A quick guide to vintage shopping with flair
By Nicolas from fleamarketinsiders.com
If London is world famous for its edgy fashion, blowtorch curries or its (sometimes) comically inept government logic, it is also renowned for its prohibitive cost of living compared to many places in the world. However, as long as you plan carefully and think about cost-saving strategies, the cost of living in London can be relatively manageable. As a matter of fact, there are a few second hand shops and flea markets around the city that have a pretty interesting offer when it comes to crockery, utensils, home wares, vintage clothing and shoes, and where it is possible to pick up a bargain.
Even if not all of them are equal in terms of affordability, they all have something in stock that will appeal to the thrifty vintage enthusiast or to the savvy tourist searching for a genuine souvenir.
Here is a list of our favourite vintage markets around the city!
#1 Brick Lane Market
Address: Brick Lane, E1, London, England (Spitalfields)
Opening Hours: Every Sunday from around 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Station: Aldgate East
What you will find there: an eclectic collection of antiques, curios, collectibles, vintage clothing & accessories
Brick Lane is not only a ‘one street’ market as the name may suggest. It is the home to not less than five independent vintage markets all connected together (known as The Truman Markets) which spreads over a few street blocks. We love it for the variety of antiques and vintage sold there (if you must pick two markets, head straight to the Tea Rooms and the Vintage Markets, which are probably the most interesting markets we’ve seen), as well as the fabulous selection of international food stalls: Asian fried noodles and steamed rice cakes, Ethiopian bayenetu or traditional German Würstels. That’s no wonder why Brick Lane is a popular weekend destination for lovers of good food!
#2 Greenwich Market
Address: High Rd | Greenwich, London, England (Greenwich)
Opening Hours: Thursday to Sunday: 10am – 5.30pm
What you will find there: Antiques, vintage clothes, hand made goods, prints, jewellery and homeward. Just like Brick Lane Market, the Greenwich Market offers a great selection of hot fresh food: Foodies will be happy munch bunnies.
Established in 1737, this charming covered market hosts a wide variety of quirky stalls and shops selling fresh produce and antiques, within a World Heritage site. Because it is surrounded by independent boutique shops and a well established designer-maker trend, the Greenwich market is a must do for all those looking for something different in London.
The antique and collectable days at Greenwich Market (Tues, Thurs, Fri) hosts more than 40 stalls and local antique shops that offer decorative, 20th century, bespoke and restored antiques. Vintage treasures can be found at ‘360 Degrees Vintage’ (vintage clothing from the 1920’s through to the 1980’s and vintage military outfits), ‘The Emporium’ (High-end coats, suits and accessories from the 1940s – 1970s), ‘The Jewellery Box’, ‘Elizabeth Avey’ and ‘Beehive’.
#3 Alfies Antiques Market
Address: 13-25 Church Street (NW8), London Nw8 8dt, England (Kensington and Hyde Park)
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Station: Marylebone/Edgware Road
What you will find there: Vintage jewellery, old cameras, vintage clothing, extravagant ceiling lights and collectibles
Alfies Antiques Market is a bustling indoor market with a bohemian chic atmosphere that is great for decorative and unusual antiques, vintage and collectibles. For over 30 years it has attracted serious collectors, interior designers and even celebrities!
The beautiful Art Nouveau façade of the building alone, makes this venue worth visiting. The Alfies Antiques Market is a treasure trove of individual shops. As a matter of facts, visitors should make sure to go all the way up to the top floor where there is a nice café on an open terrace with a view, as well as more little shops selling great vintage clothes and housewares. And those who don’t manage to find inside what they’re looking for, can always try their luck at one of the other vintage shops located in the vicinity! Also, it is generally recommended not to show up to Alfies Antiques Market too early, as not all shops open at 10:00 am sharp…
#4 Bermondsey Antiques Market
Address : Long Lane and Bermondsey Street | Bermondsey Square, London, SE1, England (Southwark)
Opening Hours: Friday 6:00 am to 2:00 pm
Station: London Bridge
What you will find there: Silverware, China, retro crockery, glassware, vintage clothes, paintings and antique furniture
This long running market which started in 1855, is great for antiques, vintage and second-hand treasures. It is an absolute must-visit for collectors and vintage enthusiasts, who wish to get the London feel while browsing for old and unusual objects. The Bermondsey Market offers lots of interesting vintage objects sold in a very pleasant and hearty atmosphere. A place to recommend if you’re enjoying from a day off on a Friday morning. And who knows: if you fall upon what you’re looking for, you might even get a good bargain!
One other great thing about the Bermondsey Antiques Market, is the choice of great cafés and restaurants located around the market, which offer some of the best breakfasts in the neighbourhood!
#5 Gray’s Antique Markets
Address: 58 Davies Street & 1-7 Davies Mews, London W1K 5AB, England (Mayfair)
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 am. – 6:00 pm
Station: Bond St
What you will find there: A wide variety of antique and collectible. Silver, glass, English ephemera, fashion, porcelain and jewellery, militaria, tribal & Asian art, antiquities and ethnic items
Located just five minutes from Selfridges, Gray’s Antique Markets offers an entertaining antique-hunting experience among more than 200 dealers selling everything from artefacts to vintage clothes. The emphasis of Gray’s Antique Markets is very much on antique silver, watches and jewellery but there are a number of stalls that specialize in militaria, porcelain and general antiques (Downstairs has amazing vintage clothing and costume jewellery).
Prices at Gray’s Antique Markets are really high compared to a regular flea market, but this gives room for haggling if you feel like to (especially in The Mews, which is down the small side road to the left of the main door)! Alternatively, visitors can just treat the place like a free museum and admire some very ‘high end’ quality objects.
Nicolas is the Chief Editor & Co-founder of fleamarketinsiders.com, a blog dedicated to flea markets, travel and vintage shopping. When he realized his home started to look like a perfect IKEA showroom, Nicolas decided it was time for change and started out of curiosity to see what flea markets had in stock. 8 years and a thousand finds later, he is now looking for a bigger flat to accommodate all his awesome flea market treasures, vintage items and design furniture.
You may also want to check out the best thrift stores in London.