It’s impossible not to shop in Cartagena. The Colombian city is laden with enticing traditional craftwork; the trick is in sifting through the colourful mochila bags, straw hats and feathered earrings that line the street stalls and storefronts alike. The best boutique I found on my recent trip was St Dom, a beautifully curated and delightfully colourful shop. Housed in a 300-year-old Spanish colonial house within the historic walled city and centred around a lush, tropical interior garden, this is Cartagena’s answer to Colette.
Stylish garments, beachy things and homewares – all with a Caribbean vibe – are spread across several rooms, but it was the artisanal accessories that drew me in. A woven bucket bag ($719) by Maison Alma – the work of Colombian-born, Paris-based designer Daniela Bahamon – catches my eye with its orange and turquoise hues and oversized tassels; it’s impossible to miss the enormous floral earrings ($296), again with tassels, by local maker Johanna Ortiz. Earrings are a St Dom strength, its vitrines bursting with serious statement-makers, such as a bold beaded monochrome pair ($177) by Mexican brand Tres Almas.
In the searing equatorial sun I made a beeline for the hats and ended up buying not one but two (one for me; one as a gift) playful woven ones ($50) by Mr Boho, which are beautifully made with geometric patterns jauntily offset with Cartagena’s signature pompoms and swathes of bright orange against the natural and black straw. It’s not my usual monochrome-everything style, but it reminds me of this vibrant city and has been seeing a lot of use this summer. As has the adorable Palma Canaria woven wicker shoulder bag ($182) with, you guessed it, tassels – this time silk in a chic shade of rust.
There’s an entire room dedicated to swimwear, which introduced me to Colombian brand Verdelimon’s tropical-bird-emblazoned suits ($179) and 1950s-esque bikini sets ($207). And if I hadn’t had to contend with hauling them home, one of the enormous baskets (from $50) produced by Artesanías de Colombia, an organisation that supports and promotes the country’s traditional craftwork, would have been mine.