For the next part in this little series I'm going to go through some of my favourite vintage stores from all across London, which is just a fantastic place to be for vintage anything. I started hunting out vintage clothing when I was at uni and since then have continued to explore more stores, warehouses and markets when sourcing costumes for my job. Now you may think 'this is a sewing blog, we sew our clothes, we don't buy them...' however, I find vintage stores great to browse around and get a bit of sewing inspiration or to take a closer look at how things are put together. Also, there's certain things we just can't make (or at least I can't!) so for the time being the perfect accessories for those 60s numbers I'll be making up will be purchased.
Different stores/areas are good for different items and periods so here we go:
Beyond Retro - 110-112 Cheshire Street (off Brick Lane), 58-59 Great Marlborough Street (Soho) and 92-100 Stoke Newington Road (Dalston)
My first vintage discovery in London, the Shoreditch warehouse is jaw dropping when you first go in. You literally won't know where to rummage first and I could quite easily be lost in amongst the racks for a few hours. Most of their stock has an Americana type of feel (including vintage prom dresses yum!) and they are very reasonably priced. Particularly good for dresses though they have a good selection of shoes too. The Soho store is a fairly recent addition and more selective with stock so equally as good.
Absolute Vintage - 15 Hanbury Street (just off Brick Lane)
Shoes! Shoes! Shoes! and bags and belts and jewellery and some clothes... I've bought a lot there, for shows and myself at the same time! Their sister shop Blondie Vintage Boutique is just around the corner and is also great if you are looking for something extra special. (There are also many many little vintage shops along Brick Lane and Cheshire Street which I can never remember the names of which can be a bit pricey but just have THE most fantastic quality vintage stuff. I remember one had a most amazing display of hats from the 1920s-1960s in the window once which made me drool!)
Rokit - 42 Shelton Street (Covent Garden), 101 & 107 Brick Lane and 225 High Street (Camden)
Used to be a favourite but has got a more popular, more commercial and therefore more pricey in recent times. Still has quite a good selection of stock, particularly accessories and more contemporary clothing such as jeans but not ideal if you're looking for a real one off vintage piece.
Blackout II - 51 Endell Street (Covent Garden)
Now if you're looking to splash a bit of cash on something really one off, original and still in great condition this is one of the places to go. A tiny little shop on the outskirts of bustling Covent Garden with a treasure trove of items continuing downstairs, they stock high-end fashion from the 1920s to 1980s so I'd definitely recommend a visit. They also have some really great menswear which a lot of the other more specialist shops seem to overlook.
Wow Retro - 179 Drury Lane and 10-14 Mercer Street (Covent Garden)
Another great one for a more contemporary look they have both men's and women's clothing at fairly reasonable prices for the centre of town. They also have some great unexpected little bits and pieces, like vintage nightwear! I bought my first ever vintage dress here, a bright blue late 60s mini. The Drury Lane store is probably the best for earlier pieces.
Pop Boutique - 6 Monmouth Street (Covent Garden)
One of my absolute favourites as it focuses on the eras and style I love the most, 1950s-1970s. Plus the shop is always decked out in such a great way as they also sell vintage furniture, vinyl and as they put it 'kitsch'. They have branched out into making their own replica versions of minis and dresses in vintage fabrics which I'm not such a fan of, I'd rather have the fun of making my own but worth a look!
Cenci - 4 Nettlefold Place
If you were ever going to describe anywhere as a treasure trove this is the place. Completely hidden down a backstreet in Norwood you'll think you're in the wrong place and then you get inside and every inch of the place is covered in vintage, there are chests of the stuff. Just go, and enjoy, it's worth the awkward trip to get there!
Rag n' Bone - 140 Deptford High Street
A little boutique store with chic pieces from the 1920's to 1980's. The place to go to for a feminine look and if you're on the hunt for some designer labels. Again a little difficult to get to (depending on where you're coming from) but worth the trip.
Hornets - 2 & 4 Kensington Church Walk and 36b Kensington Church Street
Vintage shopping in luxury for men. They have a huge collection of vintage men's tailoring and hats in pristine condition. It feels like you've stepped back in time when you're in there, like you're actually buying a suit in the 20s. As you can imagine it's not cheap, but you pay for what you get. Old Hat on Fulham High Street is good for this kind of thing too, they even have a few Edwardian and Victorian bits and pieces.
Last but not least I can't neglect a mention for the Stables Market in Camden and all the vintage stores that surround it. If you want to spend a whole day mooching through not just clothes and accessories but furniture, old magazines, home-wares and just about anything else, then this is the place for you. It has, along with some other places, become a bit commercialised over the last few years but there's still some real treasures, make sure to explore every nook and cranny.
These are just some of my favourites, I may well put a full (but briefer!) list up at a later date. Does anyone else have any others they would like to throw into the mix?