In some of my recent posts on Johannesburg (ok, all of my recent posts on Johannesburg), I've complained about the fact that so much of the city's social life takes place in malls. I feel I should point out here that I am not inherently opposed to shopping malls: I'll be honest and admit one of my favourite activities in Bangkok was spending a few hours worshiping at the commercial temples around Siam. But my complaint with Johannesburg's malls is twofold.
1) Malls are fine as one option, but in Johannesburg they are increasingly the only option. Following Joburg's 'white flight' from the city centre, its residents sought out a social life that was protected within thick walls. As a result, there are now very few places to stroll in Joburg unless you're in a mall-- the last real option for outdoor life, Melville, is getting increasingly sad, rundown and, allegedly, unsafe (The Bamboo Centre an exception).
2) Johannesburg's malls are on the whole rather boring, offering only the same chain stores and restaurants as every other mall.
So here's the closest thing to an exception: The Zone at Rosebank. If you have to spend time in a Johannesburg mall, make it this one. Because, while you'll find many of the same generic shops and restaurants as at the other malls (yes, they have a Spur Steakhouse), there are a few unique shops that make it worth a visit.
1) Sowearto- A play on the iconic township of Soweto, Sowearto offers t-shirts with a hip, Joburg style. Some are direct references on the city, such as the line of t-shirts featuring Joburg's skyline, or labels from traditional South African products, while others are simply fun, like those of label Mingo Lamberto.
2) Stoned Cherrie- All the clothing for sale at Stoned Cherrie is for the ladies, but still worth a stop as these dresses are practically works of art. Traditional fabrics are mixed with couture tailoring, for a distinctly urban take on African style.
3) The Space- The clothing is, again, all for women here (an annoying trend in Joburg shops), but The Space makes up for it with an incredible selection of home-wares. Items range from simple and classical to funky and irreverent, with a good mix of local designs and imported styles. A great place to find something unique for the home, or to pick up an alternative souvenir for a friend.
Now if only there was a more unique offering for a coffee after shopping. As it is, we'll skip the Spur and head to Vida.