YOUR GUIDE TO VINTAGE SHOPPING IN LONDON

This month, Cicilia suggests some of the coolest stores for vintage shopping in London.

Every self-respecting fashion lover has at least one vintage item in their closet. Suppose you are a Londoner, for sure you’ve bumped into some vintage shops or iconic flea markets such as the famous Portobello Market. London is full of exquisite shops and boutiques that sell old-style items of all kinds – we are not talking only about clothing.

Although objects dating back to the past may seem to belong to the so-called ‘vintage’ category, this is not the case. Anything that is at least 20 years old is considered vintage, while objects aged at least 100 years old are antique ones. The first type of garment is easily reachable, the opposite of the latter category which is sold by more exclusive boutiques. If you are looking for iconic vintage pieces to enrich your wardrobe, be careful not to run into fake ones. We must also distinguish between vintage and retro. The latter term applies to all objects that imitate the style of a specific era or decade. However, they are not necessarily items created decades ago.

If you are already a vintage lover, you’ll find excellent shopping inspirations for your post-lockdown purchasing session. If you are a novice, I will give you a few good reasons to start buying from vintage stores. First of all, they sell great garments that are not produced anymore; hence, you’ll stand out with truly unique pieces. You can flaunt exquisite totally vintage outfits, or mix and match old clothes with contemporary ones. Whatever the case, owning something vintage is an excellent idea to experiment with new combinations and boost your daily looks when you fancy a different outfit. 

Moreover, suppose you are a conscious consumer or looking for a bargain without compromising style and quality. In that case, you should opt for vintage shopping. These places are always a good option, both for statement pieces and basic ones. If you want to buy some essential clothing, you can discover excellent quality vintage pieces that will stay with you for decades. These clothes are generally more durable, as in the past, raw materials and construction were optimal, durability won over trends.

Don’t despair if you cannot find clothes that fit you perfectly. Generally, vintage items are often cheaper than new ones, so you can always get them tailored. Many fashionistas give a new life to their old-fashioned garments, reinventing them into inimitable goodies.

The advantages of vintage shopping are not over, as by purchasing from these non-chain stores, you’ll support the local economy. No one is saying that buying from big corporations is bad; however, shopping locally is a fantastic way to help your area, especially in difficult times. Finally, purchasing second-hand items is the greenest way to shop. Indeed, you won’t contribute to the supply chain at all. No raw materials are involved when you buy vintage, and no energy is used to produce new items. If you want to renew your closet with an environmental, social and economic focus, get ready to scout some unique London-based vintage shops.

PORTOBELLO

I must warn you that vintage shopping can be a proper adventure.

You have to scout the stores proposed here and pull up your sleeves to rummage through baskets, shelves and clothes racks overflowing with fashion goodies of all kinds. Let’s start with the super famous Portobello Market. This market exhibits the fashion section on Saturdays from 9am to 5pm. This area of London is excellent for old-fashioned purchases as it is also home to numerous vintage shops.

One of the standout stores is One of a Kind London. This small shop hosts one of the richest vintage fashion collections in London. It has a section open to everyone displaying ready-to-wear clothes and accessories from top designers such as John Galliano, Vivienne Westwood, and Alexander McQueen. The collection spans from the 1930s to the early 2000s. The ‘secret’ area is the Archive and it is accessible only to fashion professionals and clients looking for rare pieces. Indeed, the Archive hosts vintage and antique items, some of them dating back to the 19th century. If you’re still picky about buying second-hand clothes, put your doubts aside. Big names such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and Sienna Miller are loyal clients.

A stone’s throw away from One of a Kind there’s Ragyard, a cool-vibe destination for young people and everyone fancying an exquisite reworked item. Ragyard is a small family business owned by travel lovers. Exotic textiles and eye-catching designs come together in a little place with bright colours and an incredibly captivating atmosphere. Ragyard does not go unnoticed. You will see their iconic tops decorated with patches in the shape of peacock feathers from the windows. This place hosts items that have a second life. The Ragyard design team sources fabrics worldwide and reinvents unusable garments by creating unisex and sustainable pieces. The idea is to tell the story behind each piece sold. You will be greeted by a fantastic scent of incense and be fascinated by the stories the owners will tell you about their products.

MARYLEBONE & COVENT GARDEN

Moving to the heart of London, precisely towards Marylebone and Soho, you can continue your fashion hunt within the walls of Reign Vintage. This shop is located in Soho and was born in 2002. The owners’ ambition is to empower their customers, making them masters of their style and no longer slaves of high street trends. Reign Vintage Hidden Gems offer a wide range of designer clothes at incredible prices. The variety of products is immense, as the store’s suppliers are based throughout Europe. Among the big names you will find are Chanel, Versace, Stone Island, Vivienne Westwood, and others.

The next shop is WilliamVintage, and unlike many vintage stores, it looks like an haute couture boutique. Indeed, Mr Banks-Blaney, CEO and founder of the brand, doesn’t want customers to rummage through baskets of clothes. He wants to offer an exquisite shopping experience by having the knowledgeable sales assistants serve and advise you. The collection of vintage designer pieces is rich and beautiful. Tilda Swinton, Amal Clooney, and Victoria Beckham are just some of WilliamVintage’s VIP customers. Prices are extraordinarily varied and start at around £300 as a minimum spend. Do not turn up your nose; in fact, you can scout Balmain, Dior, McQueen, and Lacroix pieces.

Moving to Covent Garden, there’s Rokit, and this brand has two other locations, one in Camden Market and one in Brick Lane. This store offers vintage and retro treasures divided by decade, and this division is followed also on the website. You can find pieces fashionable between the 1930s and 1990s. Let yourself be amazed by Rokit Originals Range, the collection of reworked vintage pieces for lovers of style and sustainability. Besides, everything takes a new life thanks to Rokit Recycled which transforms unusable clothes.

BRICK LANE & SPITALFIELDS

Last but not least, there are Brick Lane and Spitalfields. In the second area is Atika, a conglomerate of colours and patterns that unfolds over two floors. Unlike many vintage places, here you will find models in a great selection of sizes and shades.

A ten-minute walk towards Shoreditch brings you to the last two shops of this vintage guide. The first is House of Vintage, ideal for anyone looking for staple jumpers, ’90s inspired sweatshirts, and bandanas. We conclude this shopping tour with Serotonin Vintage, the must-go place for women who love animal prints, leather and eco-leather items. In short, if you want to opt for a slightly flashy look, you cannot miss a trip here. Check out the store’s Instagram profile and be inspired by beautiful colourful outfits.

London provides endless fashion and artistic stimuli and inspirations. Although it is now impossible to go on a wild hunt for the coolest vintage piece, you can always dedicate yourself to online purchasing on shops’ websites. If you want to have an intense experience, draw up your wish-list while waiting for an excellent shopping session. Hopefully, spring will bring only good news and a nice filling of the vintage section of your closet.

You can read more of Cicilia’s article on ciciliabrognoli.weebly.com/

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