand Arcade between Pitt and George Streets, where Rox Gems & Jewellery has plenty of sparkly things that are sure to delight. At the other end of the arcade is Haigh’s Chocolates, Australia’s best confectionery company, whose family-made wares are super stocking-stuffers. Japanese-Aussie designer Akira on the top floor is well worth a stop-off too. Next, wander down George Street to Hunt Leather for accessories. The inner suburbs also have treats, none more so than The Cookery Book in harbourside

Northbridge, where you’ll find all the latest Australian and international cookbooks, nearby Koskela in Milsons Point and florist Bess in William Street Paddington for a wreath or centrepiece. P Johnson is also close at hand for top-class clothing for men and women. Design-wise, Sydney has plenty of spoils, from Vampt Vintage Design in Surry Hills to The Society Inc by Sibella Court in St Peters. The only issue you’ll have is getting your find home and wrapped.

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9.
Lisbon

Christmas shopping can feel like a slog in hilly Lisbon, so start off your expedition by picking up a pair of comfortable walking shoes at JAK – for yourself and a loved one. Pair them with a plaid shirt and corduroy jacket from Fairly Normal and you’ve nailed the laid-back city’s style already. If it’s cool, a pair of cashmere-lined gloves or woolly mitts make a good gift. Luvaria Ulisses steals the show: the shopfront of this 1920s glove-maker is worth the visit alone. For a more intimate present, Paris em Lisboa has stocked the softest bedding, pyjamas and dressing gowns since 1888. Burel Factory also makes elegant shawls, cushions and bedspreads from the Serra da Estrela region. A lobster, mushroom or walnut-shaped ceramic bowl is not something that one needs but Bordallo Pinheiro’s homeware makes for playful gifts. Ditto the Portuguese-made goodies sold at the A Vida Portuguesa sites. Depozito is a one-stop-shop for textiles, toys, toiletries and jewellery. And for those for whom the festive season is more about the culinary pleasures, Comida Independente stocks an excellent selection of Portuguese wines and pantry classics such as olive oil and honey from small producers. 

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10.
São Paulo

Expect to see Santas in board shorts as the festive season hits mid-summer in São Paulo. For homeware, our favourite is Firma Casa and Dpot is top for furniture. But let’s start with something sweet: Dengo Factory in Pinheiros – a three-storey temple to Bahian cocoa beans selling slabs of fruit-studded chocolate, cocoa-coated nuts and even a make-your-own chocolate bar line. A short ride away, Misci is the latest to join a cohort of up-and-coming fashion labels on Rua Mateus Grou. A few doors down, Feira na Rosenbaum sells the crème de la crème of Brazilian craftmanship, with homeware and décor sourced from artisans and collectives across Brazil. At the end of the street, stroll down Rua Cardeal Arcoverde, where antique shops have hidden gems. From there it’s not far to Rua Oscar Freire, an avenue in the heart of Jardins. Osklen, a timeless Brazilian fashion brand, cuts laid-back styles from cutting-edge sustainable materials. Just a few doors down, the Havaianas flagship shop sells Brazil’s obligatory summer footwear, while round the corner Haight – the Rio de Janeiro beach brand of the moment – completes the look with bikinis and swimming costumes. Nearby Granado, a vintage toiletries brand dating back to 1870, is excellent for stocking-fillers, while Mario Cohen sells prints by some of Brazil’s top photographers, not least Sebastião Salgado. For food, look no further than Emporio Fasano, the hotelier’s great gourmet supermarket and food hall.

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11.
Bangkok

Christmas combines two things Bangkok does better than most: festivals and shopping. December’s slightly cooler temperatures also offer a seasonal opportunity to go beyond the air-conditioned shopping malls. Siam Square is a recently pedestrianised shopping area just north of Sukhumvit Road and the central metro station. It’s where fashion trends start and an adventurous young crowd has come for generations to strut their stuff. Thai womenswear label Gentlewoman opened its flagship shop here in 2022 and its branded tote bags have become hot property across Asia. After browsing the area’s independent boutiques, walk up to Sukhumvit Road and cool down inside CentralWorld Bangkok’s retail mecca. Good Goods on the ground floor combines modern Thai design with traditional crafts, stocking everything from clothing and ceramics to larder essentials Thai honey, jam and coffee; a Monocle magazine fits snugly inside their colourful zip-pocket pouches (just a thought). Heading up to the fifth floor, the shelves at the Chabatree concession are chock-a-block with fetching, “Made in Thailand” kitchen utensils. Chabatree’s perfectly weighted wooden serving spoons marry form and function – a product of the founder’s background in engineering and passion for design (try their salt and pepper shakers, his current obsession). Crossing the road to Gaysorn Village, JBB and The Decorum are two Monocle menswear favourites and a must-visit for looking sharp at any end-of-year knees-up. Then, for the morning after, skincare brand Pañpuri is nearby. For our final stop, board the BTS at Chit Lom and ride five stops east to Thong Lo, a popular drinking and dining destination. At the top of the street, furniture showroom Chanintr Craft is worth a visit even if you only have carry-on luggage. The courtyard café is an ideal spot to take stock of your Christmas gift list and the retail wall can cater to most tastes.

12.
Dubai

Dubai has much more than malls. For wonderfully wobbly-looking ceramics, try Cole & Cinder: a Dubai-based firm founded by Nicole Farrelly, whose studio you can book to visit. As far as independent bookshops go, Magrudy’s is the original independent but Books Kinokuniya Dubai in Dubai Mall is the best stocked. Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz is the place to nab an original artwork while The Edit, curated by Rumana Nazim, focuses on womenswear by female-founded brands. Nearby is The Flip Side record store, ready to cater for vinyl collectors. For something sweet, Kathy Johnston’s UAE-made Mirzam chocolate factory is the place to stock up on festive confectionery. Emirati Mohammed Kazim’s comely sandal shop Tamashee is a must. Elsewhere on the fashion front, L’Afshar makes simple handbags and accessories. Last up we’re off to D3 for a scoot around The Lighthouse concept shop and Peter Ahn’s Frame, both of which are piled with books and design items.

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