It’s that time of year again. Frenetic, fervent and just plain fabulous, London Fashion Week will be back with a vengeance on September 13th 2013. And so, as the fashion glitterati wait for that first model in the first show wearing that first collection to strut her stuff down the catwalk, us mere plebs ponder how many morning coffees we would have to give up to afford those coveted Christopher Kane ankle boots. For me, it’ll be at least Spring/Summer 2020. They’ll be vintage by then…
Unfortunately, some purchases just aren’t meant to be. And so, bidding a sad farewell to our front-row fashion friends, we set out on a tour of the best second hand, thrift and vintage shops this city has to offer. Who knows? You may just come away with an old-school Burberry trench.
If you book yourself and the girls into a cheap hotel in London shops can be tackled over a whole weekend and free up your spending money too!
Best Charity Shops in London
Housed in an old 1950s cinema, the Dalston Oxfam has ample space for its wares. Head here early to rummage through endless tubs of headless Barbie dolls, foreign language books, mismatched tea sets, framed prints, cheap CDs and hidden vintage gems. For fashion forward folk, you’ll also find the requisite array of ball gowns, wedding dresses and quirky one-off separates.
514-518 Kingsland Rd, E8 4AH. Dalston Kingsland rail.
Salvation Army, Oxford Circus
You read that right – there’s a charity shop just round the corner from London’s biggest intersection of bright lights, teens and tourists worshipping at the altar of Topshop. It’s a fab one too – hunt the colour-coordinated rails for 70s dresses, fringed leather waist coats and like-new contemporary highstreet gear.
9 Princes Street, London, W1B 2LQ. Oxford Street tube.
Traid, Westbourne Grove
A perfect balance between vintage designer goodies and TRAIDremade customised clothing, Westbourne Grove is our favorite of the ten Traid stores in London. With mentions in Japanese and British vogue, the shop has a reputation for stocking some impressive designer pieces at even more impressive prices. Make sure you check out the collection of ‘upcycled’ old outfits which have been made new by clever cutting and detailing.
61 Westbourne Grove, W2 4UA. Bayswater tube.
Coined ‘the Harvey Nichols of charity shops’ by comedian Alan Carr, we wouldn’t blame you for getting over-excited about paying a visit to Traid. You’ll find plenty of cheap jeans, rock shirts and bomber jackets alongside regularly-donated stock from top brands including Givenchy, Yves Saint Lauren, Urban Outfitters and Ralph Lauren. The best bit: a lot of it has never even been worn!
19 Churton St, SW1V 2LY. Pimlico tube
Octavia Foundation, South Kensington
Home to an excess of wealthy locals proffering second-hand donations galore, South Kensington is the place to be for budget designer wares. Head into the bright-red doors of the Octavia Foundation boutique, and you’ll find everything from Miu Miu to Max Mara and Yves Saint Laurent. Don’t leave before checking out the brilliant vintage book department.
211 Brompton Rd, SW3 2ED. South Kensington tube.
Best Vintage Stores in London
Beyond Retro is the Vivienne Westwood of Vintage Fashion. Everyone knows it, everyone loves it… and, in this case, everyone can have it. In a vast warehouse on Cheshire Street, you can find something for everyone, from silk scarves for £1 to 50s dresses, denim jackets and shoes – oh so many shoes. Whether you’re in the market for a window shop or spree, this fashion museum will keep you occupied for hours upon hours.
112 Cheshire St, E2 6EJ. Liverpool St tube.
Possibly the only shop that can rival Beyond Retro for the best vintage wares in London is Rokit. While not as big as its Cheshire Street counterpart, this Brick Lane boutique is beloved by fashion students and upcoming designers for its vintage goldmine of forties through eighties designs. All stock is strictly screened so you won’t find any junk cluttering up the rails!
101 and 107 Brick Lane, E1 6SE. Shoreditch High Street rail.
As the very wise old proverb goes, “a woman can never have too many shoes”. Enter Absolute Vintage. Although you will find clothes rails crammed with colourful bargains, the real pull of this old-school boutique is its vast array of accessories, from fascinators to gloves, clutch bags and…wait for it…more than 1000 pairs of shoes. We repeat: MORE THAN 1000 PAIRS.
15 Hanbury St, E1 6QR. Liverpool St tube.
Lost ‘N’ Found
‘Grease’ lovers, pay heed: there’s no better place for some sweet 1950s Americana than Camden market’s Lost ‘N’ Found vintage store. Here, you’ll find old-school college jerseys, T-bird style leather jackets and Calamity Jane cowgirl boots alongside an array of feather fascinators and hats. For those planning a wedding, some stunning lace wedding dresses and oh-so-elegant black groom tailcoats are also on offer.
Camden Stables Market, NW1 8AH. Camden Town tube.
Stylish Places to Stay in London
Want to supplement your trendy trip to London with a stylish stay at a luxury hostel? For those intending to save their budget for a vintage shopping spree, check yourself into a cheap London hotel or hostel. At Equity Point London, you’ll enjoy a magical stay right outside of Hyde Park, with rooms available from only €14.02 per night.
Like this? Check out our other cheap guides to London…
- 50 Unforgettable Fashion Trends
- Top Italian Restaurants and Cheap Pizzerias in London
- Cheap Cinema in London