There is nothing like a good research session to get one in the mood. I like to seek out the eco fashion and decor offering when I visit a new city, but hopefully I can skip you to the main event with my shares from Edinburgh. Sustainable secondhand usually reigns supreme in terms of physical shops to visit in a city. This is no bad thing as true vintage (at least 20 years old) and a peppering of pre-loved pieces provide that mysterious, storied appeal that make you really want to wear them, and no one likes a souvenir that doesn’t get used.
Edinburgh is rich in true vintage, but also offers that rare delight when 2 become 1. Rather than Sporty, Scary, Baby, Ginger and Posh’s ‘90s rendition about the bonding of lovers — and the importance of safe sex! I am referring to shops that offer new ethical and eco brands alongside vintage.
So, here are the places I recommend in the order I visited them over a few days in the capital. Everywhere on my list is reachable by foot or by bus. Just don’t pull my Londoner move and plant yourself randomly ready to pile onto the bus. Edinburgh is a civilised city and there’s a queuing system, and it seems the same goes for pubs should you need refreshment.
9 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2JA
If you’re not riding a unicorn upon arrival, you’ll feel like you are when you leave Godiva. Fleur has led her boutique through many incarnations and today, 2 become 1 with the unconventional mix of local ethical and eco brands with eat your heart out eighties and other eras housed in the backroom dedicated to vintage. The chandelier perched in the corner was given to her at a party, which makes Fleur’s the best party favour I’ve heard of. The jewellery is a highlight, including ethical brand And Mary which makes hand painted porcelain pieces in the Scottish Borders. Purrrr.
Holyrood Architectural Salvage
146 Duddingston Rd W, Edinburgh EH16 4AP
If that’s given you a taste for chandelier spotting then this showroom is worth a visit as it makes shopping for salvage easy. Holyrood Architectural Salvage is home to Edinburgh’s largest selection of antique fireplaces, but regular reclaimed items include lighting, original cast iron radiators, and a good supply of door furniture and doors – clearly organised by period or by panels.
Miss Bizio Couture
41 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AH
“Welcome to my wardrobe” says owner, Joanna as you enter (and she means it). Every visitor to Miss Bizio Couture is treated to Joanna’s personal wardrobe and the extraordinary eye she has been honing since she started collecting when she was fourteen. A stint in a high powered, high paid job before being discovered as an artist allowed her to acquire remarkable pieces, but not just because she had the money to buy luxury, as she is not impressed by labels, but driven by the key anchors we should all look for before buying: colour, fabric and fit. “Everything had to be right” she said. There is not much for less than £100, and there is not much room for browsing. It’s so unapologetic, and why not? Why visit a shop anymore if you’re not looking for a personal experience. If you’re after something alluring then Joanna will personally find it for you.
Elaine’s Vintage Clothing
55 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AH
Closed when I visited, but made it into my edit for these beautiful shutters.
Those Were The Days
26-28 St Stephen St, Edinburgh EH3 5AL
Nestled next to its sister boutique, which is dedicated to vintage bridal with stock ranging from Edwardian to ’90s wedding dresses, you’ll know where to come after you’ve found love in the form of vintage Yves or Ossie Clark. A visit to Those Were The Days is a lesson in how to shop vintage and look modern. Neatly selected vintage high street and accessories suit different budgets, whilst other prices are higher, but fair for luxury labels like Chanel and Courrèges. The menswear looks like it just stepped off a Gucci catwalk and the handbags are true talking pieces.
Zero Waste Hub (by SHRUB Coop)
22 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AF
On bread Street you’ll find free bread. No joke, Zero Waste Hub offers the chance to swap your pre-loved things, enjoy some rescued food and learn and share skills to make a practical difference to the world. It is designed for members, but visitors can still shop the swaps, attend events, enjoy the veggie and vegan cafe and appreciate the reclaimed gymnasium floor.
51 Bread St, Edinburgh EH3 9AH
Opened by Rachael in 2016, Carnivàle offers trinkets that intrigue, yet a layout that is easy to explore with pieces arranged by category and size. Despite offering a collection that ranges from antique to ’90s fashion, you get the sense that Rachael’s goal is to pull back the curtain on vintage fashion and encourage anyone and everyone to share a piece of her love for it. This is a good stop for traditional men’s vintage too.
151 West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DP
This isn’t a shop, it’s a mood. You feel like you’re in a stylist’s studio before a photoshoot with really great jewellery and accessories to multiply the outfit potentials from what is a compact, quality edit of womenswear with some menswear. Yes, I did buy something (the oat coloured coat I am wearing in the photo below), but I also left Herman Brown inspired about getting dressed with what I already own.
Fitted dresses and thick knits were my uniform in Edinburgh. I don’t usually don one, but I’m okay with my Ally Bee wool cleavage.
Multiple locations with their flagship at 81-83 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HJ
Okay it was Halloween weekend when I visited, but Armstrong’s struck me as a landmark destination for authentic fancy dress. Established in 1840, W. Armstrong & Son is the biggest emporium so they can keep prices lower. You may have to shimmy in between art students curating their university wardrobes, but it’s worth it for an affordable Aran knit.
39 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QB
Each secondhand or locally produced piece feels purposefully placed by the shop’s owner, Hannah. Wholesome objects with a small but quality mix of fashion, accessories, and items made in Scotland with surplus yarns are the focus. Hannah’s dad, John is a sustainable textile designer and creates bespoke tartans and tweeds alongside working in the family business Stag & Bruce, which is the brand behind many of the wool throws and blankets at PI-KU Collective. See @pi.ku.collective for quirky flat lays.
54 Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh EH1 2QE
The name Still Life caught my attention as it’s pleasant to slowly ascend the winding road of Candlemaker Row, where you guessed it, candles were made centuries ago. Enter this Aladdin’s Cave and you will be welcomed with art, antiques and collectables balancing on every surface, but no need to be daunted as the owner, Ewan is super friendly.
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
71-73 Raeburn Pl, Edinburgh EH4 1JG
The city has lots of great charity shops, but I think it’s good to know your shopping supports local communities. The Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland shop caught my eye with its striking window and No Life Half Lived campaign. This particular location is one of the charity’s Boutique Stores so it has a mix of vintage and pre-loved pieces, including luxury names. Good for womenswear and menswear with a little homeware.
Sara wuz also here. I hope you enjoy Edinburgh as much as I did.
© Photographs Reclaimed Woman