This article originally appeared in a one-off special magazine titled ‘The Diff’. ‘The Diff’ in full can be seen here.
With the meteoric and constant rise in retro and vintage clothing sweeping the UK and with the need to be sporting threads that have a nostalgic scent reminiscent to your Grandmothers curtains – we felt it was prominent to have a look at the hottest and most prestigious stores Cardiff has to offer. With Cardiff being a hotbed for students and being a city that prides itself on supporting creative and independent businesses, we were not left disappointed.
What to watch out for – Their £7 sunglasses rack has something for everyone and be sure to check out the Super Nintendo hidden away upstairs with Space Jam ready at your fingertips.
Started by three friends Blue Honey extends far beyond a vintage clothing store. Co-owner Ben tells us “Blue Honey was essentially born out of three of us wanting to host club nights and events and also entering into the vintage clothing market simultaneously. We also own a little greasy spoon type bar that opens late just down the road. We spent the first two years in the markets down the road and in the last year we’ve moved into our own shop here in the arcades.” Ben himself is a graphic designer and while the business is still very much growing the shop and brand is certainly already impressive and established. While Ben states, “certainly 60% of our customers are students but we also have a key and loyal customer base born out of the club nights from the early days.”
The shop has a mature and simplistic aesthetic much unlike the usual layout vintage clothing stores display. With a large collection of upmarket items the shop is spread across two floors. An impressive collection of sheepskin jackets and 80s blazers accompanied by very affordable denim skirts make this shop a must visit. Blue Honey has also been a distributor of Vice magazine from it’s humble beginnings and Ben tells us they now have plans “to re-launch our site and start making our own designs and t-shirts to sell alongside all the vintage clobber”. Despite the vintage clothing market now being dominated by sportswear and brands this does not worry Ben, “it always goes full circle, give it a year and people will be back to wearing the kitchen sh*t again. That’s how everything in fashion works these days.”
What to watch out for – Paisley shirts and vintage jewelry have always been effective in complementing each other and these are the two main attractions in this beautiful store.
Welcomed by friendly store-owner Hannah she tells us how “Sobeys originally started with one shop in Park Street in Bristol and then we soon opened up also in Exeter and then in September we established ourselves here”. The store has an impressive selection of Ralph Lauren items which range from shirts, jumpers and even unique and rare female crop tops. But certainty the stand out feature of the shop is the vintage jewelery. Displayed neatly across the stores counter there are penny necklaces and more hanging neatly from a world map.
The shop has a very accessible layout, which is easy to navigate through with Hannah telling us “I think part of the magic of vintage clothing shops is certainly the disorganized and muddled chaos, but with Sobeys we really have made an effort to make it easy to shop in.” The shop also displays affordable and carefully chosen paisley shirts accompanied by far more upmarket items. “Our core audience is certainly students but our slightly more upmarket items have earned us also a loyal and older customer base also.”
What to look out for – A large denim collection that ranges from skirts to jackets and dungarees.
Hobos is a recognized UK chain which has earned its popularity and success through effective branding and store decor alongside well carefully chosen items. Hobos is identified by its well-recognized and defining 70s typography alongside vibrant colours. A homemade curtain makes for a unique dressing room in the center of the small yet cosy shop. With a denim collection to make anyone’s mouth water and original Casio watches on display alongside vintage and original trainers such as Adidas Samoas this is a must visit. The shop is personified by its small and winding spiral staircase and is a vintage enthusiasts dream.
The castle emporium
What to look out for – A keeday arcade game complete with joystick and a large retro magazine collection.
This open space not only displays a small café, book and magazine collection but also contemporary skate fashion alongside boards to be purchased. Upstairs is home to the vintage clothing, which provides the most affordable prices you are likely to find in any vintage clothing stores. Authentic Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger shirts can be purchased for as little as £10 and the 3 for £10 jackets rack is similarly impressive. Oh, and there’s an art gallery also for those who want a bit of culture in their lives.
Hatts vintage emporium
What to look out for – A Victorian smoking jacket sits above a cabinet which the owner tells us his faverouite item and is certainly not for sale.
Situated in the Cardiff central market Hatts emporium is impressive, authentic, refined, elegant and sophisticated. Established five years ago by father and son Hatts emporium embodies the mature feel that belongs to vintage in their products and customer service. The son can make you custom and tailor made waistcoats from vintage and reclaimed materials while the father is on hand to escort customers through the impressive collection of blazers, leather jackets, watches and more. The store is exclusive to gentlemen’s clothing although has in the past stocked special female items. Further, Victorian jackets and vintage boxing clothes are part of collections that are certainly not for sale.
The Oxfam Boutique
What to look out for – The collection of Bridal dresses is unlike any you are likely to find in charity or vintage stores.
Welcomed by bows for door handles this Oxfam boutique is far more than just a
Charity shop. The store is exclusive to women’s clothing and accessories of features some very impressive collections. The bridal dress collection has been carefully selected offering a variation of contemporary and vintage designs. Further, wigs, heels and high-end dresses. Further, the stores attendants are on hand to help with personal shopping and size estimations.
5 tips for vintage shopping
- Always go a size up – Items have likely been through years of washing and are thus likely to be a smaller fit than suggested.
- Guarantee – Many vintage shops now offer a one-year guarantee on their items. Be sure to check for this when purchasing.
- Stay independent – With online sites like Asos taking a 30% cut on marketplace vintage items be sure to support independent sellers.
- Know your market – It takes 60 seconds to search for an item on Depop. Make sure you’re not being ripped off.
- Enjoy it – Vintage shopping is a celebration and nod to the nostalgia of fashion and independent businesses. Take pride in trying on items that hold a story.