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Recently “western Europe’s biggest mall project” opened in Leeds. A shopping centre with a million square feet in space for customers to stroll through, the equal of 13 football pitches. There is a cinema, 12 restaurants, bars and cafes, and, most importantly, 120 shops ranging from Armani Exchange to Urban Outfitters. However, for those whose fashion needs can’t be met by a One Direction pop-up shop the fourth-biggest shopping destination in Britain can offer much more.

With the country’s economy on track for a triple dip recession the fashion-and-purse conscious have turned to vintage. It’s cheaper than the high street and, unlike the latest Topshop attire; you won’t have to go home mortified when you see three other people in the same outfit. To add to Leeds’ ever growing collection of charity shops there are now numerous vintage stores which can sell you a piece of history bring back the forgotten eras.

Map of Leeds independent vintage shops

Top seven independent vintage shops in Leeds. © OpenStreetMap contributors


1. Blue Rinse
9-11 Call Ln
LS1 7DH
0113 245 1735

As Marilyn Monroe is deemed the face of the ‘50s, so Blue Rinse is to the Leeds vintage scene. Its first incarnation was as a stall in Leeds Market and in the 16 years since they have blossomed into a three floor giant with a 15,000 square foot warehouse and collaborations with Miss Selfridge, Topshop and Urban Outfitters. Yet despite their massive success their brand has retained its cult charm and affordable prices. The wide-range of stock is staggering; they currently have over 900 items for sale on their eBay store and the endless racks of clothing in their shop are a hoarders dream. Their upcycled ‘Re-Made in England’ range, where vintage clothes are taken apart and sewn into modern pieces, is perfect for those who find vintage sizing a challenge but still want the eclectic, one-off look of vintage fabric. It’s currently on sale in 27 Urban Outfitters stores across Europe.
Blue Rinse Leeds

Blue Rinse, Re-Made in England

Blue Rinse Leeds

Blue Rinse

Blue Rinse

Blue Rinse

 


2. BEST
22 New Market St
LS1 6DG
0113 245 5101

What Urban Outfitters dreams of being, Best succeeds at. A truly urban shop that does indeed stock the best vintage you can find. Affordable (customised Ralph Lauren shirt dresses for £35), beautiful (the delicately beaded tops) and worn by Rita Ora; it would be hard to give a better recommendation. The shop is beautifully laid out with all three floors full of clothes, shoes and accessories, without looking messy. The staff are the friendliest I’ve come across in the city; happy to chat about the merchandise and utterly without the more-vintage-than-thou attitude than sometimes pervades similar shops. Unlike many vintage stores there is a large and impressive men’s section and their ‘Put your Best on’ t-shirts are a true highlight.
BEST Leeds

BEST Leeds

BEST Boutique

BEST Boutique


3. Bird’s Yard
83 Kirkgate
LS2 7DJ
0113 245 9515

Alt Fashion magazine’s Best UK Shop of the Year currently hosts over 50 independent designers and creators within the one building and last year opened another store in Sheffield. There are couture gowns from featured-in-Vogue Bird Shell and avant garde hair and make-up from the independent agency Blonde Fury. There’s also art, jewellery and second-hand records all collected in one beautiful vintage setting. It’s a veritable smörgåsbord of creation.
Bird's Yard Leeds

Bird’s Yard

Bird's Yard, Marvellous Tearoom

Bird’s Yard


4. Mad Elizabeth
Corn Exchange
Call Lane
LS1 7BR
0113 234 0363

Mad Elizabeth started in Birmingham, with two friends selling vintage and reworked clothes at their local market. Venturing to Leeds in 2010 as a pop-up shop they decided to take a permanent lease and have become one of the city’s not-very-well-kept secrets. The shop is named after a line from a Cribs song and their aesthetic is an eclectic mish-mash of indie and vintage. With maxi dresses for around the £20 mark and gorgeous ear-cuffs for a fiver they’re one of the most affordable shops in Leeds. Their jewellery will surely inspire Accessorize and Topshop whilst being priced at a tenth of the high street. The store itself is beautifully arranged managing to fit a vast amount of items without looking cluttered and the clothes rails are arranged by colour to ease the stress of rummaging.
Mad Elizabeth Leeds

Mad Elizabeth

Mad Elizabeth jewellery

Mad Elizabeth jewellery


5. Pop Boutique
12-14 Central Rd
LS1 6DE
0113 243 2264

Although technically not an independent store, (they have five stores in the UK and one in Sweden), their Northern roots and impressive range of clothes, shoes and accessories mean they have to be included. Originally opened in Manchester in 1994 Pop came to Leeds in 2008 and revitalised the vintage scene with a froth of fun and style. Where Blue Rinse is the archetype of a vintage shop, rails to rummage through and suitcases full of scarves and belts, Pop is vintage-gone-high-street. Shoes and accessories are displayed amongst the rails of neatly ordered clothes and Pop Boutique bags are exhibited on shelves. For those who hate sales shopping and want their consumerism ordered and efficient, Pop is ideal. However it is accessories where Pop truly shines. A striking array of shoes, scarves, bags and belts are displayed enticingly in the basement and the prices are supremely affordable. The best bargains are their men’s vintage leather bags. They’re in excellent condition and are wallet friendly at £30, similar can be found at Topman for £120.
Pop Boutique Leeds

Pop Boutique Leeds

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique

Pop Boutique


6. Candy Candy
Corn Exchange
Call Lane
LS1 7BR
0113 245 4955

For vintage-esque handmade costume jewellery and hair accessories the sweet treat that is Candy Candy is second to none. The old fashioned sweet shop-themed store is a confectionary wonderland with stunning necklaces placed side-by-side with cake-shaped soaps and a fairground horse hanging from the ceiling. Although the price range is definitely on the higher side, (one particularly stunning Alice in Wonderland key choker is £49), the quality of work is incredible and the avant garde fashion is certainly memorable. Along with their handmade jewellery they also stock a small range of vintage clothing and they’re one of the few shops in Leeds to stock Rose and Co, the Yorkshire-based vintage-inspired cosmetics company.
Candy Candy Leeds

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Candy Candy

Candy Candy


7.
Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair
Corn Exchange
The largest vintage fair of its kind, Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair has been serving 30 of the UK’s cities for eight years. Appearing in Leeds around 3 times a year it returns to its hometown brimming with vintage items at always-affordable prices. Pocket watches, vinyl records, antique and costume jewellery, shoes, gloves, hats, scarves, suitcases, crockery, toys, magazines, hats, picnic baskets, cake stands and clothes of all colours and fabrics mingle in the Corn Exchange whilst bargain-hunters root out the best deals. Even the most avowed hater of sales shopping will be converted by this dazzling array of vintage treasures.

Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair.
Image courtesy of Leo Reynolds

What’s your favourite Leeds independent vintage shop?

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