Most people come to Buenos Aires with cow fever (beef! leather! beef!) and want to buy things like leather bags and leather coats and other bovine-related products, and that's fine. If I had the money, I would too! But for those of us who have been here for a while, or who plan on staying for the long term, or who just don't have 800 pesos to spend on a pair of calf-skin boots, there is hope in the form of Avenida Avellaneda.
Located in the neighborhood of Flores (Floresta), this avenida is famous for its cheap clothing stores (over 1600 according to this article) and is the place to go if you want to spend less dinero and wear more cute stuff! The main shopping area starts at Avenida Nazca and extends out towards Plaza Velez Sarsfield for about 10 blocks, and the side streets are also packed with shops. There are clothing stores of all kinds, including mens, womens, childrens, and lingerie, and there are plenty of vendors with blankets laid out on the curb offering other products like perfumes, toys, shoes, wallets, and bags. It is highly recommended that you go early in the morning, before 1 or 2 in the afternoon, because it gets PACKED.
The stores on Avenida Avellaneda sell their clothes in two ways: "por mayor" or "por menor." Por mayor is basically buying in bulk (like Costco!), and there is often a lower price for buying por mayor (usually 5 or more items). Lots of people come to Avellaneda and buy clothing in bulk at a low price, then take it and sell it at a marked up price somewhere else...it's how plenty of people make their living or supplement their salaries. Anyway, most of these women (and it is almost all women) head to Avellaneda in the afternoons with their massive bags and carts in order to load up on the day's wares, and it gets pretty annoying having to weave between said women and dodge around said carts every two seconds as people stop to stare into store windows or contemplate the meaning of life while gazing off into the distance.
The other way to buy is por menor, which means one article at a time, aka "normal shopping." There are some stores that only sell por mayor, and they will often have a sign outside that says "solo por mayor." If you see an article of clothing in a window and it has two prices, the lower price is por mayor, so if you're just there to browse a few items, then that won't apply to you.
The BF and I went the other day to stock up on some spring-time clothes, and we had lots of success! I picked up two t-shirts and a summery cover-up kind of thing for about 60 pesos, which in any other store would have cost over 100 pesos, and I need to go back again soon to get more...brings new meaning to the term "spring fever." Things are generally about half the price they would be anywhere else in BA...a simple cotton t-shirt for about 15-20 pesos, a pair of jeans for about 70-80, leggings for 10-15, etc.
In general the quality is good, but you have to pay attention for little things like rips or loose buttons. It's a great place to go for basic pieces like t-shirts, tank tops, leggings, cardigans, and other things like that. For guys its a great place for pretty much everything. One important thing to keep in mind is that most stores will not let you try things on (because many people buy with the intent to resell), so if you want to buy jeans or things that require a more precise fit, you might want to go somewhere that lets you try stuff on.
Anyway, that's my review of Avenida Avellaneda! It can be a hit or miss operation--the first time I went I didn't like anything and the second time I went I liked it all--but you should definitely check it out if you want a different shopping experience. In sum, here are my AA tips:
-go early, and if you're buying por menor, saturday is the best day to go
-pay with cash as most places don't accept credit cards
-watch your purse (as in any crowded location, duh...you need your money to buy things!)
-be prepared to buy without trying on