Glasgow Vintage Shopping Guide
From classic 1950’s prom dresses to battered Eighties band t-shirts, the world of second-hand clothing has something to suit everyone’s taste. We’ve come a long way from fusty shops filled with junk, and Glasgow is now home to a variety of stylish vintage boutiques. But for those new to the retro market, where to begin? The West End is generally the go-to place with the biggest selection, but the East of the city holds its own, too, and with the development of the new Barras Art and Design (BAAD) market, the scene there is only going to grow. We’ve created a guide to the best vintage shops the city has to offer and chatted with some of the store owners to find out what Glaswegians are looking for when it comes to pre-loved fashion.
City Retro 41
Situated on King Street just off the Trongate, City Retro 41 is run by Alex, who says owning a vintage store is “the best job in the world”. The shop may be small, but every inch of it is filled with a wide array of vintage clothing and accessories. There’s heaps more piled in the stockroom downstairs too, so there’s always something new being added to the shop floor. Checked shirts, leather jackets and party dresses are staples that you can always find plenty of here, but the selection is always huge and varied.
The shop has also just launched their first original collection, designed in-house by Glaswegian designer David Black’s label House of Black. He has a “Frankenstein” approach to designing and fuses several vintage pieces together to create one new item. He specialises in upcycling and stresses its importance for the environment. Alex agreed that consumers are becoming more conscious of what they buy and prefer to be more environmentally friendly as well as ethical with their purchases. For this reason, vintage clothing is selling particularly well as customers become more aware of the huge waste created by discarded textiles.
Their large collection of stock allows Alex to react to trends as they happen, and feature items that are in high demand. Oversized shirts and sweatshirts are being worn by young girls as dresses, so styling those items with belts in the window draws in customers looking for that style. In fact, the ever-changing window of City Retro 41 is always a highlight of the store and is great for providing some fashionm inspiration as you pass by.
A true Glasgow institution, Mr Ben has been providing vintage clothes to Glasgow’s youth since the Nineties. It’s one of the larger vintage stores in the city and its bright yellow exterior is iconic. A great place to while away a few hours, it’s easy to get lost in the impressive selection of stock. Quality leather jackets in every style can be found here, as well as a beautiful collection of antique jewellery. There’s also a dedicated rail of Fred Perry for those looking for that 1960’s Carnaby Street vibe. The range of vintage band t-shirts here is one of the best in the city and the shoe collection is much more varied than any other similar store. While one of the priciest vintage outlets, the stock is high quality and there are plenty of one-of-a-kind items to help you truly dress to impress.
With so much stock available, it spills out onto the street outside so when walking past you may see a rail of vintage furs or even a wedding dress hanging from the rafters. Those looking for a more specific item can ask the very knowledgeable staff, who are more than happy to hunt down suitable pieces. Every Glaswegian has to visit here at least once!
The Glasgow Vintage Co.
Heading over to the traditional home of vintage, the West End, The Glasgow Vintage Co on Great Western Road is one of the best in the area. It houses two floors of ladies, men’s and children’s clothing and accessories, and also has spacious fitting rooms. They do great deals like the £10 dress rack and cashmere jumpers for £15, which fly off the rails as soon as they come in. Twice a week, the store manager Claudia heads to a private wholesaler to handpick new stock, which gets delivered every Friday. Claudia has developed her eye for vintage over her four years working in the shop where she started off working every Saturday and now knows exactly how to spot good quality pieces.
Claudia says the 90’s are back in a big way right now, with many younger customers who didn’t wear the trends the first time around now flocking to tracksuits and grungey band t-shirts. She said, “A few years ago there was more demand for 1950s style full skirts and pin-up dresses, but there has definitely been a move towards more casual, sporty dressing.” This is probably one of the most accessible shops for anyone who’s new to the vintage scene, as most of the items are very wearable and are often sported by the Glasgow Uni crowd on nights out. The clothes here can easily be worked into an existing wardrobe to create a modern, unique look.
Run more like a typical thrift shop, this Southside gem stocks a variety of vintage and second-hand clothing and accessories. They rely solely on public donations for their stock and are a non-profit business – all funds from the shop go on to support The Glad Foundation, which offers free and affordable music lessons to those who otherwise may not have access to them. The Glad Café next door has the same social aims and is a great wee spot for some vegan grub and live music.
The majority of staff are volunteers and the store provides full training to help them develop their skills. Project Manager Ashley Carroll says the people he works with are the best part of his job: “We have an amazing team of volunteers all bringing something unique with them to Glad Rags. Meeting so many wonderfully different people truly has changed my life for the better.”
Like in most vintage stores, the importance of recycling is something Glad Rags are keen to highlight. Ashley said, “We must be doing everything we can to be diverting waste from landfills. It does not take much to donate your preloved clothes & by doing so you’re also helping a charity or a community.” The sense of community in the Southside, as well as a relative lack of vintage shops, means locals have fully embraced Glad Rags since it opened in 2014, and help keep up a steady supply of new stock.
Minted has a different vibe to the other vintage shops in the city – the focus here is on menswear and there’s a smaller selection of stock because it’s carefully curated to appeal to their specific, loyal customer base. Specialising in streetwear, workwear and high-end sportswear, this is the place to go for the 80’s and 90’s tracksuit tops that are bang on trend right now. Brands like Supreme, Stone Island and Obey are in high demand and Minted keeps up with that as best as they can, though items often sell out very quickly. There’s more of a boutique feel inside so if rummaging through unorganised piles isn’t your thing, you’ll love it here.
They recently launched their own range, too, which reflects the style of the vintage pieces they sell. T-shirts, hats and even socks are designed in Glasgow and sold exclusively in store. Minted is fast becoming one of the coolest local fashion brands and the deep knowledge of their customers means they consistently provide exactly what they’re looking for.
There are plenty more vintage shops in the city, but discovering them yourself is half the fun! Whether you’re trying to do your bit to save the planet or just looking for unique items to create your signature style, second-hand doesn’t have to mean raking through your Granny’s clothes. Let us know your favourite vintage spots!