In the East End of London lies one of the most culturally mixed and artistically fruitful areas: Shoreditch. Home of the cozy Book Club, the historic Golden Heart and the world-renowned Whitechapel Gallery, Shoreditch is renowned for its abundance of wondrous vintage outlets. We find ten of the best vintage shops in Shoreditch.
East End Thrift Store, London | Courtesy of Nelly Duff
Just down Mile End Road, in the corner of the Assembly Passage, stands the legendary East End Thrift Store. Behind the deceiving aluminum doors of this converted warehouse space lies a reasonably priced collection of personally selected vintage items. Colourful dresses, jumpsuits, fur or leather coats, shirts, shorts, hats, bags and handkerchiefs fill the store on a few dozens rails, all dating from the 1920s until now. This cavern of treasures lost in the middle of Shoreditch prides itself on being one of the only affordable vintage stores left in London, with most of its stock sold at £10 or under.
Amateurs of the retro look ought to take a detour around Hanbury Street and take a look in the Absolute Vintage Store. The store opened its doors in September 2003, having previously been a vintage shoe stall at Notting Hill and Shoreditch London markets. Behind its Union Jack decorated frontage lies a collection of old-fashioned accessories and clothes for all genders and ages. Once inside, shoppers are surrounded by displays of checkered 1950s dresses, all while listening to a tasteful selection of music from the 1950s to the 1980s, setting the mood for a perfect vintage shopping experience.
In the heart of Shoreditch’s most legendary street, Brick Lane, lie two neighbouring vintage boutiques of the same brand, Rokit Vintage. Started in 1986 as a small market stall in Camden, Rokit has grown to become one of the most prominent vintage brands in London, with four stores all over the city. Apart from its collection of hot pants and denim jackets, the particularity of Rokit lies in its production of what it calls ‘recycled’ items: old clothes recycled and made into new bags by the brand’s designers.
Towards the end of Brick Lane, where the shops get scarce and a series of restaurants like The Beigel Bake appear, there is one final vintage store: Hunky Dory Vintage. Although rather pricey compared to other shops, Hunky Dory Vintage offers a well-curated selection of high-quality original products for both women and men. The careful selection of pieces ranges from entire outfits such as silk 1970s suits to accessories, such as ties or leather handbags. Cozy but friendly, the focus here is on getting a personalized service in acquiring beautiful one-of-a-kind pieces.
If you are lucky enough to walk down Columbia road on a Saturday between noon and 6.00pm, or be at the Sunday Columbia Road Flower Market, be sure not to miss Vintage Heaven. As pretty inside as it appears on the outside, the store offers a selection of retro objects, from graceful 1920s china to chic, yet kitsch 1970s lamps. Vintage Heaven’s very own Cakehole Café is the icing on the gateau, offering coffee, cake and tasty weekend treats for gourmets looking to treat themselves an afternoon reminiscent of the 1950s.
Down Cheshire Street, behind an original mosaic entrance, is one of Shoreditch’s most prominent off-Brick Lane vintage shops: Beyond Retro. The now international label first opened there a few decades ago in the disused Eastern-London dairy shop. Listen to the sounds of its rock n’ roll retro playlist and enjoy the great choice of vintage and recycled items, all thoughtfully displayed and reasonably priced – £50 for a well preserved wool and leather coat. To make the experience even more memorable booth at the far end of the store.