Malls oft bring to mind images of a super-sized, suburban-situ’d shopper horrors monopolised by generic global brands, sweatpant-parading parents and their sugar-crazed kiddies.
But this isn’t always the case. From Shoreditch to Shibuya, there’s a new breed of small and stylish retail centres repping local makers and artisan producers in swish, archi-torial settings. Here are our picks of the crop – shop to it!
Forget the name, there ain’t nothing common about this lofty, open-air community shop n’ sup spot in artsy trend hub Thonglor. Amid polished concrete and verdant greenery you’ll find artisan prod purveyors like Roots Coffee and Sri Thai Delicatessen, flowerful Plant House, pre-loved riches at Treasures and an entire level dedicated to entertaining sprogs, all topped off with The Commons Kitchen and Bar.
335 Thonglor Soi 17, Klongton Nue, Wattana, Bangkok. +66 2 712 5400. thecommonsbkk.com
Sharing a Mid-Century complex with hip-cat 25hours Hotel, Bikini brings a dash of contempo Kreuzburg ‘tude to chic Charlottenburg with a mod-imalist tunnel-like aesthetic and hand-plucked collection of creative concept stores. Berlin bigwigs like Anna Kraft, book-nook Gestalten and spec-tacular Mykita are all here, as well as emerging talent tucked into a row of sharp glass boxes. Just remember: the best shops and sups are up top near the sunny zoo-view terrasse.
Budapester Str. 38-50, Charlottenburg, Berlin. +49 30 55496454. bikiniberlin.de
Once home to the bobbies of nearby Central Station, the two heritage buildings of the Police Married Quarters house seven floors of design-led retail, art galleries and dining, plus regular markets and installations in the central courtyard. Cop-a-lorra finger finery from 794729 Metalwork, fancy footwear in BlkSheep Empire and collectible threads et al from homegrown French-inflected lifestyle lovely Kapok, then refuel on mod-Brit bites at Jason Atherton’s Aberdeen Street Social.
35 Aberdeen St, Central, Hong Kong. pmq.org.hk
A few years since it first popped-up, this shipping container cluster is now a firm fixture in Shoreditch, continuing to stack an ever-changing array of capsule stores stocking cutting-edge fashion and hipster bib-bobs, along with all-day street eats. In the mix right now is a curated interiors stash at Decorum, retro glad rags via Nordic Poetry and handmade, minimalist jewellery from Astrid & Miyu, plus shack-attack Caribbean Cottons for rum n’ fun.
2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, London, E1. boxpark.co.uk
Deep among Omotesando's backstreets, inside a retro-refurbed post-war house, you'll find just eight teeny-tiny shops championing different Japanese crafts. Stir up a matcha at tea-riffic Uji-en, sip Japanese wine at Margaux, stock up on specialty stationery at Kakimori, then sniff out bijou wagashi-shaped incense at Juttoku. Hungry? Head to nihonshu shop Gôkaque for bistro bites paired with aged and rare sakes.
4-15-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. urasando-garden.jp/en
In a city where big-hitting label Mabels reign supreme, this curious concept mall is shining the spotlight on smaller, alternative Sino talent. While its brand-spanking status means some units are yet to be occupied, shops are filling fast with the likes of Polyphony (sleek music Mecca with specialty record-listening studio, iPad comics and in-house caff) and street-to-chic Chinese fash boutiques such as eco-luxe Rosemoo, indie stable Sseeroom and mod-ochrome Shu Lam. Tea lab Papp’s and craft ales from Panda Brew too.
1 Sanlitun Nan Lu, Chaoyang, Beijing.
Darls, the only mall a true market-loving, maker-championing Melburnian would ever admit to frequenting is this sleek, architectural CBD style desti. Emporium is the go-to for the who’s who of Oz fashion incl. kaftan queen Camilla, minimal-sleek Jac+Jack, Willow, Sass&Bide and Scanlan and Theodore, plus stylish handmade footwear at 124 Shoes. And for that post-shop flop, don't miss the smart L/3 food court with super souvas Jimmy Grants and snappy sarnie spot Earl Canteen.
287 Lonsdale St, City, Melbourne. +61 3 8609 8221. emporiummelbourne.com.au
Baik Ji-won's bold n' blue stacked freight box site hosts a hoard of art and design talent amidst pop-ups, flea markets and food trucks. Look out for standouts like preppy The Studio K Navy, experimental DIM E CRES and Evajunie. It’s an out of the way locale, but accessible by subway and well worth the schlep.
17-1 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul. +82 2 467 2747. common-ground.co.kr
Having spent the better part of her 'study years' flitting from Sri Lanka and South Africa to Iceland and Italy, Eleani joined LUXE fresh from freelancing for TimeOut Melbourne and Fairfax media.