[This article was last updated on July 6, 2018]
With the insanely high cost of living here in Brooklyn, it’s not as if we need to give you more reasons to shop secondhand. Whether it’s cheeky graphic tees or classic designer pieces you desire, veering off the path of traditional retail remains a great way to fill your closet without necessarily draining your wallet—all while being sustainable as well! Though admittedly tiresome at times, scavenging thrift shops is a great way to feel like you really put in some sweat as you fill your wardrobe with those jeans distressed to worn-in perfection or that Hooters tee that you’ve somehow convinced yourself you need. And not to mention, secondhand buys are often those special one-in-a-million pieces that no one else will have, so you’ll not only save a buck, but look unique doing so.
But for every thrift or consignment store with racks of $5 denim shorts and $15 jackets, Brooklyn has another high-end vintage store perhaps reserved for the instances that you want to treat yourself. From classic designer boots to standout pieces that rocked the runway in their own golden days, these are the places to frequent for your next most-prized closet item. Here we take you around the borough to some of our favorite secondhand shopping spots, from upscale vintage to hole-in-the-wall thrift. We combed through neighborhoods and all of your dad’s old Hawaiian shirts to get here—all so you don’t have to.
Equal parts vintage store and editorial platform, The Break, located in Greenpoint, is taking the vintage clothing scene by storm. Since launching in 2016, The Break has amassed 20,000 followers on Instagram, using their feed to broadcast artfully captured photos of their selection. The store also frequently hosts sales over their Instagram stories, with items selling out in mere minutes.
In-store, you can find a carefully curated selection of vintage suits and slip dresses, mixed in with some contemporary accessories and housewares. The price point is far more affordable to other “curated” vintage stores in the area, with most dresses coming in under $80, and pants selling for around $40. Between their affordability, incredible selection, and thoughtful social media and editorial presence, The Break is a modern girl’s vintage dream made for the digital age.
82 Dobbin Street, Greenpoint
Front Street General Store
Front Street General, how we love thee. Piles of perfectly broken in vintage denim, rows of Virgin Suicide-esque dresses, and a killer handbag section dot the small but packed store. In the winter, come for the best selection of shearling coats in the game. Front Street General has the type of clothing you’ll see on an impossibly cool stranger on the street and wonder where the hell they got it from.
The store owners are incredibly helpful, as well, and always seem to know just what you’re looking for. Should you find yourself in DUMBO, go to Front Street General Store. You won’t regret it, though your wallet might.
143 Front Street, DUMBO
Nestled right off the beaten path of Bedford Avenue, Malin Landaeus makes its first impression with a charming storefront window lined with leather ankle boots and mannequins dressed to the nines. Within the cozy shop are more iconic clothing pieces and statement jewelry that span across decades and fashion trends alike. At the moment, the store boasts a thoughtfully curated collection of silk dresses and loose pants, as well as 70s-inspired knit tanks with which many contemporary clothing stores are following suit. Though each article of clothing in the Malin Landaeus showroom is striking, unique, and will make you feel like you need it, most items do not come cheap. The collection of leather boots are definitely pricey, with many pairs ranging between $250-$300, while tops and dresses score in the $60-$100 range. This season’s collection consists of many diaphanous and light draping fabrics in pretty pastel shades, with patterns that add an unexpected pop to classic styles. So if you were looking for an outfit akin to Jenny Lewis’ famed Voyager pantsuit, maybe start looking here.
157 N. 6th Street, Williamsburg
Awoke is a seven-year-old Australian-born vintage outlet that has since adopted pieces from Brooklyn and far beyond. A testament to its eclecticism is its rack of Quay sunglasses from Australia, placed right beside the bottles of Floss Gloss nail polish, which are designed in Brooklyn and crafted in California. On one side of the store is a long rack stocked with printed front-tie crop tops and patterned dresses, most of which sell for $70. The denim collection is not to be overlooked either, with cute denim shorts for $55 a pair and jackets around $75. If you’re looking for a cute shoulder bag, Awoke has them too, with small leather shoulder bags that are in minimally used if not new condition. The store also has a sizable selection of men’s clothing, particularly button-downs in daring prints redolent of the 90s. If you’re more strapped for cash, Awoke has not one, but two $25 and under racks, so that maybe you can walk out with a stellar steal and one of their locally sourced do-dads, which range from candles to jewelry. If you’re a lover of color and dizzying prints, add this store to your Brooklyn shopping itinerary!
132 N. 5th Street, Williamsburg
About Glamour + AG Gallery
This homey clothing store, gallery, and gift shop amalgamation aims to offer a means for the display of creativity within fashion, art, music, and design. Established in 2003, About Glamour takes pride in being one of the grandfathers of vintage in the Williamsburg area, and though a plethora of secondhand clothing stores have popped up in the neighborhood since, About Glamour still offers a diverse selection of merchandise incomparable to most others.
The store and management team at About Glamour have strong ties to Japan, which influence many aspects of the store. Most of the brands carried hail either from Japan or Europe and the store’s name even takes from its Japanese influence. The “About” in About Glamour translates to “Rough” or “Easy Going.” The message in the name is that life can be glamorous in a variety of ways: in the form of wearing a designer dress, or lounging in a pair of worn-in jeans. For that reason, About Glamour has a large selection of casual tees and denim jeans along with more dressed-up designer items. The store does a good job at integrating vintage pieces with remade clothing and newer brands. If you’re a lover of striped knit tops, such as those made by Saint James, come to About Glamour to snag one at about half the price you’d find them at J. Crew. On your way out, take a look at the gift section of the store, a sort of Urban Outfitters-type arrangement of miscellaneous items ranging from cute socks to hard-to-find home goods, designed by emerging artists and innovators.
107A N. 3rd Street, Williamsburg
This south Williamsburg favorite has been operating since May 2011, and has stood out for its family centered feel and eclectic blend of vintage and modern items. Browsing the racks and shelves at Antoinette is as comfortable as breezing through a friend’s closet, just as owner Lexi Oliveri intended it to be. Oliveri named the store after her mother, who worked in the fashion industry, and continued to “hoard” clothes after she retired. Making use of her mother’s ever expanding collection, Oliveri opened Antoinette, and continues to incorporate pieces from many of her family members’ closets, including knit tops that belonged to her grandmother and dresses from her mother’s collections. With its hardwood floors and shelves of whimsical picture frames and baubles, Antoinette is a rustic home with a pretty fantastic closet. Currently, the store maintains a healthy balance between vintage and modern items, with 70% of the clothing being vintage and the rest sourced from local Brooklyn based designers. Among these is Nina Z, a label created by Nina Ziefvert that specializes in reinventing Swedish style clogs for wear in the big city.
As Williamsburg undergoes changes that affect the types of shoppers that frequent the area’s boutiques, Antoinette continues its effort to make vintage pieces affordable to those who have shopped vintage long before it was trendy to do so. Most prices are kept below $100 and there is always a $20 and under rack at the back of the store. For long time shoppers to those new to vintage both, this store is a good place to start if you’re looking for a shopping experience that is personal and individualized. Don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions!
119 Grand Street, Williamsburg
Rabbits has a solid reputation for curating a selection of clothing that incorporates the best of each season’s trends. Owner Saori Kuno seeks out quality clothing and accessories from European, Japanese, and American designers, constantly swapping out pieces to best accommodate seasonal trends.
Rabbits is best approached with a lot of time for browsing. The store isn’t overwhelming in size, but the wide variety to which its clothing and shoes fall under makes it difficult to find anything with just a quick scan. To find a piece that will cater to your individual style preferences, it’s best not to rush, especially since the prices do vary. The store is full of colorful and patterned clothes, spanning across the decades, so take your time to find what you’re looking for!
120 Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg
This below ground Bushwick buy-sell-trade is astoundingly well organized and curated, to the point of more modern consignment stores like Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange. However it differs from the two consignment super brands, in the way that much of its collection draws heavily on vintage styles, like denim short-alls and army jackets. The prices are very reasonable and range in accordance to whether an item is vintage, modern, or consignment. Much of the shoe collection is unused modern, and though more expensive than most of the store’s clothing, will appeal to Jeffrey Campbell and Dolce Vita lovers. Owner Mary Meyer also offers her clothing collection here, adding more bold pieces with heavy 90s influences.
The three year-old store is well-lit and open, making it easy to find whatever it is you’re looking for, a quality that blends its consignment and vintage shop characteristics. Additionally, Friends has a strong lifestyle component, with books, candles, accessories, and gift items available for purchase as well.
56 Bogart Street, Bushwick
Fox and Fawn
Fox and Fawn is Beacon’s Closet’s adorable little bro: a lesser known, comparably color coordinated buy-sell-trade venture with low to mid-range prices. At nine years old, the store began operating out of the Lower East Side, but has since relocated and expanded to two Brooklyn locations, in Bushwick and Greenpoint.
The Bushwick location is tucked into a cozy below-ground space and has a sort of eclectic warehouse western vibe. There are lots of big boxy dresses, shoes, and comfortable hoodies, perfect for you boys and girls on a budget. Spend some time in the store to make the most out of the unpredictable selection!
222 Varet Street, Bushwick
L Train Vintage
L Train is like a New York City thrift empire, consisting of six stores throughout downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn. With most tops and bottoms priced between $5 and $10, the L Train stores are unbeatable in prices and selection. Urban Jungle, one of the Bushwick stores, is a friendly giant of a thrift shop, housed in a warehouse on Knickerbocker. With the mere size of the place, don’t expect to be able to comb through the entire selection in anything less two hours. Luckily, the store is organized by clothing type: from army jackets, to sneakers, to grandma dresses, to denim.
Though L Train stores certainly have their gems, don’t expect to find what you’re looking for without some patience, perseverance, or positive energy. At Urban Jungle, there’s probably one stained dress with a broken zipper for every badass denim jacket on the racks. For a more streamlined thrifting experience, consider checking out the Sackett St. or East Village locations, where the selections are smaller and better organized. But if you get satisfaction out of scouring for unexpected pieces at dirt-cheap prices, spend a day at Urban Jungle for sure.
For locations, visit ltrainvintage.com