Vintage Shopping Guide: New York & London

- By Sarah-Leigh Wade – 

If, like us, you like nothing better than a good rummage amongst the rails of a vintage store come the weekend, then you’ll love our guide to a few of our favourite vintage hotspots in New York and London. We’ll let you know how to find them and just why they’re so good. Plus, share some of our top tips for getting the most out of your vintage shopping experience.
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Sure, you can bag yourself a bargain but for the most unique of fashion finds, there’s nothing quite like a great vintage treasure trove. From a rare eighties Alaïa to that perfect frock for the office party (that no one else will have), there are reasons a plenty to hunt down your own city’s pre-loved clothing Mecca.
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NEW YORK:
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When: Weekends 10am-6pm

Where: November – March: Skylight One Hanson, 1 Hanson Place.
April – November: Saturdays- 176 Lafayette Ave., Fort Greene. Sundays – 27 N. 6th St., Williamsburg.
Brooklyn Flea at Skylight One Hansen
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Why: According to Alex at the Brooklyn Flea, patience is the key to finding something great. Founded in 2008, the flea now boasts hundreds of top vendors selling anything from antique and repurposed furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a tightly curated selection of jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus fresh food.  When it comes to vintage clothing, gently-used gems are on the agenda, while the odd Chanel item has been known on more than a few occasions. Alex continues, “Have an open mind & be creative – with vintage clothes the fabric might be kooky or the cut slightly off-kilter, but paired with the right pants, it’s amazing”. The flea has a real community atmosphere, with many vendors around since its conception. Each brings character, creating a truly one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
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What: Legacy
Where: 109 Thomson Street
Legacy NYC
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Why: Legacy is the result of a lifelong love affair for owner Rita Brookoff, whose unabated passion for New York City and mix and match vintage style keeps customers coming back time after time. With the glossies and a-list alike naming the store a firm favourite, its rails and Thompson Street location are a must for the discerning vintage shopper.
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Where: 1132 Madison Avenue
Encore Consignment
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Why: With a history that spans over 50 years, Encore has been supplying contemporary and gently worn vintage clothing to their discerning customer base for decades. Their carefully selected stock bears seasonal trends in mind, while you can get a sneak preview of their latest covetable finds via their blog.
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What: INA

Where: Noho: 15 Bleecker Street (womens & mens), Soho: 101 Thompson Street (womens), Nolita: 21 Prince Street (womens) & 19 Prince Street (mens), Chelsea: 207 West 18th Street (womens & mens).
INA Nolita
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Why: As avid followers of trends and haute couture, INA’s expertly trained staff have amassed a collection of designer vintage clothing like no other. Stocking exquisite names from recent history; the rarest to most covetable items can be found amongst their hallowed rails. You’re quite likely to be browsing alongside magazine editors and celebrities alike as they pride themselves on a 30 year strong relationship with the fashion industry.
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LONDON:
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Where: Catch them setting up shop at music festivals across the UK or shop online.
Rag and Bow founder, Hazel Holtham
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Why: London’s Rag & Bow is a unique retail concept – available primarily online, you can still get a slice of the action at the brand’s many pop-up shops, events and music festival across the UK. As a go to clothier for Florence Welch and top TV shows, Rag & Bow has built a reputation for providing collections that sit effortlessly within contemporary fashion trends and are experts at hunting down just the right item. Rag and Bow’s founder Hazel is a true advocate of vintage and describes London’s approach as all about “Individuality, colour and mixing up decades – rather than replicating an era, its all about creating your own look”.
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When: Monday To Wednesday 09:00 – 18:00, Thursday 09:00 – 13:00, Friday and Saturday 09:00 – 19:00.
Where: Portobello Road, Notting Hill
Portobello Market
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Why: When visiting London, the market at Portobello Road is a ‘must see’. Nestled in amongst the candy hued terraced houses sits 1000+ stall holders selling antiques, collectables, food and of course, fashion. Around the Westway area you will find vintage stalls with hot new designers side by side – you’re quite likely to discover a historical gems or fashion’s next big thing!  Food-wise, the multicultural myriad of options are endless, though we really recommend Seychelle’s style street food by Vinn Goute. Plus, if its unique home furnishings you’re after, the bric-a-brac stalls on a Saturday by Notting Hill tube station are a must.
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Where: The Watermans Building, Assembly Passage, Whitechapel
East End Thrift Store
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Why: Fans of the East End Thrift Store are never disappointed with rail upon rail of great value vintage up for grabs. For those that like to rummage there’s ample opportunity, or for those looking for something special, there’s a hand-selected section upstairs.
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When: First Saturday of the month
Where: Old Spitalfields Market, 65 Brushfield Street, Tower Hamlets
Judy’s Vintage Fair at Spitafields
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Why: For variety, nothing beats Judy’s 160 traders, selling anything from clothing, accessories and homewares. In addition, the regular fair boasts live tutorials and make-overs to show just how to achieve that perfect signature style from the twenties onwards. Myself, I’ve popped in for a many a forties hair and make-up session before an evening out!  The fair is dedicated to value and affordable prices and is set in a truly iconic part of London.
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Our top tips for shopping vintage:
  • Ignore sizes. Generally, traditional clothing sizes have gotten bigger. Always try before you buy or take a measuring tape when purchasing a gift.
  • Buy on impulse.  As every item is one of a kind, it may not be there later, so don’t deliberate, get to the counter!
  • Thoroughly check garments.  Some items will be old and fragile, so hold up to the light to check for any worn areas and check all seams and fastenings.
  • Talk to the sales assistant. All good assistants should know their stock inside out and can advise on the best decade for you, sizing and a fair price. Plus, there’s often a great story that comes with items and they’ll be able to tell you all about it!
  • Always check the soles of shoes.  Check for missing heel caps and cracked leather and always, always try on to check sizing or for weakening. Older styles may bend and perhaps not take you weight – double check as repairs can be costly.

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 Based just outside London, Sarah-Leigh Wade is an editor and brand consultant working with trend forecasting organisations and international retailers, specialising in digital media. Sarah-Leigh launched her popular eponymous blog Sarah-LeighsStyleFiles.com in 2009 and is an advocate of emerging talent, vintage fashion and the arts. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahLeighW 

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Based just outside London, Sarah-Leigh Wade-Bunting is an editor and brand consultant working with trend forecasting organisations and international retailers, specialising in digital media. Sarah-Leigh launched her popular eponymous blog Sarah-LeighsStyleFiles.com in 2009 and is an advocate of emerging talent, vintage fashion and the arts. You can follow her on Twitter @sarah_leigh_b

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