Why is owning an item from a different time so captivating? Despite developments in trends and technology, vintage t-shirts, jeans, jewelry and outdated typewriters and polaroid cameras still have our hearts. These items transcend consumerism; they are a piece of history, and thus, perhaps a piece of art.
Shopping for vintage shoes is a completely different experience than shopping at Bloomingdales; each pair is a unique treasure instead of a mass-produced product. Only a single pair of shoes exist in a single size, as if it were the only version in the world. While you silently hope that these shoes are your size, you are faced with a million questions; “Who owned these?” “What year were they made?” and “Why would anyone ever get rid of these?”
Vintage shoes have a history and personality of their own. They hold a different promise than a brand new pair of shoes freshly wrapped in a shiny new box; they have a timeless quality that elevates them to the status of art. Vintage shoes are not subject to rapidly changing trends, but sustain and continue their own charm and beauty. Having a wearable piece of the past makes for an indefinitely unique addition to your collection.
So where does one find these vintage gems? Manhattan is home to several designer consignment shops with beautiful collections of vintage, luxury shoes. These shops also have professionals who authenticate designer shoes, so your only worry is if they fit!
Housing Works – 245 West 10th Street
This thrift shop was first nestled in the West Village and then branched out to more locations in Manhattan. HousingWorks is not a conventional thrift shop; they donate a portion of profits to health, housing and care services. Their primary mission is to raise awareness about and ultimately end HIV/AIDS and homelessness.
To keep their philanthropic spirit alive in their stores, their sales associates are volunteers with interests in these activist issues. Their vintage shoe collection starts at $5-$10 all the way up to more expensive prices for designer shoes by designers such as Christian Louboutin.
Located right across the street from HousingWorks is another thrift shop filled with trendy, exciting pieces. Although Vintage Thrift West space is small, the thrift store’s layout makes the thrifting experience exciting. They also keep a collection of classic luxury pieces in the middle of the room. Overall, this boutique has a true vintage atmosphere and is perfect for a day of sifting through vintage finds and exploring new looks.
A Second Chance – 155 Prince Street
Stopping here is a must when you travel to SoHo. A Second Chance is a completely high end, designer resale boutique. The majority of inventory is accessories and bags, including mainly vintage Chanel and Hermes. However, the back of the room features a wall of designer stilettos – the highlight was the precious Chanel ballerina flats from the past. They appear to be very selective, only taking striking shoes in excellent condition; most of their with which pieces they take and only took striking shoes in very good condition. We would recommend coming here to find classic, colorful and playful heels.
Second Time Around – 111 Thompson Street
If you are looking for a balance of vintage clothes, accessories and handbags, visit Second Time Around. In addition to having a large inventory of fabulous clothes, they also have a large wall of designer shoes. Out of the thrift shops that we visited, they have the largest collection of designer shoes, including Prada, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin.
Even though several sizes are available and the they are in quality condition, the shoes are not as trendy or aspirational as we would like them to be. Regardless, definitely come here if you are looking for a steal on designer shoes.
Here are some more resources to help you plan a day of vintage shop-hopping:
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