Johannesburg

Shopping for vintage clothing in Joburg

06 Oct 2020
From cut-price vintage designer treasures to thrift shop finds that you can pay for with small change, shopping for vintage and second-hand clothing in Joburg is a pleasure – you just need to know where to look. Here we have rounded up a range of gems – from pop-in, to visit by appointment only, and online-only vintage sellers.  

Stores are generally open Monday to Saturday. For individual opening items contact the seller. Instagram is mostly the social media platform of choice and often the easiest way to make contact is with a direct message. 

VINTAGE AND THRIFT SHOPS

​​​27 BOXES
27 Boxes, a shipping container shopping development in Melville, is home to small and quirky independent boutique stores. Look out for the regularly rotating selection of vintage pop-up stores with every era from the 1920s flapper to the 1990s grunge rockers catered for at prices that won’t break the bank. 
75 4th Ave, Melville, tel. +27 11 712 0000

REMINISCENE
Also at 27 Boxes is Reminiscene which has been a Joburg fixture for more than three decades, starting off on Yeoville’s buzzing Rockey Street and later moving to Melville. Owner Rosemary has an exceptional eye for beautiful items, and her shop in Melville's 27 Boxes – a giant vintage wardrobe – is a trousseau of time and texture, with fringed embroidered shawls, lace gloves and silk flounces, beaded Sixties glitz, and enough glinting baubles (some costume, some precious) to make any magpie happy.
27 Boxes, 75 4th Ave, Melville, tel. +27 11 726 7905
 
Kevdon & Co Vintage
Kevdon & Co, Melville 

KEVDON & CO
This cool store on Melville's main street owned by Kevin and Nomsa Dondashe is filled with vintage items from clothing and denim items to leather goods for him and her. There will always be vinyl on the turntable and other interesting vintage finds. There's also a comfortable seating space for hanging out.
6 7th Ave Melville. 
 
RAGS & LACE
This upmarket vintage store on Jan Smuts Avenue has been in business for some three decades and is still regarded by regular vintage shoppers as one of the best around. The rails are stuffed with pre-loved clothing from all eras – many of them from high fashion designer brands. All items come with a 'sell by date' meaning that they become cheaper the longer they remain on the rails. Rags & Lace caters exclusively to women. There's always a number of exclusive label items tucked into the rails  – from Paul Smith to the occasional Yves Saint Laurent precious find. 
358 Jan Smuts Ave, Craighall Park, tel. +27 11 787 2130

HUNTRESS
Sharing the block with Rags & Lace, Huntress is a small store with an always interesting selection of gently worn items. Here you'll find a range of big street brands like Zara and Top Shop but also authentic handbags from Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Miu Miu. There's always a great selection of dresses too. 
Find @huntressjozi on Instagram where daily items are showcased and reserved online for collection or delivery by courier. 
358 Jan Smuts Ave, Craighall, Whatsapp +27 66 236 3802
 
Wizards Vintage
Wizards Vintage, Westcliff

WIZARDS VINTAGE 
By appointment only Wizards Vintage, owned by Annabelle Desfontaines, is a Joburg institution. Located in a Westcliff mansion, the store is a treasure trove of designer label brands from Giuseppe Zanotti and Anya Hindmarch to Alexander McQueen and Marni. Stocking a wide range of clothing, shoes, accessories and handbags, a visit here is worthy of you booking off a few hours to try on some new looks and get great advice from the on-site experts.  
Follow @wizards.vintage on Instagram for a vintage outfit posted daily which is always an exciting mix of items. Each is available for purchase separately. 
48 The Valley Road, Westcliff. Email karinorzol@gmail.com

ROSEBANK SUNDAY MARKET
 

This expansive rooftop market on the top of the Rosebank Mall specialises in colourful crafts and artworks, with plenty of food stalls, African fabrics and some brilliant vintage clothing and antiques traders thrown into the mix too. For cute vintage clothing dresses check out Dirty Pink, who specialise in high-quality vintage clothing sourced from Japan and South Korea. Every week brings new treasures to be found, especially on the third and last Sunday of the month when the market also hosts their famous flea market-style Rosebank Sunday Car Boot Sale. The twice-monthly car boot sale is a real treat for those who love trawling through boxes for unusual antiques, quirky accessories and second-hand clothing.  
The Rosebank Sunday Market is open every Sunday from 09:00–16:00, the car boot sale happens on the third and last Sunday of every month.

HANDPICKED JOBURG
Very little clothing but a brilliant place to pick up vintage homeware from glassware to cutlery, ornaments to small jewellery items. Each day this Instagram account posts new items at really low prices that are snapped up in minutes by leaving a comment on their page. Delivery is by courier. 
 
Vintage & Artisanal Market
Vintage & Artisanal Market pop-up

VINTAGE MARKETS 

While Covid has played havoc with Joburg's vintage markets – some are reopening. The following are really worth following and looking out for: 

Vintage & Artisanal Market 
This is a monthly pop-up market offering a range of vintage goods, from clothing to homeware and accesories.  

Picnic and Thrift 
For the younger crowd, this picnic and thift event is great for vintage finds at budget prices.

Vintage with Love 
An annual event in aid of charity it's worth following this account to get an update on their plans. 

'DUNUSA' MARKETS (Closed under current Covid conditions)

Set less than 2km apart and next to major inner-city thoroughfare and taxi ranks, lies the inner-city’s best shopping open secret - the dunusas - sprawling informal outdoor second-hand clothing thrift markets. Dunusa is an isiZulu word meaning to bend down and point your bum, alluding to the way shoppers bend down and hunt for clothes.

Controlled by the African Traders Associations, the dunusa traders and clothes come from all-over Africa and as you shop you are surrounded by a cacophony of languages from Swahili and Igbo to isiXhosa and isiZulu. With clothing prices starting at R2 per item, the dunusas offer a haven from the high cost of living in Joburg, affording the student population and the underprivileged affordable, stylish and quirky fashion options.

There are three major dunusa markets in the inner city, all of them are easily accessible from Park Station.

ELOFF STREET AND PARK STATION CRAFT AND ACCESSORIES
Directly behind Park Station on De Villiers Street is a craft and accessories market, perfect for bargain on-trend African-inspired fashion and décor. Across the street on a pedestrianised section of Eloff Street, the first dunusa market shares a canopy with a fresh fruit and vegetable market. This is the place to head to for 1950s-style dresses in summer, often in unusual fabrics like velvet. The dresses range from R3 to R50.

DE VILLIERS STREET CLOTHING
A few blocks east, also on De Villiers Street between Wanderers Street and Klein Street lies downtown's largest dunusa market. Head here for vibrantly patterned jumpsuits in summer and quirky blazers in winter. Jumpsuits range from R2 to R50 and blazers range from R20 to R150.

DIAGONAL STREET MARKET
The third dunusa market is found at the start of the pedestrianised section of historic Diagonal Street at the corner of Pixley Ka Isaka Seme (formerly Sauer) and Rahima Moosa (formerly Jeppe) Streets. Take a T1 Rea Vaya bus from Park Station and get off at the Chancellor House Westbound stop. Alternatively take the CBD Gautrain bus and get off at the FNB Bank City stop. Here in winter, you can find Matrix-style leather trench coats for under R150.

HOW TO SHOP AT DUNUSA MARKETS
Prices:
Each stall in the market consists of a trolley filled with clothes. There’s often a standardised price on each stall. For example, in one stall all the clothes in the trolley will be R3. The prices range by season. In summer, for example, tops range from R2 to R50. In winter, however, prices go up and clothes range from R20 to R150. If you’re looking to spot designer pieces, look in the stalls with higher price tags. The most expensive stalls, however, are usually no more than R150. Some of the original designer labels spotted at the dunusas include Guess, Chanel and Gucci. Note that all stalls are cash only and might not have small change.

Sizes: When shopping at the dunusas one interesting quirk quickly becomes clear. The sizing systems should be taken as suggestions, and the key is to look for fit not size. The clothes are sourced from different countries with different sizing systems; you can buy a skirt in a size 10 in one stall, and the perfect jeans in a size 6 at another. To check if a pair of pants will fit you; make a fist then try and fit your forearm in the waist of the pants. If your fist and elbow touch both seams of the pants; it’ll probably fit.

What to bring and wear: When setting out to shop the dunusa market, dress comfortably, leave your valuables at home and bring cash in smaller denominations. Be vigilant and hold bags close to your body. It's best to head to the dunusas in the morning, the inner city is also often less hectic on the weekend.

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