In a city full of style-conscious residents wanting to save cash and the planet, it’s no wonder Berlin is a paradise for vintage shopping. Here are ten of the best vintage stores:
Memories of Berlin being ‘poor but sexy’ may be evaporating quicker than the steam in overpriced artisan coffee shops, but the German capital still has excellent taste in secondhand shops. Strutting around in the latest off-the-peg high street labels just won’t do in Berlin, with many people hunting out the latest looks of yesteryear before hitting the clubs. What’s more, vintage stores are eco in concept and some (but not all) give proceeds to charity, which is a wonderful thing. Navigating the big secondhand chains and tiny, easy-to-miss vintage boutiques, can be tricky – here are ten of the best vintage stores in Berlin:
Starting with perhaps the best-known secondhand establishment in Berlin – Humana is a huge secondhand chain in the city. It can be more expensive than rival ReSales but it’s always worth a look. None more so than the store in Alexanderplatz, pretty much in the center of Berlin. Underneath a concrete tower block (with a club on the top, natch, this is Berlin after all) and emblazoned with a ten-tonne copper communist mural on the outside, this Humana is worth seeing for its location and architecture alone. It’s huge inside too, with clothes ranging from tasty finds to wear to Berghain to Camp David jackets that should only be seen in the wild near Ostsee – Humana doesn’t really curate, rather just chucking it all together. As most visitors to Berlin will find themselves in Alexanderplatz at some point, this store is worth checking out.
Frankfurter Tor 3
Paul’s Boutique (Torstrasse)
Paul’s Boutique is something of an institution in Berlin, primarily because the first one is near Mauerpark, home of the famous fleamarket, and gets a lot of tourist traffic as a result. The Torstrasse location is smaller, cosier and a little less famous, which means that you can browse a bit more at your leisure. Opened in 2008, it now sits in the gravitational pull of the new Supreme shop a few doors down, so it’s much more popular these days, but there are still often the staples of DMs, Converse and Barbour Jackets (albeit at a price), nicely presented and ready to pick up with your last Euros on the way to the airport.
Style-conscious Neukölln is the epicenter of Berlin’s secondhand clothing trade. One of the best, and longest-standing, is Repeater which is situated between Schillerkiez and Gorlitzer Park. What makes Repeater so good is both the stock of brands, from Burberry to Nike – you won’t struggle to find something you want – but also the prices are, considering the quality, not that bad. A Burberry mac can be had for less than 100 Euros, for example. The store itself is full of curios a pop-culture paraphernalia which makes it a good place to hang out even if you’re waiting for a friend to try a pile of clothes on.
ReSales stores are also everywhere in Berlin, varying in shapes and sizes, just like the secondhand clothing they sell – in fact the chain is the country’s largest clothes reseller. It’s hard to pin down the best then, but in our opinion it’s worth swerving the trendy hotspots and finding one a little off the beaten track. ReSales Berlin-Pankow gets our vote. Just ten minutes fro Alexanderplatz on the M12 tram, it is a small unassuming shop that opens out like an Aladdin’s cave once inside. There is a ‘vintage’ section hand-picked which is a bit more expensive but generally there are some good finds for reasonable money – I picked up a Gore cycling jacket for Euros, for example. The staff are super friendly too and, because of it’s slightly more out of town location, you won’t be fighting past groups of swathes of tourists charged up on artisan Mocchacinos either.
Prenzlauer Allee 170
This is a store that specialises in hard-to-find and couture pieces. Forget sweaty, stained band t-shirts, Yummy Vintage is more a go-to for Burberry scarves and Gucci handkerchiefs, with beautiful overcoats and timeless Barbour jackets on the side. It’s another of those places that doesn’t go for the jumble sale chic, rather presenting everything as a spotless, plant-filled paradise.
Picknweight is another secondhand shop that seems to have rapidly turned into a chain, popping up all over town. The store formally known as Colours in Bergmannstrasse is now a Picknweight but thankfully not much has changed. Ignore the reviews of it being a tourist trap, you just need to know how to shop there. Unless you have deep pockets, ignore the large ‘pay by weight’ section – a t-shirt weighs a lot more than you think and isn’t cheap – and head to the back where the store seems to create a huge graveyard for unsold clothes and sells them off for a few bucks. I picked up a pair of Tommy Hilfiger shorts for 4 Euros.
Americana is the order of the day here, from Yankees jackets to Cheetos tie-dyed t-shirts, as well as a selection of Stateside sweets and snacks to boot. Everything in this shop will make you smile, whether it’s the sneaker sweets (they sell real used sneakers too) or the Supreme canoe hanging on the wall – it’s as much having a good time as parting with your hard-earned cash. It’s all hand picked vintage imported from the US and they also sell memorbilia and trading cards, as well as doing collaborations with different local brands. There is even a music studio below the store.
Rack ‘n White Charity Club
Rack ‘n White Charity Club could unfairly be dismissed as just another slightly vacuous secondhand store in Mitte – it’s not a charity shop it’s a ‘so-called charity club’, yadda yadda – but it’s actually a really decent shop. It’s basically an offshoot of sweet little charity shops Zweimalschön, and where the better vintage finds head to, lit by fancy lights and sold by people wearing tattoos rather than cardigans. That means all proceeds go to those in need, which is awesome, but also the prices are not ridiculous and the selection really well though-out. A vintage Adidas rain jacket in perfect condition for 20 Euros? Can’t argue with that.
If you imagine secondhand shopping as trawling through mountains of rags, the aroma of moth balls in your nostrils, then Calypt will be a breath of fresh air. The vintage offerings are carefully curated and beautifully hung inside a bright, contemporary shop in Kreuzberg. The clothing is perfect for anyone who wants rare and unique items.
Checkpoint & Cinema
This huge store has been in Berlin for 25 years now and is easy to walk past. It’s a family business and the love they have for all things secondhand really shows, with a carefully curated collection with the possibility of some really unusual finds as well as popular labels, whether that is a pair of sixties gloves or a Levi’s jacket. The best thing is that while it’s a popular area, the store, with a giant old cinema sign covering much of the front, still flies a little under the radar.