Whether you’re a vintage novice or possess an archive gearing up for collector status, we’re all being encouraged to shop second-hand.
Lucky for Londoners, the city is home to a world-class selection of vintage stores offering everything from labelless one-offs to cult pieces re-entering the marketplace (with added allure and often the extra digits on the price tag to match). While the online resell market continues to pick up speed and precedence in the way we shop, there’s nothing like going into a brick-and-mortar store to pick up a preloved piece. And when it comes to the capital’s boutiques, it’s the people behind each curation that can’t be matched.
Through their willingness to offer opinion and expertise with a helping of history and money-can’t-buy storytelling, the vintage shopping experience becomes all the richer for it. From leathers on Portobello Road to trench coats along Regent’s Canal, find London’s best second-hand stores here.
Best for: One-of-a-kind leather jackets
Settled in new premises at the Ladbroke Grove side of Portobello Road, Chillie London is the brainchild of stylist Natalie Hartley and Lydia McNeill. Their approach is more pre-loved than vintage, instead curating a selection of “things that people would stop you in the street for”, Hartley says. Hartley and McNeill offer a personal touch, working from the store daily to impart expertise and best illustrate how to wear their finds that focus on quality and condition, rather than what the label reads. “We want to inspire people and actually get them to wear second-hand clothes. We are passionate that it is the way forward,” Hartley adds. To encourage those who might be intimidated by the wealth of stock that often populates vintage shops, Chillie London instead edits its clothes by colour. “It’s a less overwhelming experience and people can find what they want easily by shopping within their favourite colour to start with and progress from there. Plus, we are genderless which makes us unique too. There’s a little something for everyone,” she adds.
361 Portobello Road, W10 5SA
Found and Vision
Best for: A piece of fashion history
Since opening in 2012, Found and Vision has become a favourite of industry insiders looking for inspiration and to pad out their own wardrobes. Prices at the boutique reflect their notable status, with pieces ranging from Chanel to Comme des Garçons. Yet Found and Vision is far from the stuffy boutique its labels might have you believe. The shop feels modern with a sense of fun that’s often lost in the top tier. “It’s about finding old things of beauty and curating them in a way that feels completely new and exciting,” co-founder and stylist Karen Clarkson says. “We specialise in not specialising. Many vintage archives and shops focus on a very specific aesthetic or era but we offer a range of pieces from the Twenties to Y2K. We also have weird and wonderful editorial pieces by Judy Blame and Sue Clowes, to a long list of designers from Alaïa to Versace and lesser-known designers.”
318 Portobello Road, W10 5RU
Best for: Accessible, trend-led pieces
London’s bastion of well-priced, accessible vintage continues to dress bright young things across the capital. With stores in King’s Cross, Dalston and White City, it’s the Argyll Street outpost, just off Oxford Street, that should be your first Beyond Retro port of call. Discover two floors of hand-picked pieces, curated to match current trends without the carbon footprint.
Across London, including 19-21 Argyll Street, W1F 7TR
Best for: 20th century touches
What started as a stall in the late Eighties in Camden Market is today one of the capital’s much-loved vintage purveyors. Rokit — which now boasts stores in Camden, Brick Lane and Covent Garden — remains a fixture for those sourcing pre-loved, with the WC2 location our pick of the bunch. Head there this season to pick up an excellent selection of Seventies shirts or jaunty ties.
Across London, including 42 Shelton Street, WC2H 9HZ
Best for: Natty party dresses by sought-after labels
A stone’s throw from vintage fashion’s overwhelming mecca Brick Lane is Nordic Poetry, offering a buzzy curation from recognisable names trending once again. Think Roberto Cavalli, Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler. It aims to “cultivate a selection that is rarely seen and highly sought after”. Party girls need to look no further, whether hunting Saturday night’s look or for an It-bag they missed out on the first time around.
141 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG
Vintage Hackney Wick
Best for: Excellent outerwear and the trousers you’ve been searching for
Follow Regent’s Canal east beyond Victoria Park and you’ll find a vast warehouse filled with brilliant second-hand finds. Vintage Hackney Wick is only open on weekends, which is when you’ll find designers brushing shoulders with Continued from Page 25 students searching for inspiration from its vast collection that tends to lean towards tailoring, leather jackets, wool coats and classic trenches from the Twenties to Eighties. How to shop Vintage Hackney Wick best? “[Focus on] attention to detail. Think big but focus on the small things,” says its anonymous founder. “We have a vast knowledge of fashion and textiles through the ages and do offer consultations or appointments where necessary.”
92 White Post Lane, E9 5EN
Best for: Finds that give back
The instigator of Second-hand September continues to offer brilliant pre-loved surprises across its shops. Stylist Bay Garnett, Oxfam’s senior fashion adviser, says the best to visit in London for sartorial finds are Chiswick High Road (190 Chiswick Road, W4 1PP) and Chelsea (432 King’s Road, SW10 0LJ). “I used to come here with the absolute queen of thrift, Anita Pallenberg,” Garnett says of the latter. “She found one of my favourite things of all time here; a black bag that had been studded with a stud gun by someone. It was the best. Then she gave it to me.” Her top tip? “The men’s rail is so good. You get some fancy shirts and cashmere which I always look for.”
66 addresses across London
Best for: Getting your hands on that Nineties Fendi Baguette
At first glance, Oxford Street’s Selfridges might not scream pre-loved haven, but traverse its 540,000 square feet and each turn will open up the opportunity to secure a vintage piece. With its Reselfridges programme, the institution continues to pioneer retail practices by working with the likes of Susan Caplan, OOTO and Vinterior to offer vintage pieces to treasure. Plus, its buy-back scheme is worth investigating if you’re using a one-in, one-out approach.
400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB
Best for: Scene-stealing pieces
“Entering Lovers Lane is akin to your dream dressing room. It’s a happy place filled to the brim with couture, demi-couture, runway, whimsy and accessories galore. We are classic elegance infused with a bit of playfulness and a well-placed wink,” says Charlotte Cohu of Lovers Lane. Here, vintage is a family affair as she is joined by sister Georgina and mother Kimberley Green in curating a selection of pieces sourced from private collectors and archivists across the globe. Sure, the Portobello Road space is a treasure trove of brilliant pieces from Tom Ford’s Gucci era, Galliano at Dior, Geoffrey Beene and Bob Mackie, but it’s the way the sisters style it out on its TikTok and Instagram that convince you to pull up here. “Our ethos is ‘Why be ordinary when you can be extraordinary’,” shares Cohu.
77 Portobello Road, W11 2QB
Best for: Anything. Plus, cult menswear from big brands
New to the scene is Files London. Found underneath a new-build development on the east side of London Fields, this impressive space houses a vintage collection that looks to the practical and the technical. Exceptional pieces from the likes of Armani, Hermes by Martin Margiela and Yohji Yamamoto sit alongside reworked vintage Levi’s, Timberland and Diesel. Reserve your appointment via Instagram DM. How edgy.
39 Gransden Avenue, E8 3QA
Best for: A charitable treasure in the neighbourhood
In south-east London, one charity shop reigns supreme — yet the Crystal Palace, East Dulwich and Streatham sites offer the most salubrious sartorial offerings. St Christopher’s is the local go-to for well-priced, good-quality pieces and even the odd designer surprise in all three locations. All shops support St Christopher’s Hospice in raising the £15 million it needs each year to provide palliative care to people across Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.
Locations across south-east London
Best for: From bridalwear to jewellery
Since 2011, Pennies has been Islington’s go-to destination for that special sort of diaphanous vintage from the early decades of the 20th century. Beaded flapper dresses sit alongside antique lace wedding dresses to prove Pennies’ most convincing draw, but don’t leave without taking a closer look at its exquisite selection of beaded bags — some even dating back to the 1800s. It’s a feast for the eyes and a must-visit destination for anyone wishing to bring a touch of the Roaring to these so-far bleak Twenties.
41 Amwell Street, EC1R 1UR