now that topshop's in the us, these are the stores worth traveling for...
"My first introduction to Monki (pronounced 'monkey') came via hours of aimless fashion blog browsing. I remember gasping, like I had just found a secret treasure chest at the bottom of a very, very big ocean. And then came the drawback: Originating from Sweden, the ridiculously cute brand only boasts stores oversees. Thankfully, on recent trip to London, I finally made my way into a real, 3-D Monki store. The result? Literally an entire new wardrobe for under $350--but I did need to purchase a new suitcase for the trip home" AH
"Alexander Wang meets Zara, with a dash of Comme des Garcons subtle-quirk, is the way I think of Cos-- except crazy affordable. Though recently opening tons of stores throughout Europe, Asia, and even the Middle East, the sleek Swedish line making extremely wearable clothing hasn't entered the states. Looking for that perfect pair of black leather ankle boots to wear with anything and everything? Cos is your answer. Want a silk collared, button-down (that isn't made of icky synthetic material) to tuck into that new skirt you got for the holidays? Yup, Cos is where it's at." AH
"The first time I went to Helsinki, I was kind of miserable--think tired, hungry, and broke-up-with-my-boyfriend-in-the-hotel-room variety. Then I stumbled upon Weekday and suddenly the sun broke through the clouds, the birds started chirping, and I had an entirely new wardrobe. It's run by the same genius folks who do Cheap Monday (and shares the same mind-blowingly low prices), only the clothing seems a bit more trend-driven. They have stores throughout Europe, so a ticket to Berlin, Amsterdam, or Stockholm will also do the trick. And yes, when I re-visitied Helsinki over this past winter break I brought a mostly empty suitcase, just so I could fill it at Weekday." REBECCA WILLA DAVIS
A.Y. Not Dead (www.aynotdead.com.ar/)
"I lived in Buenos Aires for about two years in the mid-aughts, and if there way any place worth saving my pesos for, it was A.Y. Not Dead. The brand, which now has a bunch of stores throughout Argentina, has just enough rock'n'roll in its designs to more than satisfy me. Think bright prints, edgy cuts, and a little bit of cheekiness. And while you can find A.Y. Not Dead pieces from time to time stocked at Opening Ceremony, it's not the same as having access to the entire line." RWD Beams (http://www.beams.co.jp/labels/?lang=en) "Spend enough time walking around Tokyo and you'll eventually stumble upon a Beams. The store, which has outlets all over Japan, get's super specific with each shop; there's one that features just T-shirts, another that's a carefully curated selection, and a third that's technically all menswear but I found the best winter hat hidden amongst the plaid shirts and not-too-skinny jeans. But for foolproof shopping, stop by Ray, their not-too-girly women's store." RWD