The dark past of East End is long forgotten but its looks and atmosphere is still all about history and the past. Today this mecca of vintage clothes is often blamed for being an overpriced tourist trap, but you can still find some gems for petty money. Just use our guide to know the places and not to waste any time.
East London's number one spot for clothing and accessories, Old Spitalfield’s Antiques takes the place of an ancient market founded back in 1638. Vendors from all over the world flock the site for daily themed fairs. The Sunday Market is the most famous one, but save the date for Thursday – the antique day, when you can buy clothes and jewelry of all epochs and countries: military duffle coats or a genuine 19th century kimono in mint condition. Maybe you fancy silver pocket watches five times cheaper than in stores, an early 20th century camera, extravagant antique porcelain or a 17th century sword?
The nice bakery offers hot breakfasts, salads and soups for affordable prices. They focus on Italian stuff but are mostly famous for their hot chocolate – the best in East End (by the way, their coffee is also great)/ Don’t forget to try the legendary Pierre Marcolini chocolates. If all tables in the spacious hall are taken take the stuff away and eat it near Spitalfield’s as all locals do.
A former humble market stall in Portobello, in the Nottinghill, Absolute Vintage is now a chain of London stores and has concessions in giants like Topshop. Every store is unique, but the flagship on Hanbury Street is the best. Smelling of dust and laundry, endless racks seem spooky but if you have a pearl-finding talent - plunge in. The stuff is epoch-sorted so start with shoes – they're very popular though not for everyone. They also have a great selection of wool – the 1960s vests and mantels in great condition. Check their dresses too – you will love the prices.
Every weekend, the Brewery hosts the trendy Sunday UpMarket, thanks to it Shoreditch is known as a not-so-great-anymore marketplace. However, things are not that bad and you can still find some good stuff in the area. Go through or bypass the brewery to find Vintage Market signs in the rear. Number one attraction is dressed up vendors. Then comes a great selection of clothes, though some items are quite pricey. But you can always find nice and cheap shades or funny accessories like suspenders. Sometimes you can spot vintage designer stuff – expensive but still nothing compared to its initial prices. And they often have vintage vinyl records on sale.
A branch of one of the most famous London vintage stores located in Brick Lane, selling colorful shirts and dresses, denim and faux leather shorts, bags and accessories. They also take stuff for recycling - the one which is beyond repair. Some funny bags with zips and buttons in unexpected places that you can find in the store are actually made of old faux leather coasts. The average price is 20-30 pounds for a shirt or a dress - quite good for a popular location store.
This nice and tidy corner store with odd mannequins and a pink sign has the same odd selection. Definitely a must-go if you are craving color or sports style – they have lots of leggings, caps and other stuff. They have some nice mint Barbour jackets as well, but not so cheap. Go to the basement for some curious dresses and cute shoes and accessories.
Levisons Vintage has the signature last-century interior and staff in matching outfits. The owners are into English classics of the early and middle 20th century, so they sell tailored vests and pants, military and student uniform and knitwear. The stuff is mostly for guys, though they have some women's wear and sometimes beautiful old hats. Their neighbor - The Shop is also worth visiting for their wool and silk (a perfect place to shop for scarves and shawls) as well as coats and cardigans. Right in the middle of this tiny store, there is a display with original women’s hats.
The place is shabby, the owner is unfriendly and the shelves are full of weird stuff like the giant Dr Who Dalek head (it lay there for months). However, they have a great quality vintage for ridiculous prices. They often have offers like – everything in the basement for 10 pounds. The basement in the real treasure trove. If you are into tailoring go downstairs immediately - some lucky guys managed to get shirts, t-shirts and even velvet pants for one pound there.
Welcomed by a vintage gramophone, you will find yourself in the realm of old suitcases, globes, books, postcards and jewelry. Pop in to have a look at the two floors of women’s vintage tea-party clothing and accessories from the 1950s or unique designer hats of the early 20th century. Prices are high but things are real rarities. However, you can definitely afford some nice knicnack on the first floor.
This small lovely shop at the end of Brick Lane was opened by two David Bowie fans. They named the place after their favorite album and really focused on the interior. Their vintage is in great condition but costs a fortune. Check their classical wide-brim hats, prices are more than adequate.
Have a bite in Swedish Fika (it means "go out for coffee in the middle of a working day"). The place is so cute with its alcoves and multi-shaped tables. Menu is not big but delicious – try traditional Swedish meatballs with cranberry sauce. Prices are more than ok.
This old house is squeezed between two buildings and looks like a traditional English pub but is in fact an eclectic coffee-bar with a great selection of coffee, tea and candy. The first floor has an antique till machine while the second boasts baroque interiors - draped pink curtains and crimson velvet chairs to savor your French cakes and British sponge cakes.
This legendary vintage boutique in a carefully restored Georgian mansion offers great names like Comme des Garcons, Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaia, Chanel, Helmut Lang, Prada, Celine, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen etc for half price or even less. You can also find some nice shoes and accessories here or visit a music concert. The staff is clad in 19th century garments.
One of the biggest vintage chains in town. The place is a little chaotic – brand new bold cotton shirts hanging next to a torn silk dress. The 1930s lie next to the 1960s but it doesn't matter – you will hardly leave without a purchase.
The name hints at mint condition of their vintage and it's almost always true. They have great quality and through selection. The place itself is very neat and cozy unlike messy traditional vintage spots.
Two vintage shops with girls and guys vintage perfectly complement the area. Strut is very chic – they sell Yohji Yamamoto, Chanel and Vivienne Westwood – all in perfect condition including some unworn shoes. Though the stuff is expensive it is still ways cheaper than these things used to cost.
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