Wellington is renowned for its alternative air. The city prides itself on its culture, food, coffee and museums. The New Zealand Capital should also be proud of its fashion. There are great boutiques, flea markets, high-end shops and — perhaps most famously — a top-class selection of vintage stores. Here is our guide to the 10 best vintage stores in town.
This store is more antiques than vintage, but because of its fantastic selection of stuff, we had to include it. As beautiful and unique as the items are, be prepared to pay far higher prices than at the other stores we’ve listed. There are plenty of affordable pieces as well, but there are also rugs worth $45,000 — so, yes, prices to suit even the deepest of pockets.
From the glamorous to the most outlandish, Hunters and Collectors knows how to captivate all fashionistas who marvel at its compelling window displays and walk through its doors. The shop is well-established in the Cuba Street op-shopping scene, selling a trove of new and used threads for all styles. They buy, sell and trade an assortment of vintage clothing, such as skate wear, jewellery, accessories, footwear, punk clothing and modern apparel.
You don’t need to splurge on the latest couture items to look like a million bucks. Wellington’s Recycle Boutique made a name for itself because it stocks some of the finest second-hand designer clothing. Not only are there plenty of budget-friendly options, but they also offer fashion-forward shoppers the opportunity to profit from their older garments. The boutique stores the money you make from selling clothes in your account so that you can use it in the future. Keep an eye on your account and when that perfect pair of retro shorts come in, you can use the money to purchase them.
If you’ve got a taste for classic and contemporary designer labels, Ziggurat is the place to visit. This effortlessly-cool secondhand outlet has been in the business of selling vintage pieces since the 1980s. Their clothes are pricier than at other shops, but the quality and timelessness of each garment makes the investment worth it. Looking for platform snakeskin boots? Head on over. Whilst many secondhand shops rely on the cheapness of the wares to lure in customers, it’s Ziggurat’s quality that draws in shoppers.
Spacesuit is a trendy vintage shop that likes to keep away from the mainstream. It stocks hard-to-find retro imports from the USA, Europe, Japan and Korea, with a particular focus on 1990s menswear. Everything is personally handpicked to ensure quality prevails and alternative fashion and accessories are always a strong suit (no pun intended) for this budget-friendly boutique.
Thrift is a sustainable vintage shop that opened its doors in 2015. It sells pre-loved clothing on behalf of Wellingtonians who need to spring clean their closets, splitting all profits that are made evenly with them. Retro and vintage labels fill the store’s stylish racks on a daily basis and handmade garments are usually hiding in the midst too. Along with helping people recycle and update their wardrobe in an eco-friendly manner, Thrift also uses its proceeds to support a local animal shelter, so you can feel good whilst looking good.
In general, most of the vintage clothing stores and awesome second-hand garb in Wellington caters toward females. Tangent & Company fills a niche then, as the clothes are exclusively for men. And boy, oh boy, does it fill that niche well. In the winter, there is a massive selection of pure wool bush shirts and Swanndris, which are popular throughout Wellington’s chilly months, and short-sleeved printed button ups that are well-loved in the summer.
Emporium specialises in hand-picked, US-native vintage items. Every season, they travel to California to source the finest threads, from high-fashion classics to chic 1960s threads and epic street-style pieces. The shop is originally from Christchurch, relocating to Wellington’s Cuba Mall a few years ago. Notable contemporary brands you’ll find on Emporium’s shelves include Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.
While the majority of Wellington’s vintage clothing is more focused on women, Brown & Co is also more masculine in its layout — just look at the antlers hanging from the walls, the extensive array of taxidermy and items like scorpions suspended in fluid. Shopping for vintage items here is all about the experience, while touching items and asking questions is encouraged. The labels are all handwritten and the music is played on records rather than iPods. Come in and have a proper shopping experience.
This furniture treasure trove is in the suburb in Newtown and offers excellent stuff for great prices — mostly because it isn’t in the city and people may not want to travel to look at antiques. It’s well worth the short journey though. You’ll find everything you need for your house or flat, with interesting items and furniture. For the prospective restorer who wants a bargain, work on the furniture and sell it for a profit.