Ballin’ on a Budget: The best thrift and vintage shops in Hong Kong
If building a retro wardrobe or reducing your carbon footprint through thrifting is on your agenda, this article is for you.
Thrifting, aka grown-up treasure hunt, is among my favourite pastimes. Part of the fun lies in rummaging through the unknown and wondering, “Where did they find this to begin with?”
However, thrifting remains something of a niche activity in Hong Kong. Come to think of it, Macklemore’s 2012 hit Thrift Shop (yes, it has been a whole decade, I certainly feel old) was probably my first introduction to the world of secondhand shopping. In spite of the song’s becoming a global phenomenon, thrifting is still on its way to hitting the mainstream in the city, due to stigma and the general lack of direction on where, exactly, to go.
Today, we’re not only looking at thrift shops, but thrift shops with a little more steeze. After all, you don’t just want to bring home pre-owned clothes, you want clothes with style, a little history and a whole lot of oomph.
Where to thrift in Hong Kong, if you’re cool
Green Ladies is all about giving back to society: this social enterprise operated by St. James’ Settlement aims to change the consumption habits of Hongkongers, give secondhand clothing a second life, and empower women by introducing them to the labour force.
When it comes to describing the place, three words come to mind: spacious, industrial, colour-coded. If anything, the ultra-organised clothing racks will leave you thinking, “dang, we really are throwing away this much stuff at the environment’s expense?” It’s true (unfortunately), and thanks to Green Ladies for putting it into perspective.
Now, the responsibility of ending the cycle of waste falls on your shoulder, and your next step is quite simple — grab a few items of clothing and cherish them for years to come. You will find a range of garments and accessories suited for anything from your nine-to-five routine to retro throwback parties or a weekend stroll downtown. And trust me, the price is more than right.
Green Ladies (multiple locations):
- Shop 8-9, UG, C. C. Wu Shopping Arcade, 302-308 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, +852 2157 0242, +852 2157 0243
- G/F, No. 168 Queen’s Road West, Sai Ying Pun, +852 2110 3482, +852 2110 3483
- Shop 116, The Mills, 45 Pak Tin Par Street, Tsuen Wan, +852 3572 0279, +852 3572 0269
- G/F, 4 Hing Wan Street, Wan Chai, +852 2743 6939
Little DOT Vintage
Does the family name Freis mean anything to you? Or are you just really into florals? If you said yes to either of those questions, Little DOT Vintage will be your next favourite place.
An upper floor shop situated in buzzing Tsim Sha Tsui, Little DOT Vintage is so stereotypically Hong Kong while faintly reminding you of the vintage clothing stores in Harajuku, Tokyo –– you can spot its neon sign from miles away, right beside new arrivals screened in enigmatic retro patterns and pinned against the window.
A quick glimpse of the store’s Instagram or Facebook page would make one thing pretty clear: more is more under this roof. Think about everything that reminds you of ‘50s to ‘80s fashion: loud prints, you got it. Ruffles and drapes, you bet. Colours, lots of them.
Little DOT Vintage, 1/F, 47 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 6356 3049 (WhatsApp)
This one’s for the gents: Established in 1993, Midwest Vintage bridged the secondhand clothing markets in Russia, Eastern Europe and Asia until transforming into a retail location to cater for the public’s need for authentic, American attire.
Think quality, variety and individuality. You might not physically be in 50 states, but the worn-in denims, bandanas and grunge band T-shirts would beg to differ. To get the full U.S. of A. shopping experience, visit Midwest Vintage’s Etsy shop here.
Midwest Vintage, Shop 58, G/F Victoria Centre, 15 Watson Road, Tin Hau, +852 2802 6886
Vintage1961 is the perfect embodiment of that one “This got me reminiscing about memories I don’t even have” comment that appears under every POV music playlist on YouTube, in that it’s so true to the elegance of days bygone.
We’re talking poise, sensuality and refinement, an aura that seems so out of reach in a world where e-girls reign supreme (nothing against them though, go off sis!). So if you’re wanting a break from fishnet thigh highs and graphic eyeliner, why not start with Vintage1961? Their boudoir-inspired interior will make you feel right at home.
Vintage1961, Room 01, 12/F, Bonham Commercial Centre, 44-46 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, +852 9319 3981
Get lost in Vintage Maze, where all sorts of retro merchandise call home. Cluttered (read: loosely organised in a system that just works) with novelties, trinkets and clothing trawled from across the world, this store is a retired world adventurer’s attic conjured up for your patronage.
A maximalist at heart with a taste for old Americana aesthetic, Vintage Maze attracts flocks of like-minded individuals with its extensive line-up of T-shirts, printed bowling shirts and denim outerwear. Browse to your heart’s content as time freezes and nostalgia fills the air.
Vintage Maze (multiple locations):
- 606, 6/F, The ONE, 100 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 6846 8388
- 2032, 2/F, Ocean Pride Mall, 100 Tai Ho Road, Tsuen Wan, +852 6846 8388
And if social distancing is more your thing, these online shops offer a variety of tees in that vintage style you might be looking for.
Hero Image: Vintage Maze / Featured Image: Green Ladies
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