If you’re worn out after a long day exploring this city’s marvellous array of attractions and things to do, our advice is to indulge in some second-hand retail therapy. After all, Bristol offers many more bargain-hunting opportunities than most places of its size. And whether you’re searching for a haute couture treasure, a tweed two-piece or just a few boho bits and bobs, we reckon our pick of the best vintage shops in Bristol can deliver.
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Best vintage shops in Bristol
In a city dominated by thrifty millennials, Loot Vintage Warehouse is right on the money with its trendy interior and anti-mainstream ethos. Hand-picking its garms in the world’s coolest cities – including Miami, New York and Paris – and lovingly reworking them on the shop floor, Loot takes vintage retailing to the next level. Conveniently located just off the Bearpit, the Bristol store caters to the thriving individuality of bordering Stokes Croft. Only adding to its appeal, the store’s stripped-back design allows its vibrant contents to take centre stage. Packed full of ’90s sports/streetwear as well as classic and one-off vintage items, Loot is a failsafe for well-priced, well-presented clothing for both men and women.
One of the city’s oldest vintage shops, RePsycho opened up on Gloucester Road in 1995, but has in fact existed as an entity for much longer, having previously traded on Portobello Road in London and at university campuses. The owners – who were selling vintage before vintage was even a thing – naturally know a thing or two about the lure of second-hand, offering three floors of vintage goodness that could entertain you for hours. The ground floor is packed with all sorts: printed shirts, shell suit jackets, denim, sequined party wear and footwear. Meander up to the first floor and you’ll find yourself in a mesmerising ’60s time warp, stacked with fun trinkets and unique homewares that make you yearn for the funkiness of yesteryear. Explore the basement and discover a wealth of second-hand records from all genres, including dance music classics.
That Thing, formerly Dutty, has become a bit of a Bristol institution since its beginnings in St. Nicholas Market in the early ’00s, when it was set up by the DJ/MC collective Dutty Girl. Now proudly nestled in the heart of Stokes Croft, the colourful store boasts a wide range of That Thing-branded and customised streetwear and a basement brimming with of some of the best vintage in town. Always marrying a passion for music with stylistic flair, the That Thing brand is heavily inspired by the hip hop and UK garage culture of the ‘90s. Foray into this vintage treasure trove and you are greeted by go faster track pants, retro shell suit jackets and enough oversized shirts to satisfy your inner gangster rapper. One-off accessories are another mainstay here; handbags are available in all shapes and sizes and at surprisingly decent prices.
The owner of Urban Fox is well versed in the vintage business, having been at it for over 25 years. Impressively, he also co-owns the well-established RePsycho on Gloucester Road, as well as running a vintage stall in St. Nicholas Market. It’s safe to say that two and a half decades have lead to an exceedingly well-trained eye, and Urban Fox is the destination for only his best finds. Not far from the market, Urban Fox is impeccably presented and well organised to minimise rummaging frustration. Its central location benefits from streams of passing shoppers who are no doubt unable to resist the lure of the eye-catching exterior rails, usually packed full with a rainbow of retro jumpers. The store is predominantly focused on ‘young’ vintage from the ’80s and
’90s; hard-to-find long dungarees and coloured jeans or leathers are just a few foxy finds.
Capitalising on that oh-so common full-wardrobe-but-nothing-to-wear dilemma, Rag Trade Boutique cuts out the middleman to provide designer women’s clothing at a fraction of the usual cost. Founded upon the principle that we all hoard unloved gems in our closets which are crying out to be rehomed, customers can sell directly to the store, either for cash or a fresh item from the rails – a more sophisticated form of ‘swishing’ if you like. And sophisticated is certainly the defining word here. Unlike your typical vintage outlet, Rag Trade Boutique gives the impression – owing as much to the quality of its contents as its bijou interior – of a truly high-end affair. Garments are consequently on the dressier side of things; sparkly gowns or statement jackets dominate the rails, and more often than not are presented in pretty much unworn condition.
The longest-running vintage clothing shop in the city, Uncle Sam’s imports its hand-picked stock straight from California and is jam-packed with pieces dating predominantly from the ’40s to the ’80s, resolutely avoiding any sniff of hackneyed reproduction vintage. Now one of three vintage outlets on Park Street, it is this authenticity that keeps Uncle Sam’s high in the popularity stakes. Uncle Sam’s isn’t the easiest to browse – simply due to the volume of stock occupying the small space – but keen eyes will never be disappointed, given enough time and patience. And the original cinema posters, retro fixtures and jukebox embellishing the place can only enhance the shopping experience. Quality denim, leather, varsity sweaters, sportswear and work wear are available at very competitive rates, as is the plentiful and rare vintage vinyl.
Perhaps less known for its vintage than its range of local and handmade streetwear and graff artwork, Don Majors could easily be overlooked by the eagle-eyed thrift shopper. But take a look inside and you’ll be greeted by a collection of covetable vintage streetwear pieces at a comparatively low price point. Located near the intersection of Cheltenham Road and Gloucester Road – which boasts the longest stretch of independent traders in Europe – Don Majors’s individual style is ideally placed. Specialising in ‘90s sports and streetwear, the vintage selection features classic Ralph Lauren shirts, Levi’s jeans and jackets, quirky tees and one-offs. Lined denim jackets, increasingly hard to get hold of for less than about £80, fall between the £30-£40 mark here and are well worth checking out.
Bristolians will almost certainly be familiar with BS8 on Park Street; this place has been central to the local independent shopping scene for more than 20 years, and under the same ownership throughout. Having previously operated over multiple floors, BS8 has more recently decided to forgo concessions and concentrate its goodness into one – still expansive – floor of up-to-the-minute young fashion. The vintage section at the rear is a key part of the store’s current identity. Thanks to an ever-growing list of nationwide suppliers, it now stocks a wide variety of vintage styles, encompassing classic and cool in one fell swoop. The stock is hand-picked, with a constant focus on quality and street style trends; a discerning approach which succeeds in providing rare designer gems – from Balmain to Versace – at a bargain price.