New York City is a true vintage clothing haven if you don’t have the time and patience to dig through a charitable thrift store in an area without the population density equivalent to a brick of lead. Add in the history of being one of the world’s epicenters of fashion, and you have a wave full of gems flowing both into and throughout the city. Of course, nothing’s as cheap as if you truly unearthed it yourself. But as my man here will tell you, time is money. And with the exception of a few outliers, like a vintage Kurt Cobain T-shirt older than most people who wear Supreme, there are gems to behold at a reasonable price. To make sure those gems make it into your rotation, we put together a list of NYC’s best vintage destinations. Whether you’re into a mix of highs and lows, indicating your desire to live in one of the decades past through your entire fit, finding the grails you missed out on, or somewhere in between, we’ve got you.
One of the city’s most prominent vintage chains, the 20-year-old company has spread from a spot on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg (then considered a dead zone for foot traffic) into four locations across Brooklyn and Manhattan. It’s a can’t-miss location on any respectable city guide because it’s right at the sweet spot of vintage gear. Nowhere else will you so easily find trousers from the '70s, staple tees from the '90s, legitimate fashion house outputs, and recent drops from your favorite streetwear brands and boutiques alike. It’s also one of the few places on this list that will buy your stuff, so you can rationalize your purchases a little more soundly. I’ve done that frequently to offset my compulsive shopping outside the store and when I swing through to methodically peruse the black T-shirt section of the Bushwick shop. That store is your best bet if you’re looking more for streetwear or some of the cheaper pieces that have inspired it, and Greenpoint should be your go-to if you’re more interested in high-end brands. We’ll see how that changes as high-fashion’s embrace of streetwear trickles further into the resell market.
L Train Vintage
This is the closest you’ll have to do to digging, but trust the process. The chain’s five stores in Brooklyn and single East Village outpost are full of great finds among the heavily stocked, well-organized sections of leather and fur jackets, more casual outerwear like fleeces and windreakers, military gear, jerseys, sweatshirts, tees, bottoms, and so much more. It’s the place where I’ve found a bangin’ fireproof race-crew jacket and an old Christian Dior scarf that I wear as a bandana—both for under $15.
Your best bet is to roll through the two neighboring stores in East Williamsburg right near the Flushing Avenue border of Bushwick. The more eastern store is the chain’s biggest location, not quite daunting but easily a place where you could lose two hours. To the west is a more curated affair with only slightly higher prices. If you can’t find something to cop in either store, you need a whole lesson in vintage shopping.
Sean Wotherspoon has created the go-to spot for hypebeast enthusiasts and resellers. After setting up shop in Richmond, VA, and the streetwear Mecca of Los Angeles’ Fairfax Avenue, the expert in sneaker culture finally blessed up NYC in the East Village. If you missed out on the latest Supreme or sneaker drop, trust that you’ll find the brand-new piece you’re looking for within days, if not hours, albeit at a true-to-market resell price. Less damaging on the wallet, and what sets Round Two apart from resellers like the Stadium Goods and Flight Club, are the used offerings. A constantly replenished supply of lightly worn hyped clothing and footwear will all but ensure you’ll find your grails. It’s just a matter of time.
Also on the more affordable end are a grip of sportswear and old-school tees with an emphasis on the latter in pop culture including movies, music, and wrestling. It’s this section where you’ll find the true surprises, as opposed to the streetwear already dominating your thoughts and desires. And if you have any of the gear above, Round Two will take it off your hands for a fair price. There’s even a room to negotiate trades if you have some truly covetable pieces to offload.
Grand Street Local
Just two doors down from Supreme’s Williamsburg store is a reliable hub for 2000s sneakers, '90s streetwear, and vintage clothing that stretches from even further back. Jon Feldman, who owns the store with his wife, Jenna, has stocked the store with goods from his personal collection and excursions. Twenty-year-old Stussy shirts he actually wore sit alongside the custom Air Force 1s he made himself with real Louis Vuitton leather, adding an authentic, personal charm. On the less sentimental side, but no less passionate, is a surplus of old gear that includes obscure graphics with a reliable stock of motorhead and military affinities. Prices run on the higher end of the vintage spectrum, but nothing’s out of scale with the on-point curation. You’re guaranteed to find something truly unique. There’s nowhere else where I can promise you you’ll walk in and find at least one original Air Jordan shirt from 1985.
Procell features the most consistent high prices on the list, but it’s also the most specialized. Every single T-shirt in the building is all but sure to start a conversation. It’s where Frank Ocean got his immaculate Aphex Twins long-sleeve. It’s where Drake scooped a copped merch for the DMX film Belly. It’s where our own Noah Thomas found his Backstreet Boys tee he wears just about every week. Are vintage tees somehow not your thing? You’ll also find obscure hats and hard-to-find pieces from the likes of Gucci and Versace. No other vintage store could collaborate with Alexander Wang and inspire a Jeremy Scott collection for Moschino.
This East Village consignment is a real friend to New Yorkers who want to flex for less, regularly supplying luxury garms at a more approachable price. As the name implies, it’s full of Japanese designers like Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, and you’ll always find bargains from the range of Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent to Opening Ceremony. The key is to have a general idea of what you’re looking for and a knowledge of what this stuff normally retails for. You may stumble upon the occasional Alexander Wang or Marni at Beacon’s for a true steal, but Tokio7 is the destination for your premium expectations.
10 ft Single by Stella Dallas
Tucked into two adjacent buildings in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, are in essence three stores. Up front on the right store is essentially a hybrid of Beacon’s and L Train: endless racks for all genders where a little digging may turn up something covetable and contemporary. In the back room is the true vintage where you’ll find '70s bell bottoms, '60s Hawaiian shirts, military surplus, orange tag Levi’s, and T-shirts from the '80s and back encompassing the obscure, and a bunch of college and pro-sports teams tees.
Next door is the even older stuff. We’re talking dresses and textiles as old as your grandparents and several counters flush with jewelry. Even if you don’t adore garments more than a half century old, you’ll appreciate the significant collection of Pendleton home goods. Everything in the building is an heirloom of the past or for the future.
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