Tourists have long flocked to the big-name designer stores along Zurich’s ritzy shopping street Bahnhofstrasse, situated on the left bank of the postcard-pretty Limmat River. But another river flows through the city — the rough and rugged Sihl, once a spectacle for its bouts of heavy flooding that lasted until the early 20th century. Today, it’s a lure for nature-loving residents thanks to the paved Sihlpromenade walking path lined with magnificent plane trees.
Recently, a new crop of high-minded shops, a spirited mix of the homespun and worldly, have sprung up along or near the Sihl, turning its riverbank into a haven for shoppers looking for an alternative to Bahnhofstrasse.
• Hans Mars: This tiny but handsome boutique, opened in November, acquires its merchandise from a different region each season. The first, Tuscany, provides soaps, herbal teas and liqueurs from a 1,000-year-old monastery, and copper bowls hand-hammered by an 80-year-old artisan. Starting at $5.30 for soap; home furnishings from $105. This month the focus turns to the Middle East.
Backerstrasse 58; 011-41-44-880-10-80; hansmars.com.
• Good Life: Through November, Provisorium Sihlpost, in the same building as the main post office, is home to three pop-up boutiques. This ceramics studio displays beautiful, unexpected creations from tin-glazed angular pitchers to a porcelain life-size greyhound. Members of the four-person collective and guest artists can often be spotted at the potter’s wheels in back. Ceramics from 35 Swiss francs.
Lagerstrasse 2; 011-41-77-448-95-18; goodlife-productions.ch.
• Andrea Hinnen: This shop showcases the designer’s boldly colored, oddball prints on dresses, umbrellas and even baby outfits covered in pinup girls. Clothing from $150.
Rotwandstrasse 53; 011-41-44-240-02-12.
• Opia + Kinsfolk: Also in the Sihlpost, these two businesses share retail space, as well as an affinity for Asia. Opia’s racks are stocked with avant-garde fashion from young Swiss and Asian designers and labels from Asia. Clothing starts at $52. The Zurich-born sisters who own Kinsfolk honor their father’s heritage with jewelry created by Sri Lankan artisans, like a double-banded gold-plated onyx ring. Jewelry from 290 francs.
• Einzelstuck: At this furniture and curio store, the truly vintage (an apothecary cabinet from India) shares space with upcycled items found on shopping trips abroad (sharks and giraffes made from wood stripped from old fishing boats in Indonesia, for example). Home furnishings start around $9.
Mullerstrasse 45; 011-41-43-211-91-11; einzelstueck.ch.