If you’re a thrift or vintage clothing junkie, you know that one of the best parts of traveling the world is spending time going through the cast-off duds and designs of an entirely different country and culture.
London has long been a hot spot of high fashion, punk music and uptight finery, and its thrift stores and vintage shops are a delight to pick over and wander in. While items can sometimes be a bit pricey, if you’re willing to be patient, a secret bargain will often reveal itself. And sometimes, of course, you’ll happen upon a treasure that, regardless of its price tag, cannot be passed over. From hipster havens to hidden gems, here are some of London’s best thrift and vintage stops.
East End Thrift Store
The East End Thrift Store’s goal is to provide excellent vintage items at a decent value. Purses, jeans, denim skirts, cocktail dresses, men’s suits, fedoras, coats — if it was made to be worn, they have it at this store. Known as one of the best-priced thrift stores in all of London, shoppers can find many items under £10.00.
Their warehouse takes a bare bones approach when it comes to décor, but that just helps the wealth of well-organized and easy-to-manoeuvre second-hand finery look all the more dazzling. The next time you book a holiday to London, be sure to spend some time in the East End Thrift Store.
A newcomer to the London thrift and vintage scene, Blitz opened its doors in 2011. Basically a vintage department store housed in an old furniture factory, the store and building itself are worth a trip. Far more than your typical vintage fashion store, Blitz has an entire accessories floor, beautiful furniture and books and a plethora of happy shoppers. Everything is in excellent shape — clean, pressed, folded, perfect. If you love fine vintage fashion, and you don’t mind paying for quality and expertise, Blitz will have you swooning.
The Other Side of the Pillow
Shoes, sunglasses, house wares and toys mix with clothes from the 1970s and 1980s throughout The Other Side of the Pillow. Most impressive is their massive collection of vintage Vans. If you have a former skateboarder in your life, stop in here and find a favourite and iconic pair of Vans from 1983.
Pelicans and Parrots
Considered by many to be one of the best-sourced thrift and vintage stores in all of London (including Italian Vogue), Pelicans and Parrots has more than just excellent clothes. Furniture, decorations, house wares and more fill this small shop that abides strictly by William Morris’s declaration to “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Crazy Man Crazy
A vintage store that is just for men, Crazy Man Crazy has been open since 2012 and specializes in American-influenced clothing from the World War II and post-World War II eras. The shop is small, but well-organized, and the music playing is always American rock and roll from the 1950s. The store is frequented by rockabilly bands and anyone sporting a pompadour, so if you’re in need of a bomber jacket or a fantastic pair of jeans, hit up Crazy Man Crazy.
Tiny but elegant, Leftovers specializes in the details of used items. It’s full of petticoats, dresses, collars, blouses, pins, buttons and other ephemera. If you loved looking through your great aunt’s closet, hat boxes and jewellery as a child, Leftovers will find your sweet spot for nostalgia, and it’s the perfect place to find the small and one-of-a-kind gifts that are easy to travel home with.
While the name suggests that its set its sights on a mostly younger set, Beyond Retro is one of London’s most trusted and revered vintage stores with something for everyone from the tween to the fashion-centred matriarch, and the store’s collection caters to both men and women, too. It can be a bit overwhelming to peruse their massive collection, so mentally prepare yourself for an onslaught of colour, pattern and selection, and be sure to give yourself ample time.
If you’re headed to London and love a good second-hand store, these excellent thrift and vintage shops will more than satisfy your desire for a good bargain and a rare find. Whether you’re in the market for a Victorian hairpin, a snappy set of suspenders or a vintage designer party dress, it awaits you in some out-of-the-way place in London.