Up to now, Havana has not exactly been a shopaholic’s dream. Sure you can head to Plaza Veija and pick up last season’s “latest” designs from Adidas or how about a great Shark golf shirt for Dad next door? But other than that, it has been pretty slim pickings on the retail front. That has all changed in the press of silkscreen at Clandestina: Design Store in Old Havana.
Located in a rapidly gentrifying section of Old Havana on Villegas near Plaza del Cristo (check out the Café Dandy’s on the corner, Chanchullero Bar up the street and Lamparilla’s Tapas a stone’s throw away) Clandestina is a shiny new diamond in a spotty neighbourhood.
(Case in point, Obama snapped up a few of their T-shirts for the girls while in town).
While originally created as a type of art outlet with clever, silkscreen posters that would make Andy Warhol proud, Clandestina’s creations have gradually expanded to meet the burgeoning demands of both the newly empowered local consumer as well as the young and trendy tourists who are clamoring for local items that they can proudly show off back home. In fact, their new clothing line, Vintrashe, a collection of modified tank tops and short shorts, is quickly receiving the buzz that clothing designers normally can only dream of!
Art collectors, fashionmongers and souvenir seekers can all be satisfied at Clandestina. On display during a recent visit one could pick up unique straw hats which were a spin on the more traditional designs available elsewhere, silk screen poster art, neon-inked t-shirts (often with tongue-in-cheek subterfuge slogans), tote bags, key chains, cups, jewelry and really colourful snap-back caps to add to your collection.
Not only will you not see these designs anywhere else in Havana (unless, of course, you shop at their satellite-boutique in the Fábrica de Arte Cubano (FAC)) but you will not see these designs anywhere else in the world! Very cute, upbeat and very reasonably priced.
Drop into Clandestina with a pocket full of CUCs. For sure you will be leaving it with at least one, and quite possibly several, of their handmade shopping bags brimming with goodies to bring back home.
Clandestina: Design Store
403 Villegas (between Teniente Rey and Muralla), Old Havana. Open daily between 10 am -9 pm.
A.J. Twist is a Montreal based travel writer and photographer
and is now a proud owner of a silk-screen poster of Che Guevara as a young, clean-shaven bourgeois.