This is the last in the series of the Vintage Chronicles, with our backpacks now full of new clothes and ready to be worn on the best or worst occasions. As long as we wear them! To the North.
Before we get back to where it all started, in Dublin, we have the final stop of our journey: the mysterious, ambivalent and punk North of Ireland. Starting in Galway, passing through the wonderful Donegal and crossing the border towards Belfast, to discover those little corners that have remained framed in time.
Make some more room in your bag or on your back, because the list below will make you want to find the ultimate dress.
The first stop of our tour is in Galway. This vibrant seaside city hosts this great small business. Public Romance has everything you could possibly desire. Located between a boutique specialist vintage store and a thrifty fashion offering, it carries its own brand of upcycled and customized clothing, working on vintage pieces in line with current trends, hand-tailoring them to breathe new life into old materials. This store caters to a younger audience, full of rails brimming with colourful sports jackets, vintage snapbacks, 90s denim and quirky nostalgia pieces. A little away from the beaten path (aka Galway high street fashion), but what a way to start our journey!
Moving to Donegal, we find ourselves surrounded by halter-neck tops and high waisted pin-up capris jeans, and an infinite number of denim jackets. Florrie-Jane’s is a living paradise for all the vintage freaks. Laura Doherty, the owner, started by selling the items from her own house and then opened a small shop in Dunfanaghy, until she managed to take over Asos’ marketplace. It is not a case that her ‘brand’ is one of the most successful vintage shops, however in the spectacular county of Donegal, this boutique will be able to inspire many of your fashionable outfits.
In the heart of the Yellow Yard in Derry, Daisy Age is one of the stores that makes this yard sale not just “another yard sale”. Daisy Age aims to collect great yesteryear apparels and some fine retro style pre-loved high street clothing. This is not just a vintage boutique but earned its name of Independent store, stocking some new vintage style brands such as Lindy Bop, Hell Bunny and Voodoo Vixen. If you might have watched Derry Girls, the Netflix show, (which was actually set in Derry!) then don’t miss the chance to wear one of those fancy and cool denim jackets they used to wear. Bonus: it’s also a live venue: what more could you possibly want?
Another vintage shop has hit the High Streets of Belfast and this time it’s savage, Young Savage that is! Small on the outside, big on the inside, Young Savage seems to proceed not in a rush. In other words, once you step inside, starting from the clothing time warp to the actually relaxed vibes the kind staff treats you with, you’ll have all the time in the world to pick up your favourite item and jump from one generation to another. From some great denim overalls to unmissable neon-colour ‘80s tracksuits, there’s one item to suit every taste and pocket.
If you’re into pin-ups vibes and a lover of Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly’s iconic style, this place is totally your cup of tea. High-waist pencil skirts, or flared skirts with polka-dot patterns, and the classic leader jackets are the most requested items and also the highest selling ones. The well-assorted store can also boast a great variety of accessories, like faux-fur gloves, headscarves, headbands and colourful sunglasses with the fanciest shapes.
Taking inspiration from The Beatles’ song, this quirky place will welcome you “to come and see”. With its full collection of deerskin jackets and fine faux-fur coats, this shop will help you find the perfect apparel you need while suggesting an excellent variety of original vinyl pieces to make the time warp even more real. Pro Tip: as with most vintage shops, Octopus’s Garden do a swap and sell; however, they seem to be very well organised via the Dropop app, a platform which makes it more easy to swap and sell all the items you have secluded in your attic or basement. Give it a try, it will be worth the stroll!
The last but not least is The Vintage Magpie. Although this place wouldn’t be the biggest among the others in Belfast or on this list, it certainly has character and a stunning amount of original threads to deal with. Its wide offering boasts some great pieces from 1980s and 1990s Tees and jumpers. Whether you are in desperate need of a ‘70s pair of flare jeans and a fringe jacket for your costume party or you’re just a retro-groupie-kind of-lover, this place won’t fail you.
Where: 5 Rosemary Street/North Street, Belfast, Belfast, BT1 1, United Kingdom
CASA, Caring and Sharing Association, is a volunteer-led organisation founded in 1981 to support people with disabilities of all ages and from all backgrounds, through a variety of social events. As with most Associations, even CASA has its charity shops all over the country, but notably the most well equipped and assorted are those in the northern part of the Emerald Isle. In fact, in both the Longford and Mullingar outlets, it’s possible to find a great variety of apparels, most, but not only, recently released. If you happen to have any unwanted skirts, pairs of shoes or more likely an ex-boyfriend’s Christmas gift, don’t hesitate to bring them in. Get rid of the bad vibes by actually doing something good!
The MS North West Therapy Centre exists to enrich the lives of people with Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological conditions by providing essential services and support to clients and their families. This charity shop in Sligo raises the bar quite high. Rummage through the satisfying array of clothing items they possess for ladies, gents, teens and children and you might get lucky and find some luxury branded items in there. And if that isn’t enough, shoes, boots, handbags, and bric-a-brac also got stocked by this Association.
Cope aims to offer support services for families who are affected by homelessness, women and children experiencing domestic abuse, and older people in the community. Their mission is to contribute to the quality of life in a home of your own, by supporting home, promoting community and reducing isolation. Their shop in Augustine Street, Galway City centre, is entirely composed by a team of friendly and motivated volunteers who will be thrilled to assist you and walk you through the very unique experience of charity shopping! Be careful as they operate on a first-come-first-served basis. That is to say, get to the store and grab your product quickly! If you’re lucky enough you might be able to find the special day bargains, where every hat/cap is €1 and every five items are €3.
Self Help Africa is a leading international charity association with expertise in small-scale farming and growing family-farm businesses. It works in nine countries across sub-Saharan Africa, trying to reduce poverty and improving the lives of local communities. Even though it’s well scattered all across Ireland, Self Help Shops in Northern Ireland seem to be the most well-stocked. Don’t miss out on the ‘40 days 40 items’ weeks: a charity event in which the swap and buy clothing items begins, collecting more funds for African communities. If you have items taking up space at home, why not bag them up and drop them into the local shops. You’ll be freeing up space in your own life and helping raise funds that can potentially change a life in Africa forever.
The most 360 charity association in worldwide. Oxfam is a global movement striving to build communities when disaster strikes, helping people build better lives for themselves and speaking out on the big issues that keep people poor, like inequality and discrimination against women. Oxfam has its charity shops scattered all over the world and on this island too. The fashion pieces are all at a reasonable price. This means you’re sure to find a bargain or two in this store specializing in elegant 1950s style dresses and floral blouses. The store is also the perfect place to look for a present for Mother’s Day or to add some golden age style to your wardrobe. Feel like accessorizing? This store has no shortage of retro silk neck-scarves.
The first choice among the flea markets in the northern part of this vibrant country is the Flea Style Market in Galway. Known as “Galway’s first and longest-running indoor market”, it usually takes place in the Westend once a month. With over 25 stalls of street vintage, pre-loved clothing, and even old records, it offers such a wide variety in quality and taste for every vintage and thrift shop hound! From gym sweaters to an astonishing amount of shoes, you would be mad to miss it!
On the last Saturday of each month, on Palace Street in Londonderry, the craziest flea market of all North Ireland takes place. From cocktail dresses to supposedly lost in time original Barbours, the Derry Vintage Flea is a proper maze of wonders. Don’t get lost (in time) though, as the fashion vultures are everywhere ready to swoop in and chisel you out of your item.
Last but not least in our chronicles is the Belfast Flea. Bargains, collectables, vintage clothes stalls, bric-a-brac, and nic-nacs, this is what the Belfast Flea can offer you during the second Sunday of every month. Remember that coat your grandmother wore at your mother’s graduation in a dusty photo on the shelf at her house? Well, here you can totally find it. The variety of assortments in this flea market, potentially because it is the largest in Belfast, will make you feel like you’re plunging into the past through decades, centuries, and after the shock, you’ll be able to get back to the surface with some great vintage piece of clothing.