The low down: how to shop vintage in London
Designers have always been rehashing the past, but in the last few years our nation’s obsession with all things kitsch and retro seems to have gone into overdrive; thus the sudden surge in interest for vintage shopping. Our capital city is definitely not short on places to find something special, and here are a few of our favourites.
A tiny, little shop tucked away in suburban East Finchley: A Room in My House sells everything from beaten up leather jackets to rare antique crockery, and does a seriously good stock of accessories. Definitely worth a look for North Londoners who want a piece of sartorial history, but don’t fancy facing the Tube.
Camden is full of vintage, but this is always our first port of call. It’s really trend-led – as quite a few of them are – so you’ll find versions of what is on the high street but it’ll be far superior. Instead of going to Topshop and buying some anonymous shorts for £35, you can pick up a pair of high-waisted Levi’s 501 cut-offs for a fraction of the price. What’s not to like? It makes for a fun shopping experience too; interior décor includes old racing bikes, a miniature Eiffel Tower and multiple Jesus statues. It even has cabinets full of old Vivienne Westwood jewellery and 80s Nikes. Definitely worth a visit.
This Stepney Green warehouse does contain some hidden gems, but can be a bit of a gamble: it’s worth going for a couple of hours to have a proper trawl. You can fill a bag for ten or twenty quid so you do get your money’s worth if you find what you like. They’ve also got a smaller, separately priced section (which is still very cheap) where you’ll find the more sought-after stuff if you don’t fancy hanging around.
Beyond Retro are old-timers when it comes to vintage boutiques. They have a flock of stores across London, Brighton and even in Sweden. A stone’s throw from Tottenham Court Road station, this one is stuffed with rails of obscure t-shirts, beautiful, embroidered woolly jumpers and clutch bags galore. They are pretty well known for their stock selection, but this is one of the smaller branches if you want to start with something manageable.
There are some important things to remember when shopping for vintage. It can be a bit of a minefield, and takes a lot of patience: it’s a far cry from wandering up the high street and knowing exactly what’s going to be there. But nothing beats the feeling of wearing something and knowing you could cross oceans and still not find its twin. So go with an open mind, try things on you wouldn’t normally wear and most importantly, have fun!