The majority of us love finding a bargain – it’s a feeling of satisfaction you just don’t get when splashing out on a full-price item.
Following tough economic times in recent years, being a little frugal and thrifty has become a desirable trait. Wearing vintage or second-hand clothes has become increasingly fashionable, partly in thanks to the growing fashion blogger movement, while there are now even apps that let you swap garments with fellow clothes lovers via your smartphone.
London is one of the world’s fashion capitals and with such a diverse range of people living in the city, its charity and thrift stores are full to bursting with vintage gems.
Here’s our pick of six of the best thrift shops to lose yourself in on a trip to London.
1. East End Thrift Store
The East End Thrift Store is located just a short walk away from the Stepney Green Tube stop and prides itself on providing vintage clothes, shoes, bags and other accessories at a good-value price.
Based in an old Stepney warehouse, the shop is full to the brim with pre-loved denim and leather and offers shoppers a browsing experience that’s a little bit different to other thrift stores in the capital.
You can pick up a bag worth £10 or one worth £20 and fill it with as many vintage finds as the bag will allow, meaning you could get three dresses or three jackets for less than the price of a brand new one on the high street.
2. Cafe Vintage
Also tucked away in London’s East End is Cafe Vintage, which is located on Mountgrove Road in Hackney. This thrift shop specialises in 1940s wartime-era fashion, but also sells clothes and accessories from the 1980s and 1990s, making it a great place to source one-off vintage buys.
Unlike some second-hand stores, people who donate their old items to Cafe Vintage receive 50 per cent of the sum they are bought for.
There’s also a cafe attached to the shop – hence the store’s name! – selling a range of homemade artisan breads and retro-inspired cakes, meaning you can easily get lost in here for a few hours.
3. Barnardo’s, Chelsea
Stepping away from the East End and into Chelsea, you’ll find several charity shops selling the second-hand wares of the borough’s affluent inhabitants.
Expect designer shoes, bags and coats aplenty, with the Barnardo’s store pricing these at £50 or under.
However, it doesn’t really matter where they’re located, charity shops are often full of bargain vintage finds, from books to music and from clothes to homeware.
4. Brick Lane Thrift Store
Heading back to East London, located just off Brick Lane on Sclater Street is the Brick Lane Thrift Store – another thrift shopper’s haven in the capital. Everything in the store is priced under £10 – boots, coats, the lot.
If you’re staying in one of our hotels near Lancaster Gate, it takes around half an hour to get to Liverpool Street on the Central Line, and then it’s just a short walk to Brick Lane, where there are a whole host of vintage and thrift shops to explore.
Aside from the Brick Lane Thrift Store, there’s also Absolute Vintage, Beyond Retro, the Victorian-themed Vintage Emporium and the simply-named but eclectic The Shop.
What’s more, Spitalfields Market is situated close by, selling vintage clothes, homeware and one-off handmade designs, making this the perfect place to visit to create your own unique style.
5. BOB pop-up shops
If you’ve got a bit more of a budget or you’re after a special vintage treat, then it’s worth looking out for one of the BOB vintage shop’s pop-up events.
Run by TV presenter and journalist Dawn O’Porter, BOB is primarily based online, but has recently popped up as a physical store in London, giving shoppers the chance to get their hands on the shop’s pre-loved and vintage-inspired pieces.
Most of the dresses sold through BOB are inspired by the 60s – O’Porter’s favourite era – and are named after influential women from history and the modern day; everyone from Ophelia to Glamour magazine editor Jo Elvin has a dress named after them at the store.
Many of BOB’s items are priced over £100, so it’s worth saving up ready for when the next pop-up store hits the capital.
6. Crazy Man Crazy
The majority of the stores on our list so far are primarily aimed at women, but Crazy Man Crazy – situated close to Crystal Palace station – is one of the few vintage shops in London that is solely aimed at men.
Crazy Man Crazy specialises in clothes from the 1940s and 1950s, with its 50s rock’n’roll playlist adding to the atmosphere.
Here, jeans are displayed on meat hooks, costing around £25 per pair, while you can expect to pay anywhere between £65 and £225 for a vintage jacket.
Although the East End of London is undoubtedly one of the best places in the UK for thrift shopping, don’t be afraid to head into other areas of the capital or shops you may not have heard of before – you never know what you might find.