Leather has a lengthy history in Buenos Aires. Following Columbus’ trip to what would become America, Spanish settlers opened a small colony which eventually became Buenos Aires. With the individuals came cattle. Caught amid the natives and the river, the settlement soon emptied of people, who left the cattle behind. Half a century later, settlers came again and found the cattle had flourished. The new surge of pioneers killed the cows for food and hide. An Argentine industry was born.
Silvia Eisele tops the list of boutique leather shops. For generations, the Eisele group has sold leather and is known for the excellent quality. Almost all leather goods are custom made after being inspected individually; at Eisele’s it’s about the individual attention as much as the shopping experience. At the boundary of Recoleta, the tiny space is viewable by appointment only. The shop is stuffed with shelves of leather blazers so a patron can buy one ready to go or stick around and have it made to order. The hide is chiefly sheep, goat or lamb. Lamb’s wool is kept on hand to produce a warm natural jacket lining. Call +54 911 4491 4184, or in English (ask for Henry) +54 911 6365 1602 for an appointment.
Another renowned leather goods store, Murillo 666 blends variety with quality. For over 20 years, the shop has been snipping, stitching and marketing leather clothes. Murillo 666 stocks men’s dressy leather coats in black or brown, as well as more casual ‘bomber’-look jackets. A bonus: jackets come in a broad size range. Women haven’t been forgotten. Long, slim jackets are stocked beside short, more formal jackets, and even a green suede blazer was on display recently. Warning: the staff can be unfriendly sometimes, and the items are a little more expensive than many of the other stores. An informal jacket cost over US$320 recently. That green suede jacket? That is going for just over US$100.
Murillo 666, C1414 Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4856 4496
Want all leather trappings? Koux has you covered — forgive the pun. The small shop on Malabia stocks leather pants and dresses to go with leather jackets. The staff are friendly and manage to eagerly help without being pushy. Koux offers more than others when it is time for innovative color combinations as well as designs in patterned suede. Over the shop is a small workshop so you can watch your leather outfit being assembled. The store tailors clothing so a jacket that fit five years ago can be made to fit again — and usually within a day.
Koux, Malabia 15, Villa Crespo, CP1414, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4857 2351
An upscale handbag and pocketbook shop offering some nice looking and unusual designs. Opened over 70 years ago, Casa Lopez now includes two stores: one in Capital Federale and the other across the river in Uruguay. The Buenos Aires store seems to ooze dignity and refinement. Casa Lopez has bags in multiple styles, each big enough to keep what you must have so you remain in high fashion. The big leather handbags are brown, off-white and black, and there’s even a Mary Poppins-style purse. The only issue? The price stickers. Purses run between US$200 and US$400 while wallets begin at US$50. The good news at these prices is simple. The bags are constructed to last.
Casa Lopez, Marcelo T. de Alvear 640, C1058AAH Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4311 3044
Another boutique leather shop, Murillo provides leather jackets as well as footwear. Besides the standard bomber jackets, the shop also carries long, leather coats. Dark brown knee-length coats with silver snaps and cream colored hip-length jackets with big buttons are both available — along with other variations. Fashionable and comfortable riding boots come in tan and black and are embellished with clamps and fasteners. The shop completes its offerings with leather heels in various colors and has demonstrated why it’s won a spot on Murillo for footwear. Prices run a little low for Murillo; visitors will find excellent deals. The chocolate knee-length jacket is just US$200, and the riding boots sell for US$70.
Azcuénaga 227, Cdad. Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, +54 11 4952 5846