Go Retro: Where to Shop for Vintage in Chelsea and Kensington

shutterstock 185221178
shutterstock 185221178

On the surface, the Kensington and Chelsea district of London doesn’t strike one as a hive of second-hand vintage shopping. But peel back the covers, so to speak, and take a glimpse underneath and you’ll discover this area’s brimming with much in the way of retro retail goodness…

Wilde Ones

(283 King’s Road SW3 5EW/ opens: 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday; 12noon-6pm Sunday)

Don’t doubt it; this store offers an opportunity to step back into the heritage of the King’s Road. It’s full over-spilling with vintage fashion and accessories from every era imaginable, but not least the ’60s and ’70s when, as a high-street for dynamic, cutting-edge fashion, this iconic thoroughfare came into its own. And yet, Wilde Ones is far more than merely that because, quite frankly, it ensures it lives up to its name every day by vending all sorts of vintage items, artefacts and delights from every corner of the globe, ensuring that, yes, it’s something of a ramshackle emporium. But, according to online reviews, it perhaps deserved to be singled out for its jewellery offerings – one reviewer recommending its capacity for enabling the creation of a beautiful, unique necklace via pairing a rare gemstone with a chain. In short, a memento of London that’ll last for nothing short than forever!

Sign of the Times

(5 Elystan Street SW3 3NT/ opens: 10am-6.30pm Monday-Friday; 10am-6pm Saturday; 12noon-4pm Sunday)

Located on Chelsea Green and in operation for more than three decades, this place may specialise in the second-hand, but it’s far from a thrift store; here it’s all about the re-selling on of designer clobber and accessories. Across its two floors, you’ll no doubt find yourself browsing through the likes of Chanel, Hermes, Marni, Prada and Louis Vuitton, as well as Christian Louboutin footwear and Balenciaga bags and clutches. However, should your appetite be whetted by this precis on this establishment, be sure to check it out as soon as you hit town (while staying nearby at, say, the San Domenico House hotel London?) because its items are only stocked on a sale-or-return basis – meaning each item’s only in-store for two months at most!

Retromania London

(6 Upper Tachbrook Street SW1V 1SH/ opens: 10am-6pm Monday-Sunday)

Another must for vintage fashionistas, this place is ideal for lovers of vintage hats, bags, scarves, dresses, menswear and memorabilia. In short, it’s a true emporium right in the heart of the Kensington/ Victoria/ Pimlico area for any and every historical piece donated to the FARA charity, which is run in aid of Romanian children who tragically have to grow up without a family. Online reviewers are bursting at the seams with praise, claiming its items are of high quality, with the vast majority in perfect condition. And, perhaps best of all, there’s also a bargain basement, which’ll help you to save some pennies during a shopping trip in this most salubrious part of London Town!

Octavia Foundation

(3 Bute Street SW7 3EY/ open: 10am-6pm Monday-Saturday; 12noon-5pm Sunday)

Finally, this is ostensibly little more than a charity shop, yet owing to its location in the Kensington and Chelsea area (and so not far of a walk away at all from the hotels near Harrods London), it’s a true haven for top quality, exquisite, rare and highly collectible second-hand items that fall in the categories of homewares, clothes and books. Who knows, on your visit here you might just happen upon a pair of Dolce & Gabbana shoes or many another designer branded clothes-item. You’ll never know unless you take a step inside and have a look around!