Mastering Vintage Shopping in 5 Easy Stores

These five shops will have you covered from vintage jerseys to last season's Saint Laurent.

These five shops will have you covered from vintage jerseys to last season’s Saint Laurent.

Looking around, it’s clear that recycled and vintage fashion is more than a simple trend. Everyone in the industry, from fast fashion to designer, has brought back vintage styles and designs to adapt to the change. This fall, instead of buying a faux vintage Wu-Tang Clan tee shirt from American Eagle (what?) or dropping a few hundred on those ‘perfectly’ distressed department store designer jeans, we invite you to check out what Vancouver’s local vintage and consignment stores have to offer. We guarantee that, at the very least, no one can accuse you of being a wannabe Mac DeMarco or a phoney vision of New York in the ’90s. So, without further ado, here are some of the best independent stores for vintage clothing in Vancouver (sorry, Value Village, but you’re in a league of your own).

1. Faulknerandco Apparel

A relatively new face on the scene, Faulknerandco is a go to spot for finding unique and high quality vintage clothing. They offer some of the best brands for vintage designer (Burberry, Prada, and Versace are frequently featured) but without the sky-high price tags attached. Since they are constantly looking for new product, you’re just as likely to find some crazy silk Hawaiian shirt for the weekend BBQ as you are an old Burberry Mac coat for the hungover commute on Monday. Added bonus: they have two Instagram pages, one devoted to clothing for sale and one for editorial pictures, which is a great resource for location-scouting your next “candid” outfit post.

2. F as in Frank/Frankie Collective

It’s an open secret that F as in Frank is one of Vancouver’s dominant stores for vintage clothing. Their brick and mortar location on Main Street offers a little bit of everything, and this is the place to get that wild 1980s Starter jacket, so you can claim that your dad supported the team and that you “found” it in your family home recently. (I swear it was just sitting in this box in the attic…crazy right!?) At the back of the store lies Rag Machine, which offers clothing priced by the pound and is essentially a lottery for great overlooked items. They are also associated with Frankie Collective, whose progressive approach to upcycling women’s vintage has led to a massive Instagram following and a rapidly expanding website, perfect for those who know what they’re after and how it will fit. Both stores are definitely better for the club than the dinner before, so keep these two in mind when you’re shopping for your next night out.

3. Community Thrift and Vintage

Personally, my favourite store from this list has to be Community. First off, all their profits go to Vancouver’s PHS Community Services Society, which provides housing and services in the DTES to anyone who may need support. They also employ female members of the community as part of an program aimed at helping those in difficult situations, making them one of the easiest stores in the city to shop at if you’re trying to avoid the usual fashion ethics issues (try doing that at H&M). With two locations, one unisex and one more women’s focused (the Frock Shoppe), they offer a wide variety of clothing at bargain prices. Here is where you should go for those old made in Haiti Levi’s, an easy to wear bowling shirt, or some crazy obscure band tee from the ’90s. Eat your hearts out, misunderstood artists and aspiring vinyl DJs.

4. Turnabout

A long time member of the consignment scene, Turnabout has been in operation since 1978 when they opened their first location on South Granville. The emphasis on consignment over vintage pickers (who are employed by the store to source clothing) means that Turnabout’s products change just as frequently as Instagram trends. Brands offered include Chanel, Prada, Saint Laurent and Thom Browne, so you know that they are veterans when it comes to high-end consignment. They’ve also got six locations, way more than any others on this list, which helps if you’re trying to find that insane suburban mom pantsuit that signals your position on the absolute cutting edge of avant-garde streetwear (I don’t even know if this is a joke or not anymore).

5. Mintage Mall

Just around the corner from F as in Frank is the new Mintage Mall, which has transformed the upper level of an old building into a veritable vintage wonderland. Since Mintage has their own dedicated space on Commercial Drive, the mall features items some of their products as well as six other independent retailers. Of these, the shining star would be Dead Union, who can easily lay claim to having one of the best vintage tee shirt collections in Canada. During my visit, I saw everything ranging from military deadstock to kimonos to an old cheerleading uniform, so check it out for truly authentic, and sometimes a little bit weird, vintage.