Your guide to the vintage markets of London

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 Road Market Photo: La Singularidad Desnuda on Flickr

Portobello Road Market

Portobello Road

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!

Portobello Road Market, London Photo: stephanie.mitrano on Flickr

Portobello Road Market, London

Location: Portobello, Notting Hill (Notting Hill Gate Tube)
Open: Sunday
Price: ££££

Camden Market Photo: goro on Flickr

Camden Market in London

Camden Market

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.

Vintage items in Camden Market, London Photo: irina_h on Flickr

Vintage items in Camden Market, London

Location:Camden Lock (CamdenTown Tube)
Open: 7 days a week, although some stalls will shut Mon – Fri.

Brick Lane

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.

Brick Lane Photo: Nicholas Lativy on Flickr

Brick Lane in London

Location: Shoreditch (Shoreditch High Street Overground or Liverpool Street Tube)
Open: Shops open 7 days a week, Brick Lane market on a Sunday
Price: ££

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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  • Reply
    December 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Great Job on this post Heather, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the info, I will definately check this out when im in London next :0)

  • Reply
    Barbara Weibel
    December 6, 2011 at 2:11 am

    What a fun post, Heather! I love browsing through vintage and secondhand stores. Something else I must put on my list to do if and when I ever make it to London.
    Barbara Weibel´s last blog post ..PHOTO: Celebration in Plaza Grande in Old Town, Quito, Ecuador

  • Reply
    Europe with Kids — The Ultimate Guide
    December 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    […] A Guide to the Vintage Markets of London […]

  • Reply
    Anthony Holmes
    December 7, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Thanks for the post. I believe you should have included Alfies Antique Market – the largest antique market under cover. See alfiesantiques.com

  • Reply
    December 8, 2011 at 6:04 am

    great ideas – I am so behind on my lists.. thanks for sharing friend. If you can find it, then its 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.

  • Reply
    January 1, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    @cropinspree Glad you found it useful – I’m also going to be seeking out more vintage markets when I’m next in London visiting family
    @Barbara – we can have a shopping spree together if you come
    @Anthony Thanks for the tip on Alfie’s Antique Market
    @umail Thanks for the tips

  • Reply
    January 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Yes Alfies Antique Market is great, Grays is another large indoor antique centre – lots of fine jewellery, silver and there is a large vintage fashion shop in their Mews building. Well worth a visit!

    • Reply
      January 4, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      @ Jenna Thanks for the tip about Grays – I love jewellery so may have to pay this a visit when I’m next in London

  • Reply
    john weaver
    January 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Who would like to buy my vintage ‘french’ goods ?

  • Reply
    trip stories
    January 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I could not resist commenting. Very wesll written!
    trip stories´s last blog post ..trip stories

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