Thanks To Mrs. That Dapper Chap for taking the picture….
A: 226 Brick Ln, City of London, E1 6SA
T: (+44) 020 7729 7387
Split between 2 buildings at 101 and 107 Brick Lane, Rokit Vintage is the largest vintage outlet in this location. It started life in 1986 starting out with a market stall in Camden and now has four London stores in Camden, Brick Lane and Covent Garden. It is frequented by a younger more arty crowd and is rammed full with a more modern collection of vintage, predominately 80’s in my opinion with some earlier items mixed in the plethora of racks and shelves.
I brought 3 ties and 2 pairs of leather ended braces both of which came from a huge selection of styles, colours and patterned pieces. The ties were £7 ($11) to £10 ($16) each and the braces were £8 ($13) a pair which is very reasonable. If you haven’t seen my previous article for Bespoke Unit on how to attach button for braces, go check it out! What have you been doing with yourself?!
Rokit Vintage are very social media savvy and promote their Instagram page, doing a £50 giveaway if you submit a ‘Rokit Selfie’ for their perusal (I of course obliged using their dedicated selfie mirror)
A: 107 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SE
T: (+44) 0207 247 3777
The Vintage Emporium
At the other end of the scale and entirely different from the 2 vintage shops above we have the Vintage Emporium. Somewhat hidden away just off Brick Lane at 14 Bacon Street and only highlighted by a sandwich board on the corner of the street pointing the way, it has a beautiful and sumptuously decorated vintage café on the entrance floor filled with stunning vintage furniture and lighting, it is an absolute delight for the vintage enthusiast and I’d highly recommend an afternoon tea pit stop where you can slip off your vintage brogues, rest your aching feet and give your arms a rest from carrying all those shopping bags!
While upstairs serves as a very warm and welcoming café, downstairs is museum like in its approach to vintage shopping with very early vintage items from the Victorian era to the fifties.
Everything is beautifully displayed with immense flair and attention to detail. It’s a real feast for the eyes with 1930’s art deco silk and velvet dresses and original Victorian britches and top hats there is a wealth of history stored here.
But while they have some genuinely stunning items, it has a ‘do not touch’ atmosphere and did feel somewhat unwelcoming and I also found the member of staff down here rather rude. He did not welcome us at all or even make eye contact with us during the entire time we were there. There are no photographs of the Vintage Emporium downstairs I was told in no uncertain terms (again without any eye contact) that photographs were not allowed, so we’ll just move on from here. It’s not a place for people on a budget and due to its rude staff and unwelcoming atmosphere I wouldn’t recommend it, go to Hunky Dory Vintage instead!
A: 14 Bacon street, Brick lane, London, E1 6LF
T: (+44) 0207 7390 799
The Shop Rocks
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Another lovely shop you must visit is This Shop Rocks. It’s less vintage clothing and more of an antique and vintage bric-a-brac shop. If you’re looking for a vintage Chad Valley straw stuffed teddy bear, a 1940’s silk pajama case to display on your bed or an original bakelite telephone, this is the place for you.
The owners are lovely and took their time to talk to their customers, sharing knowledge of the items that are being bought and showed an obvious passion for the items that they stock, albeit a little disheveled in its displays. If you like rooting around and uncovering hidden gems while banging your head on things hanging from the ceiling and tripping on wicker baskets full of books on the floor (and who doesn’t? It adds to the experience!) then go in, have a rummage and who knows what new and delightful edition to your home décor you’ll find.
A: 131 Brick Ln, London E1 6SE
T: (+44) 020 7739 7667
Street Art On & Around Brick Lane
Because of its association with bohemian style and the art set, Brick lane is well know for it’s street art. World renowned street artist Banksy has graced its walls with unmistakable works such as Gas Mask Kid and Surveillance Bin.
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At the Truman Brewery car park sits one of 22 art installations depicting a car crushed by an alien winged orb. These were apparently to deter illegal parking. Works for me! Although in a vintage classic car I expect to be able to park wherever I want at a moments notice whenever Aunt Maud commands it!
One morning not to long ago, people in the Shoreditch area woke to be greeted by a giant hedgehog in Chance Street. This is a huge mural by Belgian street artist ROA. Dubbed ‘The Mighty Hedgehog’ it is just one of ROAs animal works that have appeared in London in recent years including a squirrel, a hare, a flayed pig and a Crane.
This is true art, not destruction, not mindless graffiti, these are considered pieces with depth and meaning that only serve to make the area more alive and enjoyable. In fact is so much street art in and around the area of Brick Lane that there is a tour that you can take which will enlighten you to its hidden murals, collages and paintings and the artists behind them. Take a look at http://inspiringcity.com/2013/05/11/a-street-art-tour-of-brick-lane-in-london/ for more information.
Bars, Cafe’s, and Curry!
Again there is an abundance of cool cafes and eateries in Brick Lane and the immediate area. Well known for it’s Indian cuisine you have a choice of curry houses that all offer the standard fare along with their own individual dishes, all claiming to be the best curry house in Brick Lane.
You can book a table and have a 3 course meal or you can go to a street stall and eat noodles out of a tray. The choice is yours. We went somewhere in the middle of the two and stopped for a well deserved Americano at Brick Lane Coffee, which is a cool and funky coffee house serving great coffee and cake to arty hipsters and vintage guys and gals who all seemed to be attached to some form of social media vehicle, no doubt blogging and researching for their art thesis while sipping their hazelnut latte.
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There is a great atmosphere here. Loud music gets mingled in with the calls out to customers of espressos and cappuccinos by the aptly vintage styled American barista girls who were behind the counter that day. The décor is fitting with mismatched tables and chairs and wall art and random items of varying nature dotted about either for sheer amusement or simply because that’s where they ended up one day so that’s where they stayed. It’s comfortable, relaxed and quirky. If this is your style, stop here, even if it isn’t, stop here, order a coffee and soak it all up.
Summarising Brick Lane
I said at the beginning of this piece that this was a real experience and for me it was. Working in a standard job in a standard town with standard people, this was fresh and exciting, it fulfilled my ever emerging and nagging need for creativity and imbalance, for things off centre and unusual. It made me smile for many different reasons, for the art, the great coffee, and the chance that it gives for those unique individuals that crave difference to seek affirmation and to know that there are other likeminded people out there. People that appreciate a less formal way of life and who genuinely contribute to Brick Lane simply by being there. There is a depth here, a deep rooted inspirational originality and individualism that is supported and encouraged by all that live, work and visit here.
If you want franchises and store chains go to Oxford street. If you want the tourist experience go to Portobello Road. If you want a real, down to earth and individual experience, go to Brick Lane.
As always feel free to comment below, or on one of our social media profiles with any insights or questions you may have.