Vienna is not where I bought my first item of vintage clothing, but it’s where I got into thrifting and secondhand-shop hunting. I had a friend there; we started as pen friends at ages 8 and 9, and by the time we had both left school, I started visiting her on holidays. We spent our days going to museums, art exhibitions, and thrift shops. We had a plan for every day, making sure we took in all the shops along the way. My friend was working as a secretary and needed an appropriate (read: conservative) wardrobe for that, which was nothing like what she was wearing privately. She did not want to spend a fortune on her work wardrobe, and thrift shops were her solution. I tagged along, just buying pretty things (mostly vintage evening wear) because I liked them. We had a lot of fun, sometimes even trying the same things—which usually meant it didn’t fit either of us.
That first time we went thrifting is now more than 20 years ago, and we still do it, though without elaborate plans. We just go along as we like, and if we can’t make all of them, we’ll do it the next time. Over the years, I got more into vintage and buying more everyday wearable things, and now it has become a lifestyle for me—not buying anything new if I don’t absolutely have to (yes, I buy “normal” secondhand clothing, too). And my friend’s wardrobe nowadays is also mostly made up of secondhand clothes, although less vintage than mine.
Of course there are “proper” vintage shops too in Vienna, but we rarely visit any of those. In the beginning they were simply too expensive, and then we stayed with our route and our shops that were on the way in or from the 7th district, where my friend lives. Some of those shops have been there since the beginning, whilst others have come and gone.
And yes, you can make that lucky vintage find at a thrift shop, if you know what to look for. One name in thrifting in Vienna that you can’t miss is Humana. Humana is a charity that runs a chain of secondhand shops that you can find all over the city (also in other European countries). A few years ago, they got into the vintage trend, too, rebranding some of their shops into Humana Trend Vintage. Things in these shops are usually a bit higher priced than in normal Humana shops, but you’ll still find good deals. And, of course, you can still get lucky and find a vintage piece in one of the normal shops. Also, their seasonal sales are good for great deals. As I usually go to Vienna over the New Year holiday, the sales starting on January 2 are always on our “must do” list. One thing I’ll have to say though – clothes land in their shops as they are, without being cleaned or fixed or anything, and you’ll definitely have to check every piece for possible damage. The shops we usually visit are: Lerchenfelderstrasse 45-47, 7th district, their “main” Trend Vintage shop that has been around since I can remember; Alserstrasse 41, 8th district, which, although it’s not very big, usually has a good amount of vintage; Alserbachstrasse 13, 9th district; Hütteldorferstrasse 50, 15th district; andHütteldorferstrasse 114, 14th district.
If you’re looking for really low-priced secondhand and want to know where your money is going, try Vinzi Shop. The one we usually go to is at Veronikagasse 25, 17th district. This is a local charity for homeless people, and they also sell toys in addition to clothes and accessories. Their prices are super low, with most pieces priced below 10 Euros. Not a lot of vintage usually, but you can get lucky!
The Austrian Caritas calls their thrift shops Carla. There’s a big one at Mittersteig 10, 5th district. This big shop has everything—clothes, household goods, furniture, toys… you name it, they probably have it. With a bit of luck, you can find vintage (usually priced accordingly), as well as modern deadstock items at low prices.
The next charity is Volkshilfe. They, too, have a few shops, called Volkshilfe Würfel. The ones we usually visit are at Thaliastrasse 130 (16th district) and Berggasse 20 (9th district). Mostly new things, but you never know. Low, low prices, and the one at Berggasse usually has big boxes full of neckties; I have found some good vintage ties there!
Last of the charity secondhand shops is LOK Couture at Mariahilferstrasse 187 (15th district). Small shop, usually modern secondhand, and low prices.
A special case is the 48er Tandler. The MA48 is Vienna city waste-management service, and their shop (“tandler” in Viennese dialect) is a large, beautifully presented thrift shop for everything: clothes, books (lots!), electrical appliances, household goods, furniture, and toys. The shop is located at Siebenbrunnenfeldgasse 3 in the 5th district.
Last time I visited, they had a beautiful car on exhibit and vintage radios, typewriters, and sewing machines on the wall for decoration. They also sell their own merchandise — t-shirts, bags, board games, mini trash bins, and the like with funny quotes and their mascot, the grumpy-looking trash bag on it.
Looking for trendy vintage? Then Bootik 54 (Neubaugasse 54, 7th district) is your address. The inventory at Bootik is clearly chosen for its hip-ness — vintage Levis, Hawaiian shirts, Chucks, handbags, and whatever is the flavor of the day. They also sell reworked vintage dresses, funny modern t-shirts, cool retro things, gifts, cartoon-character items, and the like. Not super expensive, but definitely not as cheap as the charity shops.
Finally, I have one recommendation if you are looking for a really nice vintage shop: Vintage Extraschön at Kaiserstrasse 67 (7th district). At Ina’s boutique you’ll find a lovely selection of true vintage, cool secondhand, and some retro clothes.
Written by Karin Marty, owner of Willynillyart, online shop for vintage sewing patterns.