it wasn't all just sightseeing
On the LAST day in Barcelona, I went to this shop called Uterque, and spent more than an hour there, just loving all their bags, shoes and other small accessories. Everything was so well-made - buttery thick leathers, sturdy zippers, well-finished stitches and linings - and the designs were simple, elegant, and practical.
And they were all fantastically-priced - the bags averaged 169 euros, which I found very reasonable given the quality.
Oh Uterque, you're the answer to the working girl's dreams of well-designed, quality accessories at a price that won't consume our entire paychecks. I've always hated the fact that accessories are either from high-end designer labels, or synthetic nonsense, while the in-between US$500 to US$1,000 ones rarely justify the cost.
This is good design for the masses that isn't dirt cheap and destined to fall apart in less than a year. It's a gaping hole in the market. How many times have I heard people moan about how it's impossible to find a decent bag for less than US$500?
So anyway, I bought the adorable and utterly comfortable shoes for myself above, and bought my two sisters a bag each, and my mother a pair of their cushy ballerina flats. I helped a friend choose one for his girlfriend because he claimed she would like anything I liked - I picked one that I wouldn't mind keeping for myself should the opposite be true.
This is the one I bought for my older sister; my photo washes it out and doesn't convey the lush softness of the snake-embossed leather -
I love the modest size and the fact that the messenger strap is actualy practical and chic, not merely decorative. Destined to be borrowed all the time!
Did I mention that the shop was beautifully furnished, and the particular staff member who helped me was sweet and helpful and seemed completely sincere - traits alien to Singapore service staff.
It was definitely worth breaking my shoulder handcarrying all the bags and shoes through 13 hours of flying and two airports.
When I came back, I did a spot of Googling, and found that Uterque is opened by the Inditex Group - the same people who brought us Zara, Massimo Dutti, amongst others. Inditex is definitely onto something when it comes to offering affordable, quality goods to the masses. This cannot always be said of Zara, admittedly, but as for Massimo Dutti, I basically want to move into one of their window displays and never come out.