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July 09, 2012

Vintage shopping between 86 and 219 Long Street

Take a stroll down Long Street this winter. Photo courtesy Lucy da Costa

Cape Town is a city filled with fashionable people and with the number of fashion designers who've made the city their home, it's easy to understand why. But where does one find the best buys? Why Long Street, naturally.

Walking down Cape Town's famous inner-city street will put you face-to-face with the distinctive, young, hip, eclectic and experimental style that has become synonymous with the city's melting pot of cultures and tastes.

Vintage is just one of the styles catered for in Long Street, with a number of cute and quirky stores to brighten your shopping experience. 

Afraid of Mice

I begin my vintage voyage at Afraid of Mice on 86 Long Street, Cape Town. As I step into the white corner store, I notice the words on the wall “the clothes you wish your mother had kept for you”, however, these second hand clothes were nothing like the hand-me-downs I was given as a child. From a black rain jacket by Michael Kors for only R900, to a butter-soft baby pink ballet jersey by Barnies for R470, these pieces are just what every chic lady needs during the unpredictable colder months in Cape Town.

Sisters Bianca and Simone Brandi’s vintage store is like no other. Grouped according to colour, the clothing flows from soft hues to classic black, while their prized pieces hang alone, waiting to be adored for their soft-to-the-touch silk fabrics and unusual beading.

Accessories are neatly displayed to reveal their unique characters. Lying across the glistening wooden display table in the middle of the room is a forest green belt with a gold buckle, while next to it is a pair of chocolate brown court shoes with a spotless Dolce & Gabbana label in its insole.

What I love the most are the brown-board tags hanging on the side of the holder to reveal unique, handwritten messages. The one tag states that the watermarked skirt is still loved for its lagoon-inspired print, while another reflects the beauty of the hand-made garment.

Around the corner from Afraid of Mice is Babette Clothing.

Babette Clothing

Get your 50s florals and 70s abstract prints at Babette's in Long Street. Photo courtesy www.babetteclothing.co.za

As you walk into Babette Clothing, you are welcomed by a wall filled with stills and portraits, flying ducks, framed embroidery, an ornate mirror and Barbara Lotter, a graduate from the Elizabeth Galloway Fashion Academy in Stellenbosch and now owner of Babette Clothing. This vintage store focuses on reworked pieces. All-year-round you will find reworked vintage dresses from feminine 50s florals to arty 70s abstract prints – they are dresses will fit any feminine/grunge/boho chic fashionista strolling up Long Street.

In the past summer they stocked cut-off 80s T-shirts, kitsch-but-cool pepper-printed, chiffon tank tops by Baset and old jeans slashed into short shorts. This winter, their vintage collection focuses on cosy grandpa sweaters, particularly depicting reindeer and snow patterns. Babette holds a range of South African-produced, vintage-inspired items, such as the Flashdance-inspired grey sweaters, striped long-sleeved T-shirts and front-pleated jeans in jewel tones with a complimentary caramel skinny belt.

Each garment has a checklist tag, ticked-off with boxes such as "vintage", "1-of-a-kind", "reworked", "cold wash", "low iron", "delicate", so that you can tell the difference between vintage and vintage-inspired and how to care for it.

Always look out for the unique accessories, such the dissembled watches reworked into pieces hanging on long bronze necklaces. The Bow Peep vintage-inspired collection is well stocked with earrings, Alice bands and even bow-ties.

Second Time Around

Lucy's favourite vitnage store, Second Time Around, is a must-visit. Photo courtesy www.leweekly.co.za

The address 196 on Long Street is home to my favourite store in Cape Town’s CBD. Happily, just over a month ago, it had a revamp and is now an orderly boutique of vintage pieces that will leave you in awe. Against the high walls, a sea-foam green wooden cabinet frames beauties such as Chinese fans, old cameras and dolls of a Pocahontas-like Red Indian and a blonde pigtailled girl.

Just in time for winter, a rail of sweaters is situated at the front of the store. An Escada baby-pink sweater catches my eye – it has black French fashion illustrations from the 80s on the front. There still seems to be a mix and match of clothing styles but I’m not complaining because I still love discovering, it’s just easier now that the garments are grouped according to type.

At the back of the store is a "wall of fame", which is a collage of antique photographs including the original bad boy James Dean, the ultimate sex-symbol Marilyn Monroe, and a poster of Casablanca. I immediately imagined the stars wearing the clothes in the store, from the sultry long-sleeved red velvet dress to the floral post-war polyester blouses. I am inspired to look like these stunners and who wouldn’t?

The once hidden back room is now the men’s department, which opens with a brown WWI pilot jacket, an 80s mixed-leather jacket and a black puffer jacket. Poor boy hats cover the top of the rails where the blazers hang, with the most unusual being a "British lad" red and cream Prince of Wales check. In the corner are the ladies fur coats, hiding in the back from the PETA supporters.

Second Time Around is still the same small and cosy store with unwelcoming staff. They understand that customers like to “just have a browse” but a little hello as people enter would not go amiss. Nevertheless, take your time and cover every inch of this beautifully spick-and-span store in Long Street this season, then run across the street to 219.

Hello Again

The red industrial concrete floor, gleaming 70s wooden ceilings, rough face-brick walls and casual rails are the setting for the cool aqua Hello Again retail store. Owners Lynne and Toby Groenewald first opened the store in 2007 as a vintage store and later moved to its current location. Hello Again is now a mix of one-off vintage pieces and quality mass-produced garments.

Like any retail store there are three or four different sizes of an item hanging and some styles come in a variety of colours. The garments cover a range of styles from white, printed tank tops by Vestibull, red slim cut T-shirts, a navy second-hand corporate trouser, grey Oxford trousers to fun black sailor shorts with contrasting striped pocket facings. The brick shelf in the corner holds accessories, such as A6 notebooks and earrings from Bow Peep (a different variety to Babette), brooches from Joey & Julia and an array of unspoiled vintage handbags and beaded clutches. The store has an über cool bicycle and print installation dividing men’s and women’s wear. Equally men’s wear has a variety of fitted colour T-shirts in round and sexy low v-necks. The chilled vibe oozing from the staff makes you want to hang out on the comfy couches that sit outside the change rooms.

For basic to not-so-basic garments and where all the trendy Capetonians go to shop and end your great day shopping at Royale a few stores up for a Miss Piggy burger and Nutticrust milkshake. Just make sure you can easily roll back to your car parked nearby.

Lucy da Costa is a freelance fashion CAD illustrator.

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