As more and more of us men begin to understand the power of our personal image, the competition to look unique increases. There are two ways to avoid looking like the average Joe: The first is to spend sinful amounts of cash on high-end designer garments, which (no offence) would only really apply to a few.
The second is a little more practical; it involves using your brain and personal taste and checking out vintages stores. Many store owners have jumped onto the second-hand bandwagon. The high demand for vintage clothing has caused more and more vintage warehouses to open up. All the better really, because there are some real gems to be found there.
In a four-part series, we’re going to be breaking down the city’s best and vintage stores into simple NORTH, SOUTH, EAST & WEST locations. This week we begin in east London. Our very own backyard if you will. Let’s get to it shall we…
- ABSOLUTE VINTAGE
Absolute Vintage is one of those massive warehouse places where the majority of clothing consists of womenswear but the men’s is more than enough to keep you browsing for a good hour.
Like in all vintage stores, the staff know their stuff and unlike charity stores, the clothes don’t stink of piss or look like someone’s died in them. The original time period of these pieces range from 1920’s through to the 1990’s and all items priced between £5 and £65. Amongst the rails, Absolute Vintage’s set-up plays homage to owner Dean’s background as a trader on Portobello Road, with mock market stalls and signage.
Location: 15 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6QR
- BEYOND RETRO
Beyond Retro is beyond all comprehension! It’s probably THE biggest vintage store I have ever stepped into. This vintage emporium stocks so many clothes that for once, the menswear section is as big as the women’s. The store carries a number of period and costume-inspired garments and it’s possible to find any kind of men’s apparel; from bow-ties to cowboy boots and blazer jackets to scarves. Everything you could ever need is here.
It’s a great place to start off if you’re new to vintage shopping. The changing rooms are a good size and there’s even a section which is dedicated to ‘higher priced’ items. Check out their £1 rail, which should still be situated at the back of the store.
Location: 110-112 Cheshire Street, London, E2 6EJ
- EAST END THRIFT STORE
The East End Thrift Store is a must when your down to your last few pounds. It may not ‘technically’ be a vintage store but hey, when items between £5 and £15, who’s complaining? It might not be as pretty as other vintage shops, but the stripped warehouse space has a certain functional charm about it.
Location: Unit 1a Assembly Passage, London, E1 4UT
Rokit is actually a franchise as it has more than one store under the same name. Their east end standalone is situated on fashionable Brick Lane and is one of capital’s most famous vintage stores.
There’s a wealth to pick from the menswear here; Rokit is well known for stocking classic bags and you can snap up a good quality leather holdall for about £20. They also have a great selection of plaid shirts and body warmers, so if you’re looking for that 80’s retro look, then Rokit should be your first port of call. Pair any of their retro tees with Ray Ban sunglasses for a perfect nerdy-cool look!
Location: 101 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SE
- SUNDAY UP MARKET
The Sunday Up Market isn’t exclusively for vintage clothing but it’s a big sprawling market on Brick Lane and it’s only open on, yes- you’ve guessed it- Sundays.
It boasts a wealth of mini-market stalls ranging from independent fashion and jewellery designers to multicultural and ethnic foods. For the sake of this post, we’ll be concentrating on the clothing stalls. The vintage vendors stock the best leather jackets I’ve seen in a long time.
Each stall owner knows their stock very well so when you’re looking for something specific, just ask. If they don’t have it themselves they’ll be more than happy to point you to someone who does.
Location: The Old Truman Brewery, London, E1 6QL