Best Secondhand Clothing Stores in Cape Town
Katherine Pannell | 17 April 2020
I am no fashion icon, nor do I try to be, but I think there is definitely something to be said about how your external appearance can affect how you feel internally. Who you are on the inside and how you treat people will always trump how you look on the outside, but that doesn’t mean that taking some level of pride in how you look is a bad thing.
Unfortunately, these days clothes can be rough on the wallet and in general, not so great for the environment. So, one of the ways to help both of those problems is to buy your clothes secondhand. I know that when some people think of secondhand clothing stores, they think of some musty old shop that just sells XXXL t-shirts and some questionable jackets. I won’t lie, some of them are like that, but there are also some really well-organised and clean vintage stores. There are so many shops in Cape Town that sell some truly beautiful pieces at a very do-able price. I am by no means a pro at thrifting clothes but over the years, I have spent a fair amount of time trekking through the streets trying to find the best spots. So here is a short guide to the best secondhand clothing stores in Cape Town:
Vintage and the City
287 Long St, Cape Town City Centre
I really love this place. It’s smaller than most, very well-organised, clean and the clothing selection is fantastic. The prices are a bit higher than your regular thrift store but I personally think that it’s understandable when you see the selection. Paying a slightly higher price means that you know that when you walk in, the clothes will be clean and they will be good quality. Another really important factor is that they will likely have sizes that actually fit you and you can easily sift through the rails without worrying about being crushed by an avalanche of clothes.
I’d say that this is one of the best stores to check out if you’re looking for some really cool jackets or a pair of pants. I actually bought my favourite pair of jeans from Vintage and the City, which is impressive since I even struggled to find properly fitting jeans in regular, well-stocked shops.
32 Vineyard Rd, Claremont
Almost Famous sells both new and vintage clothing and is right next to Cavendish Square. It is also clean and organised, but the main reason that I love this place is for their denim selection. In my opinion, they have the best size selection for denim jeans, shorts and jackets. You might not find the most original pieces of clothing but if you just want a simple pair of shorts that are good quality and will actually fit you, this is a great place to check.
269 Main Rd, Sea Point
I wasn’t sure about including this one because they might be closed. However, on the off chance that they’re still open, I figured it was still worth mentioning. In general, I didn’t have much luck finding the right clothes in the Long Street store but the one in Sea Point was great.
They tended to stock slightly higher-end clothing and better quality items. This means that it’s a great place to check out if you’re looking for smarter clothes at a reduced price. As a general rule for myself, I would go to 2nd Take if I was looking for something like a blazer, dress pants, a blouse or a good quality jersey. They also had a nice suit selection for men.
One of the best areas in Cape Town for thrift shopping is Observatory; Lower Main Road is packed with vintage stores.
BangBang Vintage Market/Steampunkt
65 Lower Main Rd, Observatory
BangBang is overall just a really cool place to go thrift shopping. They have a wide range of clothes for both men and women, the prices are pretty good and since there is such a mix of different clothes floating around, it isn’t difficult to find unique and unusual pieces. As far as I can tell, it seems like the store is shared with Steampunkt which stocks all sorts of interesting steampunk clothes and accessories. If you’re looking for anything in the same context as stuff you would see at AfrikaBurn, this is definitely the first place I would recommend.
The store also has the most unreal Dr Marten collection. It’s hard enough for me to find new Dr Martens in my size (3 or 4) at big stores in the country. So finding secondhand docs in my size felt a little bit like a miracle. No joke, I found a pair of docs that were pristine and genuinely looked like they had never been worn. And since they were still technically secondhand, they were going for a lower price than a new pair.
Nevernew/Voom Voom Records & Vintage
15 Lower Main Rd, Observatory
Nevernew and Voom Voom also share a store which is actually very big. This place is packed with clothes and sometimes you really need to dig to find something that you like or that fits you. Although, personally I think that’s part of the fun. You can find some awesome gems at this place but more than that, they just have so many things to choose from that you’re bound to find something. I do think that their prices are slightly higher than the other stores in Observatory but you can still find a good deal.
This is the place I would recommend most if you’re looking for jackets, blazers and shirts. In general, most of the clothes run in the larger sizes so if you’re a small human, you’ll probably have to get comfortable with the oversized look. Or you could always get the stuff tailored.
Shoes from BangBang/Steampunkt
Jersey from Nevernew/Voom Voom, jeans from Vintage and the City
Grand Funk Retro Vintage
Shop 26, Lower Main Rd, Observatory
Grand Funk is one of the shops that was always a reliable option to check for great deals. The prices are very reasonable, the railings are neat and organised and the sizes of the clothes are accessible to most people. They have everything, whether you’re looking for dresses, pants or jackets.
It is also a smaller shop, making it easy to sift through all the clothes without feeling overwhelmed. The clothing selection isn’t quite as good, in terms of my style preference, as a place like Vintage and the City but I have still found some awesome pieces there. Overall, it’s just a great store that is definitely worth checking out.
Maids of Honour
62a Lower Main Rd, Observatory
Maids of Honour is similar to Grand Funk in the sense that it’s a clean, well-run store that is well-priced. The people who own the store are very helpful and one of the guys is a tailor, meaning that some of the clothes in the store are actually original pieces made by him. The thing that sets Maids of Honour apart from the rest is how unique their clothes are. If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind pieces at a really good price then this is definitely your place.
If you’re interested in buying clothes secondhand but just don’t know where to look, I really hope this has helped you get a general idea of where to start. There are way more thrift shops in Cape Town than I have mentioned here but these are the ones that I enjoyed the most. A side mention of another place to check out is Coats for Africa in Claremont. I have also heard that Afraid of Mice in town is great for high-end vintage clothes but I personally can’t comment on it since I haven’t been able to check it out yet. I also just want to mention that if you’re in Johannesburg, I would highly recommend checking out Rags & Lace at some point. If you have any suggestions of your own, please feel free to drop a comment below. Good luck finding those gems and happy bargain hunting!