Fashion/Beauty, Travel, U.S. & Abroad
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Fashion Passport: Rajasthan, India

Five no-hassle, high-quality shopping experiences in northern India.

For many, the hustle and bustle of India’s street markets are a shopper’s paradise. The lure of glittering saris, exotic spices and aromatic teas is hard to resist. And let’s face it, where else can you pick up an armful of bangles or fifty strands of beads for a mere 100 rupees (about 1.25€)?

But for some (like me), they can also mean sensory overload. I found wandering through stall after stall and wading through the thousands of choices paralyzing; the constant hassling, haggling and high-pressure tactics exhausting. By day three, I longed for something a little more relaxed.

Ferreting out low-pressure, high-quality shops in India wasn’t easy. But with a little persistence (and some help from our tour guide), I finally found exactly what I was looking for: stores offering authentic, made-in-India goods in an atmosphere meant for leisurely browsing.

If on your next trip to Rajasthan you begin suffering street-market burn-out, checkout these five places for a restful respite:

1.  Fabindia

Linking over 55,000 craft-based, rural producers to modern urban markets, Fabindia is chain-store shopping you can feel good about. Alongside clothing for men, women and children, you’ll find stunning housewares, hand-crafted gift items and organic cosmetics.

What to buy: 

Tunics chic enough for the streets of Paris; skin-soothing Papaya Face Pack and Aloe & Cucumber Gel; super-hydrating Avocado Conditioner; Kajal kohl eyeliner with almond oil (the blackest-black I’ve found yet!).

Insider tip: 

The stores’ incredible clothing assistants will help you find the right fit and create a perfectly coordinated head-to-toe look, accessories included.

fabindiacollage

2.  Jal Mahal Textile & Carpets

One of India’s leading manufacturers, Jal Mahal is well known for its wool and silk rugs featuring beautifully intricate, hand-woven designs. But upstairs from the carpet showroom is where I found my heaven: an expansive shop of textiles ranging from fabrics to finished fashions.

What to buy:

Elegantly designed scarves in 100% pashmina wool or silk-wool blends (my favorite); summer-perfect pants in hand-blocked prints; hand-quilted coverlets made from traditional dyes and fabrics.

Insider tip:

Don’t miss the highly-educational demonstrations of block printing and carpet weaving taking place just outside the store.

rugcollage

Image Credit: TripAdvisor

3.  Antiquariat

Jewelry is always my souvenir of choice, and Antiquariat is definitely the place for it. This family-run business offers one of the largest collections of jewels in India, featuring precious and semi-precious stones set in platinum, gold or silver. While their beautiful pieces are designed and produced exclusively in Jaipur by local craftsmen, their prices are surprisingly affordable.

What to buy:

Your hearts desire! Though the store offers a seemingly endless array of stones, the locally-sourced garnets stole my heart.

Insider tip:

If you’ll be shopping with several friends, call the store ahead of time to arrange an exclusive, after-hours visit.

jewlerycollage

4.  Mehrangarh Fort Museum Shop

In Jodhpur, a visit to Mehrangarh Fort is an obvious must. Less obvious are the shopping gems you’ll discover at the fort’s museum store. Alongside the usual gift items are delicate soapstone carvings, inlayed jewelry boxes and a multitude of high-quality clothing options. All profits from the shop support ongoing conservation and restoration of the Mehrangarh Fort and the nearby Ahichhatragarh Fort at Naguar.

What to buy:

Camel leather shoes in an array of vegetable-dyed colors; hand-woven area rugs; one-of-a-kind statement necklaces.

Insider tip:

In the smaller booths outside the main store, look for original artwork by the renowned local artist, Syed Mehar Ali Abbassi.

museum

5.  Sheroes’ Hangout

Ok, so this place isn’t exactly a shopping mecca, but it’s a great retreat from Agra’s busy streets at which to enjoy a cup of masala tea while picking out a few hand-made gifts. Created by the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, the café is a place of empowerment for survivors. All proceeds benefit the campaign and the shop’s local artisans.

What to buy:

Cute and simple dresses, original artworks and hand-made gift items, all created by survivors working at the café.

Insider tip:

If you’d like to know more about the Sheroes’ women and the Stop Acid Attacks campaign, ask to see the video of their story.

sheroescollage

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