If you only have time to shop one place while in Cape Town, make it the Watershed market on the V&A Waterfront. A magnet for, well, virtually everything, the stalls and shops feature all the classic South African goods, from gorgeous green malachite bowls and bracelets to souvenirs made of springbok hide, recycled bottle caps, and even pressed protea flowers. There are also outposts of beloved local brands like Skoon (for sustainable beauty products), plus art (both affordable and aspirational), East African kitenge fabrics fashioned into simple Western styles, adorable baby clothes, and hand-painted leather clutches that are guaranteed to get compliments no matter where in the world you take them.
Shopping South Africa's Hottest Designers at The Watershed
For years, the large warehouse next to the Two Oceans Aquarium was a dimly lit place where local craftsmen hawked traditional African curios. Many of these items were duplicates of items already found in Greenmarket Square, or worse, were made in China. The popularity of local markets and handcrafted goods in South Africa has increased recently, especially after Cape Town was named World Design Capital in 2014. Despite the entrepreneurial outpouring, the opportunities to purchase goods from local makers remained fragmented and spread out across the city’s numerous weekly markets. The Watershed, a permanent market at the V&A Waterfront, has created the opportunity for international visitors to shop 150 of South Africa’s best makers in one central location. The application process for a booth at The Watershed is strict and ensures a wide variety of high-quality products are displayed. The upstairs of the Watershed is taken up by an open-air floor plan with several wellness vendors, as well as, event space available for rental. From leather bags, to jewelry, clothing, and art, you’ll want to save room in your luggage for your time spent here.
With more than 150 stalls, the cavernous market is made for omnivorous art lovers. Look for Simple Intrigue, where artist Keri Muller displays her whimsical book sculptures. —by Sarah Khan