Just over three years ago I quit my job, sold all my belongings on Craigslist, turned in my leased-car early and bought a one-way ticket to Argentina. I had finally done it. I’d escaped the soul-sucking corporate machine and had found a flexible job where I could work remotely on my own schedule. Soon I’d be strolling the cafe-laden streets of Buenos Aires, eating empanadas, drinking malbec and chatting up pretty señoritas. I remember researching the city before I left - The Paris of South America they called it. When I think of Paris I think of three things: wine, cheese and fashion.
Before moving to Argentina I’d visited once before but it was so brief and my mind was so clouded by the awesomeness of being on vacation, that I really didn’t know what to expect when I arrived. I learned very quickly that, among other things, trying to dress yourself properly in Argentina isn’t without it’s challenges. Argentina is essentially a closed economy so very few of the international brands exist here. Ordering online from the States or another country is prohibitively expensive (no Sprezzabox, unfortunately) and even if you can afford it, the process of picking up a package at customs gives me nightmares (think Kafka-esque government building with lines to wait in line). In general, clothes here are expensive and the quality isn’t very good. I once bought a pair of expensive shorts from a popular store here and had to bring them back three times after the seam in the crotch ripped just as many times. You’re probably thinking: What are you an idiot? Why didn’t you just return them? Alas, many stores don’t allow returns. The struggle is real my fellow dapper gents.
If you can get past these obstacles, the upside to this closed economy is there are many local designers with a bevy of “buena onda” (loosely translated as “good vibes”). One of my favorite local shoe designers, Terrible Enfant, makes shoes with an edgy, modern vibe that scream “statement piece.” I’ve been eyeing a few shirts from designer Silvio Sierra that would make an excellent addition to my wardrobe. Finding these designers takes work. Many are in private showrooms in nondescript buildings or even converted apartment rooms. Dressing well isn’t for the faint of heart in this city. But it makes it all the more satisfying when you find a dope pair of kicks or a shirt that makes you give yourself a double-take in the mirror (who is that handsome man in that exquisite shirt?!?). And let’s not forget what Argentina is famous for: leather. You can find great quality leather here for a fraction of the price back in the States. Before I moved to Argentina I didn’t own a leather jacket. Now I have three, each that fit like a glove, and I’m eyeing a fourth.
After more than three years living here I can tell you honestly Buenos Aires is not the Paris of South America, at least not when it comes to fashion (nor cheese). But it’s an incredible city with an energy and a sense of possibility all great cities seem to possess. My neighborhood is flush with colorful and bright street art that inspires my sense of style. Whether it’s a pair of colorful socks or a tie with a funky design, I like to absorb the environment around me and take inspiration from it. I’m a big fan of mixing classic menswear with streetwear pieces. For example, putting on a leather jacket over a shirt and tie or mixing up a suit with some cool sneakers is what you’ll find me in while I’m soaking up the city’s energy and drinking red wine. Now, if I could only find some good cheese.
Check out his Instagram account for more photos (@ephraimaustin)!