A typical high street: glass-fronted shops sell the same goods by the same brands. The same people wear whatever is prescribed by television fashion ‘gurus’ that given day. Then, amid the monotony, they approach. She wears a polka dot swing dress, red lipstick and an impudent smile. He walks next to her – a sheepskin suede jacket over a white polo shirt, Cuban heels clicking. Jaws drop as they pass buy. They are going vintage clothes shopping.
Vintage clothes shops have appeared everywhere around the country as people shun the high street seeking a more individual and classic look. But what is so great about the whole vintage trend?
No longer will you be a slave to whims of fashion. No longer will you sigh at the state of shops where anything above a 12 is a ‘plus size’. Many vintage dresses come from a time when Marilyn Monroe’s lavish curves were the beauty ideal. There is plenty of selection for all shapes, sizes and tastes.
Vintage clothes release your creative side. Pair a gentleman’s top hat with a delicate 1950s floral number? Ski goggles on an army major’s cap? Go wild and see what you come up with. Shopping is not about a dash for a limited number of ‘designer’ garments. It’s about expressing what is unique and special about you.
3. Doesn’t Use Slave Labor
While most high street brands stock clothes made by underpaid sweatshop workers, vintage shops are recycling good quality clothes that were built to last. It is not unusual to find an amazing coat around 70 years-old still in perfect condition and I’ll tell you how- because things were built to last back then. By going vintage you are doing your bit for the green economy.
Vintage shops are cheaper than their high street equivalents and the quality is better so the clothes last longer. Obviously, a particularly rare number can cost in the thousands but for the most part, vintage clothes are pleasantly inexpensive and look great.
5. Timeless – Doesn’t go out of fashion
Those ace trousers you bought that look so great and go with everything – you can’t wear them any more. Why? Well some arbitrary decision has been made and now they are ‘last season’. Free yourself from this tyranny! Vintage clothes never go out of fashion. Your wardrobe will never need to be cleared out again once you start vintage clothes shopping.
6. It’s not just the clothes and accessories
Many vintage fans don’t stop at the clothing – they adopt an entire retro style for house and home, so they are on the look out for the furniture and the fittings of their favourite decades.
From a 1940s tea set to the best French press coffee maker of the 1960s, they love to recreate the life at home and live it 24/7. If the vintage clothes shop is located near an antique market then clothes shopping can be followed by browsing the stalls for another item to add to the retro kitchen, living room, or bedroom.
7 Vintage Shops in London
Choosing between the large number of vintage shops London can be difficult. As well as fixed shops, there are multiple markets, temporary installations, and opportunities to pick up one to one bargains.
Leading shops similarly range from a significant number that cluster around Covent Garden, North London, and the busy markets of Brick Lane, Portobello Road and Camden.
Shops have also more recently had to compete with online sales, and have consequently worked even harder to produce a great range of vintage clothing and other materials. Without being definitive, and in no particular order, some of my favorite vintage shops London include:
1 – Pop Boutique, Covent Garden
Well-established on Monmouth St, Pop Boutique’s high quality range of retro clothing has helped it to become an international chain. First opened in Manchester, the Boutique is best for finding great bargains on its many shelves when vintage shopping London. Slightly more mainstream than most vintage shops London, it’s still worth a visit.
2 – Alfie’s Antique Market, Marylebone
Located on Church Street, the market is ideal for picking through on weekends, and houses a number of single vintage stalls. As well as a great collection of vintage clothing and rarer items, the market also features a wide range of antiques and examples of classic British design.
3 – Hunky Dory Vintage, Brick Lane
Ideal for both men and women, Hunky Dory Vintage has carved out a reputation as one of the best vintage shops in East London. Hunky Dory is particularly recommended for European fashions.
4 – Rellik, Portobello
A fixture of the thriving Portobello Market, Rellik has been in business since 1999, and features collections that include everything from vintage Vivienne Westwood to classic examples of Ossie Clark, and a diverse mixture of retro styles that mix a combination of 1920s and 1980s clothing.
5 – Bang Bang, Soho
On Berwick St, Bang Bang is an essential stop for vintage menswear and women’s clothing in Soho. Affordable and able to take in exchanges and donations, it has a large amount of 1960s and 1970s clothing. Worth checking out if trying to find bargains when vintage shopping London.
6 – Shikasuki, Primrose Hill
Located in North West London, Shikasuki is great for shoes and bags, and has also extended its brand to include designwear and stationary. Maybe a bit pricier than other vintage shops, Shikasuki makes up for its cost with a high quality range.
7 – My Sugarland, Clerkenwell
Slightly more off the beaten track than the central London vintage shops, My Sugarland features an extensive amount of designer items, as well as some of the best vintage clothes that you will find in the city.