Zimbabweans are some of the most talented artisans in Africa, famed for their high-quality and often cutting-edge craftsmanship. Their wares can be found all around Zimbabwe — from high-end boutiques selling couture dresses, to roadside markets in rural areas hawking super-trendy wooden earrings, to quaint shops offering soapstone sculptures and hand-dyed batik created by industrious locals. Here’s a quick guide to shopping in one of Zimbabwe’s most visited cities: the capital, Harare, a discerning shopper’s paradise.
- If you’ve ever dreamed of owning couture but simply couldn’t afford it, don’t skip Zuvva in Sam Levy Village. The boutique sells ready-to-wear pieces by hot young Zimbabwean designer Joyce Chimanye, who is also a fixture at Zimbabwe Fashion Week. Using colorful African fabrics and designs, she shines at creating unique dresses and skirts for very reasonable prices ($60-150) that she will tailor to fit your body. Accessories like gorgeous cloth bags and timepiece costume jewelry make great gifts.
- KwaMambo at 40 Cork Rd in Belgravia, south of the Avondale Shopping Center, has beautiful pieces by local artists – look for original paintings, unique metal sculptures and hand-painted ceramics.
- Dendera Gallery is located east of town off the Mutare Road in the Doon Estate. It does high-caliber Zimbabwean and African pieces including antique ceramics, gorgeous silver jewelry and modern baskets and carvings.
- Patrick Mavros boutique is located just east of Alexandra Park and is THE place to purchase one-of-a-kind silver necklaces, earrings and bracelets. The shop has drawn the attention of visiting celebrities, including Kate Middleton, the King of Spain and Bruce Springsteen, all of whom have purchased Mavros’ creations. The shop is 1km of Umwinsidale Rd, to get here follow the signpost to the studio and gallery at the end of Haslemere Lane.
- Kikis, located a few doors down from Mavros’ shop, features some of the most unique Zimbabwean handicrafts you’ll find. Here the focus is on furniture, 90% of which is created by local artists. Check out the hand-painted porcelain pieces and the Shona wooden stools for something different.
- Ros Byrne, also in the Doon Estate, sells gorgeous hand-painted fabrics like colorful pillow cases and linens, plus top quality pottery that has also been colored by an artist’s hand.
- Newlands Art & Craft Market, which sprawls in the space between Enterprise Road and the Newlands Shopping Center, is home to a large selection of stone, wood and metal creations.
- Avondale Flea Market, in the Avondale Shopping Center, just west of downtown, is held daily from dawn to dusk. This is where to scoop up clothing, local crafts, CDs and used books. Look for it on top of the old car park at the back of the shopping center.
- The Sam Levy Flea Market at the Sam Levy Village in Borrowdale is also worth checking out if you’re in town on a Sunday.
- Mbare Market: Mugabe is also threatening to tear down Mbare, Harare’s most notorious slum that is also home to its most famous market. Beyond fresh produce and soap and other local necessities, it features a good selection of baskets, plus the usual wooden giraffes and Shona sculpture. This is not the safest part of town, and it is best to carry only as much money as you want to spend and go in a group or better yet with a local if possible.
Harare hosts two major cultural events each year: Zimbabwe Fashion Week, held at the end of August, which showcases runway fashions from the continent’s hottest designers and the Harare International Festival of the Arts, in late April.