Over on The Thorn Tree is a thread about one tourist’s unsuccessful hunt for bargain clothing in BsAS. I posted a reply and wanted to elaborate here:

As DF pointed out, locals don’t shop on Florida or at Galleria Pacifico. It’s assumed in Buenos Aires that norteamericanos have money (and compared to most Porteños, it’s true). So, store owners in touristy areas are simply taking advantage of that. (I’m not familiar with Murillo St mentioned by jsohmer). Bargain clothing can be found in Once, which is the garment district. But, foreigners should go with a local and let that person do the talking and negotiating. There are also some good deals in some shopping malls, such as Abasto, depending upon the store.

It´s true that you can find good value in the ferias. My girlfriend used to co-own a clothing store here in Buenos Aires and explained to me how it works: A person specializes in manufacturing a certain type of garment, like a woman’s jacket, then those jackets are sold at a booth in Recoleta on weekends. These jackets are made cheaply out of one´s home by a couple of Peruvians who work out of a spare room. The jackets sold at the feria are just a part of the business. The main income comes from wholesaling the same jackets to stores on Santa Fe, Florida, and elsewhere. One just sews a different brand label on the inside for each store, which explains why a lot of the stores have the same merchandise. Surprisingly, all these clothing stores do make money. We recently brought some clothing from a booth at the feria in Recoleta; the woman in the booth gave us her address so that we could visit her to buy more stuff. It turns out that the woman lives in Recoleta herself!

As for wool and leather goods, the prices also reflect that those goods are not usually “finished” in Argentina. The country exports massive amounts of raw wool and leather to Europe for manufacturing into finished goods that are then imported back in Argentina, hence bringing up the cost. I’m going to do more research into this the background of this situation.

I can personally say that the Christian Dior and Zara stores in Argentina are much cheaper than their counterparts in Miami.