The past two decades have witnessed Brussels' transformation into a hub of vintage treasure | Courtesy of Gabriele Vintage
Over the past few decades, Brussels has cultivated an outstanding reputation for its range of vintage clothing boutiques. A day of rummaging through these retro shops – both for seasoned hunters and vintage virgins alike – is bound to leave you in possession of a charming old-school treasure.
Famed for its €1-euro sales at the tail-end of every season, Think Twice is one of those rare retail chains that puts great effort into reducing our carbon footprint. Combing through their second-hand selection will take some time, but rummage long enough and diehard fans will be rewarded with authentic vintage gems. The Think Twice staff in their two Brussels locations have a great eye for gorgeous goods, so chances are you’ll be walking out with a stylish attention-grabber in the bag and a feel-good conscience to boot.
Walking past number 27 in the fashionable Rue des Chartreux, you’ll see Luzille, Daphne, Tulah and many more gaze back at you in their gorgeous vintage outfits. Yes, even the mannequins are given a personal touch at the boutique of Gabriele Wolf, one of the first to open in this now-thriving vintage-focused street in 1998. The former costume designer and her team delight in helping you find an original outfit from the roaring twenties to the wham-bam eighties, and offer alteration tailoring to suit your body type or provide recommendations for themed parties.
The personal touch prevails at Gabriele Wolf’s boutique | Courtesy of Gabriele Vintage
Isabelle Bajart prefers the understated elegance not often associated with screaming vintage outfits | Courtesy of Isabelle Bajart
Right next door and eschewing the over-the-top image that often comes with vintage clothing is Isabelle Bajart. By focusing on designer pieces that seamlessly fit into a modern-day aesthetic, the boutique has carved out a reputation as Brussel’s pre-eminent boutique for luxury-level vintage in Belgium. Its well-selected variety of suede separates, elegant prints and flowing gowns has made the store popular with a fashion-conscious young generation willing to spend an extra buck.
Today’s old-school gentlemen will find comfort and style at Foxhole. With a vibrant selection spanning from the sixties to the nineties and a selection of both men’s and women’s fashion, this Brussels vintage fixture tends to be pleasantly crowded with people looking to add a splash of color to their wardrobe. Be sure to scope out the awesome sneakers and boots that comprise their eclectic and extensive vintage shoe collection.
Selling second-hand clothes by the kilo is certainly a great way to stand out in the crowded Brussels vintage landscape. Though still a newbie on the scene – Melting Pot Kilo opened in 2013 – this hipster haven has made quite the splash with their 15-euros-per-kilo concept. Also recycled is part of the venue’s name as it previously housed Melting Pot Café. Leather and bomber jackets are the boutique’s niche specialty.
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Petit Riens and Retro Paradise
Providing a wholesome shopping experience (though you do need a determined spirit to keep digging for treasure in the bins), the Petit Riensorganization proves that a lot of small things can make a big difference. Their goal is first and foremost a social one, with profits from the numerous shops in the capital being used to battle poverty and prejudice within the greater Brussels community. Right next to their flagship store off Chatelain Square lies Retro Paradise, where the fancier stuff and designer labels are put on display for you to easily browse through.
Hundreds of clothing racks set up in the Halles Saint-Géry make for the ultimate rummaging experience | Courtesy of Brussels Vintage Market
Every fourth Sunday around forty booths and stalls come together at the Halles Saint-Géry to form the highlight of any vintage lover’s month. The charming 19th century indoor market located in the hip Dansaert area transforms into the buzzing Brussels Vintage Market, where anyone can rummage among retro toys, furniture and clothes to their heart’s delight from 12pm to 7pm.
Over four centuries old and still going strong, Les Enfants d’Edouard lies at the bedrock of vintage life in Brussels. Founded by two friends whose fathers were both called Edouard, the mansion house holds over 2,000 quality pieces that go for lower prices. Dapper modern dandies will want to take a look next door for vintage wardrobe guidance. If a trip to Brussels is not on your calendar anytime soon, it should be noted that Les Enfants the only venue on this list to have an online store.
A highflyer amongst the original Brussels vintage boutiques, Ramon & Valy is where to go when you’re seeking that one iconic piece by storied names such as Dior, Lacroix and even modern labels like Dries Van Noten. Owned by a Spanish-Belgian duo considered by many to be Brussels’ reigning king and queen of elusive vintage treasures, regular stops are recommended to partake in the spoils of their hunt. By Nana Van de Poel