This Calle Bandera, or Flag Street, just off Plaza de Armas, has always been a magnet for Santiago’s hipsters and artists. In its heyday, writer Pablo Neruda, musician Diego Munoz, poet Alberto Valdivia, and all their groovy friends hung out at the calle’s inexpensive bars and restaurants, collectively known as Chinatown.
Fast forward a few decades, and today’s creative types make their way to Calle Bandera for another reason: This is Santiago’s headquarters for cool vintage clothes, and a great place for travelers to find new-to-you outfits that fit in with Santiago’s fashionable counter-culture. With more than 20 shops to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect outfit for you.
Santiaguans have a word for it: picada, or “chopped.” It means anything that’s a great deal, from cheap mass-produced Chinese goods to make-it-yourself hipster handicrafts. Of course, Calle Bandera’s selection of used clothing fits the bill.
There are several classes of used clothes, with the least expensive called “ropa Americana,” literally, “American clothing.” This is second—or third-hand used clothing, usually shipped here from the United States, though it could also come from Italy, Spain, or elsewhere—it’s still referred to as “ropa Americana.” Heavier travelers having a hard time finding clothes elsewhere in chic and slender Chile can come here to find larger sizes.
“Vintage” is generally higher quality (or, more fitting with the fashion of the moment, even if the era, for instance the 1980s, is simply being recycled), and costs a bit more. It’s still much less expensive (well, usually) than new clothes, and much hipper if you’re headed out on the town. Check out Nostalgic and Orange Blue for the best selection and prices on designer duds, Bow for comfortable jeans and US brands, and Meicys for European imports.
The epicenter of Calle Bandera’s cool clothing stores is located right around the corner from the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, a must-see on most Santiago itineraries anyway, between General Mackenna and Agustinas.