London is a treasure trove of fashion outlets, from the most premium of designer boutiques to a wealth of charity shops. Here, we focus on where you can find the best vintage stores across the capital and compile them into one simple hitlist.
If there’s only one vintage clothing store that you’ve heard of prior to reading this article, then it’s likely to be Beyond Retro – this East London-based treasure trove has been open for almost a decade and it caters to just about everyone within its offering. Whether you’re a 20-something woman on the hunt for that perfect festival kaftan or a 40+ man wanting to add to his band tee collection, you’re likely to find it here… if you look hard enough. Self-acclaimed ‘hoarders at heart’, it’s the passion that the owners have for original design, plus their consciousness of the decline in global resources that fuels their success. Now operating globally with a fully functioning website, it’s one to watch in the future.
Positioned in three spots across the city; Brick Lane, Covent Garden and Camden High Street, it’s the latter of the three Rokit store locations that we recommend heading to if you’re after that perfect vintage find. The flagship store stocks a wealth of (mostly unbranded) items covering a range of styles and sizes as well as quirky accessories; trilby hats, belts and scarves that will lend any outfit a unique twist. What’s more? The eclectic mix of style in the local area will leave you feeling altogether inspired, so we challenge you to leave the store empty handed. Go via the world-famous market to indulge in some of the street food on offer (the pulled pork alone is well worth the visit).
Portobello Road is famed for its affluent position and eclectic aesthetic, so where better to place a vintage clothing store that stocks the likes of Gucci and Vivienne Westwood than this? Heralded by Vogue as being ‘a firm favourite with some of London’s most stylish’, this store is in a league of its own when it comes to vintage shopping. Owner and founder, Jeff Ihenacho has been rumoured to welcome everyone from Kate Moss to Sienna Miller into his back room, where he holds the most exclusive designs, dating all the way back to the 19th century. This kind of treatment is done on an appointment only basis, however, and when booking, you’ll be asked to quote an era that particularly interests you to ensure your personal style consultant is prepped upon your arrival.
Run by a Fara, a charity that works to support orphaned and abandoned children in Romania, Retromania is as much a moral example as it is a wonderful shopping experience. It focuses on designer pieces within its collection, and is said to receive around 50 bags of products a week, so the chances of seeing something one day and finding it again the next are about as minimal as they come. Alongside its clothing collection, it also houses vintage memorabilia which makes for a nice touch and a great all-round experience. Who doesn’t want a series of vinyls to go alongside their 1970s Alexander McQueen dress? The staff here are fashion-obsessives, which means they know a thing or two about designers both past and present, and they price their items accordingly. However, if you’re not willing to part with a few hundred pounds on impulse then there are plenty of less recognisable labels for you to choose from with items starting at around £15-20.
Just as you might expect from the name of this two-story Camden Market store, Funky Town doesn’t just provide its customers with a shopping experience but a Friday night warm-up as well. House, funk and disco play through the speakers and if that doesn’t inspire you to invest in a little 1970s fashion then we don’t know what will. There’s also an upstairs café to this establishment, which only adds to its appeal, and if you’re shopping in a group, those who are finished quicker than others have somewhere to refuel while they wait.
Originally part of a range of vintage stores in Gray’s Antique Market but now a stand-alone boutique in Pimlico, Modes & More stocks hand-picked pieces that date back to the 1920s. Frequented by a celebrity clientele, it’s famed for its dedication to presenting only the most stylish of finds, so much so that the likes of Lana del Ray and Laura Whitmore have been spotted in some of the store’s top picks.
What Goes Around Comes Around started life as a Camden Market stall but its instant popularity quickly resulted in a transfer to its own bricks and mortar store and showroom in the vicinity, run by appointment only. The stall still exists and is a slightly more low-key experience than the showroom but both are home to an impressive selection of items. The focus is on menswear and the great thing about What Goes Around Comes Around is that you can rent your favourite picks as well as purchasing, so it’s ideal for photoshoots, costume, or just a fancy Saturday.
Run by Italian-born Nabila Gallozzi and Gessica Preto Martini, Ticktock Vintage is based on the love of clothing designs that tell a story. Most items are shipped from Italy and are hand-picked by the duo and then stocked in their warehouse location in Peckham. Minimum spend comes in at £100 so it’s a little more pricey than many of the other options in this line-up but when you’re getting help from a pair as experienced as this, you can guarantee you’ll find the perfect picks first time around. While they mainly sell their stock to vintage boutiques and shops, they hold regular vintage kilo sales which are open to the public with no minimum spend.
There doesn’t come a store name much more authentic that St CYR Vintage – this established boutique is so christened after 1940s burlesque star Lili St CYR. In case you hadn’t already guessed, it stocks 1940s clothing, as well as 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, and it also houses around a thousand different vintage books and magazines to boot. Luckily, dresses are grouped by era, size and colour, so it’s slightly less of a maze than most, and it rewards its regular customers with a stamp card that they can use to get 20% off after a set number of visits.