Charity shops can seem much of a muchness– with the odd decent find buried amongst rails of oddly smelling seconds. Retromania is the antithesis of shabby shopping, with all of the wow labels and fashion forward merchandising of a savvy designer vintage store. Despite glam appearances, the store is actually part of the Fara charity retail group who spend their profits on orphaned and abandoned Romanian children. Fara have several London branches, but Retromania is where all of the really good fashion is directed; our recent visit turned up more Chanel than you could shake a 2.55 at, plus pieces by Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Pierre Cardin, Anna Sui and many more.
A quick gossip with the fashion-crazed staff reveals that Florence Welch has been known to come in and snap up handfuls of trademark whimsical pieces, while Joanna Lumley wore a Bianca Jagger-style pinstriped suit purchased at the store during her famous Ghurka press conference. And celebrities don’t just pick up designer labels here, they drop them off too– Laurence Olivier once donated his ’20s-’40s jazz record collection to the store.
With 50 bags of donations a week, stock rotation is swift, meriting a regular visit. But the downside of having staff who know their fashion is that they also know what it’s worth. While still less than you’ll pay in a vintage designer store, £300 for an Alexander McQueen animal-print dress or £400 for an Hermès mac can feel like daylight robbery rather than charity. However, the store offers a wide range of on-trend vintage stock including tea dresses priced from £15-£25 too. There's even a bargain basement and a sale rail outside if you're strapped for cash but still want to purchase.