Fashionistas and champions of all things hand-crafted, Marwa and Adela created Wandermoda shopping tours and boutique experiences to help you get the most out of your time in the style capital of Barcelona.
Ben: Hola chicas! Please tell us a little bit about yourselves – what brought you to Barcelona and what is it about the city that you love so much?
Marwa: I first came to Barcelona on a weekend trip in 2009. I fell in love with the city and felt a connection I had never had before. Since I was born in Toronto to Egyptian parents, living in Saudi Arabia, Canada and the UK, the hardest question for me was always, “Where are you from?” and it was here in Barcelona that I really felt home.
I love everything about it: the way people live, it’s more about life than work, the beach, the mountains, the vineyards, I love all the traditions and how the locals celebrate everything from the mega-sized green onions to the days of the saints.
Barcelona is where I’m happiest and where I’ve decided to put down roots.
Adela: For me, I always say that I came to Barcelona for love and people ask, “Ah, you found a partner?” and I say, “No, I fell in love with the city, it was love at first sight”. At the time I was living in the UK, where I was working in a multinational tech company, and that’s where I met Marwa. I wanted to relocate back to Spain, my home country, and after two weekends in Barcelona I knew I wanted to live here. I love the architecture, the enchanted streets, the sea, the atmosphere. Shall I continue haha? My company had an office in Barcelona in front of La Pedrera so I decided to grasp the opportunity.
Marwa: We always joked when we were both in London about who would make it here first.
Adela: …and it was me!
Marwa: I’m really happy that we’re both here now and doing what we really love. We have a passion of connecting people with the real Barcelona.
Ben: Tell us about Wandermoda shopping tours!
Marwa: We describe what we do as an “experience” rather than a tour. We believe when people travel to a new city, what they remember is how they felt in that place.
The best way to get to know a city is by getting to know its people, and that can be done through their history and culture, through their food or through their talents.
I launched Wandermoda with Adela so we could take visitors in Barcelona around one of our favourite neighbourhoods, El Born. This barrio has been home to artisans for centuries and here we get to know the local designers and see the workshops where they create their magical pieces.
Adela: For me, the passion for hand-made pieces started when I was really young. I learned to appreciate the art from my mother, who was a dressmaker, in central Spain as she used to make the clothes I designed. Then while living in the UK I was drawn to jewellery making and silversmithing. I started taking courses and still continue doing that now.
Marwa: So we start our boutique shopping experiences in style – with a glass of chilled, sparkling cava, from local Catalan vineyards.
We visit a variety of unique stores, meeting the local designers and store owners. We discover beautifully crafted leather goods, hand-made shoes, unique homeware, statement jewelry and of course, clothes with personality.
Half-way through our afternoon, we stop to enjoy a glass of vermut and snack on some mouth-watering tapas at one of Born’s traditional bodegas. Here we share stories about the history and culture of this cosmopolitan city, as we rest our feet before shopping some more.
Adela: It´s an afternoon of indulgence and a way for our guests to take a piece of Barcelona home with them.
Ben: How would you compare shopping in Barcelona to shopping in somewhere like, say, London or NYC?
Adela: Shopping in Barcelona is quite unique. Normally in London or New York you’d shop on the high street or at the big department stores. Here in Barcelona, most of the local boutique stores are often hidden in the little alleyways throughout the city and not so easy to find. So in addition to the chains that you can find anywhere, you also have a big selection of unique stores.
The pieces you’ll find at these stores are quite special as most of the designers don’t have shops abroad.
Ben: Who are your shopping tours for? Who would enjoy them?
Adela: I would say that our shopping tours in Barcelona are for anybody who can appreciate hand-made pieces and the value of the work that goes into making them. Anybody who enjoys the history that links the past and the present or who smiles when reading the story behind a brand.
We have all sorts of clients, across all age groups: couples, men/women travelling alone and groups of friends who want to have a “Sex & the City” style experience in Barcelona.
Marwa: It has been designed to cater to different types of clients with different styles. Depending on the number of people joining the tour we can customize it even more on the go. Our private experiences are 100% customized to our guests.
Ben: What advice do you have for people coming to Barcelona with the goal of indulging in some retail therapy?
Marwa: Well, you’re in the best city for it! Hidden in the beautiful medieval alleyways of Barcelona, you’ll find many artisans and their workshops.
We want to help you find unique pieces, made here in Barcelona, made with love.
We are constantly developing collaborations with the shops in the area that share our philosophy. We have done the homework for you so you can just enjoy the experience as we guide you through the city’s best boutique stores.
Ben: Any other top tips for people coming to Barcelona to drop some serious yo-yos (euros)?
Marwa: Come and do the Wandermoda shopping experience early on during your visit to Barcelona.
Adela: And make sure you have room in your bag for the beautiful things you’ll buy!