Exploring Ho Chi Minh City’s retail trail has never been so satisfying, especially if you start with this quintet of stylish shops.
By Gemma Price
Roll back the antique metal door of this urban concept store to reveal funky global brands and Vietnamese creativity in spades. Equal parts fashion boutique, art space, and Indochine-inspired café, L’Usine stocks everything from vintage racing bikes and whimsical, brightly colored cupcake storage pots to BoAime’s feminine garments in lace, silk, and barely-there chiffon (151 Dong Khoi; 84-8/6674-3565; lusinespace.com).
Designer Antonio Torres studied Neapolitan tailoring during Tom Ford’s tenure at Gucci before opening this temple to Italian cut, style, and technique three years ago. His off-the-rack line, Distretto Tre, includes pieces like polo shirts emblazoned with the coat of arms of Florence, and 1920s dress shirts with hand-stitched collars and cuffs (42A1 Tran Quoc Thao; 84-8/3930 6212).
Set just above knickknack shop Saigon Kitsch, this slick boutique is a trove for lovers of revolutionary propaganda. The framed vintage posters on the wall are not for sale, but there are a number of reproductions and postcard prints of the country’s Socialist art for sale, as well as beautifully illustrated art books, hoodies, and combat jackets (43 Ton That Thiep; 84-8/3825-8272.
Housed in an iconic 1970s building, Gaya offers four floors of contemporary lifestyle and fashion. Even if the store’s signature furnishings—Quasar Khanh’s aluminum-cast tables, for example, or Lawson Johnston’s mod “egg” chairs—are beyond your luggage limit, more portable pieces include French-Cambodian designer Romyda Keth’s curve-hugging fashion, Michele de Albert’s silver tea pots ensconced in linen-lined lacquer boxes, and silver and buffalo-horn jewelry by Harmony (1 Nguyen Van Trang; 84-8/3925-1495; gayavietnam.com).
Inspired by the romance of the Indochine era, Sông’s “luxury casuals” are simple yet refined and perfect for life in the balmy tropics, while its cushions and soft furnishings will bring a touch of laid-back boho chic to any interior. And as Sông is Fair Trade–certified (most pieces are hand-embroidered and embellished by artisans in rural Vietnamese villages), you can splurge on upgrading your style guilt-free (75 Pasteur St.; 84-8/3824-6986; asiasongdesign.com).
Originally appeared in the April/May 2012 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Saigon Stylish”)