Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Last-Year Travels: Berlin's Best Vintage

This time last week I was having a very lovely time in Berlin. I'd been once before, almost exactly ten years ago so it was really interesting to see how much had changed over that time. It also meant I felt less of a pressure to see 'the sights' and was happy exploring some of the different neighbourhoods. I went with a friend who loves second-hand shopping as much as me, so it's no surprise we visited quite a few vintage shops. Here are some of the places we discovered along the way,  and do let me know if you have any favourites I've missed - I'd very much like an excuse for a return visit.


MANKii Vintage
Gormannstrasse 16

This was one of my favourite shops we visited. In comparison to lots of the places we visited - you'll get this whine below - it included 40s and 50s clothes alongside later decades. It was beautifully laid out, with lots of very wearable things at reasonable prices. I liked it even more because I found something I wanted to by - a pale pink and silver fitted top with cute bows (there's a detail above) from the late 1950s/early 60s. Now I'm going to be working from home a lot more, I'm determined to create myself a glamorous hostess wardrobe (it's that or pjs), and I declare this top the start. I got so carried away in the women's section I forgot to peek downstairs at the mens and kids section - I'm sure they are equally interesting.

Rosa Luxemburg Strasse 17

This vast shop isn't really about the clothes - there's one not-great rail of original stuff, and quite a lot of repro - but it's wonderful for furniture. That's if your taste for furniture is for the 60s space age look. There was a lot of plastic, and a lot of orange which is actually really refreshing given the Scandi mid-century overkill of recent years. Nothing bought because I suspected Easyjet wouldn't let me take a telephone bench back with me (though I imagine they would have appreciated the on-brand orange). In retrospect, that was probably for the best.

Ah, Kreuzberg. We keep trying to stop ourselves making comparisons to London neighbourhoods but with its hipster population and high proportion of Turkish eateries, Dalston did keep popping back into our references. The vintage here reminded me of some of the stores in East London too - lots of 80s and 90s stuff that I'm probably far too close to the first time around to appreciate again.

Checkpoint & Cinema
Mehringdamm 41

An encouragingly large room, completely full of rails of clothes, sorted into various types. But, despite extensive efforts, we came away empty handed, and didn't even try anything on. We might have just been unlucky, as a couple of girls slightly ahead of us were walking around with piles of clothing. Or perhaps it's just because we're less unadventurous in our old(er) age.

Bergmannstrasse 102

Another huge space, this time inside some kind of old factory. Again, well sorted into types but labelled simply with a price rather than any more info - you needed to know what you were looking for, especially when it came to the pay per weight section. I did see a couple of nice 70s dresses and a couple of classy wool skirts but that was after looking at, what felt like, absolutely everything. I can imagine it being a place you could strike it lucky though. And, if you're in the market for 90s denim or some fancy dress, well, you're laughing.

Prenzlauer Berg
This was the lovely neighbourhood in which we stayed: leafy wide streets and charming bars and cafes. It wasn't really a surprise that its vintage stores were quite nice too.

Hufelandstrasse 12

This is the first store we visited and actually one of the nicest. Mainly clothes, with a smattering of homewares, it was a very cute little shop with lots of interesting things - vintage, and some nice bits of second-hand too. There was a 70s does 40s blouse I saw which I'm remembering now with a slight sting of regret. If this hadn't been the very first place, and I hadn't been very full of a hearty German breakfast, that might well have been mine. Oh well.

Marienburger Strasse 24

Not vintage, but such a nice nearly-new shop it's definitely worth a visit. It's full of very smart clothes, by the likes of Isabel Marant, APC, Vanessa Bruno and all those other lust-worthy French brands, with some high street such as Cos thrown in there. Not stuck up in the slightest, it's also worthy of any itinerary because of the staircase - as wide as the shop itself - with row upon row of neatly displayed designer shoes. Gorgeous.

Eberwalder Strasse 21 & 22

Stiefelkominat will always have a special place in my heart because of these shoes. I'd developed one of my weird fixations. I was desperate for a pair of wedge sport shoes after seeing them on the feet of a glamorous lady on the cover of a 1940s Italian magazine (as you do). Then, when I walked into Stiefelkominat, there they were. Not 40s obviously but the style and the colours I wanted. They obviously had to come over to the UK with me.

This shop was wonderful for shoes - it had hundreds of pairs in a whole range of prices. My friend bought a very pretty pair of grey flats too. It also had lots of everything else, from 60s towels to heavy winter coats to a vintage pet carrier. Though not the cheapest, the range of stock meant it was definitely worthy of some serious time. Happily, the fun doesn't need to stay in Berlin as the assistants were keen to inform us, the shop is very active on eBay. Perhaps that will be the first place I check from now on when I'm on a serious shoe whim.

Mauerpark Flea Market

On Sunday we threw ourselves into this famous Berlin flea market. It very much felt like a place to come and be seen, no matter how hungover or weary you were from the night before. A scrubby piece of parkland and with the kind of stock which would make a Parisian flea market shudder, there was still plenty to look at, even if it was more about the people than the wares. You can see the crowd gathering for the famous Bearpit karaoke Sunday afternoon session above. Karaoke plus vintage - it's hard not to love Berlin!

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