I am aware that at the end of my last ‘Real’ Madrid Experience post, I promised I would write my next article about Madrid food markets, and I will don’t worry! Allow me to explain why there has been a delay in this proposed post; it is taking a little more time to collate all the information I require, because I want a fully formed and interesting article, not a rushed version. So, while I consider my follow up post about the markets, today allow me to lead you down a completely different shopping trail instead.
This topic is close to my heart, well, the area of shopping I’m focusing on anyway. I am not concentrating here on the run of the mill high street stores, no way, we’re going VINTAGE.
I am aware that often the very idea of vintage shopping brings some people out in hives. The very notion of leaving the high street behind, the safe and reliable H&M, Zara, Pull & Bear, Berska and El Corte Ingles (as every street in Madrid has one of these, practically!), Topshop, River Island and Primark might make a person confused and fearful, but don’t worry, there is hope! Vintage shopping isn’t as bad as some people think it is, there is in fact plenty of wonderful and unique clothing pieces on offer, that will suit everyone’s taste, purse and not to mention size. So, rethink your aversion to vintage before we progress any further!
For a truly unique shopping experience then vintage is the real deal. The vintage shops of Malasaña (a barrio in Madrid) offer up that one of a kind item, which no one else will be wearing. That outfit that allows your individual identity to shine. The difference between vintage and high street doesn’t merely end in unique items, but also price too. The high street fashion stores, such as those mentioned above, are more expensive than the vintage stores here. Admittedly not all vintage is cheap, but for an extra price you can get not only a unique item, but a quality item too (again, this is rare to find in the high street stores).
Here in Madrid many people do tend to grab onto specific trends, and won’t deviate from them, they then end up wearing clothes similar to everyone else (all bought from the high street). Yet, in Malasaña and Chueca you will see fashion flair on every street corner, thanks to the vintage shops!
I believe Madrid does vintage better than anywhere else I know, even London! The reason being is that the shops here don’t mark up their prices just because something is classed as ‘vintage’, not like in the UK. The quality of goods available is beyond belief too, they don’t just sell any old rubbish and class it as vintage.
What makes Madrid the jewel in vintage crown for me is affordability! Good prices make the vintage shopping experience far more exciting, as any great find will be kinder on your wallet! The individuality of the style available within the vintage shops here, is sold to the customer for extremely good prices. These great prices ensure that the unusual remains accessible to all, and not just the ‘elite’ who have more money than sense! Vintage shops are not just the shopping ground of the rich in Madrid, and this is what I like the most.
There are a really good selection of vintage shops dotted about areas such as Chueca and Malasaña, which stock retro/second hand from the 1920’s up until the 1990’s (if you class 1990’s as retro). In fact anything second hand gets sold in these shops. I have on the rare occasion seen hand bags from ‘Primark’ being re-sold (unfortunately), so nothing is out of bounds in theory! However you can find exquisite pieces of vintage; leather hand bags, 1970’s hats and sunglasses from the 1950’s for better prices than any high street store can offer.
Every shop is slightly different on price though; some have better bargains to be found too. Again it depends on the items; leather coats and fur will have a price tag of more than 20 euros, but they will be far cheaper than if bought new from high street shops.
The Vintage Trail:
I am going to focus my vintage trail on the Malasaña barrio, more specifically, Calle Velarde. This street is near Tribunal and Bilbao Metro Stations, also not far from Calle Fuencarral . Below are some of my favourite vintage shops on this street.
Below pic: Calle Velarde
Magpie Vintage –
If I had to give ONLY ONE vintage shop recommendation, then this would be it!
Just as the name suggests, this shop is perfect for those with Magpie tendencies; and can’t resist being attracted to something different. This is my favourite vintage/second hand shop in Madrid! They sell everything you could possibly want from day dresses, evening gowns, coats, hats, scarf’s, cardigans, jumpers, shoes, skirts, shirts and even jewellery; the selection is as vast as the eras represented in the clothing!
At the moment they have some lovely suede coats trimmed with fur, denim jackets, bolero jackets with embellishments sewed on, army jackets and of course a selection of second hand Dr Martens!
They also have a glass cabinet which houses the loveliest vintage accessories; the sunglasses are my favourite items. Sunglasses in Madrid are always an investment as the sun shines even in winter! They also have a host of leather handbags; their satchels are a great price for a one off vintage item which will last through the seasons.
There is a ‘bargain trunk’ too, which is worth rummaging through. There is often really great and cheap items to be found within! My friend found a lovely little purple leather handbag in the ‘bargain chest’ for 3 euros!
This shop is a MUST visit!
Check out their Facebook page and website/blog: http://www.facebook.com/magpievintagemadrid?ref=ts&fref=ts
La Mona Checa –
This shop is just across the street from Magpie. Again a great little shop for a one off find! From jumpers and army surplus to fur coats and dresses. I spotted a great soft suede jacket with tassels whilst I was there over the weekend. They also have that essential ‘bargain trunk’ full of little surprises which are cheaper than the items on the racks! I am fond of the stray silk scarf’s I often find here, they are perfect as hair accessories.
Another little vintage gem, packed with the unusual and stylish.
In between Honey and Biba, is a shop called ‘The The’ –
‘The The’ is quite specialised as they stock mainly leather, denim and army surplus. What they do here, which is different, is re-work the fabrics on site. They have sewing machines in situ! They re-create waist- coats/vests, shorts and shirts all from old denim. I really like this shop, but it can be a little pricier, because of the extra work put in to the goods!
Below pic: The shop that re-works denim, ‘The The’
Below pic: Just see inside ‘The The’ – the re-worked denim on the racks
I also love this shop. In the summer they had a rack of the cutest 1950’s tea dresses with the quirkiest prints! They too stock handbags, accessories, shoes and chunky knit or embellished jumpers. You can find anything here, and the prices are good too. I actually bought a leather pencil skirt from here for 18 Euros; you cannot beat that price!
This shop is aptly named; pulgas meaning fleas! I see this shop as treasure trove. I love going through the narrow, long shop just taking my time to rummage (which you have to do here). You have to be prepared to search, but when you do you’ll be surprised at what you find.
Clothes, bags, coats and God knows what else is all piled up high for your searching pleasure! They do have rails of clothes too, especially dresses; so don’t fret if rummaging for bargains isn’t your style! They also stock vintage house-hold items too, such as; ornaments, books and cameras!
What makes this shop truly individual to me is the vintage fur they sell. Now I am not a lover of fur, but if you have to purchase it, and fur is popular here in Madrid in the winter; then I would prefer anyone to buy the fur of animal who has been dead for decades, and not a newly killed animal!
I have seen long length fur coats in this shop that date back to the 1930’s, from American boutiques! The fur here is often re-worked into different items too. Any fur from this shop will be at a fraction of the price than its counter-part from the high street. An example of this; in this shop a long length fur coat is 300 euros, in the high street it will be anything from 2000 to 3000 Euros. There is a significant difference in price, and obviously you will be buying a piece of history, and not killing any more animals just for your fashion fancies.
Williamsburg Vintage –
Another little shop that sells everything from shirts to coats, at a good price.
Two More Great Finds:
Templo de Suso – Calle del Espíritu Santo, 1
Has an American boho feel to me. It is like a 1960’s / 1970’s Rock-esque feel; think Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors and Woodstock! They sell dresses, coats, shirts, tee-shirts, leather and so on.
Lotta Vintage – Calle Hernán Cortes, 9
Everything on their clothes racks are arranged according to colour! The closet to a high street shop out of all the vintage shops mentioned; very neat, organised and tidy, it is easy to find everything. Lotta has the longest and most prestigious vintage reputation in Madrid. It has everything you could need, and the eras they cover are 1950’s to the 1980’s.
They have a wonderful set of vintage glasses, a bit more pricey perhaps at 39 Euros, but the condition of them is perfect. One pair of fabulous sunglasses will set the tone to any outfit, and here in Madrid as I have mentioned already the sun shines even in winter; I am never without my vintage sunglasses!
Check out their website: http://www.lottavintage.com/
Mercado de Fuencarral –
Just a stone throw from Tribunal Metro Station is Calle de Fuencarral, where the above market is situated. This market has many different shops that sell something a little bit different, but in here they also house an army surplus shop; G.I.Joe Surplus. With army jackets being highly fashionable at the moment, this shop is worth considering along with the other vintage shops.
Hints and tips to buying vintage:
In most vintage shops you can try the outfit before you commit and buy; there are dressing rooms! I suggest you do try before you buy; check out what it looks like in the mirror. Remember vintage sizes can vary from the standard sizes we are used to now, although in the vintage shops I have seen more realistic and less vanity sizing going on. Also an interesting thing to note is that a UK size 18 isn’t difficult to source in the vintage shops, not as it might be in some high street alternatives.
If you do wish to impulse buy, and then want to return an item, check their returns policy first! Vintage shops often do offer a credit note or a swap for something of the same price (Magpie offer this), but they don’t usually offer money back refunds. You’ve been warned!
I also suggest to go into these shops with an idea of what you are looking for, for example a denim jacket. There is so much to see that you could be easily swayed and overwhelmed! You could end up thinking; ‘I’ll have that and that’ and then you get home and think, ‘um, what will this go with?’ Be savvy!
Vintage shops are excellent for material, fur, leather, shoes, denim and army surplus too.
Also, I have mentioned the ‘bargain trunks’ the vintage shops usually have. In them are sale items, or items reduced to clear, and you can secure a great little something for next to nothing! If you are looking for fabrics, or even something plain to add you own style to, then these are worth rummaging through.
Another thing to remember is that some shops in these ‘vintage’ districts are NOT vintage at all, but style themselves to appear vintage. You can always tell a vintage shop; the clothes and internal layout is a dead give away, but if you are not sure check the labels! Oh, and if it says polyester on the label, remember it won’t be a pre-1970’s item. I have seen some supposed 1940’s tea dress in polyester fabric, of course they would have been made in rayon in the 1940’s not polyester! Prices too are the final check to gauge if the place is vintage or not – pretend vintage is more expensive in Madrid than the real vintage.
Oh, and one final shop to mention, which isn’t a clothes shop, but a coffee shop where you can make your own ceramics, but I think it is wonderful; Pintas en Copas on Calle Velarde. Once your item is made you can let it bake on site, and pick it up a few days later. You can make anything including; plates, cups, teapots and even snails!
Check out their website for further details: http://www.pintaencopas.com
Below pic: Pintas en Copas
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