Fashion Revolution 2017: An Abundance of Vintage in Amsterdam

25th April, 2017

With fashion multinationals now all-pervasive on the principal shopping streets of European capitals - resulting in massive visual predictability from one neighbouring country to another - we are undoubtedly more reliant than ever on independent, creative quarters to showcase the palpable character and charm of their cities. The compact but heavily-populated Amsterdam is no exception: an average of 5 million visitors roam its various districts each year, with the city's Centrum area enduring the largest touristic imprint. Travel a few canal banks away from the generic retail outlets, however, and you'll find that originality, diversity and immanent style permeates the city's precariously-slanting streets.

Such appealing traits have given rise to Amsterdam's throughly vibrant vintage scene. With specialist boutiques and second-hand stores peppering the most coveted of neighbourhoods - from the famous, cobbled De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) district to the authentic, heady buzz of the Jewish Quarter - each shop radiates an entirely distinctive personality, innately reflecting the fact that no two vintage enthusiasts are the same (nor carry identical needs). Whether you enjoy your clothing perusals in a fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled environment or relish quiet moments in the depths of an undisturbed treasure trove, these vintage-boutique gems have, quite literally, something for everyone:

Laura Dols - Wolvenstaat 7, 1016 EM

{Open 11am - 6pm, 12pm openings on Sundays & 7pm closings on Thursdays}

Residing in the heart of De 9 Straatjes - the achingly-cool nearby eateries are one clear giveaway - the deeply-enchanting Laura Dols first opened its doors over half a century ago. Imagine a multi-tiered, gorgeously abundant dress-up box - replete with eye-catching treasures and textures that cater to women, men and children alike - and you're one step closer to deciphering this kaleidoscopic boutique. A plethora of frothy 50s frocks (its ongoing speciality) cascade down the window-display walls, while a complete array of dazzling gowns can be enjoyed in the atmospheric basement. The daywear offerings are equally enticing, with each collection displayed in excellent condition, while prices are decidedly affordable given the high quality of goods: colour-popping vintage shirts range from €20 onwards, while the ornate tapestry purses sitting pretty on the entrance floor start from a mere €5 each. Adding to its ambience of quality-driven purchasing, each Friday & Saturday afternoon sees a specialist tailor arrive in store - adjusting the sartorial finds of each customer to their exact measurements. Expect a more in-depth feature on this bewitching spot in the coming days!

Episode - Berenstraat 1, 1016 GG // 250m / 2 minute walk from Laura Dols

{Open 11am - 6pm Monday to Wednesday; 11am - 8pm Thursdays; 11am - 7pm Fridays; 10am - 7pm Saturdays; 12-6pm Sundays}

Arguably Amsterdam's most famous second-hand store, and certainly one of the largest, Episode holds court in several city-centre locations (with most gravitating towards this 9 Straatjes incarnation). Clothing selections are streamlined - both male and female fashion lovers are satisfied here - but plentiful, honing in on well-priced styles from the 50s to the 80s. One of its most appealing characteristics is the fact that it strongly champions the concept of re-purposing; creating entirely new garments from original second-hand pieces. The manner in which it sources the latter is also refreshingly transparent - a full display of Episode's supply chain is available to check out "here". Summer-festival shoppers will rejoice when they see the abundance of vintage suede, whilst its owners clearly (and thankfully) have a penchant for the brightest of prints. The silk-velvet outerwear section has to be seen to be believed - showcased in a jewel-toned rainbow of shades, around €50 will see you enveloped in a long-sleeved, flowing jacket-coat, held together by a glistening jewelled button. This non-buyer's remorse is still clearly running high..

1953 Retro & Chic - Staalstraat 2l, 1011 JL // 1.1km / 15 minute walk from Episode via Laura Dols

{Open 11am - 6:30pm; 12pm openings on Sundays & Mondays}

Often considered the best vintage shop in Amsterdam by city dwellers, this petite boutique defies all pre-conceived notions that "bigger is better". Housed over three closely-packed floors - the interiors of which must have been plucked straight out of a decadent fairytale - each display is full-to-the-brim with multi-hued jewels, gems and sartorial delights. A curatorial eye and recurring attention-to-detail embraces each level, with one-of-a-kind pieces from the 19th century to the 1980s on offer. A personal favourite was the delicate collection of mint-condition night garments, crafted in sumptuous pastel satin-silk and diaphanous lace - rocking underwear-as-outerwear has never been more tempting! Prices are somewhat steeper than the previous two vintage outlets, but rest assured - a high-calibre steal can be stumbled upon. It's well worth a visit for the inspiring surroundings alone.


Marbles Vintage - Staalstraat 30, 1011 HE // 100m / 2 minute walk from 1953 Retro & Chic

{Open 11am - 7pm}

The smaller sister shop of its Haarlemmerdijk and Nieuwe Hoogstraat-based outlets, Marbles Vintage on Staalstraat still packs a colourful, print-tastic punch. Currently infused with a multitude of festival-dressing essentials - think Stevie Nicks-style bohemian garbs and a generous smattering of vintage Levi shorts - with tea dresses for €20 (and under) and vividly-hued leather skirts for €10, there are head-turning bargains a-plenty. Keep a close eye on the freshly-debuted suede tassel jackets - showcased on their smiling new owners online in caramel-brown and gentle taupe - and indulge in the slick collection of cowboy boots.

Kilo Shop - Waterlooplein 189, 1011 PG // 400m / 6 minute walk from Marbles Vintage

{Open 11am - 7pm; 12-6pm openings on Sundays}

Following a colourful trail of vintage browsing that begins in the Jewish Quarter's famous Waterlooplein market - a generous outdoor bazaar which dates back to the 19th century, open daily - and continues through the official Waterlooplein avenue, taking in yet another Episode shop and vintage/bric-a-brac haus Candy Store, a feast of bargain-hunting awaits at Kilo Shop. Locking gazes with the rainbow rails of vintage garms is a sure-fire means of stopping your stamina from heading south! Akin to its European counterparts, items are weighed and sold by kilo rather than individually priced - with clothes and accessories sorted into four colour-coded sections (20€/KG, 30€/KG, 40€/KG or 60€/KG). It takes little shifting through the imaginative stock to see that Kilo Shop have fully embraced the modern-day concept of second-hand shopping; to give pre-existing clothes a new lease of life, whilst bringing colour and creativity to ecologically-viable fashion. With skirts priced at €6 and leather jackets at €18 (additional examples found "here") stylish sustainability has never been more accessible.


This article was published in celebration of Fashion Revolution Week, 24-30th April: a worldwide event which strives to make our industry better, cleaner, more transparent and more empowering. Giving power back to the consumers as they ask brands #whomademyclothes on social media, every detrimental aspect of fashion's mass consumerism - from ecological impacts to grave disadvantaging of garment workers - is spotlighted, free of sugar-coating, and solutions are found and shared in solidarity. Even the smallest of changes makes a remarkable difference: extending the life of clothing by a further 9 months would reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20/30% each. It's hard to ignore throughly-backed up statistics such as these, never once designed to shame or guilt consumers, but rather start a vital conversation on how we treat our world and the workers who produce our clothes - discovering facts and figures that have been long concealed to many of us.

Purchasing vintage/second-hand, especially with a quality-over-quantity approach, gives longevity to pre-existing clothing whilst also minimising environmental ramifications. It's equally likely that your vintage-shop finds will prove far more durable than their fast-fashion equivalents, given that ever-increasing shortcuts (such as quality of fabric used) are being made by multinationals in their damaging quest to produce disposable garments at the highest velocity. Sustainable fashion can be just as affordable, innovative and multi-coloured as the high-street chains of this world - and this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

"Let's take a stand against disposable fashion, impulse buys and fast fashion fixes! We need to buy less, and love forever. The more we love our clothes, the more we care for them, and the longer they last."

- Fashion Revolution

Amelia xx