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How to Buy Winter Clothes in Moscow
Text by Ludmila Lukanina

Severe, cold, slippery, windy, snowy, beautiful, freezing, slushy – all these adjectives can be used during the Russian winter. Temperatures can fall as low as minus 20°C (-4°F). Warm, lightweight clothes are “must have” items for those who spend winter in Moscow.

Shopping for winter outer clothing is not a one-day matter. November is the peak time to buy what you will wear in the winter months. The coat becomes the most universal decision. You will also need to keep your feet, head and hands warm at all times. So the smart shopper will make a list of clothing that he needs to buy.

Essential clothing in winter generally includes:

  • a warm jacket or heavy winter coat;
  • a warm shirt and sweater;
  • fleece lined walking boots;
  • thick gloves;
  • fleece or flannel jeans
  • fleece or wool scarf;
  • woolen hat or snow cap;
  • warm socks
  • winter boots

Down-padded or Synthetic Padded Coats?

Russians now are switching from more traditional furs and sheepskins to down-padded or synthetic padded coats. There are pros and cons for down or synthetic material. Some people say that down is warmer – others vote for modern technologies. If you choose down, look for the DIN EN 12934 sign on the label. Another label you might want to look for is a DuPont sign meaning that the outer layer of the coat was Teflon-treated, which is a guarantee that the down won’t find its way out of the coat.

Padded coats made from polyester are easy-care winter wear. You can machine wash them and wear the next day. Slimming is the rage of the century and winter coats have followed suit. From bulky, thick and heavy versions, the styles have become sleeker without compromising on insulation. Synthetic material now rules and jackets and coats hug the body. This insulation is often warmer than down and the like. This does away with the bulkiness and thickness normally associated with winter coats.

If you are not a big fan of fur or sheepskin coats and do not plan to spend a fortune on winter clothes, you can look for reasonably priced winter clothes at the stores listed below. BASK, BAON, FINN FLARE, SAVAGE and PUHOVIK brands are worth looking at. When shopping for winter footwear I would recommend checking SPORTMASTER, City Shoes and COLUMBIA stores.

When deciding where to go, visit the company website first. Most of the stores do have an English language version of their websites. You can browse the winter 2009-2010 catalogue on-line and compare prices and then choose where to go. Buying on-line might not be a good idea unless you shop at well-known shops such as QUELLE or BONPRIX, but I doubt they can offer a big variety of warm-for-Russia clothes.

BASK – outdoor and extreme sports clothing. The store offers down clothing, clothing with synthetic insulation, warm underwear, hats, gloves and mittens. Their website has decent navigation and an English language version.

BAON – outdoor and sports clothing. This is a Russian division of international textile group GARTEX OF SWEDEN BAON. Their website has both Russian and English language versions. Please note that there are four BAON discount stores.

FINN-FLARE – The Finnish FINN-FLARE retail network is presented by 42 stores in Helsinki, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Astana. Their website has Russian, English and Finnish language versions. The “Store Locator” option with a Moscow metro map allows you to choose the closest shop to you. Finn Flare has three discount stores in Moscow.

SAVAGE – has been on the Russian market since 2000. Each year their design bureau works out up to 1,000 styles of outerwear (down-padded coats, jackets, coats, raincoats) and light wear. There are more than 10 stores in di$ erent parts of Moscow and 3 discount stores.

PUHOVIK – more than 10 stores in different parts of Moscow o$ er outwear for men, women and children, including downpadded coats and synthetic padded coats, winter pants and skirts, hats, gloves, and other accessories in a big variety. Their website is only in Russian.

Other websites to check in reference to shopping for winter clothes:

General Recommendations

If possible go shopping on week days. The fitting rooms and stores in general will not be overcrowded and you will get the attention of a shop assistant.

If the weekend is the only time you have for shopping, choose Sunday morning. Traffc jams on Saturday have become a sad reality in Moscow.

Do not wait for a 90-percent discount for the coat you like. It may never happen.

According to a law adopted by the Moscow government, the Guarantee Period for winter clothes (outer clothes) starts from November 1.

Please note, that while it’s cold in the street, indoors it’s normally well above “room temperature”, so unless you’re planning to spend the whole day outside you’re better off with things that can be easily taken off and put back on again.

Do not expect thick layers of snow on the streets of Moscow. The floors of buses and metro trains will be muddy due to the residual snow carried in by winter boots, so bear this in mind when shopping for a winter coat and winter shoes; a smart choice would be water-proof material for the coat and water-resistant material for the shoes.

Before leaving home in the morning, check the temperature outside. Moscow weather tends to be unpredictable at times which might be dangerous in the winter season.

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