Brazil: Shopping Holiday

The world's largest country in the tropics

Brazilian fashion has really taken off in recent years. The best buys are shoes, leather goods, jewellery and clothing by vanguard Brazilian designers (mostly from Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo), including Isabel Capeto, Reinaldo Lourenco, Ronaldo Fraga, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Gloria Coelho, Carlos Miele and Cris Barros. Brazilian swimwear—bikinis for women and sungas for men—is some of the funkiest you'll ever see and is copied all over the world. You'll find some of the best at Blue Man, Salinas, Bumbum and Rosa Cha, all of which have boutiques in major shopping centres across the country. Other types of beach and surfwear are also cutting edge. And of course, you can't go to Brazil without purchasing at least one pair of high-fashion flip-flops. Clothing aside, other great buys include coffee, traditional handicrafts (such as sculptures, ceramics and woven hammocks—particularly from the northeast), lace and embroidery, rosewood products, and semiprecious and precious stones (such as amethyst, opal, topaz, citrine, tourmaline, emerald). Artifacts from Brazil's many indigenous tribes include jewellery, baskets and pottery. Brazilian gold is generally 18K. Take care when buying live animals or native products such as headdresses made from bird feathers. The sale of these items is often prohibited, and you may have trouble at the airport if you try to transport them out of the country.

Brazilians love their "shoppings" (malls). Not only are they safe and air conditioned, but they combine all kinds of shopping and dining options with myriad services and cinemas. Many offer activities ranging from aerobics to skating rinks. Rio and Sao Paulo have some extremely chic "shoppings" with both national and international designer boutiques, as well as some fine restaurants. Among the largest and most centrally located are Shopping Leblon, Shopping Sao Conrado and Shopping Rio Sul (in Rio), and Shopping Frei Caneca, Shopping Iguatemi and Patio Higienopolis (in Sao Paulo).