Welcome to Martínez, an upscale district about fifteen kilometers north of the popular tourist and shopping areas of downtown Buenos Aires. We took the commuter train up from Retiro Station, wandered the streets, found storefronts galore boasting eye catching shoes, wardrobe fun, and cute cafes and learned the story of a young designer bringing a fresh take on style to the city.
Hunting through typical shops or standing on the street corner and taking notes, it was easy to see that Argentinian fashion is forward and colorful: patterns, prints and textures galore in shop after shop after shop. Great for the first few browsing sessions, but this girl needed something to jazz up her travel gear and somehow that wasn’t quite it…
Fortunately for me, Marìa del bar Barrera of Mercado Buenos Aires is working to simplify styles and design, manufacture, and sell classic wardrobe staples to natives and international visitors alike. Even more fortunate? She was our landlady!
Once again, real life proves better than fiction. In just the little ways that threads tie together to weave a story, we came to find out that our stylish Argentinian friend is a rising star in Latin American fashion, and Ted and I added a trip to her shop to our city holiday itinerary and took our visiting friend Kaylea along for the excursion.
Marìa studied fashion design at U.A.D.E (Universidad Argentina de la Empresa) in her home city of Buenos Aires, working later with Adidas and with B.A.’s own internationally acclaimed designer, Jessica Trosman.
Marìa founded her own design studio and this past November opened Mercado, a boutique storefront in the upscale shopping district of Martínez in San Isidro Partido, Buenos Aires province.
She loves gathering inspiration for her designs during international travels. She has vision for modern, simplified, comfortable, and classic clothing and founded her lines on straightforward pieces that stand in cool and collected contrast to the frenzied styles of many B.A. shops.
Her signature staples: T-shirts made from high quality cottons and basic wardrobe pieces for stylish foundations that could settle in at home in a closet on any continent.
Marìa goes on yearly fabric buying trips to New York City to seek out material unavailable in Argentina, and supports quality material sources at home when she can find then.
Her original cotton shirt designs were made from high grade material imported from Peru.
Recent government regulations in Argentina have forced her and others to cease the import of Peruvian fabrics (a part of the troubling political and economic tensions in modern day Argentina). The bright side? She’s searched and found a new source for organic cotton, grown 100% pesticide free and manufactured in Argentina.
At home in Portland, Oregon, local production is the banner issue for buying choices. Marìa’s efforts remind me of the best of our neighborhood fashion businesses: Branch & Birdie and The Portland Garment Factory. Places where local and artisan produced products are given preference over cheaply made, questionably sourced goods.
How could we not support such a fabulous local business while we made our temporary home in Argentina? (Oh, the justification began so easily…and as soon as I tried the pieces on, they sold themselves.)
We lucked out; our March visit was just at the end of the summer season and her sale items were simply adorable. Just in time for me to pick something out to carry into spring and summer season in the Northern Hemisphere!
Ted’s preference for me: a cute striped shirt off the rack, perfectly soft and comfortable.
My daring attempt at fashion: an easy to pack mini-skirt. Metallic silver may be too far beyond my travel wardrobe needs, but classic black fit the bill. After about seven minutes of deliberation, we decided it was time to make room in the round-the-world bag and buy the shirt and skirt set as a classic, functional souvenir. (Jenna, you would be proud!)
Kaylea found the most adorable top. No pictures to share; you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Marìa is a talented, resourceful young woman; just the kind of entrepreneur to bring inspiration to her home city and help build the future of Porteña fashion and business savvy.
Our bonus to end the afternoon: a stroll down the street to visit Clásica Victoria (E. Lamarca 397 Martínez) and select dainty little treats for the train ride home. (Honestly, though, they didn’t make it the two blocks back to the train station. Too delicious to resist.)
For travelers and locals alike: if you find yourself exploring the city and looking for great places to browse for calm, clean, and simple local fashion, make a trip out beyond the bounds of the commonly shopped tourist neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and their busy, patterned storm of style. Find Marìa at Mercado in Martínez; the upscale shopping district is served by buses, commuter trains, and the Tren de la Costa tourist railway line. Take a look at her latest line, and just maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a new favorite piece as comfortable and cute as my little black skirt…
This Post is Part of If…Then Buenos Aires: Trendy Hole in the Wall adventures around town.
Remember: If you’ve wandered the shops in Palermo Soho or ducked into designer showrooms along San Telmo streets, and you’re left looking for something a little different….try a trip up the Mitre Train line from Retire Station and hop off at Martínez: Mercado is the place for trendy (hole in the wall!) forward-thinking Argentinian clothing design (+5).