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Photograph: Andy Parsons
Photograph: Andy Parsons

50 secondhand shops that really, really cool Londoners love

Vintage Stussy? Thrifted G Plan? We asked local experts where they go to buy used clothes, books, vinyl and homeware

Written by
Kate Lloyd
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So there’s this coat. Dank mustard, unfeasibly huge, with the words ‘VIP PRIVATE’ across it. It shouldn’t work. But, when I tried it on in a charity shop in Dalston, it looked banging. So I bought it. And have I looked back? No! I always get compliments on it.

I’ve always loved secondhand shopping. But when I moved to London a few years back, I took things to the next level. I arrived with just a couple of suitcases, so hunting for new/old stuff became a joyful way to get to know the capital. The people you meet, the hidden corners of the city, the faint smell of unwashed armpits – that’s why IRL vintage-shopping, over Depop and eBay, will always get my vote.

If you’re keen to get into it, here are a few pointers. First: embrace the process. With proper vintage shops like Pick N Weight in Covent Garden (our cover this week), you pay for curation. Markets are cheaper, but you’ve got to dig – I once bought a house-worth of Christmas decorations for £2 at Deptford Market. Travel to posh areas and you’ll be rewarded. (Mary’s Living and Giving in Primrose Hill is apparently where Victoria Beckham donates).

Finally: always ask the price. One afternoon, I walked past Aladdin’s Cave in Lewisham and completely fell for a five-foot statue of a bear, his roar tempered by a missing paw. I asked the shopkeeper how much it was and he looked me dead in the eye and said: ‘Nine hundred and 50 pounds. It’s discounted because of the claw.

Inspired? Read on to discover the best secondhand shops in the city, picked by some of our favourite Londoners. Rose Johnstone 

London's best secondhand shops

Miquita Oliver, TV presenter
Photograph: John Sanders/Alamy

Miquita Oliver, TV presenter

Princess May Car Boot Sale, Dalston (above)

‘This always has proper finds! It’s a classic British jumble sale with clothes that feel like you’re wandering through lots of different people’s wardrobes and stories. My cousin Moon has just started having a spot here and she cleans me out every time. On my last visit I left with three new skirts and two of the prettiest wine glasses you ever did see.’ Princess May Primary School, Princess May Rd. Sat and Sun.

RSPCA, Stoke Newington 

‘This isn’t a very big charity shop but I always leave with one thing that I LOVE. The last thing being a £5 blue dress with tiny white flowers that I didn’t even know I was looking for. The two ladies who work there have proper knowledge about the clothes they’re selling, and they make me laugh, which, for me, is a fully rounded shopping experience.’ 180 Stoke Newington High St.

Miquita is working with alterations company Make Nu

Jo Thompson, costume designer on ‘Fleabag’

Selfish Maids, Notting Hill 

‘I go to Portobello Green Market most Friday mornings for the antiques and vintage clothing stalls under the canopy – particularly if I’m prepping a film. The stalls are all beautifully curated and many of the owners have studios too, like Cabinet 49, Oliver Vintage, Bumbelina Vintage, Rebecca Sweeting, Su Mason, and Sarah Horrillo’s London Vintage. I particularly love Caroline Turner’s Selfish Maids. The inspirational displays alone are worth seeing.’ Under the Canopy, Portobello Green Market, Portobello Rd. Fri-Sun.

 

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Bre Graham, food writer and editor of Dishes to Delight

Ferro Velho, Old Street

‘The collection of mid-century furniture at Ferro Velho is sublime. Think mint condition 1950s plant stands, lovingly worn-in teak salad bowls and West German pottery. It’s just moved from Greenwich to Old Street and I can’t wait to see its new space.’ 285 City Road.

Dress For Less, Islington

‘Walking past the windows of this place will always tempt me to go inside no matter how busy I am. It curates such a beautiful collection of secondhand clothing that spans from last year’s Ganni to that perfect Burberry trench coat you’ve always wanted. Leave your name, number and dream item and you never know what might turn up.’ 391 St John St.

Charity shops, St John’s Wood 

‘[Go into] every charity shop on St John’s Wood High Street: start at the top and work your way down past the Oxfam, Cancer Research, St John’s Hospice and Shelter Boutique. I’ve found vintage YSL cashmere, Vivienne Westwood suits and box-fresh Le Creuset. This is also how I’ve built out my collection of cocktail glasses, oyster forks and porcelain cake plates.’  St John’s Wood High St.

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Pierre Malouf, head wine buyer for the Ottolenghi group
Photograph: Spitalfields Antiques Market

Pierre Malouf, head wine buyer for the Ottolenghi group

Dudley Waltzer, Haggerston

‘I bumped into this vintage furniture shop while walking home from Broadway Market. It specialises in twentieth-century furniture and has a great selection of art and smaller pieces dotted around the shop, too. Lots of quirky and rare finds. It’s only open on the weekends, however its Instagram is full of enviable pieces for the casual window-shopper. I love walking into the shop, it’s super-polished technicolour and feels a little like being on the set of ’80s movie “Ruthless People”.’ 81 Goldsmiths Row. Sat and Sun.

Old Spitalfields Market, Spitalfields (above)

‘As an Ottolenghi wine buyer, I visit all of our restaurants for training. I make a point of “coincidentally” setting up my meetings at our Spitalfields branch on Thursdays. On this day, the area is home to some of the UK’s best antiques market stalls. As their selections are smaller than the bigger antiques fairs, to me, the items they show feel curated. I particularly love the mid-century kitchen and dinnerware: think East German vases, ’60s bright orange tupperware and vintage rattan baskets.’ 16 Commercial St. Thu.

Hackney Flea Market, various locations

‘So far this market has popped up in Stoke Newington, Peckham and Walthamstow. There are lots of vendors with a variety of goodies – from block-printed vintage Indian textiles and Scandi cookware to ’70s French film posters and Soviet furniture.’
Various locations and dates.

Seconda Mano, Angel

‘You can easily walk past Seconda Mano and it’s a good thing so many people do! This is the shop you never want even your best mate to know about. Seconda Mano is hidden under Giovanni’s hairdressers, a short walk from Ottolenghi on Upper Street. It’s a cavern of a place, filled to the brim with secondhand and sample designer clothes. Think Galliano, Gucci, Paul Smith. It’s an odd selection of clothes and accessories sold on concession – not curated – which makes shopping there so much more fun. You’ll find last season’s best-forgotten Gucci trainers (destined to be cool in six years) irreverently strewn right next to ’90s Commes des Garçons [stuff] or a sequinned clutch from an ’80s Vogue shoot.’ 114 Upper St.

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Jodie Harsh, DJ

Beyond Retro, Soho

‘It’s a classic. I actually tend to find more ‘pieces’ at the branch in the West End rather than the OG one over in Brick Lane. A proper rummage can really give some gold.’ 58-59 Great Marlborough St.
 
One of a Kind, Notting Hill

‘A west London institution for rare vintage designer pieces. I’ve bought some great ’90s Versace and Chanel here. The more major bits are a little spenny, but there are bargains to be found too if you aren’t just looking for a flash label.’ 259 Portobello Rd.

Andrés Branco, founder of Wavey Garms

Duke's Cupboard, Soho

‘Best for secondhand designer vintage. It has an American theme going on with its garms: shitloads of deadstock, Palace, Supreme, Stussy and rare band tees.’ 14 Ingestre Place.

Hartex, South Bank 

‘The owner is a right character and loves a natter! He mainly sells vintage footy shirts and random knick-knacks It has just opened and is deffo worth a visit.’ Unit 9 Gabriel’s Wharf, 56 Upper Ground.

Brick Lane vintage shops, Shoreditch

‘Brick Lane has quite a popping vintage scene. There’s loads of crap down there though, so head towards Serotonin Vintage for Italian designerwear: loads of crazy Moschino pieces from the ’90s along with Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Fendi. 194 Local specialises in men’s techwear brands like Arc’teryx and rare Stone Island pieces. Nordic Poetry seems to have really rare pieces for men and women.’  Various venues. 

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Anushia Nieradzik, costume designer on ‘Hunger’ and ‘Belle’
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Anushia Nieradzik, costume designer on ‘Hunger’ and ‘Belle’

Blue 17 Vintage, Holloway

‘I discovered this shop several years ago when I moved to Holloway. It’s just down the road from Cosprop, one of my favourite costume hire houses. It’s got a great stock of vintage clothes from the 1930s to the ’90s, as well as accessories and jewellery. Yong, the manager, is very friendly and helpful, and the vibe is really creative. It sounds like a small detail, but it’s well-organised and clean and there are fitting areas with mirrors. It makes it a pleasure to visit.’ 162 Holloway Rd.

Linda Bracey, neon artist

Haven House Children’s Hospice Shop, Chingford

‘Our secondhand hunting ground is Chingford, where we’ll make a beeline for Haven House Children’s Hospice Shop. Even by secondhand standards, the prices are reasonable and the donations are good, with bric-a-brac and some clothing. A memorable purchase was an unusual pair of silver-topped large twisted wooden candlesticks.’ 36 Station Rd.

The Children’s Society, Chingford

‘It sells good quality men’s and women’s clothing – one of the staff members dresses exclusively from there. It also has homewares, bold-as-brass costume jewellery and a counter of more expensive fine silver and gold pieces.’ 43 Station Rd.

Car boot sales, Chingford

‘I love a car boot. Now they have started up again, my favourite two places are both at Sewardstone Road. The one at Picks Cottage, which starts at 6am, is where there are more dealers selling old or antique pieces. I bought an interesting piece here, which was a horned coat stand. There is also another called Countryside Promotions at Netherhouse Farm which starts at 11am. I’ve bought numerous things from there, my favourite being a set of old fold-up cinema seats.’ Picks Cottage, Sewardstone Rd. Sun. Countryside Promotions, Netherhouse Farm, Sewardstone Rd. Sun.

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Grant Montgomery, production designer on ‘Peaky Blinders’

Sotheran’s Rare Books & Prints, Piccadilly 

‘It’s the world’s oldest antiquarian bookshop. I stumbled on it quite by accident many years ago – but what a stroke of luck! You enter by pressing a bell, which adds to the mystery. Inside is everything from frontispieces from the 1831 edition of “Frankenstein” to 1920s posters, modern first editions and rare children’s illustrations. It’s a bookish person’s treasure trove. The atmosphere is inviting and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. If they don’t have it, they will search it out for you.’ 2-5 Sackville St.

Tom Ward, comedian
Photograph: Kimi Gill

Tom Ward, comedian

Shop from Crisis, Finsbury Park

‘As charity shops go this one certainly knows its worth – I paid £55 for an Adidas tracksuit there the other day ,for God’s sake. Its windows are always knowing as f**k but it’s not just talk, it’s got the goods inside too: coats, shades, a jacket for my flatmate who loves it (and, by virtue, me) more than life itself. When the shops reopened recently there was a queue outside on day one – a queue! All hip, groovy, louche types, too. I judged them for queuing (and for being groovy and louche) but I was in there the moment the queue had gone.’ 19 Stroud Green Rd.

Mind, Finsbury Park

‘Now we’re talking. Someone somewhere seems to own and then reject exactly what I like – and donate it here. Peak finds have been a ’60s corduroy jacket with a vampire-sized collar, workers jackets, my first ever Doc Martins, ’90s Calvin Klein shirts. I even got [Tricky’s] ‘Maxinquaye’ on vinyl in there for £4, which, if you don’t know, is the sexiest album ever made.’ 202 Stroud Green Rd.

North London Hospice Shop, Tottenham

‘This is one of the rare charity shops that’s not been given a makeover in recent years. It’s stuffed floor to ceiling, racks heaving so much you can barely even slide the clothes along. But it’s worth it. The staff call me Liam Gallagher, and I got a Cotton Traders jacket in there that makes the world seem to say “welcome home, sir” everywhere I go. Cheap too. And it helps people in hospices, which is nice because we’ll all be in one of those one day.’ 19 High Rd.

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Jamie Strachan, co-founder of Dark Arts Coffee
Photograph: Crypt of the Wizard

Jamie Strachan, co-founder of Dark Arts Coffee

Crypt of the Wizard, Hackney (above)

‘It’s dangerous! Here is where to find the best new releases of the very underground niches within extreme metal. But the crypt is also home to an incredible selection of secondhand vinyl, cassettes and shirts. Last time I was there, to pick up one album I’d bought online, I dared not look in the secondhand bins. But while navigating the small space, my eye caught sight of a seven-inch from Greek death metal pioneers Death Courier, in great condition and for a very fair price… I left with another five records.’ 264 Hackney Rd.
 
Skoob Books, Bloomsbury

‘I came across Skoob by accident. I was in Bloomsbury for a zine symposium and, while wandering around looking for a pub, I came across Skoob. A vast secondhand bookshop with a meticulously organised basement where you can browse what must be one million books. I love going there and browsing in categories I don’t usually shop for. It’s also got a great literary biography section. Probably thanks, in part, to its proximity to the University of London.’ 66 The Brunswick, off Marchmont St.

Audrey Carden, founder of interior design firm Carden Cunietti

Vincenzo Caffarella, Marylebone

‘You’ll find Vincenzo Caffarella stretching over most of the top floor of Alfies Antique Market. This is a blow-the-budget premium cave of spectacular colourful glass lighting and statement furniture items from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s you won’t find anywhere else.’ 30 Church St.
 
Vintique London, Peckham

‘Underneath the arches of the train station, you’ll find a rustic den with a concrete floor and corrugated ceiling. Run by a friendly man called Howard, it’s appointment-only and sells mainly cabinet items, such as dressing tables and sideboards from the 1960s. There are also smaller interesting pieces that work well for London living and flats.’ Unit 13 Station Passage, Queen’s Rd.
 
Morbleu, Herne Hill

‘In this emporium that has been a fixture for decades, you’ll find great displays of art works and upholstery pieces and furniture, all beautifully curated. It’s like stepping into a thoughtfully pulled-together and stylish home. What’s more, it’s really affordable, you can get a pair of armchairs for around £600, large-scale lamps and lighting, great accessories and African art.’ 135 Dulwich Rd.

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Milkie, singer

Glitters of Camden, Camden

‘This shop epitomises the words “hidden gem”. There’s no store sign but if you walk down Camden High Street, you’ll know it when you see it. It’s the one with the punk paraphernalia on the outside. It’s certainly not a spot for some casual shopping, but when digging through the mountainous piles of vintage and deadstock pieces, I can guarantee you’ll find something very special. I buy pretty much all of my chokers here and found the best ’90s zebra-print trousers that fit like a dream. The best stuff is upstairs – and always haggle the price.’ 206 Camden High St.

Oxfam Boutique, Notting Hill

‘As Notting Hill and the surrounding areas become more gentrified and affluent, the items in the secondhand shops also follow suit. The Oxfam shop on Westbourne Grove is always a great one to pop into to find cast-off designer items – I found one of my most prized secondhand items there: an early ’90s Comme des Garçons T-shirt... for a tenner.’ 245 Westbourne Grove.

Allan Gauge, founder of sustainable cocktail bar Nine Lives
Photograph: Sunbury Antiques

Allan Gauge, founder of sustainable cocktail bar Nine Lives

Crisis, Islington and Reign, Soho

‘They’re my favourites in London for vintage clobber (although during lockdown the Vestiaire Collective app has been the one). I have way too many leather bombers and trench coats thanks to them.’ 211 Upper St; 12 Berwick St. 
 
Kempton Antiques Market, Sunbury (above)

‘It’s a monthly general treasure hunt. At both bars we have a “nothing new” policy. Almost all of it has been repurposed, from bar tops to sound systems, lighting, chairs, bar stools, plant pots... and all the little decorative magic in between. Go to this market mega early and don’t write a list, you won’t find what you want but you’ll discover loads that you love.’ Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Rd East. Two Tuesdays a month.

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Maggie Donnelly, costume designer on ‘Line of Duty’

Traid, Hammersmith 

‘I like browsing in charity shops throughout the city as they usually have interesting clothing for a tight budget. Traid Hammersmith is great for interesting and affordable contemporary clothing. I once found a well-worn raincoat (Boss label) for £25 there which Stellan Skarsgård wore on screen.’ 119 King St. 

Eleanor Baker, costume designer on ‘Spiceworld’

Rokit, Shoreditch

‘Rokit was my first discovery in the world of vintage fashion and it is still my first port of call today. Rokit started as a stall in Camden Market in the ’80s and Camden was where you’d find me every Sunday. I use Rokit for personal and work purposes and not just period productions. I’m designing a new contemporary drama at the moment and Lucy Hale is wearing an insane cherry red leather jacket from Rokit!’ 101 Brick Lane.
 
Atika Vintage Department Store, Spitalfields 

‘If you manage to visit and don’t buy anything I will be amazed! For me it’s the homeware that does it. I have purchased mirrors and random objects that take my fancy. I have a great London road sign that I picked up there which takes pride of place in my office at home.’ 55-59 Hanbury St.

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Yinka Ilori, artist
Photograph: Andy Parsons

Yinka Ilori, artist

Past Caring, Islington

‘So there’s a secondhand place I used to go to, when I was starting out, called Past Caring. It does amazing British-Scandinavian furniture – from sofas to chairs to amazing vases and bowls, that kind of thing. And it gets deliveries every other week, I think. It has lots of ’80s and ’90s furniture and lots of Scandinavian furniture. I got most of my G Plan stuff from there. You’ll always find some nice gems.’ 54 Essex Rd.
 
Aladdin’s Cave, Lewisham (above)

‘Another place I love is Aladdin’s Cave in Lewisham. It’s a bloody good place for a number of reasons. When my other half and I moved house, I was trying to find a nice living room light for our ceiling and I found this really incredible three-piece bulb light, made in the ’50s or ’60s. It’s beautiful. When you go in there, it’s literally like a cave and there are chairs all around you – you have to duck so you don’t get poked in the eye by a chair leg sticking out. It’s one of the best finds in London – it has really nice vintage doors and fireplaces and a lights section.’ 72 Loampit Hill.
 
The Old Cinema, Chiswick

‘The Old Cinema is fantastic. I once bought an Artek zebra rocking chair there, which was quite expensive but it was an investment piece. It has stations with different people who buy and sell antique furniture. I’ve got lots of unusual stuff from there.’ 160 Chiswick High Rd. 

Joy Montgomery, shopping editor at Who What Wear

Pop Boutique, Covent Garden 

‘Tucked-away on a side street just off one of London’s busiest thoroughfares, Pop Boutique is hardly a hidden gem, however I’m always amazed at how few people have heard of it. I stumbled across it on one of my regular vintage shopping trips as an early twentysomething, and I’ve been returning ever since. It’s crammed full of eclectic wares at unexpectedly affordable prices. My favourite purchase has to be a ’70s dagger-collar leather shirt.’ 30 Short’s Gardens.

Mary’s Living and Giving, Blackheath 

‘As a long-standing charity shop aficionado, I’m finding it harder and harder to discover stores that aren’t just full of secondhand Primark, however Mary’s Living and Giving in Blackheath is definitely an exception. When I lived in Lewisham I would take any opportunity to pop in, and it was always stocked with a perfect mix of vintage, designer and well-chosen high street. I once found a Manu Atelier bag for £20 and a pair of Simone Rocha trousers for £30.’ 10 Montpelier Vale.

Cancer Research UK, Marylebone 

‘In my first journalism job, our office was based five minutes from Marylebone High Street, so I often found myself wandering around the local charity shops during my lunch break. The Cancer Research was always a highlight as it was filled with the designer cast-offs of wealthy locals. I once nabbed a Valentino floral silk shirt that ended up being the top I wore for my Who What Wear interview eight years later, and it’s still going strong.’ 24 Marylebone High St.
 

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Georgie Hyatt, co-founder of fashion rental platform Rotaro

Hampstead Antique & Craft Emporium, Hampstead

‘Brilliant for vintage bits and bobs. I discovered it when ambling along the winding Hampstead roads. I have bought countless gorgeous candlestick holders and ’70s kitchen storage items.' 12 Heath St.
 
Mary’s Living and Giving, Primrose Hill

‘My favourite place to buy vintage fashion. It always has incredible designer pieces. I have bought two items of menswear for myself: a Ralph Lauren shirt and a leather blazer!’
109 Regent’s Park Rd.

Sophie Slater, founder of ethical clothing line Birdsong
Photograph: Leigh McLea

Sophie Slater, founder of ethical clothing line Birdsong

Peckham Car Boot, Peckham

‘I was raised going to car boots and markets and I love everything about it, from the scavenging to the chat and the complete overwhelm of bric-a-brac. Princess May Car Boot Sale is near our studio in Dalston, and Peckham Carboot near where I live, so I get to choose the one closest to where I’ll be that day. More than the things on sale, I love outfit-snooping in the crowd and spotting Insta celebs.’ Princess May Primary School, Princess May Rd. Sat and Sun. Harris Academy Peckham, 112 Peckham Rd. Every other Sun.

Traid, various locations (above)

‘I love Traid because it’s one of the only charity shops that raise money for garment workers. It does amazing work and we often use its end-of-roll fabrics for our collections. I’ve always found absolute treasures in the stores, from the perfect wide-legged jeans, to a little ’60s black, collared shift dress that I hung around outside a changing room stealthily for in case it was too big for the woman trying it on (it was, score!).’ Various locations.

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Abi Ford, TV production and interior designer

Jermaine Gallacher, Borough 

‘There is a new realm of design dealers who I really respect. If you don’t have the tenacity, patience or eye for the early-morning markets, digging through a car boot or travelling the country to pick up an unreal Ebay find, I cannot recommend enough the unique eye of dealers like Jermaine Gallacher. His showroom is a timeless treasure chest of objects d’art, furniture and [pieces by] up-and-coming talent. Always with a twist and effortlessly chic, yet with an anarchic humour.’ 59 Lant St.

Birdy, singer
Photograph: Goldsmith Vintage

Birdy, singer

Goldsmith Vintage, Notting Hill (above)

‘I recently found an amazing black jumpsuit there that I wore in the video for my song “Loneliness”. I live in west London and so Portobello Road Market is one of my favourite places to find great things, too. Although the main stretch can be quite touristy, on market day under the big tent it’s full of beautiful things for great prices. I’ve found so many beautiful clothes there, including a classic David Silverman dress from the ’70s with big billowing sleeves.’ 176 Portobello Rd.
 
Golborne Road’s antiques shops, Notting Hill

‘You can always find really unique antique furniture there. I’m constantly getting things from there for my flat. I recently bought an old chest from the 1700s to go at the end of my bed that I keep blankets and bedding in. It’s a good place to find things like lovely old wooden chairs, quirky lamps and candlesticks.’ Golborne Rd.
 
Circa Vintage, Stockwell

‘One of my favourite places. There’s such a great selection of clothes from different eras, you never know what you’re going to find. I’ve bought and hired so many outfits from there to wear on stage over the years and they’re always the most special things.’ 87A Lansdowne Way.

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