A Guide to Vintage Shopping in London
Bette Midler was right when she said, “When it’s three o’ clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in London. No city does vintage better quite like London. And looking good doesn’t mean that you have to dress like everyone else. If your panache is more on the vintage side than modern, London will definitely evoke the shopaholic in you.
London being a treasure trove for vintage fans has sheer collections from all eras to suit different palates and pockets. The problem lies in where to look as vintage shops are quite in a good number being popular amongst locals. I have done the hard work for you, listing down the best vintage shops that will enchant you.
If you are in love with shoes and bags, step into Absolute Vintage-a Mecca for all things vintage and the capital’s most famed vintage shop. The shop boasts the largest selection of vintage pre-loved and unused bags, shoes, accessories in UK. You will definitely find a unique piece for your wardrobe. The affordable retro shoes start from just around £20 per pair, which is quite economical in a metropolis like London. Huge stock, great music, and reasonable prices, what else do you look for. And the best part is, you can shop online too.
Alfies Antique Market
This lush indoor square has become lure for antique and vintage clothes aficionados. Treading through the nooks and passageways of this market, you will feel you’ve stepped back in time. One can spend hours exploring the cornucopia of over 600 stalls showcasing rare vintage finds and baubles. For over 30 years, people have been coming to this bohemian market with a hope to find something unique. The dealers are specialists in their respective fields, in turn, are able to offer things not available anywhere else. It has become the first stop for those on a quest for the best of 20th century design, be it a Victorian charm bracelet or an Alvar Aalto chair.
Rock and roll at heart, Bygone Retro is this is another creative shopper’s heaven selling 20th century fashion. A hotspot amongst style shoppers, who love to stand out of the crowd, Bygone Retro is a large-scale shopping store celebrating fashion through the ages. The store works slightly different from others as it all of their collection comes from charities. Bringing vintage vision to more people, this show-stopping store is now open in Brick Lane, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Soho, Brighton, and Dalston! With a wow-worthy collection of garments, accessories, and footwear, Beyond Retro promises an unexpected shopping experience.
Excellently sitting in Covent Garden for over two decades, Blackout II has earned a unique reputation as a premier store for vintage lovers. Pop in and you can benefit from the deep knowledge of all things outmoded of the staff members. The stylish stock is well-spread over two floors selling all that was rage from 1920s up to the 1980s for both men and women. If you are into the rockabilly lifestyle like the owner Scarlett herself, make sure you pop in during your next visit to London. This Aladdin’s cave of nooks and passageways has everything in store from Aladdin's magnificent costume jewels, hats, handbags, and footwear.
Make this borough your one-stop shop for a day of vintage lives in Camden! From elegant Victorian gowns to the funky 80s disco wear, this place has it all to please you. With Kate Moss and Stella McCartney advocating vintage, fashionistas from around the world come to this market to savour the best of retro. The Arches and Lost'n'Found in Stables Market are good places to start with. A line of shops under a Victorian railway bridge not visible through the main market area is a treasure trove of retro clothing. Moreover, if you are planning a vintage wedding, the mini emporium, Modern Age Vintage is the place to be. From ball gowns and wedding dresses, to cocktail attires and retro tuxedos, there is so much to explore.
House of Vintage
Vintage at heart, House of Vintage opened its first outlet in London in 2010 and from then onwards, it has gained a unique reputation among top vintage shops in London. Tucked away in Brick Lane, this store boasts an edited collection of men and women wear, from 1920s to 1980s with emphasis on 40s, 50s, and 60s. Skimming through the high-end designer pieces from the likes of Givenchy, Burberry, and YSL, you won’t even like to blink an eye. Read the Facebook comment they’ve received that’ll tell you about the kind of shopping experience you can expect.
Lucy in Disguise
Popular pop-star Lily Allen opened this vintage boutique with her sister, Sarah Owen, bringing the best vintage pieces to the locals. It is all about luxurious vintage shopping for those with a deep pocket. If budget is a constraint, this place isn’t for you. However, there are items available for hire, which is like a silver lining for budget vintage lovers. From daily wear to red carpet pieces, the store has all the good stuff and a salon for vintage hair and makeup to complete the look. The shop is very beautiful, slick, and modern with something vintage for everyone. They also do amazing replica vintage as they design themselves too.
Radio Days as the name suggests, is a mother lode of vintage clothing, accessories, and souvenirs. Hardcore vintage addicts will undoubtedly will not leave this place empty handed. A new unusual outfit, hat, gloves, or a quirky item, there is so much to add to your wardrobe. If it is a retro party you are attending or looking for a vintage gift for your lover, this is the place to shop. The magnanimous stock is all-authentic with a sharp focus on 1950s and 60s. Not just clothes, here you will find a lot to please your vintage eye. The store going strong for about 2 decades now is conveniently located near Waterloo Station so getting here is not difficult.
Rellik in Kensington specialises in designer vintage clothing so this is certainly the place not to be left undiscovered during your London trip. A favourite amongst designers, It girls, and magazine editors, this place has plenty of rack packed with well-sourced, preserved, and handpicked designer couture of Ossie Clark alongside the Westwood and Comme Des Garçons. As you will enter, you will feel this is the place where Kate Moss buys her clothes. And all the clothes from different eras here have stories to tell. Bowiesque and romantic, the place boasts friendly staffs that will assist you pick the best.
RETROMANIA specialises in all things vintage, avant-garde, and retro as well as designer items and souvenirs. A regular haunt for fashionistas and avid collectors alike, this store enjoys a supreme location right in the heart of London. A creative hotspot for Time Out and one of the top five-second hand shops in London as per Evening Standard, RETROMANIA has everything providing amazing stock for television, film, and theatre. The displayed items come from donations at FARA’s 49 charity shops and then carefully selected and sent to Retro mania. The stock puts the eras in a nutshell from the turn of the century to the 90s, making it a one stop shop for those going to period parties and themed occasions.
From the architectural wonders to fashion and style, no city does vintage and old-world better than London, a city steeped in history. If you are a retro maniac, make sure you plan a trip to London soon as there is a lot to wow at.