Rating Bristol's Vintage Stores

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The Croft// By Molly Grogan, Second Year, English Literature

Want to vintage shop but don't know where to start? Molly Grogan gives a run down on how to find your way through Bristol's vintage stores!

We all know the importance of shopping second hand by now, and for any fashionista, it’s a fairly fail safe way to eliminate at least a bit of shopper’s guilt from some of our impulse buys (although it’s important to remember that our most sustainable option is, of course, to reduce shopping altogether, second hand or not). And, in typical Bristolian fashion, a city famous for championing all things eco, a wave of new vintage concept stores have popped up in and around Cabot Circus, giving the retail shopper a more conscious alternative to fan favourite high street brands like Zara or Bershka. Still, it’s no secret that they can be pretty hit or miss. It’s easy to end up trawling through racks and racks of ugly sweaters (which even the most fashionable should not attempt to pull off, even “ironically”). So, to help all you avid thrifters out, we’ve ranked and reviewed a few of our favourites, some new, some old (and it gave us an opportunity to do a cheeky bit of shopping, too).

1. The Thrift Store, Park Street

A firm favourite of many students, the thrift store is two levels worth of 80s décor surrounded fun. Sure, everything’s a little all over the place, especially downstairs where you have to really comb through the many cardigans and skirts, but that’s part of its charm. There is a more eclectic mix of pieces and at extremely reasonable prices, with some higher end brands reaching the £40 mark, but Levi’s will only set you back about £30, which compared to London prices (often up to £50 on a good day) is a bit of a bargain. The variety also means that there’s more scope for more ‘mature’ vintage (i.e moving away from the bright neons of the 90s) and the two for £10 deals save a lot of money, especially when you nab some killer finds, and considering how often this happens (the variety is really that good), it’s a no brainer for vintage lovers.

9/10

Epigram/ Molly Grogan

2. Urban Fox, St. Nicks Market

Find this gem next to St. Nicks market. It’s pretty hard to miss since it usually has a delightful rack of faux fur jackets and graphic knits outside its shopfront. Opened by the owner of Gloucester Road’s RePsycho, Urban Fox is full of more traditional “true vintage” pieces, which appeal to perhaps a wider audience of all ages. Here, you can find unique, timeless investment pieces that even your Mum would approve of (aviator jackets, Levi’s, and dungarees aplenty), as well as an array of rare vintage Converse and cowboy boots. One thing’s for sure, the key word here is quality. Even better, there’s a fabulous selection of hats, caps and ties to peruse and, despite its size, two changing rooms to prevent IPS (impulse purchase syndrome).  

8/10

Epigram/ Molly Grogan

3. Loot Vintage, Park Street

Loot’s success as a brand has grown impressively in the past few years, so much so that it opened a sister store in Covent Garden and an online store. Now, there’s a brand-spanking-new branch on Park Street! Lucky us. The store is curated to a ‘t’, with women’s clothing on the first floor, and men’s on the second, offering a more mainstream, and perhaps more palatable spot for shoppers not so used to second hand shopping. It is brightly decorated, offering both true vintage and reworked clothing and seems to be quite enamoured with the sportswear aesthetic, showcasing bright shell jackets and (maybe a few too many) American collegiate t-shirts. It’s easy to find a beautiful floral summer dress though, or a floral shirt (for spring? Ground-breaking), though the prices are a little steep – with some graphic tees looking to set you back about £27. However, you pay for its careful selection and the ease it offers to shoppers looking to break up with the high street.  

7/10

Epigram/ Molly Grogan 

Some honourable mentions that are also worth visiting:

Uncle Sams, Park Street – Pricey, but perfect for that dose of true American vintage.

Loot Vintage, Haymarket Walk – The original, with a slightly less commercialised selection to peruse.

Beyond Retro, Broadmead – Up there with the greats, Beyond Retro is a staple of the Bristol vintage scene.

Bristol is a great place for vintage shopping so definitely check these stores out for some second hand purchases and to bring some new life into 80's  and 90's looks which will mix up your uni wardrobe!

Featured Images: Epigram/Molly Grogan


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