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Cape Town hearts vintage
We reveal the clothing stores reviving retro fashion
We reveal the clothing stores reviving retro fashion
Vintage clothing stores in Cape Town are wonderfully nostalgic - not just for the comforting, musty scent, but also for the history connected to each garment. Here's a collection of the city's best.
Franki’s (Le Fableux Destin de Franki Paradis)
Named after the sensual French cabaret artist Franki Paradis, this classy clothing shop in Kalk Bay, which specialises in pretty, feminine frocks that accentuate the female form, has a section at the back devoted to genuine vintage garments. Here, browsers can expect to find rails of elaborate handbags, statement jackets and soft, lacy pre-owned dresses from decades gone by, as well as a few pre-worn garments made by more contemporary designers. Most items are sourced from stores in London and Paris, and thus are as authentically European as they come; although, owners Tricia Snowball and Karen Meyer also collect top-condition, pre-owned pieces from the public.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm
70 Main Road | Kalk Bay | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 788 6776.
Second Time Around
Having been around since 1972 (which makes it somewhat vintage in its own right), the recently refurbished Second Time Around, is one of Cape Town’s oldest, and perhaps most well known, original vintage clothing stores. A treasure trove of unique, nostalgic finds sourced predominantly from local collectors and walk-in customers, the shop stocks a wide assortment of garments – swing dresses, fur coats, men’s suits, handsome bags, dramatic hats, retro jewellery, original leather boots and heels – from the roaring twenties right up until the 1990s. Quality and individuality is key here, as all items are unique, carry their own personalised tale, and are strictly still in good condition.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 5:30pm; Saturday: 10am – 2pm
196 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 423 1674.
Read more about vintage gem Second Time Around.
Lembranças at Beleza Restaurant
Found hidden inside this laidback Tamboerskloof eatery, vintage boutique Lembranças – which, quite aptly, means ‘memories’ in Portuguese – is a vibrant tribute to the implicit tales inevitably couched within pre-owned garments. Stocked with numerous wistful reminders of decades gone by, the intimate shop sells a diverse, constantly-changing collection of one-off, pre-worn items for both ladies and men; anything from ‘80s neons to old gentleman’s tweed coats are equally at home here. What’s more, at the end of each month, the Beleza team hosts a lively sale where customers can indulge their inner old soul with affordable vintage garments, while enjoying an delicious assortment of free cocktails and cupcakes.
Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday: 8:30am – 11pm
Corner of Kloof Nek and Burnside roads | Tamboerskloof | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 426 0795
Based in the Long Street Antique Arcade, Glitterati specialises in both retro fashion and accessories dating from the full-skirt ‘50s through to the shoulder pad-dominated ‘80s. In addition to a collection of old-school garments found at local homes or bought at auctions, the shop – which boasts a bold pink chandelier as its focal point – also sells vintage handbags, hats, jewellery, belts and shoes.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10am – 4:30pm; Saturday: 9:30am – 2pm
Shop 2 |127 Long Street Antique Arcade| Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 82 819 5247.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Based on Bree Street, this quaint city centre store is filled with a small assortment of handmade vintage party frocks and accessories, as well as other quirky collectables. Owner Jodi Meiring, who has an aptitude for stitch work, restores damaged and unwanted garments with felt appliqué and embroidered graffiti, and stocks a delightful range of ‘50s-inspired ladies’ clothing by local fashion label Miss Happ, rails of authentic items from the 1950s through to the 1970s and old-school children’s toys from the ‘60s and ‘70s.
120 Bree Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)82 925 1379
Reportedly the Mother City’s very first second-hand garments store, this Aladdin’s Cave of classic clothing collectibles is well loved by its loyal following for its broad spectrum of high-quality, nostalgic items. Run for years by passionate owner Liz Fieldgate (who describes herself as one of the vintage pieces), the ambient Claremont shop sells a selectively chosen, browse-worthy range of ladies’ pre-owned day and evening wear, cocktail dresses, leather bags, Italian shoes, belts and gloves from the 1920s through to the 1970s (Liz’s self-professed favourite periods). In addition to such apparel and accessories, a range of costume jewellery, from ‘60s necklaces to bold clip-on earrings and marcasite brooches, is a store highlight; in fact, a significant portion of the shop’s trade comes from customers seeking authentic items for themed parties. Liz, who by experience has become something of an authority on the fashions of eras passed, is also especially adept at offering invaluable purchasing advice and suggestions.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 5pm; Saturday: 9:30am – 1:30pm
Cavendish Close | Warwick Street | Claremont | +27 (0) 21 674 4270
While vintage devotees are most likely more familiar with sister store Journey, owner Amy Smego’s more recent Long Street addition, Meanwhile, claims an even wider assortment of one-off ladies’ retro garments originally worn in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Alongside a selection of more contemporary pieces made by leading local designers (like Missibaba, Moss and Take Care), store visitors will find rail upon rail of little long-lost gems: collared geometric print dresses; floral, floor-length pleated skirts; crocheted frocks; chiffon pants; lace blazers, corduroy skirt-and-waistcoat suits; and bold striped blouses, to name a few. As part of their policy, all pre-owned attire is still in first-class form and is sourced by seasoned professionals – most notably artist and avid vintage collector Shirley Fintz– both locally and on international travels to Europe and Asia.
Opening times: Summer: Monday – Friday: 10am – 6pm; Saturday: 10am – 4pm; Winter: Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 5:30pm; Saturday: 10am – 4pm
287 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 422 5646
Note: Sister store Journey can be found just down the road at 186 Long Street ( +27 (0) 21 424 5209)
Afraid of Mice
Filled with the type of rare classic items that, as its pay-off line claims, “you wish your mother had kept for you”, this trendy ladies’ vintage store invites excessive browsing. With clean, uncluttered rails and a carefully curated, hand-selected collection, the boutique is a far cry from your average musty second-hand store. Most pieces are imported, one-of-a-kind, and picked with selective gusto by sister owners Bianca and Simone. The emphasis is on quality, seasonality, individuality, detail (pretty stitching here, a lace bow there) and beauty, and authentic pre-worn designer labels also abound and are up for purchase, like runway-style vintage dresses, pants, blouses, skirts, shoes and handbags by esteemed international names: Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren and Stella McCartney. And as prices are surprisingly accessible, shopping here is one sure way to bag coveted branded garb – albeit with a bit of a past – without breaking the bank.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 9:30am – 5pm; Saturday: 10am – 2pm
86 Long Street | Cnr of Longmarket Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 423 7353
Although it can’t claim a physical brick-and-mortar storefront, this innovative virtual venture is, nonetheless, a reputable local resource for buying quality, one-of-a-kind retro apparel online. Launched in mid-2010 by Stellenbosch University student and long-time lover of period fashion Lehza van der Merwe, the e-boutique sells an ever-evolving collection of affordable, authentic vintage items – crocheted dresses, formal frocks, silk blouses, retro handbags and purses, genuine leather waist belts, designer shoes and costume jewellery – via the brand’s Facebook page and through the bid or buy website. While Lehza – who often travels the coast in search of desirable pieces – considers anything that has been loved and worn before as theoretically worthy, the self-proclaimed ‘bag lady’ carefully hand-picks only those items that would still be regarded as trendy today and that display a certain level of quality and craftsmanship. Once bought using one of the platforms available, pieces can be delivered nationwide for a small fee. For any queries or to make a purchase, customers can contact Lehza at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cat’s Meow
Originally the cherished project of mother-and-daughter duo Barbara and Laura Meek , this charming Woodstock store – which is located next door to the well-loved Old Biscuit Mill – is dotted with an array of colour-coordinated racks of contemporary second-hand garments and collected attire from eras passed. Alongside glamorous vintage evening wear, sexy sequinned items, gently worn wedding dresses, fur coats, silk scarves and ‘60s sun hats, the boutique also stocks articles ideal for period parties and those more suited to casual everyday wear. As new garments are constantly coming in, the collection is kept interesting with fresh finds, and Laura and her hands-on team of three are always eager to offer guidance and to discuss the history interwoven in each item. In fact, in an effort to ensure a complete old-school experience, touches of yesteryear extend beyond the clothing to colour the shop’s décor selection – old 1920s furniture, retro Vogue covers on the walls, and Patsy Cline’s rich country voice as background entertainment are but a few examples of the delightful features that make this spot a must-visit.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10am – 4pm; Saturday: 9am – 3:30pm
399a Albert Road | Woodstock | Cape Town | +27 (0) 84 364 6578
Merry Pop Ins
The only thing more endearingly adorable than the name of this children’s second-hand clothing boutique is the thought of lots of little Capetonian kiddies dressed in its quaint, quality collection of miniature vintage garb – think baby boy’s authentic German lederhosen, little girl’s old-fashioned frocks, flannel checked shirts, knitted baby grows, suspenders, dungarees and other classic items for children, from those just born to more well-developed ten-year-olds. All these delightful items are sourced from over 300 consigners who drop off outgrown garments on a daily basis. A little more than simply a pre-worn clothing store though, this young-uns ‘fun place’ also sells vintage toddlers’ furniture (such as wooden cots, cribs and high chairs), toys and dolls, and boasts a reading area, a play pen with puzzles and old-school colouring books, and a coffee corner to rejuvenate weary visiting moms.
Opening times: Monday – Thursday: 9:30am – 5:30pm; Friday: 9:30am – 4pm; Saturday: 10am – 2pm
201 Bree Street |City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 422 4911
Although not a trader in vintage garments per se, this swanky clothing store on Kloof Street specialises in second-hand, imported, (exclusively) designer wear for ladies. And with a fixed focus on only quality apparel and accessories produced by high-end luxury labels – think Prada, Armani, MaxMara, Chloé, Zara and Jimmy Choo – the store is a veritable gem for women seeking international branded garb at a fraction of the normal cost. All items are in excellent condition, and are strictly no more than two seasons old –hence can hardly be considered retro – but as they are previously owned, their regular prices have been lowered significantly. Though, as each piece is unique and stock depends on consignment, the shop can never guarantee specific availability. With a broad range of sizes tailored for all shapes, however, what they can assure is a find that’ll make for a perfect fit.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10am – 5pm; Saturday: 10am – 1pm
116 Kloof Street |Tamboerskloof | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 424 5971
Opened in 2000, Beverly’s Closet is an upmarket Durbanville-based boutique selling mainly contemporary imported clothing, shoes, handbags, sunglasses and jewellery that have been previously owned and gently worn. Although the shop stocks a wide selection of items (corporate wear is the only range they don’t sell), the emphasis is on second-hand and, hence, highly affordable pieces by international designer labels, such as Armani, Tod’s, Nine West, Levi Strauss and Donald J Pliner, and local retail brands like Woolworths, Foschini and Mr Price. Some of their most popular sales include their range of trendy fur coats, quality leather jackets and Rudel and Lucchese cowboy boots. In addition to claiming an assortment of garments not found elsewhere, perhaps one of the store’s most endearing features is their high level of service provision; the dedicated staff willingly offer customers fashion, size and dressing advice, and will gladly help clients source a specific desired item if it doesn’t already appear in the shop.
Opening times: Monday – Friday: 10am – 5pm; Saturday: 9:30am – 1pm
Shop 1 | Cambridge House | Oxford Street | Durbanville | +27 (0)21 975 5170
Thaya Bedford, who provided photographs for this article, operates the online shop Beatnik Bazaar. “I stock locally, handmade goods, some retro and vintage pieces and vintage bicycles. I also stock bicycle accessories, such as baskets and Chapel bags (which are made for cycling with),” says Thaya. (Muizenberg | Cape Town | +27 (0)79 519 4979 | beatnikbazaar.co.za).