1. Shopping malls and department stores
The first thing that tourists see when they leave the Moskovsky railway station and find themselves on Ligovsky prospect is the Galeria shopping center (30 Ligovsky prospect). So, let's start with it first. This is perhaps the number one shopping mall in Saint Petersburg that houses monobrand stores by all major mass market and middle-up brands: from Uniqlo and H&M to Furla and Armani Jeans. Galeria differs little, if any, from Moscow shopping centers: here you'll find pretty much the same array of brands, a similar layout, a food court and a multiplex movie theater (at the 5th level), as well as an amusement park for kids (at the 6th level). That said, Galeria hosts two multi-label stores that are endemic to Saint Petersburg and are not available even in Moscow: they are Opening and Freedom Market.
Opening is a project by LYYKTeam, alongside LYKK proper (74 Griboedova st.), Bolshoy (84 Bolshoy prospekt of Petrograskaya Side), and Lomonosova22 (22 Lomonosova st.). All these four retail outlets are South Korean and Russian (with the former one dominating) trendy fashion hubs as exemplified by see-through backpacks, fur vests, pink mesh tutu skirts, and other fruits of Instagram-driven marketing that they stock. Their product range is at times resembles that of AliExpress but made available at a higher price point.
Freedom Market, on the other hand, is intended to serve primarily as a Russian designers outlet. Even though the concept behind the store is essentially less 'girlish', odd items that are well-nigh irreconcilable within the context of a single retail space way outnumber their counterparts sold at Opening. Be that as it may, should you happen to pass by Galeria, both these stores worth a bit of a detour. You never know what to expect from Russian designers and never know what you will find.
DLT (21-23 Bolshaya Konyushennaya st.) is one more shopping center that stands out from the competition. It's unique selling point is its exorbitant pricing as one would naturally expect from a TSUM-owned department store. All in all, if the 'more D&G, Fendi, and Versace' sounds very much like your personal creed, than go no further than DLT.
Au Pont Rouge
In case you can afford yourself a ₽100,000 overcoat and your interests go beyond European heritage fashion houses, pay also a visit to Au Pont Rouge (73 Moika River Embankment). This department store stocks collections by the brands that are both more original and up to date: think Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Han Kjøbenhavn, and the like. 100% of all retail space available at the 4th level is for off-price items: exploring them is a perfect way to surprise yourself.
2. Places of power for hipsters
If you're up to keeping your shopping more shoestring, there are plenty of opportunities for you too. Never underestimate Etazhi, or Lofts (74 Ligovsky prospect). This is a mecca for Petersburg hipsters of sorts. Such 'notoriety' notwithstanding, Lofts host quite a few of hidden retail gems. Think for example of the Mylnaya Belka and Otdel duo. Just like with Freedom Market, they are mostly Russian designers habitat. In contrast to the latter, however, they put emphasis not on the scope of the brand array, but rather on ensuring curation quality and discovery efficiency. Otdel carries a delicately selected range of Russian street fashion labels (Volchok, Mech, Sputnik1985); Mylnaya Belka is home to local womenswear brands (NNedre, Otocyon, Oh,my, SHLZ). Lofts also host several St. Petersburg-based monobrand stores: among them are SH'U (waterproof rain coats, winter jackets, and rubber boots), Krakatau (outerwear made of hi-tech fabrics), and 'Usta k ustam' (womenswear made of natural fibers that comes in subdued floral shades). From time to time, Lofts also hold 'garage sales' for those who think of the thrill of the hunt as the best part of shopping. The 4th level is home to the modestly-sized 'Christ's teeth' resale boutique (yes, it is perfectly acceptable in Saint Petersburg for an apparel shop to go by such sweet a name).
Another place somewhat reminiscent of Lofts is Tkachi (60 Obvodny Canal Embankment). Actually, it's a business center. However, it houses several stores that are worth making all the way to Obvodny Canal. First, it's OFF, a resale boutique inspired by the concept of the old curiosity shop. Among the staples stocked by OFF are tailcoats, kilts, and reticules embroidered with beads; add to this that the store also serves as a Halloween party costume rental. Tkachi are also home to Russian Room and Want, two maiden projects launched by Wow Family. Wow Family were among the first in Russia to start importing pieces by South Korean designers.
The last point on our map of hipster asyla in Saint Petersburg is 8-store, part of the Taiga creative space, located at the 2nd level of a 19th century mansion offering an enviable view of the Neva river and the Peter and Paul Fortress. The interiors are utterly Petersburgian: fretwork, parquetry, candles, and a heavy beast skull to add to this impression. The lady founders of the store are credited with discovering a number of the now well-established designers of the Saint Petersburg fashion scene like Asya Malberstein, Osome2some, and Liza Odinokikh. This is one of certain powers and responsibilities that come with the status of being among the very first showrooms of Russian designers in the city.
3. City Center
On the whole, Petersburg is a city with many a places of interest generously scattered across the city center and not being confined to a single location. Just to give yourself an idea of what these places are, try Gate31 stores located on 16 Rubinshteina st. and 31 Gorokhovaya st. They are worth visiting if you advocate the so called uniform dressing style, or Phoebe Philo is everything you strive to look like, or you build your basic wardrobe from scratch, or you are just fed up with deciding anew what to wear each and every morning. Gate31 is tons of rails of gray, black, and white blank pants, jumpers, and shirts. It would be a stretch to think of this selection as 'fashion asceticism' unleashed, however: the great bulk of the silhouettes are well aligned with the latest trends, but the range of tasteless items is admittedly kept to the bare minimum either.
At the intersection of Moika embankment and Nevsky prospect, just left of the Volkonsky confectionery, is situated Museum, a multi-brand store of notice (59 Moika River Embankment). Just like Gate31, Russian Room, and Want, Museum is a brainchild of Wow Family. It carries the same South Korean labels occasionally interspersed with domestic ones. Museum stands apart from other projects engineered by Wow Family with a tad more comprehensive selection and a dedicated section of lingerie of mostly Russian origin. All in all, Museum is worth to pass by when looking for feminine pieces like lingerie style dresses, duster coats, and chiffon blouses.
51 Nevsky prospect has been home to the Tatyana Parfionova fashion house headquarters for over a decade and a half. Parfionova is representative of the Saint Petersburg old school of fashion designers, and she's one of very few of them who continues to sustain a high level of interest across shoppers and the industry alike. Her creations, naturally, cost a small fortune, but the investment will reward you with a truly impressive hand finish touch and designer prints unavailable on the mass market. But even if you still can't afford yourself a ₽60,000 dress, treat yourself with a bit of window shopping at least: the showcases there are decorated as fabulously as dresses themselves.
55 Gorokhovaya st. conceals Ambar Shop that is so inconspicuous as to evade detection unless you know about it beforehand. This is a hybrid of a resale shop and a discount outlet that carries Levi's, Kangol, Dockers, Brooks Brothers, Wrangler, Wolverine, and the like. The team running the store draws inspiration from uniforms, signature American apparel, and the 20th century subcultures. There're tons of check shirts, jeans and denim jackets, biker jackets, military and work uniforms of different eras (and a range of apparel that alludes to uniforms in some way), alongside comfy and voluminous sweats. The product range is meticulously curated with most of the items available in one size only, while others are not available for sale but still worth appreciating.
Another resale boutique that merits paying a visit is Supershop. This is a consignment shop run by the Pif-Paf bar and hair salon owners. The shop is located in the building immediately adjacent to the bar: 31 Griboyedov Canal embankment. The concept behind Supershhop is somewhat different if compared to those of Ambar Shop and even OFF: this is a resale boutique that accepts items by such labels as Rick Owens, Comme des Garçons, Helmut Lang, Raf Simons, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten – well, you've got the idea. Anyone is eligible to bring a piece for consignment: commission is 50%, checks are issued by the end of every month.
Vladimirsky Passage, which is essentially yet another shopping center, hosts Nevalenki, quite an idiosyncratic footwear store (19 Vladimirsky prospect). The store carries an array of labels from around the world that are rarely available in Petersburg, in most cases they are well-known abroad but are not represented in Russia: e.g. Jeffrey Campbell, Minna Parikka, Trippen, and Senso. You will appreciate the store if you like odd-shaped heels as well as unconventional detailing, if judged by mainstream footwear standards: think pop art inspired prints, fur details, and cleat soles in delicate pinks.
If you want an overcoat then go no further than osome2some (94 Griboyedov Canal Embankment). This is a Petersburg-based label established back in 2009 as an outerwear specialist. Nowadays, their product range has extended to also cover dresses, skirts, and trousers, but it's still overcoats where osome2some really shine. They always look fresh and up to date thanks to well-calculated color solutions and geometric silhouettes unburdened by excessive detailing. The store stocks both classic styles and less conventional pieces (like those made of mohair).
In case you happen to be a streetwear aficionado, pass by Yunost (2 Malaya Sadovaya st.) and FAB Store (3 Bankovsky Pereulok). Both outlets are well-established and well-known in Saint Petersburg fashion circles. At the core of the product range stocked by Yunost is clothing by Extra, a Petersburg-based label. Since recently, the store also offers pieces by other streetwear brands that are manufactured in Russia. FAB Store boasts the most comprehensive collection of items by Converse, Dr.Martens, and Vans. The array of apparel labels it carries includes Obey, Penfield, Cheap Monday, The North Face, and other lesser known foreign brands of the same league.
Alongside LYKK Team projects, one of the most essentially girlish of all stores in the city is the Sonya Marmeladova monobrand store (40 Rubinshteina st.). This place is a paradise for those in love with the 1940s and 1950s fashion. Even if you are convinced that flared skirts and bow tie blouses saw their heyday back in 2013 and are now moribund (we actually agree with you on this point), do not hesitate pass by the store for the sake of the 'Bondarev' premium line of clothing, if nothing else. Sergey Bondarev is a local painter who shines when it comes to print designs.
148 Nevsky prospect houses a JNBY store. This is an eco-friendly Chinese brand with sophisticated tailoring, austere basics, colourful layered pieces, and piecewise clothes at the core of the product range. The store is a go-to destination for asymmetric cardigans, T-shirts with unconventional print designs, and, of course, the signature JNBY outerwear. Among fashion labels that bring down their products to an affordable price point, JNBY could be considered as one of the most advanced.
4. Petrograd Side
If you happen to find yourself in the Petrogradsky District, pay a visit to the Cultsome store (17 Kamennoostrovsky prospect). Just like LYYK Team and Wow Family, the guys at Cultsome blend Asian and Russian brands in their product mix. Unlike with the competition, however, Cultsome put less of an accent on feminity and are more sportswear-minded. Cultsome are also remarkable for their ongoing series of collaborations that go well beyond fashion design and also involve artists, illustrators, graphic designers, that is to say a very diverse range of creative communities. Add to this that the store stocks limited edition styles by adidas and Reebok unavailable even from the respective standalones.
Just next to Cultsome there's the 'Voyage! Voyage!' store (17 Kamennoostrovsky prospect). The store is the latest brainchild of the think tank behind Hopeshop (44 Mokhovaya st.) and Unique Fabric (24 Gorokhovaya st.). All these stores are a little too clone-like, in terms of their offerings, to merit paragraphs of their own and lend themselves to be treated as a single entity. This is the clothing catered to the tastes of young highbrow Petersburgian ladies who are enrolled in the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics, postdramatic theatre regulars, or just straight-A students. Unlike with the Sonya Marmeladova store we've mentioned above, items offered at 'Voyage! Voyage!' are way more fashion-forward. Apart from tailored knee-length mandarin collar dresses, the store stocks sweatshirts, denim jackets, and even sneakers that are meant to match seamlessly with the dresses.
Bolshoy Prospekt of Petrograd Side houses the eponymous Bolshoy store, but if you've read our guide that far you certainly have already had enough of LYYK Team, so we will spare you another digression. If you instead walk through Kamennoostrovsky prospect down to Malaya Posadskaya street, you will eventually arrive at the gates of the Day Night concept store (6 Malaya Posadskaya st.). The same chain also runs Day Night Lite (59 Moika River Embankment) and Day Night Outlet (hosted by Vladimirsky Passage mall, 19 Vladimirsky prospect). Before the advent of Au Pont Rouge, Day Night had offered the most comprehensive range of clothing, footwear, and accessories by conceptually-minded labels. In a nutshell, this is a destination for those who fall in love with all things deconstructed, exaggerated, and avant-garde. Expect high price point there, save for the outlet that offers Miu Miu and Céline shoes for less than ₽8,000 alongside ₽15,000 over-the-knee boots by Balenciaga marked down from the original price of ₽40,000.
5. Concept Stores
Incidentally, Saint Petersburg has to its credit two endemic stores that are unavailable elsewhere in Russia, Moscow including. Both are official distributors of their respective brands. The first one is Maison Margiela (44 Nevsky prospect, the 4th level). We recommend this store to all fashionistas fond of monochromatic color solutions, asymmetric and oversized designs, and architecturally-minded cutting that all overlap and make for a multilayer trompe-l'œil effect. Items priced below ₽10,000 never make it to the store, and those that eventually do are extremely rare.
The second conceptual monobrand store unavailable in Moscow is Comme des Garçons (156 Nevsky prospect). This is a concept store worthy of the name: interiors, product range, and storefront design all add to this powerful impression. Rei Kawakubo's oeuvre is not necessarily meant to be purchased: window shopping is as much fun. If you are still eager to buy something but under tight budget constraints then the quite comprehensive and affordable (relative to other Comme des Garçons products) Comme des Garçons Play diffusion line is just for you: treat yourself with signature polka dot long sleeve T-shirts and breton tops with a heart-and-eyes patch at the chest.
Comme des Garçons
If you exit the Comme des Garçons store and then cross the road, chances are that in the backyard you'll stumble upon Baddesign139 (Nevsky Prospect, 139) - the store run by Olya Marquez, the lead vocalist of 'Alai Oli' also known as the fat-is-dead blogger and entrepreneur. Baddesign is a retail space divided into two rooms that stock clothing in the best tradition of avant-garde 'dark fashion'. Think Rick Owens gone supernormal: "having been one, may I become many". The array of brands carried by the store changes all too often with well-established brands being more of an exception, which is perhaps to the advantage of the place like this. As highbrow as Comme des Garçons and Maison Margiela are, their products are available from almost any concept store, both brick-and-mortar and online ones, unlike with Simona Tagliaferri, Sharuk, Isabel Benenato, and the like that are a rare bird indeed. Add to this pieces by local designers painstakingly curated, of course, to match the concept behind the store.
The concept store that closes our list is Nevsky152 (152 Nevsky prospect). It's located in the same area, just a minute's walk from Comme des Garçons and Baddesign139. This is one of the stores run by the Babochka chain that also owns three more multi-label stores and several monobrands. Babochka is an official distributor of Lanvin, Fendi, and seven more luxury labels in Petersburg. The selection of items offered at Nevsky152, as is the case with other Babochka-run stores, is basically all the usual suspects: Balmain, Saint Laurent, Carven, and Alexander McQueen, which resembles that of the DLT department store more than Au Pont Rouge's or Day Night's. That said, if these department and concept stores fail you, giving a try to Nevsky152 makes perfect sense.
6. Chain resale shops
Chain resale shops provide a shopping experience best suited for the diligent and patient. Megastyle is one of the most popular chains. It boasts a network of stores with the 'flagship' store located just next to Staraya Derevnya metro station (4a Optikov st.). This is essentially a ginormous warehouse packed with a whopping number of items, the great bulk of which are predictably ugly. That said, chances are that amidst zillions of nondescript items there're your most coveted leather pants or a voluminous red and white checkered shirt that few will be able to tell apart from a Marques Almeida. Every Friday expect 60% off discounts at Megastyle; every Saturday check Megastyle for new arrivals. Alternatively, one can try her luck at the stores run by Planeta Second Hand and Vo!va chains.
7. Udelka Flea Market
Finally, you just can't leave Saint Petersburg without a trip to what is colloquially known as 'Udelka'. This legendary flea market is located just next to Udelnaya (hence the name) metro station and has long been serving prop-makers as the number one source of props they build for movies, shows, theatrical performances, and photo shoots. Also, Udelka can be enjoyed as a pastime of choice for city dwellers and tourists alike, being an open air show-and-sell museum of everyday anthropology with curiosities of the past galore. The Udelny flea market opens with a plethora of resale shops and retailers offering Gucci and Prada counterfeits; however, if you delve a bit further, a magnificent view of infrastructure free area will open on all sides: antiques, collectibles, Soviet era badges and decorations, tableware and cutlery, postcards, lps, plastic dolls, and, of course, clothing are all there, with most of these precious items displayed directly on the ground. Back in 2008, one could routinely get there vintage collections by Acne, Ralph Lauren, and Burberry at a truly bargain price; nowadays, pieces by well-established brands of this stature are way harder to find, but military uniforms of the Netherlands or the like, alongside hand knitted jumpers in fine alpaca are still waiting for you. The flea market is open on the weekends starting from 6am. You're well advised to come there early: in the mornings, the selection is drastically wider, while prices are as drastically lower.