From North to South, Siobhan Carr examines the thriving community of vintage and second hand stores providing cheap and cheerful alternatives, as well as signposting the streets of our fair city

During the days of the Celtic Tiger, smaller vintage and second-hand shops began to suffer as a result of the increasing demand for common chain stores. As the wealth of the Irish economy grew, the number of unique vintage shops began to decline and flounder. However, since Ireland’s economic downfall these, businesses have begun to resurface and shine like never before. The need for cheaper alternatives to popular clothing chain stores has created a dramatic surge in these independent shops and the thirst for them has caused a minor boom in this niche industry.

As we cast our eyes over the Dublin dominion of vintage stores, it becomes evident that there are far more antique stores dominating the South side of Dublin in comparison to the North side. The South side offers a multitude of small antique shops to choose from which have once again begun to surface; with Dirty Fabulous, one of the top vintage stores on the South side of Dublin, leading the way. Situated on 21 Wicklow Street, it offers a selection of bridal and party gowns as well as accessories ranging from the 1920’s era up to the 1970’s. There are a multitude of choices of over 200 different special occasion gowns to choose from; all within a €350 to €950 budget. The reasonability of its price range for bridal dresses of such good quality is not only great value for money but also for sentimentality.

Accessories such as head pieces are also sold in store for that extra touch of glamour and class. If a customer has a particular idea of what they would like then Dirty Fabulous will design and create it for them. Most head pieces range from €35 to €350. This particular shop will provide reasonably priced clothing and accessories for special occasions such as weddings, debs and balls, allowing its customers to afford beautiful and unique pieces on a tight budget.

Another unique vintage shop is Retro in George’s Street Arcade. This particular boutique is hugely popular for purchasing ‘40’s and ‘50’s inspired clothing and accessories. Many of its customers would be well known to the public and have set off the trend and desire for older, more sophisticated styles.

Imelda May, for example, has been a popular customer of theirs and has sported their styles time and time again in the fashion sphere. Surprisingly enough, there is also great value to be offered at this store. Some of the dresses can cost up to a few hundred euro, however it is also important to keep in mind that many of these dresses are suitable for formal or party wear, allowing the expense of a vintage dress to be significantly lower than that of other sellers.

Angel Cruisers - Row of Multicoloured bikesThey also provide a selection of burlesque-inspired corsets, footwear, casual clothing, clothes for babies and young children, menswear and a large variety of accessories.  Lucy’s Lounge on the other hand is a excellent example of one of Dublin’s popular second-hand stores. Located in Temple Bar, it caters for second-hand and recycled retro clothing and accessories. With a great selection of both formal and casual wear, Lucy’s Lounge provides an upstairs section where customers can have their own customised outfits/jewellery made.

While the South side has a larger selection of vintage shops, the North side has a selection boasts it’s own collection but focuses more on charity and second-hand stores. An example of this is the Enable Ireland Sandymount Centre, which offers funds for children with developmental delay and primary physical disabilities. Its aim is to focus on improving the educational, social and physical aspects of development for these children through the selling of previously-owned treasures and fashions.

During times of financial crisis, stores like these offer a selection of cheap clothing to the public whilst also providing for those in need. Another worthwhile charity shop North of the river is Oxfam Ireland’s store on 18 King’s Inns Street in Dublin. A charity organisation which raises funds for those suffering from poverty and a lack of basic human rights, it focuses on providing life-saving aid for those who are suffering from starvation and crisis situations, gender inequality, insufficient healthcare and educational systems. By supporting growing industries such as these, customers can rest assured that they are not only lessening their own spending costs but also helping out those who are less privileged than themselves.

Aside from charity shops, there are also a retinue of other vintage stores in North  Dublin. Vintage-inspired stores are far less common within this area, however there are still some that have continued to boom. Nine Crows, for instance, is a vintage shop that has been on a steady trajectory of success since it’s arrival in 2010, and has recently announced that it will be releasing its own line of clothes this year. Pieces cost an average of between €15 to €85 and up to €200 for their line of coats.

Similarly, Angel Cruisers is a unique vintage shop different to so many of others, as it does not specialise in clothes but in old-fashioned bicycles. A stunning store which sells vintage bicycles in a variety of beautiful pastel colours with bells and wicker baskets, their produce estimates from around €200 to €1,020 for their more professional bikes.

Overall, the South side does appear to offer a wider selection of vintage stores; therefore if one were searching for this line of fashion they would benefit more by shopping on this side of town. While the North side does not offer the same variety, it does portray different values as it focuses more on second-hand charity stores and antique shops that provide the customer with an eclectic selection of vintage items, ranging from well-used to pure dead-stock. All in all, Dublin’s vintage circle is thriving, and the inclination for the rare, unusual and one-of-a-kind is growing stronger with each passing day.