With all things retro back in style, shopping vintage has reclaimed its place in the sartorial pecking order. Emerging from the shadow of massive malls and contemporary flagship stores, a handful of off-the-beaten-path vintage shops are attracting the globe’s chicest stylemakers, who hunt for exclusive items from eras past.
“Women wear vintage to express individuality,” says shopkeeper Angela Petraline of Dorothea’s Vintage Closet, a second-hand shop in Iowa. The Midwestern boutique attracts a growing circle of both rural devotees and urbanites, including New York socialite Helen Rockefeller, who regularly frequents Des Moines for the well-priced designer selection. According to Petraline, although designer labels are coveted, but no-name pieces hold just as much clout for their craftsmanship and cut. “The beauty about vintage is the rarity and exclusivity,” adds Fiona Stuart of Rellik, in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood. “There may be only one available in the world to buy.”
Even modern style icons have retro fever. Kate Moss and Sienna Miller have long rhapsodized about the virtues of vintage, and who can forget the ’90s Valentino gown Julia Roberts wore when she received her Erin Brockovich Oscar—a style coup d’état in 2001. “Vintage clothing has a lot of history and sometimes allows for a stronger statement than the must-have of the season,” says stylist Danielle Nachmani, who works with such starlets as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Rosie Huntington-Whitley. Nachmani adds, “For me, the pieces I love most tend to be found in overlooked, offbeat areas.”
As vintage mania sweeps through the Western World, we’ve uncovered ten destinations that are guarding some of the best-kept gems. From a legendary dealer of Hermès on the outskirts of Paris to a fashionista mecca in the Balearic Islands, one finds oases of style in the unlikeliest of places. But if the thought of conquering a cluttered shop packed to the brim with lived-in luxuries is daunting, don’t fret. We’ve sifted the racks for you and uncovered what to skip and what to grab. Now the only question that remains is: Do you have a good dry cleaner?