The 100 best shops in London by type: vintage and retro

Going shopping in London? Plan where to head with our round-up of the city’s finest retailers, from cheap vintage shops to world famous department stores

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Now you’ve seen which are the 100 best shops in London. But where will you find something cheap to buy, or a piece of cutting-edge fashion straight off the catwalk? Somewhere with an in-store café or a family friendly set-up?

We’ve applied 25 handy labels to the 100 shops in our list – here you’ll find London’s best vintage and retro shops. The numbers in the yellow hexagons denote the shop’s position in our full list.

Are we missing something? Tell us your favourite shop in the in the comments below.

The 100 best shops in London by type: vintage and retro

9

Blitz

Best for
Quality vintage gear

Don’t miss
The vast range of vintage Swatch watches

How much?

 

Blitz towers over the many other vintage shops in the area. A veritable department store of vintage wonders, it takes up all floors of an old furniture factory. From trunks stuffed with silk scarves to shoes lined-up artfully on wooden benches, racks on racks of denim sorted by shade and glass casings filled with baubles galore, you’ll find it all.

Nab biker leather or a twee plaid jumpsuit, all in excellent shape (pieces are cleaned and steamed before they hit the floor so there’s no ‘old clothes’ smell here). If you’re lucky you can catch an employee giving away 10 percent off vouchers on Brick Lane, but everything is good value anyway, with brogues clocking in at around £40. And of course, any shop with a coffee bar – in this case retro milkshakes are up for grabs – is a winner in our books.

  1. 55-59 Hanbury St, E1 5JP
  2. www.blitzlondon.co.uk
    Shoreditch High St rail
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22

Beyond Retro

Best for
A vast array of second-hand clothing

Don’t miss
The store’s own vintage-inspired collection

How much?

 

The impressive frontage of this vast branch of Beyond Retro looks temple-like – a fitting building for London’s vintage devotees who shop here religiously. Housed in an old suit factory (which was used as a Cuban cigar factory in James Bond’s ‘Die Another Day’), the impressive Stoke Newington megastore is packed with prom dresses, army jackets, attractively scuffed tees and sweats, denim, eye-popping knits and Beyond’s own brand of vintage-edged accessories and staple pieces.

There are some upscale brands in stock, and it’s not exactly cheap, but Beyond is still pitched to a young crowd – students and local Dalstonites – who come for the clothes and stay for the odd beer and free gig performed on the in-house stage. There’s an on-site café with vintage tea sets, old Singer sewing machines for tables and free wi-fi, and the friendly staff claim to have the most tattoos between them of any other store in the Beyond Retro chain.

  1. 92-100 Stoke Newington Rd, N16 7XB
  2. www.beyondretro.com
    Dalston Kingsland Overground
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29

The Vintage Showroom

Best for
Vintage menswear

Don’t miss
A chat with the owners Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett

How much?

 

Inside the old F.W. Collins & Sons ironmongery on Earlham Street in Covent Garden is The Vintage Showroom, a tiny selection of Roy Luckett and Doug Gunn’s famous west London menswear archive, loaned out to a secret client base of big name designers, denim brands and vintage obsessives. With stock sourced from obscure locations around the world (Roy and Doug have a few hair-raising stories of their international dealings with collectors and hoarders), it follows that the pair occasionally find it hard to part with certain items, and they’ve been known to try to dissuade shoppers from buying the rarer pieces on display.

The shop certainly boasts London’s best men’s vintage collection, with an emphasis on Americana (denim, sweats, a few choice tees) and classic military and British pieces. The shop and studio team produce their own arty publication, Showroom, and their brilliant large-format book ‘Vintage Menswear’ – published by Laurence King – is a photographic record of men’s fashion history via standout pieces of the archive.

  1. 14 Earlham St, WC2H 9LN
  2. www.thevintageshowroom.com
    Covent Garden tube
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30

General Eyewear

Best for
Retro eyewear with an in-store optician

Don’t miss
The limited edition range of ’40s and ’50s style frames

How much?

 

Part vintage frame archive, part optical design studio and showroom, General Eyewear is a far cry from Specsavers. It has always been something of a fashion insider’s secret – you’ve probably already seen General Eyewear glasses at the movies as they supply film costumers with authentic period frames from their archive. And the place is pretty much on the speed dial of every major fashion magazine and stylist in the world.

A visit is an education, especially when looking at frames from the ‘70s and ‘80s. They have a glamour and eccentricity that is in stark contrast to more widely available – and largely bland – designer frames. Fashion designers such as Versace, Moschino and Christian Lacroix went to huge expense to create ornate and decorative art for the eyes and face. General Eyewear offers a glimpse of this flamboyance prior to things getting a great deal more boring in the ‘90s.

  1. Arch 67, the Stables Market,
    Chalk Farm Rd, NW1 8AH
  2. www.generaleyewear.com
    Camden tube
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32

Couverture & The Garbstore

Best for
Original gifts and home accessories

Don’t miss
Odette jewellery for women

How much?

 

Cult shop Couverture & The Garbstore sticks it to The Man with an under-the-radar collection of independent labels and up-and-coming designer fashion (sell out and you’re out, basically). On the lower level of this slick three-storey boutique (unrecognisable as the bath salesroom it once was) is designer Ian Paley’s menswear label The Garbstore, whose own-label crew knits (£200), contrast-pocket tees (£75) and limited-production Japanese selvedge denim garner nods of approval from even the most insider-y of fashion insiders.

The ground and upper levels house Emily Dyson’s much-admired lifestyle concept Couverture, where you’ll find an enticing array of homewares and beautiful women’s and children’s fashion. Think hand-printed cushions by Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi, simple but chic stationery by Hay, understated tailoring from Tocca and kid-heaven alpaca dress-up knits by Oeuf NYC.

  1. 188 Kensington Park Rd, W11 2ES
  2. www.couvertureandthegarbstore.com
    Ladbroke Grove tube
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38

Pitfield London

Best for
Chic homewares for all budgets

Don’t miss
The retro armchairs and sofas

How much?

 

The owners of this ambitious store and café took a gamble on one of the few Shoreditch Streets that didn’t seem to be getting any smarter despite the rapid pace of gentrification around it. As highly respected and prolific interior designers, Shaun Clarkson and business partner Paul Brewster were justifiably confident they could turn a big ugly office space into a luxurious interiors mecca, and so they have done.

Pitfield London is a gorgeous place – a maximalist combination of fabrics, colours and textures; of vintage and new; of shopping and dining. You’ll find something different every time you visit, be it an interiors artist in residence at the back of the store or a wonky crystal glassware set procured from a collector.

There’s plenty to buy if your budget is the size of your Hampstead house, from new scarlet Chesterfields at £1,400 to original ’60s leather armchairs for £1,450. But the brilliant thing about this store is the amount of affordable stuff on offer if you’re a homebody with less disposable cash to spend on domestic flourishes – there are plenty of treats for under a tenner. And if all else fails, there are meringues the size of a plate in the stylish adjoining café.

  1. 31-35 Pitfield St, N1 6HB
  2. www.pitfieldlondon.com
    Old St tube
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46

Merchant Archive

Best for
Quality, hand-picked vintage items

Don’t miss
The vintage party frocks

How much?

 

Carrying an edited selection of its own label, new designer duds, homewares and fine vintage, Merchant Archive is a Notting Hill treasure. On the main floor brands like Mother of Pearl and Studio Nicholson are shown against a backdrop of glass tables and artwork, with the odd 1920s feathered headpiece tossed on top a rack. You’ll find Comme des Garcons leather clutches alongside the brand’s own flatteringly feminine collection, including its signature sophisticated frocks.

Head downstairs to discover most of the vintage stuff – like a Victorian beaded jacket for £340 set among gorgeous nineteenth century confit jars (from £100) and a smattering of art books. It's certainly come a long way from its roots as an appointment-only vintage collection selling solely to designers.

  1. 19 Kensington Park Rd, W11 2EU
  2. www.merchantarchive.com
    Holland Park tube
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52

Blackout II

Best for
Quality retro clothing and all the trimmings

Don’t miss
The dazzling retro accessories

How much?

 

There are dozens of good vintage stores in London, but this Covent Garden gem remains a firm favourite with the Time Out team. This bijou shop has been providing bright and beautiful frocks, handbags, shoes and all the trimmings for the past two and a half decades. Here you will find a wonderful array of dress-up clothes, from ’30s cocktail frocks to full-skirted ’50s dresses and some slinky Dynasty-esque numbers.

Downstairs in the small but stuffed basement you can spend ages having a good old rummage and sift through a good selection of shoes from ’30s court shoes to ’60s knee-length boots, while upstairs you’ll find fancy frocks and ace accessories. Ask nicely and the staff will help you find the outfit of your dreams.

  1. 51 Endell St, WC2H 9AJ
  2. www.blackout2.com
    Covent Garden tube
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53

John Simons

Best for
Traditional Americana

Don’t miss
The vast array of vintage 501s

How much?

 

Established in 1955 the John Simons shop is as much of an Ivy League institution to men’s fashion in London as Harvard or Yale. Like the notes of a great jazz record, the products here have the appearance of being thrown together at random, but are in fact, artfully placed. It feels possible to stumble across a great outfit quite serendipitously.

The foundation of the Ivy League wardrobe is here: Harrington jackets, button down shirts, knit ties, chinos and penny loafers – the kind of clothes you see on the cover of Blue Note albums. Lots of shops now sell this look but John Simons is the correct, authentic version, the one Miles Davis would approve of.

  1. 46 Chiltern St, W1U 7QR
  2. www.johnsimons.co.uk
    Baker St tube
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58

Caravan

Best for
Quirky home accessories

Don’t miss
The original range of lamps for kids

How much?

 

Fans of interiors expert Emily Chalmers’s eclectic style will be pleased to discover the latest incarnation of her Caravan boutique is by appointment only (think bonus one-to-one interiors advice as you shop). The unlikely housing-estate location gives an otherworldly feel to the treasures within: pineapple wall sconces (£99), Lee Broom crystal bulbs (£189), tiny satin baby shoes (£8.95) and billowy handmade drapes (£199) made from the stitched-together spoils of a lifetime scouring markets for silk scarves.

Chalmers’ eye for offbeat home accessories is showcased to perfection here but it’s her knack for spotting vintage classics that feel right for now that really sets her apart. She no longer stocks the French-industrial Jieldé lamps she made an interiors-spread staple but one look at her re-issued Stoke-on-Trent ceramic swans (£55) and you won’t be able to imagine your living room without one.

  1. 5 Ravenscroft St, E2 7SH
  2. www.caravanstyle.com
    Hoxton rail
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59

James Smith & Sons

Best for
Umbrellas of every description

Don’t miss
The classic malacca handled umbrella

How much?

 

If there’s one essential accessory for life in London, it’s an umbrella. James Smith & Sons have been selling them since 1830 when James Smith opened up a shop in nearby Foubert’s Place. It moved to its current position in New Oxford Street in 1857 and has been doing a roaring trade in umbrellas ever since, no doubt thanks to the British weather.

The attractive gold gilt shopfront with distinctive black lettering has remained unchanged for the past 140 years and the customer service here is old school too. As well as a whole array of ceremonial umbrellas there are plenty of beautifully designed everyday styles such as the classic malacca handled city umbrella. Just don’t go leaving your new purchase on the tube.

  1. 53 New Oxford St, WC1A 1BL
  2. www.james-smith.co.uk
    Tottenham Court Rd tube
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81

David Saxby

Best for
Vintage men’s suits

Don’t miss
Silk top hats

How much?

 

Authentic British country clothing is hard to find in London now. Most of what passes as country clothing from so-called ‘heritage’ brands is a pale imitation of the hardy, indestructible and brightly-coloured clothing that looks as good on a grouse moor as it does on Fulham High Street.

Yes, this is the home of the loud trouser. Fire engine red, lilac, turquoise and banana yellow, cut high on the waist and slim in the leg in heavyweight Brisbane Moss cloth, are a Saxby speciality. As are Norfolk jackets, plus fours, heavyweight linen jackets in bright pastels, tweed covert coats in bold checks and moleskin trousers with fishtail backs.

  1. 62 Fulham High St, SW6 3LQ
  2. www.davidsaxby.co.uk
    Putney Bridge tube
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92

Crazy Man Crazy

Best for
Retro leather flight jackets

Don’t miss
A natter with the owner

How much?

 

The Crystal Palace triangle of streets is becoming a sweet spot for retro fashion and furniture but Crazy Man Crazy stands out from the pack as the only store specialising in vintage menswear from the ‘40s and ‘50s. Fittingly named after the Bill Haley & His Comets song, its unassuming shop front is where south east London’s rockabillies, beatniks and lindy hoppers flock to get suited and booted. Proprietor Paul Davies offers Hawaiian shirts, printed t-shirts, silk ties and selvage denim jeans plus an extensive range of aviation, army, biker and utility jackets. Retro brands such as Dickies, Pike Brothers and Rockmount add to the authentic mix.

  1. 18a Church Rd, Upper
    Norwood, SE19 2ET
  2. www.crazymancrazylondon.co.uk
    
Crystal Palace Overground
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