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Why vintage shopping in London is the greatest

Why vintage shopping in London is the greatest

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Going vintage allows you to shop for one-of-a-kind items, whilst simultaneously diverting textiles from landfills and the unsustainable fast fashion industry.

Going vintage allows you to shop for one-of-a-kind items, whilst simultaneously diverting textiles from landfills and the unsustainable fast fashion industry.

Why vintage shopping in London is the greatest
When we’re finally allowed back into shops at the end of this seemingly never-ending lockdown, we’ll find a dramatically changed high street, with the loss of some major household names (showing my peak millennial age bracket here, but Topshop, I mean you). And whether we’ve already embraced the shift to online shopping or not, it’s clear that the way we engage with sourcing and purchasing our clothes is shifting rapidly.

No matter where you stand on the online/offline shopping debate, one experience that I’m looking forward to, and that simply can’t be captured in an idle phone scroll from the comfort of home, is purchasing vintage items.  

For me, it’s the sheer viscerality of the experience that sets it apart from other types of clothes shopping; the thrill of the chase of a vintage rummage, alongside the exhilaratingly musky smell of a second-hand shop that hits you as you walk through the door. And one of the great things about vintage shopping in London in particular, is the sheer number of options available. You can organise a vintage shopping day around a specific area (more on that later), or you can cater a browse to meet most budgets. Going vintage also allows you to shop for one-of-a-kind items, whilst simultaneously diverting textiles from landfills or tapping into the eye-wateringly unsustainable fast fashion industry.

See our quick guide to vintage shopping in London – and start daydreaming about the days when we can actually get out and smell our purchases.

If you like a rummage

If you’re looking for a fun afternoon, London has various warehouse style stores that will keep you entertained for hours. Often with a nod to trends (you’ll find reams of athleisure and 90s style denim) old favourites such as Wow Retro, Beyond Retro and Rokit are great places to start. And sustainability wise, Rokit alone has recycled more than 1 million tonnes of discarded clothing and accessories since it was founded three decades ago.

Also check out Atika in Spitalfields, which covers two large floors and styles itself as a vintage department store that sells furniture, records and coffee alongside an extensive range of clothes. While prices in this category of vintage shops are slightly higher than you would want them to be (or maybe that’s me in denial, thinking it’s roughly 2008), and with the exception of Beyond Retro which seems to have a lower price point, clothes from these vendors are nonetheless still pretty affordable, unique and unashamedly sustainable. Plus, Atika offers students a 10% discount.

Boutique vintage

If you’re looking for something special; or love vintage but dislike the somewhat anarchic experience of second-hand shopping, there are some really interesting and beautifully styled vintage boutiques across London. Check out our Vintage Days Out section below for inspiration, but also make sure to find time to visit Nordic Poetry in Shoreditch, Found and Vision on Portobello Road, One Scoop Store with its focus on reducing textile waste, and William Vintage and Modes and More; both in West London and both with a serious focus on vintage designer fashion. Finally, if you’re looking for accessories, The Hirst Collection in Notting Hill, which styles itself as a museum where you can actually buy the pieces, is a great port of call and, as the name suggests, organises its stock into easily digestible collections for a more curated experience.

Charity shop treasures

Whilst not technically ‘vintage’, checking out your local charity shop, coupled with a little patience by visiting regularly, can give a high reward. What’s more, by following vintage clothes accounts on Instagram (check out the feeds of any of the shops listed in this article), you can get a feel for key styles, trends and eras, and then go on the hunt for a bargain. Oxfam in particular has proven its style credentials – showing select items at London Fashion Week and working with style icons such as writer and actor Michaela Coel to advertise the most recent Second Hand September campaign.

Lastly, the great thing about charity shop shopping is that you rarely have to travel into central London and can rather stick to your local area of the city. Plus, threads are cheap and the money raised goes to a good cause.

Vintage days out

One of the great things about vintage shopping in London is that you can hit lots of shops within a fairly small geographical area. In pre-COVID times, this was a perfect way to meet friends, grab a coffee and have a browse. So you don’t have to, we’ve curated a couple of London based vintage day trips for you:  

Mix a day at Portobello Road Market (open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and its many vintage stores with a look around local boutiques specialising in occasion and/or designer vintage. Try out Emma Goldman Vintage & Costume at Ladbroke Grove, Rellik which specialises in a mouth-watering array of costume jewellery and accessorises, and then hop to Karen Vintage Boutique and One of a Kind Archive, both on Portobello Road.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed vintage experience, rather head east than west, and spend your day around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Alongside large shops such as Beyond Retro and Rokit, which both have branches in the Spitalfields/Brick Lane area, grab a coffee at Atika and then head to Serotonin Vintage and The House of Vintage. If you have time to go further afield, head to Mero Retro in Dalston (there are also some great charity shops nearby). They specialise in hand-picked vintage, Fair Trade pieces, as well as handmade items inspired by projects in Asia – in particular the post-earthquake recovery in Nepal, for which they are raising money.

When we’re finally allowed back into shops at the end of this seemingly never-ending lockdown, we’ll find a dramatically changed high street, with the loss of some major household names (showing my peak millennial age bracket here, but Topshop, I mean you). And whether we’ve already embraced the shift to online shopping or not, it’s clear that the way we engage with sourcing and purchasing our clothes is shifting rapidly.

No matter where you stand on the online/offline shopping debate, one experience that I’m looking forward to, and that simply can’t be captured in an idle phone scroll from the comfort of home, is purchasing vintage items.  

For me, it’s the sheer viscerality of the experience that sets it apart from other types of clothes shopping; the thrill of the chase of a vintage rummage, alongside the exhilaratingly musky smell of a second-hand shop that hits you as you walk through the door. And one of the great things about vintage shopping in London in particular, is the sheer number of options available. You can organise a vintage shopping day around a specific area (more on that later), or you can cater a browse to meet most budgets. Going vintage also allows you to shop for one-of-a-kind items, whilst simultaneously diverting textiles from landfills or tapping into the eye-wateringly unsustainable fast fashion industry.

See our quick guide to vintage shopping in London – and start daydreaming about the days when we can actually get out and smell our purchases.

If you like a rummage

If you’re looking for a fun afternoon, London has various warehouse style stores that will keep you entertained for hours. Often with a nod to trends (you’ll find reams of athleisure and 90s style denim) old favourites such as Wow Retro, Beyond Retro and Rokit are great places to start. And sustainability wise, Rokit alone has recycled more than 1 million tonnes of discarded clothing and accessories since it was founded three decades ago.

Also check out Atika in Spitalfields, which covers two large floors and styles itself as a vintage department store that sells furniture, records and coffee alongside an extensive range of clothes. While prices in this category of vintage shops are slightly higher than you would want them to be (or maybe that’s me in denial, thinking it’s roughly 2008), and with the exception of Beyond Retro which seems to have a lower price point, clothes from these vendors are nonetheless still pretty affordable, unique and unashamedly sustainable. Plus, Atika offers students a 10% discount.

Boutique vintage

If you’re looking for something special; or love vintage but dislike the somewhat anarchic experience of second-hand shopping, there are some really interesting and beautifully styled vintage boutiques across London. Check out our Vintage Days Out section below for inspiration, but also make sure to find time to visit Nordic Poetry in Shoreditch, Found and Vision on Portobello Road, One Scoop Store with its focus on reducing textile waste, and William Vintage and Modes and More; both in West London and both with a serious focus on vintage designer fashion. Finally, if you’re looking for accessories, The Hirst Collection in Notting Hill, which styles itself as a museum where you can actually buy the pieces, is a great port of call and, as the name suggests, organises its stock into easily digestible collections for a more curated experience.

Charity shop treasures

Whilst not technically ‘vintage’, checking out your local charity shop, coupled with a little patience by visiting regularly, can give a high reward. What’s more, by following vintage clothes accounts on Instagram (check out the feeds of any of the shops listed in this article), you can get a feel for key styles, trends and eras, and then go on the hunt for a bargain. Oxfam in particular has proven its style credentials – showing select items at London Fashion Week and working with style icons such as writer and actor Michaela Coel to advertise the most recent Second Hand September campaign.

Lastly, the great thing about charity shop shopping is that you rarely have to travel into central London and can rather stick to your local area of the city. Plus, threads are cheap and the money raised goes to a good cause.

Vintage days out

One of the great things about vintage shopping in London is that you can hit lots of shops within a fairly small geographical area. In pre-COVID times, this was a perfect way to meet friends, grab a coffee and have a browse. So you don’t have to, we’ve curated a couple of London based vintage day trips for you:  

Mix a day at Portobello Road Market (open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) and its many vintage stores with a look around local boutiques specialising in occasion and/or designer vintage. Try out Emma Goldman Vintage & Costume at Ladbroke Grove, Rellik which specialises in a mouth-watering array of costume jewellery and accessorises, and then hop to Karen Vintage Boutique and One of a Kind Archive, both on Portobello Road.

If you’re looking for a more relaxed vintage experience, rather head east than west, and spend your day around Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Alongside large shops such as Beyond Retro and Rokit, which both have branches in the Spitalfields/Brick Lane area, grab a coffee at Atika and then head to Serotonin Vintage and The House of Vintage. If you have time to go further afield, head to Mero Retro in Dalston (there are also some great charity shops nearby). They specialise in hand-picked vintage, Fair Trade pieces, as well as handmade items inspired by projects in Asia – in particular the post-earthquake recovery in Nepal, for which they are raising money.

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