Let me make one thing clear: I am not a vintage connoisseur.
I’m far too impatient and easily overwhelmed to wade through racks and racks of secondhand clothing in the hopes of discovering a rare treasure. But I love vintage. I love the thrill when you do find something special that truly speaks to you, and I love that it forces people to step away from trends and the idea of what is ‘cool’ and really commit to liking something (the most stylish people I know always wear lots of it; one of the coolest only wears secondhand). I love that each vintage garment has a story behind it. And I love its circularity.
So while I appreciate the art of vintage, I am a lazy person and lazy shopper. But lucky for me, there is a bustling cottage-industry of small businesses who do the hard work - people who edit and curate and offer a tight selection of secondhand clothing that they’ve sourced from who knows where and I don’t care.
All I know is that the clothes are great, and it’s a much less stressful way to shop vintage (genuine vintage freaks will probably turn their noses up at that; I will respectfully leave them to their page 14-on-Etsy deep dives).
Many of these are on Instagram now, the new way to shop. What I love most about that is that there is usually a story behind the garment being sold/shown, modelled charmingly awkwardly by the owner. It feels like you’re exchanging something with a fashionable aunt, or a cool friend of your older sister.
In my lazy vintage travels, I’ve discovered a few favourites and I thought I would share them with you because they are all amazing small businesses and I want more people to know about them.
It’s a highly subjective list (there’s no sportswear here; that’s just not my vibe), and it’s very Auckland focused (sorry! I know that Wellington vintage is a truly special thing; I still think about an ‘I love otters’ sweater from Thrift that I stupidly didn’t buy in 2018). I'm certain that I've forgotten someone! But I would love to hear your favourite vintage spots; email me with any I’ve missed here.
Dianne Ludwig is one of the coolest and most informed people in fashion here in Aotearoa. In a previous life she was a consultant for local fashion brands and also worked closely with the NZ Fashion Museum. She really cares about clothing, and has a deep understanding of its wider impact. Today she runs this fantastic platform on Instagram, offering a wonderfully diverse selection of vintage. Her ethos is in the name: she’s a proponent of buying less, taking care, mending, buying local, reducing our consumer footprint. And, her eye is really really good. She often sells made in NZ items from local fashion designers of the past - equally a fashion history lesson and shopping experience.
Previously a K Rd favourite, Waves recently moved to Eden Terrace and marked three years in business. Owner Helen Young-Loveridge is outrageously stylish, with a background in costume design and styling, and that translates to her offering - playful and cool. You might pick up a pair of ‘90s mules, or an ‘80s polka dot prom dress (yes please!) or a cute dress. The Instagram is great for styling ideas too. Alongside her vintage edit, Helen offers pieces from upcycled brands like Molly Perkinsons and Bruno’s.
I call this smart girl vintage - very Japanese, very cerebral, with lots of jackets and pleats and waistcoats. There are always fantastic things that would work for those with creative or corporate jobs (the sizing is always very tiny though).
An Instagram only page, Juliet has a more size inclusive offering, with a focus on textiles and prints. I particularly like her detailed captions about each piece, talking about its origin and other interesting information. My husband bought a made in NZ shirt from here that was too small, and I gladly inherited.
I saw a post that this gem of a store was celebrating its twelfth year in business, which made me feel unbearably old. Really?! Former costume designer Jo Bratton is the owner of this New Lynn based vintage store which also has a great Instagram presence with some fun styling ideas, even if you’re not in the market for buying. What I appreciate most is the surprise element - one day they might offer an early noughties inspired piece, the next, a vintage something from a local designer. With her background, Jo also have a knowledge of archival NZ brands; I haven’t experienced this but I have heard that the really ‘good stuff’ is behind the counter. If you go in real life to the store itself (it’s worth a drive), the staff are super friendly and helpful too. One half of the shop is ‘retro’, the other half is ‘designer’ - I prefer the retro side as the offering is much more fun, but you can find some incredible designer pieces. I recently bought this Marilyn Sainty jacket:
If you are going in real life, New Lynn is a fantastic neighbourhood for doing the vintage rounds by the way. After you visit Go Jo, head around the corner to The Hospice Shop; nearby is the The Salvation Army Shop. There is also SaveMart, which is problematic (and I don’t think is very good anymore).
Owner Driss adores fashion, and that shows through his selection.
A broad offering and size inclusive! It bothers me that that is so rare in this space. Wellington-based owner Estelle has a background in costume design and window dressing (she has done some great ones for Hunters and Collectors) - she often has some statement pieces. I also love the name; an industry insidery LOL about stylists featuring vintage in fashion shoots.
This Wellington store is iconic. For those not in the capital, the online store is regularly updated and the Instagram is fun too.
Another owner with a background in costume design; the aesthetic is more relaxed bohemian with lots of dresses and blouses. There’s a Waiheke-based store, but they’ll often share things on Instagram.
A new find, and I haven’t bought anything from here - yet. But whoever is behind this has a bloody great eye for designer vintage. Marni, Versace, and other groovy finds.
Vintage available to buy, or to rent. I haven’t tried this but a friend has, and loves it. A brilliant concept.
Not vintage per se, but I am obsessed with his offering of embroidery or merchandise on vintage garments. One day we’ll make Ensemble merch...