South London might not have the footfall and fashion reputation of the stores north of the river, but that just means there are more vintage bargains for the rest of us. Head to Greenwich, where The Beehive and The Emporium take their vintage buying and selling very seriously, and Crazy Man Crazy caters for the secondhand yearnings of the less fair sex…
Vintage shops in south London
This mother and daughter business started life as a market stall, and now rents Greenwich Market's largest store. The vintage runs from the 1900s to the early '80s, with a focus on wartime memorabilia, from St.George's flags and original WW2 bunting to flirty dresses and fur stoles. 1940s-'50s suits start at around £75 and skirts cost between £25 and £35. The store has a loyal celebrity following with high profile shoppers including Peaches Geldof as well as stylists and costume designers from the world of theatre and film.
If you love the more eccentric and outrageous side of vintage dressing, this South London store hidden above a hairdressers on Balham High Street is just the place. Set up by the mother and daughter team behind monthly local fair The Vintage Event, Annie In The Attic brings together wild frocks, bright and bold shirts and skirts and an excellent selection of men's suits, all ranging from the'60s to the'90s. There are plenty of bonkers (and really quite cheap) finds here, though you might also come across the odd more pricey designer item - we spotted a Biba jumpsuit and even a pair of ancient Manolo Blahniks.
With its leopard skin ceiling, racks of vinyl and rails of retro fashion, The Beehive is a colourful Greenwich must see. Crimplene enthusiast and store owner Deborah loves the '60s , but gears her buying towards the local student population, whose idea of vintage is the era in which they were born. Rails are lined with high waisted Levi's jean shorts at £20 a pair, Peter Pan collared cardigans at £15 and quilted patterned jackets at £35. There is even a trunk full of shirts, scarves and other accessories where each item is £1 for those that are still waiting for their student loan to come through.
One of the very few menswear-only vintage shops in London, Crazy Man Crazy is worth the trek from Crystal Palace station. Owner Paul Davies is about to celebrate two years in trade, and stocks American style clothing from the '40s-'50s. Although small in size, the store is cleverly laid out by style, and is stylishly propped with a gigantic white double bass and a retro radio playing '50s rock and roll. The shop provides the vintage of choice for numerous rockabilly bands, and stocks a great variety of leather and bomber jackets priced from £65-£225, and a neat selection of jeans hung on mini meat hooks for £25 to £130.
The Emporium supplied Tom Cruise's leather jacket for Mission Impossible (but don't let that put you off) and has also been visited regularly by buyers for distinguished fashion houses. Situated in the heart of Greenwich's bustling streets, the shop has been run by the same couple for 25 years. It sells high end vintage suits (£100), tailoring, hats, caps, glasses, dresses, coats, jackets and jewellery in exceptional condition, plus an entire rail of Jaegar menswear. Delicate wooden Victorian cabinets are stuffed with scarves and accessories, neat hat boxes sit in rows on shelves and a '40s Wurlitzer jukebox lurks by the entrance.
This pocket-sized shop is stocked by Gallic owner Margot Waggoner with sweet sailorette dresses and bleached cotton petticoats. If you're a bit crafty, you can buy a sweet little lace collar from here and sew it on to a plain dress to make it your own. There are also lots of collectible items that look like they've been raided from a 1950s Parisian larder; cute rusty tins and vintage bits and bobs which would make perfect gifts for the kind of people who would never throw anything away.
Tucked away on Bellenden Road - a bubbling little neighbourhood enclave - Threads provides South Londoners with a good source of quality vintage clothing. Tara Postma (a Peckham local who set up shop in 2011) handpicks a great selection of apparel covering budget options (toward the front of the store) as well as designer items together with delicate slips, camisoles and pyjamas in a snug room at the back. The store also caters for men (with a particularly good selection of tweed tailoring) as well as kids with a precocious eye for retro style.
Combining two of our favourite things, Vintagehart is located in a pub. The hanging space is surprisingly small considering the quality of the hand-picked stock. Owners Dawn and Annette select bright, bold dresses in the ubiquitous Mad Men style, but clothing covers the '40s to the '80's, plus Young@hart - a great range of retro chic for under 5s. Look out for Dawn's own line of bespoke, vintage-inspired hats from £30 to £50, commissioned for £65.