A Dublin vintage shopping tour

Colm Caldwell takes you along to explore some of Dublin’s best spots for second-hand shopping

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and one person’s trash is another’s treasure. These two old adages apply directly to shopping for vintage clothing. I mean, the former owner got rid of the clothes because they either outgrew them physically, outgrew them mentally or the clothes got a little bit beaten up. This loss of love for the clothing on the part of the person who hands them over to a charity shop or sells them to a vintage shop allows for the clothes to be loved and reused by another. Sustainability is undervalued in today’s society and buying second-hand is an opportunity to be kind to the earth and depending on where you go, your bank account too.

To kick things off, every thrifty shopper should be made aware that there is an invaluable run of charity shops starting in Rathmines which bring you up to Camden street. Within around a kilometre of the starting point on the outside of the Swan Shopping Centre you will encounter five different charity shops. One at either end of Rathmines Road, and then a cluster of three on Camden street. If you happen to be in town and have a spare half an hour to an hour to kill, it’s well worth your time to have a stroll from either starting point and peruse what’s on offer. Personally, I picked up a beautiful pair of vintage Wrangler jeans in the Oxfam charity shop in Rathmines, managed to nab a Timberland pullover in NCBI on Camden street and bagged two beautiful jackets in the Simon charity shop opposite NCBI.

“Areas like Fairview, Blackrock and Terenure are great places to go looking for the bigger brands.”

I acquired all of these pieces over time, of course. It is important to remember with charity shop shopping that patience is a virtue. You’ll have to sift through a lot of stuff to find something you like, and then you just have to hope to God it fits. The harsh reality of shopping in charity shops is that if you go to affluent areas you will often find the bigger brands. People in these areas have more disposable income and are therefore more likely to update their wardrobes regularly. When you combine this with the earlier mentioned physical and mental factors of giving away clothes, it means you have a better chance of finding treasure amongst the trash. Areas like Fairview, Blackrock and Terenure are great places to go looking for the bigger brands. There are two NCBI charity shops in Terenure and another one run by Vincent’s. Having bought five Ralph Lauren shirts in the NCBI shop closest to the Tesco Metro, I can attest to the fact that it regularly offers high-quality clothing. Often their Ralph Lauren is at the back of the racks, don’t ask me why, so make sure to look thoroughly when browsing so you don’t miss out on it. This same principle applies to all charity shops. You’ve got to be willing to put in the work if you want to get the reward.

Next up, vintage shops which, in Dublin, are inferior to charity shops in my opinion. I say this because you will be charged extortionate prices for what the owners of the vintage shop probably found in a run-of-the-mill charity shop themselves. The owners of vintage shops often get their best items from charity shops and so I believe you should go straight to the source, the source often being the aforementioned charity shops that reside in affluent areas. However, having said all of that, vintage shops are still sustainable and will have good quality second-hand clothing.

“However, there are about 10 more dedicated vintage clothing stores in and around the city centre that deserve to be explored.”

Many of us know the big names around town for vintage shopping. The likes of Tola Vintage, who boast two stores, Nine Crows and Dublin Vintage Factory, are some of the staples. However, there are about 10 more dedicated vintage clothing stores in and around the city centre that deserve to be explored. So, the best advice I can give you is to delve right in because it’s well worth trying some of the following smaller vintage stores; Durt Co, Big Love Vintage, Collected Treasure and Badlands Vintage. Five vintage shops can be found in the Temple Bar area, Durt Co and Dublin Vintage Shop are located on either side of the Liffey by Grattan Bridge and then a second Tola Vintage store is on Aungier Street. 

So, if you happened to be looking for a full day of charity and vintage shopping, that is practical and walkable, you could start in Rathmines like previously mentioned and hit up all the charity shops before heading to Tola Vintage on Aungier Street. Then you can work your way into Temple Bar to browse the multiple vintage shops there and then finish up by Grattan Bridge, or vice versa.

It’s worth noting that all of these vintage stores that have been mentioned are within 10-15 minutes walking distance of College, in the city centre, with many even closer. You truly never know which one will turn out to have the perfect item that suits your style! Overall, what I hope you take away from reading this is that charity shopping should be your priority for affordable vintage clothing and vintage shopping should be a close second, where the items will be more expensive but often encompass more renowned brands. Happy sustainable shopping!