Leeds – vintage clothes Mecca or threadbare trail?

Posted on 7 July 2010
By Emma Hamilton
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Vintage clothing is booming in Britain, less pennies in pockets means thrift is King and if you want to look different to the armies style clones walking out of Topshop, it all adds up.

And with high profile fashionistas such as Kate Moss, Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung effortlessly mixing classic vintage pieces with designer clobber, it seems more of us want in.

When thinking of the best cities for vintage shopping, London or Manchester spring to mind. But the broadsheet’s Sunday supplements are now touting the North East as a gold mind for vintage finds, so lets hope those grannies start rummaging through their dusty wardrobes and revealing some retro delights.

We explored the best vintage stores Leeds had to offer, it was a refreshing change to walk in to a shop and not be over whelmed with generic plaid shirts that reflect the current fads with prices to rival high street stores.

Even though the shops were dispersed around the city centre they did not disappoint and it always feels like an achievement when finding a cool, little vintage shop. Second Hand, located just off Briggate Street is how a vintage store should be – crammed full of thrifty joy.

They mainly stock men’s vintage ranging from Fred Perry polo shirts to traditional waxed jackets, tweed jackets, paintings and ornaments piled high, good condition and all for a fraction of the price.

Often with the owner shouting out random prices as soon as you touch something. It has similarities to Ryan’s Vintage in Manchester with a jumbled organisation system, but then again routing round searching for hidden gems is half the fun.

Blue Rinse is probably the biggest and best well known of the vintage shops. With more than 13 years in the trade, they’re sure to know what they’re talking about.

The gang at Blue Rinse say; “We never take our success for granted and are always looking for ways to make improvements whilst maintaining our quirky and individual style that helped build our reputation.”

They claim they are ahead of any competition which is reassuring to know you’re getting the best stuff out there. Blue Rinse is situated on Call Lane and is spread over three floors.

The ground floor is a little sparse on stock, featuring mainly menswear and accessories but upstairs is like a walk-in wardrobe with reformed one off pieces amongst lace slips and silk shirts.

Across the road, handily, on New Market street is Best Vintage. They have many stores all over the UK and again, the chatty shop assistant was clued up on the stock that spread over two floors both men’s and women’s. It’s a little cheaper than Blue Rinse, many items priced at very reasonable £12.

A little birdie also told us that they stock some celeb’s old clothing, including t-shirts from the Kaiser Chiefs, whether you believe this is up to you. The top floor has a real boutique feel to it.

Full of pretty, little retro dresses. The whole décor really adds to the excitement of the place, with its huge windows and creaky wooden floor boards. The £1 box is where you find the real little bargains.

Other shops to visit are Upstaged, All American Vintage. This is in a slightly more run-down arcade in Leeds but this doesn’t make it any less of a treasure. Here the owners thrive in being really selective in the stock they pick out, making sure only the best is sold to the public, unlike many shops that only buy in bulk.

If you want to kit out your house in vintage delights as well as your wardrobe then try Trash & Treasure for some original, retro goodness. Great if you want furniture a bit more quirky and different from the flat-pack galore that is IKEA.

Despite not having as many shops as London or Manchester Leeds is defiantly making a mark on the vintage clothes scene. So go before all the good stuff is gone!