When it comes to second-hand fashion and going vintage, the UK is home to many charity shops with plenty of both boutique and chain second-hand stores dotted around the country. We spoke to some UK fashion editors for the inside scoop on their best bets for vintage shopping. So if you’re thinking about going the extra mile (by literally going the extra mile) to find that unique piece, then here are the 5 best places to visit in the UK.


UK Thrift Shops - West End, Glasgow

West End, Glasgow – Flickr: jan zeschky

Glasgow’s street style is on par with that of any major European capital. Vogue even did a spread about it in 2014! With such incredibly stylish citizens, it’s no wonder that their secondhand shops are worth a visit. The city is packed full of charming little vintage shops with cute names like “The Magpie’s Nest” and “Handbags and Gladrags” and a couple of very good charity shops for those unafraid to rummage through piles of old men’s t-shirts and sweaters.

The Magpie’s Nest is a charity shop in more than just name. They are part of a Glasgow project that makes “Starter Packs” for homeless youth and families moving into permanent homes. They also run sewing and alteration workshops out of the store for the next time you find the perfect dress and it is 3 sizes too big. Find your style – whether it takes the form of an 80s tunic or a grandfatherly sweater – at the Magpie’s Nest and help the community while you’re at it.


Northern Quarter - UK Trift Shops

Northern Quarter, Manchester – Flickr: Matthew Hartley

Claire Lomax, fashion director at Flux Magazine, says that vintage shopping in Manchester has never been better! She suggests wandering around the fashionable Northern Quarter of the city, (particularly the side streets surrounding Thomas Street, Tib Street and Oldham Street) and stopping wherever takes your fancy. What makes the city even more enticing are its excellent coffee houses and old record shops scattered around the area as well.

Manchester vintage aficionados will tell you that a shopping trip to Manchester isn’t complete without a visit to Affleck’s Palace. Dating back to the early 80s and housed in an old department store, Lomax describes it as “a maze of independents and vintage mini-stores that are an icon of the Manchester scene. On a short tour around Afflecks, you’ll find Retro Rehab, Pop Boutique, a great Oxfam Originals and the newest addition Cow Vintage, (in a store designed by Peter Masters responsible for designing Oi Polloi) amongst other smaller stores that are also worth a rummage.”


UK Thrift Shops - Belfast Botanic Ave

Botanic Ave, Belfast – Flickr: Donna

Most of the satisfying second-hand finds don’t come from curated (and high priced) vintage shops. Belfast is full of charity stores that are sure to interest any shopping traveller. While a charity shop means investing more time to sort through 80s nana sweaters and warped records, it also makes that special find all the more satisfying. Try any one of the city’s charity shops, (St Vincent de Paul, War on Want or Oxfam) for an adventurous and memorable shopping trip.

Looking for something a little bit more straightforward? The Rusty Zip is one of Belfast’s most popular thrift shops. Its online presence has been growing for years now, even expanding into the world of online shopping. The shop, however, is worth visiting. Belfast’s charm is undeniable and the Rusty Zip personifies this fun and quirky city. Prices like these make an afternoon spent sorting through piles of patterns and prints all the more worthwhile.


UK Thrift Shops - Brick Lane

Brick Lane, London – Flickr: La Citta Vita

We can’t talk about fashion hotspots without mentioning London now can we? Sophia King, Features Editor for MODE Magazine, told us about her love of London’s second-hand fashion scene: “When it comes to vintage shopping the UK, it’s hard to beat London. It’s a Mecca for vintage fashion lovers with hidden treasures just waiting to be found.” High street shops are hip but the prices can sometimes be too much, a trip to Covent Garden, Camden Market, Soho or Shoreditch will certainly help you unearth something incredible.

Kate Moss reputably loves Rellik on Golbourne Street and you can tell why. With stunning gowns, pearls, designer shoes, bags and purses, Rellik prices can run on the expensive side. The store is gorgeously curated so that you can easily find a Yves St Laurent dress or a pair of Gucci pumps from 1964. It might not have the hipster cred of somewhere like Shoreditch but it is certainly the place to go for truly unique vintage designer pieces.


We Are Chic Magazine suggested a visit to Sheffield, a hotspot for vintage and secondhand clothing; “West Street and Division Street are the best go-to areas!” according to editor Jessica Fogarty. Try out Cow Vintage for bright colours and jazzy patterns (tip: like them on Facebook and find out when they announce their semi-regular student price deals!). Guys might want to pay a visit to “A New Shop” for a huge selection of vintage American varsity jackets and retro denim shorts – they have even added a barber shop at the back of the shop!

Sheffield is also home to some great vintage fairs, which are definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. Sheffield Does Vintage which is held at The Cutler’s Hall has racks and racks of fine vintage pieces, plus live music to add to the atmosphere. Lou Lou’s Vintage Fair was rated one of the best vintage fairs in the UK 2 years running with pieces from 1920-1990 and additional “vintage hair salon” for pin-up style updos or intricately braided victory rolls. Get there early to find the perfect hairstyle and dress combination and still have plenty of time to enjoy their afternoon tea selection!

Feature image courtesy of elaine.

Hannah Sinclair

Canadian university grad trying and failing to figure out her life.Passion for baking and crafting. Accidentally had herself deported from Hungary. Follow her many misadventures @sinclair_hannah.
Hannah Sinclair