Best places to shop vintage in Warks & the West Mids
Shop sustainably in style with our pick of the 15 coolest vintage shops in our locale for uncovering unique hidden gems online or in person after lockdown 2.
With fast fashion going – well, out of fashion, and with the impetus on independent consumerism to boost local economies, there has never been a better time to shop vintage.
Whether it’s a weakness for wedges, a passion for puffed sleeves or pillbox hats, or you’ve just binged Mad Men, there’s a whole host of vintage emporiums scattered about Warwickshire and the Midlands to help channel your inner Peggy Olson. But like the elusive treasures they behold – you just have to look for them. Fortunately, that’s what we’re here for.
WARWICKSHIRE & WEST MIDLANDS
Fellows’, Augusta Street, Birmingham
Established in 1876, with auction rooms in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter, this family-run firm of auctioneers also have valuation and viewing facilities in Mayfair, London. It focuses on unique jewellery, luxury watches and designer pieces, and the most excellent news is, we’ve arranged for one lucky Muddy reader to win a £500 voucher to put against any of their auction lots in 2021!
Don’t be alarmed if you’ve never bought at auction before. Fellows’ regular events are a cinch to engage with – even if you’re a complete amateur and the closest you’ve got to bidding is watching Bargain Hunt. You simply scroll through the catalogue, find the pieces you’re interested in and enter a price you’d be happy to pay. Alternatively, for their timed auctions you can watch the bids go up in real time (like eBay) and then you can throw in a winning bid at the very last minute, should you like that sort of adrenaline rush.
Minerva: Bonds Lifestyle, Evesham Road, Dodwell, Stratford
Minerva Vintage was founded by partners in life and business Christian Porzio and Louise Ross. Christian, who hails from Italy, brings a certain dolce vita to the team while Stratfordian Louise brings her fashion degree knowledge and experience in luxury clothing and couture. The dynamic duo first realised their vintage clothing dreams after setting up an online business, as part of a sustainable fashion movement, while living in the Bel Paese.
On their return to Louise’s hometown, the pair opened their first shop in an antiques centre before bagging a spot at the Bonds Lifestyle shopping destination. Naturally, most of their goods hail from the designer fashion capital, spanning from the 1970s to the early 2000s, including household names such as Valentino, Versace, Chanel, Dior and Prada. Not to mention, their Burberry trench coat collection has earned the duo, who often take their selection down to London, the moniker ‘the Burberry people of Portobello Green’. While Minerva’s focus is on designer, the odd unbranded pre 1960s and pre-loved item, brings a little funk to this otherwise chic treasure trove. And while you’re there why not treat yourself to brekkie, lunch or cake of the week in the stylish 70-seater glass-fronted cafe?
Bonds lifestyle is open Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm and Sunday 9.30am-4.30pm. Appointments available for collection viewings.
Urban Village: High Street, Henley
This Aladdin’ s cave comprises not just one, but two stores worth of untold fashion relics. Dealers at Urban Village Vintage, who have been trading some 20 years, recently relocated to the chocolate box village from Digbeth to sit alongside furniture shop Henley Vintage. The shop’s collections date from the 1940s including iconic brands Belstaff, Levi’s, Burberry, Harris Tweed, Laura Ashley, Fred Perry, with historic countrywear brand Barbour jackets among its bestsellers.
Its hand-picked items range from £5 to £95, with men’s and women’s coats averaging at around £45. Owner Jo Pedlar says the shop’s winterwear, including 1960’s capes, à la Barbarella, are flying off the shelves so you’ll want to visit toot sweet.
Open Wed-Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 11am-4pm.Public health guidelines are in place. Search Urban Village Vintage on Facebook for more details.
Encore Clothing Agency: Smith Street, Warwick
Encore Clothing Agency is the result of owner Jan Hutson’s love affair with all things vintage. To vintage-a-holic Jan, the garments embody a piece of history, whose stories are as much a part of their fabric. It was necessity that finally drove Jan to set up shop eight years ago after her passion for pre-loved clothing outgrew her spare bedroom – and we’re very glad it did.
The owner whose chickens, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day, Betty Davis pay homage to her love of silverscreen glamour, says she fell for the sophisticated and changing styles that came from the evolving world of cinema and her shop puts her at the heart of the shifting kaleidoscope that is the world of fashion.
Her pieces have been lovingly selected, for their personal history as much as their era significance and, she adds, she feels a great responsibility to pass on their stories and keep their ‘souls alive’.
Jan describes one of her favourite soul revivals as a black 1980s two-piece wedding dress which travelled with its new bride to America for a second outing down the aisle. Isn’t that just swell?
Open Wed-Sat, 11am-4pm. One-to-one appointments are also available.
Miss Kat’s Closet: Abbot Street, Leamington Spa
Miss Kat’s boasts pre-loved relics right from the roaring 20s, including items new with tags, designer pieces, accessories and homeware. The average price is around £20, with the exception of rare treasures occasionally popping up among said closet, with its bottomless collections defying all dimensional logic. Such bagsys include a rare 1960s velvet Emelio Pucci jacket with an abstract print selling for £695 – gee whizz!
Owner Katrina Barrow, who describes her job as her hobby, says her one-off finds ensure no two people will be wearing the same. Not only are the shop’s contents shrouded in bygone mysteries, Miss Kat’s, based in Leamington’s own vintage heart of Old Town, is the centre’s oldest surviving shop.
As well as dazzling customers with her existing collections, Katrina aims to do her best when it comes to seeking out elusive gems for her loyal following, built up over her career of three decades. Whatever your bag, a trip to Miss Kat’s will ensure you’re the ginchiest.
Appointment only. Follow Miss Kat’s Closet on Facebook for more details.
To help encourage you further on your sustainable fashion journey, British Heart Foundation (BHF) is asking people in the West Midlands to shop a little differently this Christmas by buying at least one preloved gift from a charity shop, whether it’s online or in store.
By giving donated items a new lease of life, treasure-seekers will also help the charity in its recovery from the coronavirus crisis which has had a devastating impact on its income and research.
Its shops are brimming with rare and one-of-a-kind items at affordable prices including accessories, designer clothes and nostalgic bric-a-brac. Or if you prefer to stay home, browse the charity’s eBay shop for curios from antique watches and vintage jewellery to signed memorabilia. Find your nearest high street shop here.
Milk Vintage: Hales Street, Coventry
Your one-stop shop for garish prints, ironic jumpers and shell suits, Milk promises to serve up ‘retro realness in the concrete jungle’. This two-storey walk in wardrobe, housed in a grade II building no less, will have you walking out in an ensemble to make Bjork jealous. Prices for both men and women range from £16 to £150 with a focus on 80s and 90s pieces hand-picked all the way from Texas. There’s something for every palate among this exuberant fashion smorgasborg; keep it super ‘cajj’ with streetwear, channel your summer boho vibes a la Carrie Bradshaw or why not go for a full-on kitschy clash. You know – milk it!
Open Mon-Sat, 11am-5pm and until 4pm on Sun. Follow Milk Vintage on Facebook for the store’s latest stock and vin-spiration.
Aunty Olive’s Attic: Fargo Village, Far Gosford Street, Coventry
Based in Fargo’s indie emporium, Aunty O’s brings a little mid-century glamour to the game. While the main focus is furniture, fashion enthusiasts can still browse authentic vintage clothing, be it a classic 50’s shift, 60’s gogo dress, or a 70’s boho maxi. And hey why not pick yourself out a kitsch lamp or psychedelic rug while you’re at it? In fact, you’ll hardly be able to resist getting knee deep in its rummagey depths, but you’ll emerge all the more vin-torius. Open Wed-Fri, 11am-5pm, Sat, 11am-5.30pm and Sun 11am-4pm. See latest news here.
Sheanies: Raddlebarn Road, Selly Oak
Sheanies was founded by brothers Liam and Sean Sheahan whose not-so-online vintage emporium outgrew their home in 2017. The store specialises in 80s and 90s sportswear and modern designer brands including The North Face and Ralph Lauren.
For those more partial to Posh Spice than Sporty, the duo also stocks a range of womenswear from 70s to 90s including dresses, playsuits, skirts, and blouses, as well as a range of branded outdoor wear and vintage workwear.
Prices range from around £15 to £35. Although 80s and 90s sportswear and workwear are a store staple, the duo do delight in coming across more one-of-a-kind finds. While more quirky than work-y, the men describe a memorable item as a green leopard print 90s Versace shirt, with a framed Miami print on the back – whatever razzes your berries right?
Open Tues-Sat, 10am-6pm. Restrictions are in place. Clothes which are tried on are steamed before being returned to racks.
Cow: Rea Street, Digbeth
Cow emerged among the earlier indie staples on the Digbeth shopping scene. With its bright yellow front, it stands proudly out from the crowd with its ethos of sustainable and ethically sourced pre-loved clothing. Whether you’re in the market for a puffa jacket or a floral mini dress, its extensive collection boasts iconic brands spanning from the 60s through to the 90s, with a hint of noughties tossed in for good measure.
As well as household names, and one-off marvels, its handmade and re-worked range offers new styles sourced and made from vintage fabrics, bridging the gap between then and now, as well as making items even more one of a kind. Prices range from around £20 to £150. Opening hours are Mon-Sat, 10am-6pm, and Sun 11am-5pm.
Gingermegs Vintage: Vyse Street, Jewellery Quarter
Yet another Aladdin’s cave, this time in Birmingham’s trendy Jewellery Quarter, Gingermegs is the result of Virginia Ewart’s lifelong love for vintage fashion. The UK’s second city nurtured the roots of her passion as she perused the clothes stalls at the city centre’s historical Rag Market.
Virginia, a.k.a Gingermegs, specialises in Victorian to 1950s clothing, meaning as you rummage through the rails, a pretty flirty dress could give way to a pinstripe suit without warning. Her genuine vintage pieces include 1920s flapper dresses and Victorian suits in wearable condition. These are, quite understandably, tucked up safely in boxes so you might need to ask her nicely. Visits by appointment only.
Top Banana: York Road, King’s Heath
This store deals in original vintage from sources in the US, specialising in Converse and Vans footwear, oh and er, Hawaiian shirts. Well after the year we’ve had why not indulge in the ultimate embodiment of a beachy paradise? And talking of the beach – why not team it with a floral neckerchief or floppy hat for the full effect! Other popular items include cowboy boots, tees and hoodies should reality kick back in. Open Mon-Sat, 10am-5.30pm.
Ada’s Attic: Wythall, online
Rachael Sadler’s started her vintage e-commerce shop to sate a burning energy realised during her globe-trotting adventures, all run from her Wythall home. The former fashion stylist specialises in women’s vintage, with her curated collection including hand-picked clothing – regular and designer – accessories and bridalwear.
Her designer or ‘Gold Label’ collection can run into the high hundreds with wedding dresses starting from £225, pure wool coats from £85, and everyday items from around £20.
Among her own bygone style favourites are the 70s bohemian ‘anything goes vibe’, the artsy craftmanship of 30s liquid silk gowns, and the haute couture of Victorian fashion. Racheal believes everyone should see a dress from House of Worth (which dominated the Parisian fashion scene in the mid-19th century) at least once in their life.
Vintage Threads: Market Walk, Redditch
Self-proclaimed ‘batty’ owner Helen Truman’s huge collection of garments span from Victorian times through to the modern day. The hand-picked items have graced theatrical photo-shoots, and even moonlighted as educational props. Helen’s collections range from a scanty £5 to the heftier price tag of £500, and includes both designer and lovingly hand-crafted pieces.
Helen’s services also include altering and adapting clothes, reinventing them to suit individual styles. And the wardrobe wizard says owing to her ‘forensic attention to detail’, dropping and swinging alterations are among her sewing superpowers.
Due to public health guidelines, Vintage Threads is currently operating from a kiosk in the town centre. Open 2pm- 8pm on Saturdays with plans to extend opening hours shortly. Follow Vintage Threads on Facebook for updates.
Rock Follies Vintage: Reindeer Court, Worcester
Theatre costume expert and former wardrobe mistress, Lynda Case founded Rock Follies Vintage in 2009 as she continued to follow her dreams of fabric and era-defining fashions.
Items span from 1900 to 1980, for both men and women, from everyday wear to bridal and special occasion, including some designer and occasional retro piece.
As is customary for vintage, prices range from £6, for a piece of jewellery, to £600 for a designer vintage dress, and everything in between. And for those whose budget may not reach to original vintage, the store also sells some convincing replicas. Open Tues – Sat, 10am – 4pm. Restrictions are in place.
Words: Cat Thompson