London ‘vintage’ is a whole scene that extends to music, fashion, and furniture. Originally the term ‘vintage’ applied in France, to scavengers who went through bins on the streets of Paris to find items they could re-sell at temporary market stalls, but the ‘look’ is much more glamorous nowadays thanks to endorsement by celebrities like Kate Moss and Alexa Chung. Whether you’re browsing, or buying – these are three of the best places to get a taste of the vintage scene in London.
Portobello Market is possibly the most famous market in London, partly because of its history and partly because it was featured in the blockbuster ‘Notting Hill’. It’s also tremendously popular with some big names in fashion – Kate Moss herself shops here. The sellers in Portobello consider themselves to be ‘antique’ dealers rather than vintage sellers and they get a huge foot-fall on the weekends, so prices aren’t cheap. However, as a vibrant road with some brilliant stalls, it’s a great place to window-shop and to get inspiration from. Come to Portobello for the experience and you never know – you might even spot someone famous!
Location: Portobello, Notting Hill (Notting Hill Gate Tube)
Camden is experiencing a revival of sorts at the moment. Once it was an ‘undiscovered’ corner of North London but now, on the weekends in particular, it’s a thriving tourist hub. Visitors enjoy strolling down the main street, to gawp at the unusual shops. The majority of the vintage can be found at Camden Lock Market, by the canal. Whilst it says ‘market’ most of the sellers are actually shops rather than stalls – and they don’t really barter or haggle. They also make the most of the heavy footfall – so be a savvy shopper and keep an eye out for over-priced items. There is a hidden gem though – the stables market, which is inside the bulk of the Lock Market. If you can find it, then it’s full of traditional cockney sellers (who are happy to haggle) and a wealth of vintage goods ranging from record players, to fur coats and china plates. The suitcase stall at the entrance always has a good bargain available.
Location:Camden Lock (CamdenTown Tube)
Open: 7 days a week, although some stalls will shut Mon – Fri.
Brick Lane is the heart of London’s trendy East End– a mecca of vintage shops, art galleries and quirky bars. The whole area is worth some exploration – it’s one of the best places to people watch in London, due to the high concentration of art and fashion students strutting the streets. On the weekends the lane is full of delicious global street-food at dirt street prices, and buskers and performance artists giving impromptu performances. The ‘MTV man’ is a bit of a legend – he dresses up like the MTV spaceman and plays futuristic dance music with lots of interaction with the crowd. Vintage shops here range in price, but if you can search out the vintage warehouse ‘Beyond Retro’, you will find a huge selection of affordable fashion. London’s first vintage department store, Blitz, also opened here recently – full length dresses were selling for £20.
Location: Shoreditch (Shoreditch High Street Overground or Liverpool Street Tube)
Open: Shops open 7 days a week, Brick Lane market on a Sunday
Photo credits: Portobello Road Market by La Singularidad Desnuda, Assorted items in Portobello Road Market by stephanie.mitrano, Camden Market by goro, Vintage items in Camden Market by irina_h, and Brick Lane by Nicholas Lativy.
Amy Heritage writes about weekend holiday destinations for idealshortbreaks.co.uk.
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