Shopping in Panama: Lights, Camera, Fashion

panama fashion.

I will admit that after a few days of observing, I was a little (lot) disappointed by the Panamanian fashion. It literally looked like a live and walking DEB store everywhere I went.

About five days in, the day before classes began, I had convinced myself that the malls here were full of DEB fashion. But, for some reason, I couldn’t accept that notion and decided to either confirm or contest my theory. And so I took a trip to the mall—well, to more than one, of course.

“I haven’t seen anyone walking around in anything even close to Hermes,” I told her.

Liberty New York

The first, Panama City’s Albrook Mall, is an oasis of clothing, shoe, accessory, electronic, grocery, etc. stores. Pretty much anything you’re looking for, you can find there—twice and thrice over. They have three or four food courts, a movie theatre, and a fully functioning grocery store there as well.  It’s a massive mall.

We’ll return to Albrook in a moment.

In downtown Panama City lies the gold mine known as the “Multiplaza.” As an acquaintance was rattling off the list of stores housed there—Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Chanel,… —I had to stop her mid-sentence:

“I haven’t seen anyone walking around in anything even close to Hermes,” I told her.

“Oh, they wear them on special occasions,” she explained.

(I had to smile at this because any and every day is a special occasion in my opinion.)

Lights, Camera, Panama Fashion
The trip to the mall

So, in addition to the long list of designer stores there, there is also a plethora of restaurants we’re all familiar with (think Bennihana’s), a movie theatre, and of course, another grocery store.

Ok, back to Albrook.

This post is partly inspired by the “Lights, Camera, Relationship” episode of Sex and the City when Carrie introduces Berger to Prada, and they are greeted by champagne and a personal shopper. Well that same concept exists in Panama, minus the champagne.

Being the independent woman that I (undoubtedly) am, I say, No, thank you, and continue shopping.

I walked into my little piece of Albrook heaven, a store called “Liberty New York,” because something on the mannequin in the display window caught my eye. (FYI: this store is Forever 21 meets Wet Seal with a little bit of ASOS on top.)

Lights, Camera, Panama Fashion
Clothes!

Ok, cue dramatics.

I begin to make my way through the racks of clothes and almost instantly see something worthy of trying on. I grab it and am immediately approached by a female, dressed in black, offering her assistance.

“Please, let me help you with that,” she says in Spanish, offering to take the garment off my hands and carry it for me.

Being the independent woman that I (undoubtedly) am, I say, No, thank you, and continue shopping.

Round 2: I see something else that I like, something else, and then something else. Another lady in black comes over.

“Please, let me take those,” she offers.

Honestly, my left arm was feeling a little overextended at that point, but I smiled, said, No, thank you, again, and continued shopping.

And while I was trying on all of my prospective purchases, my personal lady in black was right on the other side of the curtain, waiting on me hand and foot.

Round 3:  When I began to use both arms to hold all of the clothes, the ladies decided that enough was enough and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She politely and forcefully grabbed them from me and told me they’d be waiting for me in a fitting room when I was finished.

I gratefully accepted defeat.

And while I was trying on all of my prospective purchases, my personal lady in black was right on the other side of the curtain, waiting on me hand and foot, taking the clothes off the hanger for me, zipping and unzipping every zipper, putting them back on the hanger when I was finished, etc.

It takes a lot to impress me. And this type of hospitality I would’ve expected at the Prada from Sex and the City, but I will return to shop here if only for the ladies in black…though the extremely reasonable prices will certainly be taken into consideration.

Lights, Camera, Panama Fashion
Another of the dresses I tried on

About Sierra Leone Starks

Sierra Leone StarksSierra Leone Starks is a multimedia journalist, fashion blogger, and social media junkie. Her work can be found on the print and web pages of some pretty fabulous women’s and lifestyle magazines and her footprints have graced numerous states and landed in several Latin American countries. Following her last extended stay abroad, she now lives by the motto, “If I made it through Panama, I can make it through anything.”

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