East London is world renowned for vintage shopping and second hand markets. This guide should give you some ideas of shops where you will make great vintage finds. I have personally been to all of these shops and therefore this is my personal recommendation list of the five best spots in East London.
I. Fine selected vintage clothing at Here After Vintage:
This vintage store, located right at the Brick Lane, offers a great and fine selection of all kind of retro fashion, ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s, with a focus on 60s and 70s designer wear. You will find loads of checkered trousers, wool sweaters, silk blouses and scarfs, velvet dresses, colourful berets, extravagant sunnies and last but not least a heap of leather jackets and stylish coats. The clothes are presented in a very lovely and artsy way – the store itself is decorated creatively with chairs hanging on the walls.
Address: 151 Brick Ln, London E1 6SB
II. Vintage wonderland at the Bricklane Vintage Market:
Vintage specialists from across the UK and Europe take part to display their wares at the Vintage Market at Old Truman Brewery every Thursday to Sunday. Clothing comes from as far back as the 1920s and covers every decade up to the 90s. Whether it’s glam fur coats, feather capes, vintage bridal wear, men’s suits or distinctive accessories, there are bound to be some exciting discoveries to be made for both men and women.
Address: The Old Truman Brewery’s Vintage Market, F Block 85 Brick Lane London E1
III. Independent shops and flower market strolls at Columbia Road:
The Columbia Road Flower Market is unique in London. If you are looking for some special kind of flower bouquet or plants, you will certainly make a find here. Additionally the surrounding area is a gem itself. Accompanied by street musicians you can walk from one great shop to the next one, all just in the same street like the flower market.
Columbia Road is one of the few streets in the country composed of sixty independent shops. Small art galleries sit next to cup cake shops, vintage clothes stores, English and Italian delis, garden and antique shops. There is also a wealth of great pubs, cafes and restaurants. The shops have a common thread, a love of the flower market and its history, and a refusal to be dictated to a retail world where the sense of fun has all but gone.
My favourite store was “Choosing Keeping Stationery” (128 Columbia Road, London), offering high-quality paper, office essentials and the most elegant and unique notebooks. This is also a great store to find some lovely, unusual gifts for loved ones. Make sure you check out their online shop.
Adress: Columbia Road, London, UK
IV. Iconic vintage shopping at Blitz London:
Just close nearby Brick Lane, is the world’s largest vintage department store: Blitz. Opened in 2011, the vintage store consists of two warehouse spaces decorated with fairy lights and Dirty Dancing posters. Both feature racks of 1970s blouses, Japanese kimonos, sportswear, loads of jeans and jewelry at reasonable prices. To make it unforgettable, Blitz also offers an in-door coffee bar, where shoppers can enjoy refreshments during their purchase.
Address: 55 – 59 Hanbury Street London E1 5JP
V. Browsing novels at the Brick Lane Bookshop:
The history of this lovely bookshop is quite interesting: In 1973, there was not a single bookshop in the whole of Tower Hamlets (Brick Lane, East London); a group of writers created some kind of a bookshop. For many locals, this was their first experience of entering a bookshop. Some assumed it to be a library, and things didn’t always run smoothly. From the very start, the shop stocked a range of locally produced books, prints and community newspapers.
In 1980, the shop relocated to a bigger building in Whitechapel near the London Hospital. In 1994, a new name was adopted – Eastside. As with the original site, the upstairs rooms hosted meetings by local writers groups and a range of community organisations.
Nowadays the Brick Lane Bookshop keeps offering great novels, and organising writing/ reading workshops, as well as various events with authors.
Adress: 166 Brick Lane, London E1 6RU
VI. And last but not least, take a break at Barber & Parlour:
This Shoreditch “place to be” not only offers fresh drinks, fruit juices and healthy green snacks. Besides Avocado and Hummus you will also find a barber shop, a small gift shop and a retro-looking cinema. Designed with the modern man in mind, the NEVILLE barbershop is the quintessence of a true gentleman’s retreat. Their mission is to ensure the capital’s most distinguished men are always looking on top of their game.
Sister to the Electric Cinema Portobello, the “Electric Cinema” at Barber & Parlour offers audiences a unique cinema-going experience. The programming is a mix of mainstream, independent and world cinema, including a range of special events and screenings.
Adress: 64-66 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London E2 7DP
All photos (except for the ones with credit) by Judith Bradlwarter. ©