Fashion and vintage have always been involved in a love affair and London is more enamoured now than ever, with numerous venues hosting popular vintage markets. The number of vintage fairs is daunting, but our list of the top five vintage spots will help you select your best ‘50s smock, china set, or unique ring. Many venues also have on-site food vendors, serving everything from quiche to sweets to tame your bargain-hunting belly.
Chelsea’s Old Town Hall provides a glamorous backdrop to this bustling market, with more than 50 stalls of vintage fashion and accessories. The hall’s huge, light blue interior, beset with stunning oil paintings and crystal chandeliers, feels appropriate as you browse amongst designer and early century labels. Besides racks of clothes, there are also numerous home furnishings and knick-knacks to have the best-styled flat in London. Feeling peckish? A nostalgic tea room is on board to curb your afternoon tea and treat fix.
A cozy alternative to glittering Chelsea, this fair is no less great for its variety of vintage fashions and home goods. Usually based in St Mary’s Parish Hall on the borders of Crouch End and Muswell Hill, the fair offers a relaxed atmosphere with lots of blown glassware, wallets, intricate jewellery, and records for your browsing pleasure. Just make sure to not startle too much as you eye Squawk the Shar-pei wandering around, amenable to head-pats. He belongs to Mick, who has vended at the fair for some time. Fork and Dram offers sustenance in the form of moist banana and apple cakes and creamy courgette and tomato quiches. North London Vintage Market, St Mary’s Parish Hall, Cranley Gardens/ Park Road, Crouch End, London, N10 3AH, UK
From fashion to homeware to collectables, Judy’s got your affordable vintage covered. A massive spread of stalls, tables, and open tattered suitcases reveal all sorts of goodies for the aspiring collector. Vendors are friendly and knowledgeable on their wares, and attendees get into the spirit: lots of cat-eye glasses and ‘40s hairdos on women, with an Elvis curl or two thrown in on the gents. There’s a small snack stand serving tempting cakes and pastries right before you exit with reasonable prices. The fair hops around to different locations, so make your way to Bethnal Green for the next event.
Old Spitalfields already has loads of great vendors, hawking bargain dresses, leather bags, and other homemade items you never knew you needed. Now, every third Saturday of each month, they have more than 40 vintage stalls with everything from ladies and menswear to leopard-print chairs, silverware, cameras, and playing cards. Your head spins (in a good way) as you browse and when your stomach starts to rumble, head over to the mini food trucks on the perimeter. Giallo Italian street food, Koshari and Maki sushi will have you sorted.
Fancy some classic autos with your vintage clothes shop? Then the Classic Car Boot Sale is the ticket, with dozens of old-school vehicles and many more stalls to satisfy your vintage needs. A few vendors selling directly out of the boots, hawking books, vinyl, tchotkes, jewellery, and much more. The festive atmosphere is enhanced by a DJ spinning tunes from the 40s, 50s, and 60s from atop an open-air Routemaster, which also serves as a booze station. After loading up on craft beer, swing on by the bursting food truck area where Kooky Bakes, Bleeker Street Burger, and the Buddha Bowl, among many others, will whet your appetite. While the most recent boot sale was 14-15 March, there is another coming, so stay tuned.
Jennifer C. Smith-Parker is a London-based journalist who, when she’s not trekking all over the city to explore its cultural diversity, is flying around the globe to indulge her insatiable wanderlust. A career healthcare journalist, her other interests include vegetarian food, museums, history, and dogs.