With a newly flushed economy and an explosion in development, Kazakhstan’s commercial hub city of Almaty now boasts an impressive list of multi-brand boutiques that cater to luxury shoppers. Jet-set travelers are now finding a world class selection of products right at home along with other conveniences in the former retail wasteland.
In the last few months, the growing cityscape has seen the opening of The Royal Tulip, Rixos Hotel and JW Marriott, which join the glossy likes of the Intercontinental Almaty, Hyatt Regency and the chic Dostyk Hotel (the latter is also currently displaying a photo gallery of Almaty). Hot bistros Afisha, Marrone Rosso, Biskvit and the first floor of the Gogol complex and bar/lounges like the Cosmopolitan bar, GQ bar, Di Wang, Rooms and Fame are ground zero for the oil-rich, Chanel and Alexander Wang-clad Kasak set as well as international travelers. These are all signs that the once clouded Asian country has firmly ascended in rank to a Russian-style market economy.
And, like boutiques in Moscow, Almaty stores are stocked to the gills with a diverse selection of luxury brands and products from around the world. Gucci, Zegna, Moschino and Max Mara all have stand-alone shops on Gogol, Furmanov and Abylay Han Streets—the Almaty version of Madison Ave, Ave Montaigne and Bond Street but it’s the multi-brand boutiques that are the real indications that fashion has arrived in the capital.
Opened in 2006, Rush stocks a wide selection of designers—including Rick Owens, Marios Schwab, Jean Paul Gaultier, Balmain, Issey Miyake, Christopher Kane, Vivienne Westwood and Rodarte—throughout its two-floor, 700-square-meter space, which also boasts a café. In addition to being a place for fashion parties and art showings, sister store Sauvage (run by the same secretive owners of Rush) sells upscale brands such as Christain Dior, YSL, Prada, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga.
Two-year-old Prima Studio is a worthy competitor of the Rush group, offering Vera Wang, Martin Grant, Bionda Castana, Judari and Alexander Wang at its central downtown location. For creative types with style to burn, Bureau 1985 sells well-edited buys from the likes of Yohji Yamomoto, Dries Van Noten, Haider Ackermann and Sharon Wauchob. French House, meanwhile, has a beauty spin, selling heaps of cosmetics and perfumes, but also French ready-to-wear like Vanessa Bruno and Isabel Marant, along with accessories and jewelry. The most recent addition to the local multi-mark retail category is 4 Rooms, which just opened last month and stocks Yigal Azrouel, Sophia Kokosalaki, Gabriele Colangelo, John Rocha, Francesco Scognamiglio, and Antonio Marras and offers a different shopping experience by showing exhibitions of local artists as well as new cutting edge designers.