I'm sarahdrinkwater from London. I've been Qyping since 17-06-2009
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55-59 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JP
Everything’s super-size these days. Why would you want an espresso when you can have a full double pint of scorching black coffee? Why drive a Mini when you can get one of those elongated Hummers with blacked-out windows and obligatory Krug?
Blitz is for those who believe that big is always better: it’s London’s first vintage department store (although I think Beyond Retro on Cheshire St could give it a run for its money in terms of floor space). There’s furniture, clothes, discounted modern books (a bargainous £4) and, of course, a cute little cafe. On first sight, the stock is really well chosen – there’s the usual, 80s-heavy vintage (no thanks) but balanced well with expensive older clothes (£65 for Fifties dresses in pristine condition).
The furniture’s particularly swoonsome – a mid-century dream of wood with clean lines, balanced with the kind of insane Victoriana (foreign-language medical posters? Plaster casts of glove moulds?) that contrasts so well. But, despite the overwhelming beauty of the building and much of its stock, I didn’t buy anything. I guess, for a small town girl like me, it’s just a little too big…
446 Kingsland Road, London E8 4AE
Power Lunches, the newest little cafe/music venue in town (it’s only 3 days old!) reminds me of my beloved teenage hang-out, the Axiom. Just like the Axiom, Power Lunches is endearingly shonky, with cute pictures on the walls and a dark, sweaty basement room seemingly constructed entirely out of chipboard by someone who has never used a power drill before.
Drinks are cheap (a big glass of wine was £3.50, a small glass £2.60 – and there are cans of Red Stripe too, just in case I start feeling nostalgic for those Sneaker Pimps gigs back in the Axiom) and my friend’s plate of veggie salad looked delicious. Very cool – can’t wait to see what other events/gigs they’ve got coming up.
332 Old Street, London EC1V 9DR
We were in search of cheap not-quite-dinner somewhere around Old Street at 7, when all the sandwich bars have sacked off home and even a pizza comes raw and vegan. Praise be to Keu! for rescuing us with their Vietnamese snacks and Krautrock-inspired name.
It's a little black box of a place, with open windows so you can sit there scoffing and check out the winklepickers passing by. We shared some shrimp summer rolls (£4 for two) - so cheap and tasty, with strong fishy sauce - and had a pork bun (£1.50 each). Service was fast and friendly and food was fresh and tasty. Perfect pit stop (shame about the 50p charge for using credit cards under a tenner though).
132 Commercial Street, London E1 6AZ
Ah, Urban Outfitters. Back in the day, when I was living in the country, a visit to their High St Kensington shop was the highlight of my London day trips. These days? The increasing quirkification/improvement of most high street chains means I think they need to up their game slightly.
The new Spitalfields shop is large but not particularly well laid out - I prefer the Covent Garden or HSK branches where the designer and vintage sections are clearly labelled. And it's still too expensive (although the sales are brilliant - I loved the dress in the picture but wouldn't pay £52, then got it for £25) for what is, increasingly, just like the kind of clothes you'd find in Topshop. Excellent designer section though - with amazing labels like tba, APC, See by Chloe, Peter Jensen, etc.
162 Holloway road, islington, London N78DQ
30-03-2011 (updated on 14-06-2011)
As a life-long vintage lover, I'm a big fan of this place but it's not for the faint hearted. It's a huge place, a bit grubby around the corners and items are crammed together on the rails - and I mean crammed! There are rails and rails of every type of men's & women's clothes, whether it's army peacoats or printed 60's dresses. The best frocks are hung up on the walls & they often have bags and shoes, although those aren't of the same quality as
So it's not for boutique types but, if you've got a morning to spare and fancy diving in to a big pile of slightly neglected clothes that could do with some sartorial TLC, there are gems . I've left with more than I care to admit - including a rather natty Sherlock Holmes style cape which would probably come in handy for sleuthing out the good vintage here.
Conditions vary here - some bits are fine and some do, like the shop, need a wash - and the prices seem to have gone up in the last year. I don't mind paying £25 for a dress I can wear right away, but it's a bit cheeky if it needs work.
Also, most of the staff are fine but there's one that has definitely been taking classes in customer service. Every time I ask her to get a dress down from the wall, she looks at it, looks at me and says 'you're too big'. Thanks love. Funnily enough, when the other guy gets the dresses down, they tend to fit. Although perhaps I should take her shopping as she's discourage me from buying inappropriate outfits. Sequin trousers? 'You're too big!'
UPDATE: Having had a series of really not very nice comments from the store's manager @kbranco1 (see below) I've decided to remove a star - even the sometimes-good stock here doesn't excuse that kind of service. I'll leave it up to readers to decide whether my comment on their bad service is justified...
Plaza Glories Catalanes 0, 08018 Barcelona
Big junky market every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday right in the centre of the city. Like all markets, you need to get there early for the best stuff, but the later you go (everyone's packing up by 1pm-2pm) the more you can haggle!
The quality varies and you have to rummage but there are absolute bargains to be had, and I waltzed home this time with a cut-glass 60's decanter, a hallmarked silver shell, some round glasses frames that are ever so Oliver's People and a dress that was probably made from some tablecloths (I love it; I suspect other people don't) for under 25 euro. There's vintage homewares, plenty of electronics both old and new (20's telephones, mobile chargers) and the plain random - a whole tray of broken dolls. Creepy!
Fine, cheap vintage store - nothing too unusual, but plenty of options if you're after denim shorts or a crazy print 60s dress.
Riera Baixa 5, Barcelona
M.O.T.E.L.'s my very favourite secondhand store in the whole of Barcelona. Not just because the shop has beautiful hand-chosen vintage for good prices - leaning towards 50s and 60s dresses, neat crocodile handbags and deadstock swimwear, on average about 35 euros. Or because the shop itself is gorgeous and filled with oddities like bathtubs (to display scarves) and typewriters, but because the owner is really, really nice. She'll offer suggestions on alterations and she also gave us some great tips on other vintage stores she rated. Highly recommended!
d'Arai 5 Carrer, 08002 Barcelona
Scruffy but charming bar/restaurant on the popular Placa George Orwell.There's a slight world music/alternative vibe going on, so it's not for those who don't like bars that are a little down at heel but it's popular with both locals and tourists, the drinks are dangerously cheap and the outside terrace offers amazing people-watching.
2B Ada Street, Broadway Market, London E8 4QU
Vintage, charity, designer re-sale...whether you like it because it's ethical, because the clothes are cute or just because it's cheaper, there's a whole wave of secondhand stores opening right now. I live near the original Strut (on Church St, Stoke Newington) and, whilst I always go in there, I haven't found anything right for me yet, although a friend did score some Westwood patent boots for £80.
This sister shop takes the vintage and secondhand designer angle of the first place and ramps it right up, and the stock they'd got for their opening was nothing short of amazing. Designer vintage (Bus Stop, Biba, Feraud, etc..) sat alongside modern designer and well-chosen. The only problem was - and it was the launch so I'm sure this was just a temporary thing - no price tags! I'll definitely be coming back though, in the hope I can find something special.
- London 12 reviews
- Ciutat Vella, Barcelona 3 reviews
- Shoreditch, London 2 reviews
- South Bank, London 1 review
- Saint Blaise, Paris 1 review
- Gare du Nord, Paris 1 review
- Holloway, London 1 review
- Whitechapel, London 1 review
- Stoke Newington, London 1 review
- Leeds 1 review
- Hackney, London 1 review
- Sant Martí, Barcelona 1 review
- City of London, London 1 review
- Old Street, London 1 review
- Dalston, London 1 review