The Rake world guide to the best vintage menswear shops

Dive into the world of vintage menswear with The Rake guide to the globe's finest shops. Uncover timeless treasures and sustainable style, from London's classic elegance to Tokyo's eclectic charm.

The Rake world guide to the best vintage menswear shops

Step into the sophisticated world of vintage menswear, where fashion transcends mere recycling and becomes a story-rich upcycling. Here, the pursuit of style is an art form, favouring the unique charm of garments with a history over the mundane allure of the brand-new.

In the vintage universe, the allure of something ‘new to you’ triumphs over the freshly minted, every time. It's a sartorial treasure hunt, minus the map, with The Rake as your guide leading you to fashion's hidden gems. 

Embarking on a vintage voyage is akin to playing a game of stylish roulette. Will it be a '70s disco extravaganza, an '80s power-suit moment, or a dive into '90s grunge nostalgia? We've explored curating a definitive collection of the finest vintage menswear shops. Here fashion is as rich in narrative as it is in style. This guide is your compass through the vast oceans of vintage menswear, showcasing the crème de la crème of stores from around the globe.

Hornets, London

Speciality: Quintessential English gentleman attire.

Why it stands out: Hornets, with its three stores nestled near the Palace in the Royal Borough of Kensington, epitomizes the essence of classic English style. Standing proudly for over 20 years, Hornets lives by the motto 'Not fashion. Style.' This esteemed establishment specializes in providing attire that defines the quintessential English gentleman. From country tweeds and Savile Row suits to handmade leather shoes, each piece in the store exudes sophistication and timeless elegance. The stores themselves, with their classic decor and an air of exclusivity, offer an unparalleled shopping experience for those seeking the pinnacle of traditional English fashion.

Brut Archives, Paris

Speciality: US Military Clothing and American Vintage.

Why it stands out: Brut Archives in Paris, the brainchild of Paul Ben Chemhoun from Brut Clothing, stands apart from the typical Parisian-style boutiques. This vintage mecca is a gateway to the past, offering a unique leap back in time with its exceptional selection of US military clothing from the Second World War era, classic 1970s jeans, and quintessentially American XXL jackets. More than just a store, it's a destination for true vintage connoisseurs and insiders. The shop’s authentic and rare collection makes it an ideal address for those seeking to explore a different facet of vintage fashion, one that's deeply rooted in American history and culture. 

Crowley Vintage, New York

Speciality: Classic American and European menswear, along with unique vintage accessories.

Description: Crowley Vintage, first opened in 2017 in Gowanus and later expanded to Dumbo in 2020, is a treasure trove for the vintage enthusiast with a penchant for preppy, traditional styles. Famed for its discerning selection, the shop offers everything from yacht-club-worthy blazers to unique collectables like vintage ashtrays from the Stork Club and crocodile cigar cases. Notable finds include Savile Row double-breasted blazers, and '50s Brooks Brothers striped oxford. Crowley is commended for the exceptional quality of items, like a fur shawl-collar overcoat with plaid lining, and the nostalgic shopping experience where each item is priced and described on a legal notepad. 

Cavalli e Nastri, Milan

Speciality: Italian luxury vintage.

Why it stands out: Milan's Cavalli e Nastri is an ode to Italian fashion heritage. With a focus on luxury vintage items, the store boasts an array of exquisite pieces from renowned Italian designers. The selection ranges from vintage Gucci loafers to classic Versace shirts, each piece reflecting the opulence and craftsmanship synonymous with Italian fashion. The store's elegant décor, with its rich velvet drapes and ornate mirrors, creates an atmosphere of luxury that complements its offerings. 

J’Antiques, Tokyo

Speciality: Antique interiors and top-quality vintage clothing.

Why it stands out: J’Antiques in Tokyo offers a unique cultural fusion, blending American and European vintage styles. The store is known for its eclectic mix, ranging from rugged American denim to elegant European silhouettes. It's a cross-cultural fashion experience, offering pieces that capture the essence of different fashion traditions.

Paul’s Boutique, Berlin

Speciality: Streetwear and iconic pieces.

Why it stands out: Nestled in Berlin's pulsating fashion district, Paul's Boutique is an oasis for aficionados of vintage streetwear. The store, celebrated for its eclectic array of iconic fashion items, is a vibrant mix of the past and the present. Shelves lined with retro sneakers, band tees, and a variety of timeless apparel, each piece tells a story of urban fashion evolution. 

Armstrongs Vintage, Edinburgh

Speciality: Traditional Scottish attire and a wide range of vintage styles.

Why it stands out: Armstrongs Vintage, nestled in the vibrant heart of Edinburgh, stands as one of the UK's most cherished vintage clothing stores. A veritable time capsule of fashion, the store is thoughtfully categorised by era, allowing for an immersive journey through the decades. Here, you'll find the swirling psychedelic patterns of the 60s, the iconic bell-bottom trousers and frayed jeans of the 70s, and the distinctively bold, block-coloured windbreaker jackets from the 80s. Whether you're channelling a specific style or simply on the hunt for eclectic and cool vintage finds, Armstrongs Vintage is your destination. 

Mister Freedom, Los Angeles

Speciality: Eclectic vintage menswear and bespoke creations.

Why it stands outMister Freedom in Los Angeles is a veritable treasure trove of vintage menswear, akin to a Wonka Factory for fashion enthusiasts. The mastermind behind this cavernous showroom is French visionary Christophe Loiron, whose curatorial eye has transformed the space into a captivating blend of history and style. The store is both overwhelming in its variety and inviting in its presentation, showcasing an array of items ranging from Turnbull & Asser dress shirts to marled-wool sweaters, and even unique skirted work boots that evoke a bygone era. Loiron, a distinctive figure with a passion for Americana, oversees his domain from a workroom perched by the rafters. Here, amidst the buzz of sewing machines and swatches of fabric, he meticulously crafts romantic re-creations of vintage garments like tug-captain coats and snug-fitting watch caps. 

Martin Fella, Melbourne

Speciality: Vintage designer brands and accessories.

Why it stands out: Martin Fella, located in North Melbourne, is a treasure trove of vintage designer fashion. This boutique may be compact, but it is rich in prestige and style, offering an array of high-end labels like Chanel, Dior, Lagerfeld, Givenchy, and Gaultier. It's a haven for those who have an eye for luxury and a penchant for the finer things in life. The shop specializes in vintage designer bags and exquisite glass bead purses, making it a go-to destination for unique and sophisticated accessories. Beyond these, Martin Fella also boasts an impressive collection of classy sleek blazers and elegant gold jewellery. For those seeking variety, the store also offers a selection of casual jeans, quirky Hawaiian shirts, and an assortment of non-brand vintage items. 

Afraid of Mice, Cape Town

Speciality: Big-brand vintage and collectable items.

Why it stands out: Afraid of Mice, situated on Buitenkant Street in Cape Town, is a boutique that masterfully blends big-brand vintage with pre-owned collectable items. The ethos of this charming, compact shop is to create a space filled with fashion treasures you'd wish ‘your mom had kept for you.’ It's a welcoming destination for fashion enthusiasts and casual browsers alike. The allure of Afraid of Mice lies in its approachable, unpretentious atmosphere. Far from being stuffy or dusty, it's a place where discovery and accessibility go hand in hand. With a bit of luck and a keen eye, shoppers can unearth stellar-quality items from fashion heavyweights such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Diane von Fürstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, Mulberry, Nina Ricci, and Prada, among others. This boutique stands out as a gem in Cape Town's vintage scene, offering a rare opportunity to acquire high-end fashion pieces.