(by Hannah Thomson/Barcelona Metropolitan) Vibrant and urban, the Raval and Gothic neighbourhoods have, over the years, become the vintage hub of Barcelona, their backstreets full of secondhand and vintage shops. It’s no wonder that these stores are thriving.
Amidst the economic crisis, here are classic and unique looks with lasting appeal for half the price of new items. With a look at how they came about, here are some of the best vintage shops that Barcelona has to offer.
Jean-Claude Mesana opened his first vintage shop in Paris in 1988 under the name Frip-o-kilo, ‘frip’ coming from the French word friperie meaning ‘thrift shop’. Jean-Claude was inspired by an old French man, in a small town on the French-Swiss border, who every Saturday morning opened his warehouse to sell bags of secondhand clothes by weight. This idea became phenomenally successful in France and Germany, and in 1992, Jean-Claude and his wife Danielle brought the concept to Barcelona with Kilostore. It was the first store in Spain to charge the customer by the weight of the material.
Best for: Ready-made outfits. You can pick ‘n’ mix your outfit or take inspiration from the already put-together outfits dotted around the store, which add up the kilos for you and give you a ‘total look’ price.
Riera Baixa 11.
Holala! is also run by Kilostore owners Jean-Claude and Danielle. They began to dabble in all things vintage back in the seventies in Ibiza during what Jean-Claude calls, “the hippy times”. Danielle went into the vintage business after a career in fashion and modelling, followed by Jean, who previously worked in advertising, but for whom vintage has become his “passion and profession”. Holala! handpicks items from all over the world and, in 1978, their Ibiza store was the first in Europe to import vintage clothing from Japan. Their stores are a family enterprise and are now run by their daughter Charlotte, who was born into the vintage industry.
Best for: More than just clothes. Holala! sells furniture, accessories, magazines, books and video games. It boasts some famous customers and also lends its collections to TV and film productions.
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Flamingos Vintage Kilo
Flamingos Vintage Kilo was started by Daniel Martinez in Madrid in a tiny 14m2 space and has since expanded to include seven stores throughout Spain. Three of these are in the Raval, including an outlet shop in the Flamingos Gallery on Tallers 68 which opened in 2013. Flamingos joined the growing trend of selling clothes by weight in 2009. When asked why Flamingos chose to go that route, Daniel answered that “It’s something original and fun, plus we have the best market prices.”
Best for: A little bit of everything. The size of the Flamingos Raval stores means you can find almost anything you want. Everything is selected from the US and they have a great range for men—all the lumberjack shirts, denim and leather jackets you ever dreamed of.
Lullaby was opened in 2009 by Catalan couple Joan and Africa. Vintage was always a big part of their lives, and when they both found themselves without work, they took the plunge and opened the shop. The couple, who are more than happy to offer some knowledgeable advice, hunt down their goods throughout Europe; particularly Italy and Paris. Joan says that the reason vintage works so well in Barcelona is that the city is cosmopolitan and cheap, and being both fashionable and affordable, Lullaby certainly fits the bill.
Best for: Accessories. From a bargain box of handbags to a collection of designer bags and a wonderful array of sunglasses in cabinets, Lullaby has it all.
Reira Baixa 22.
Uber Den Wolken
Über Den Wolken, German for ‘above the clouds’, was started by German-born Julia Breiter. She chose to bring her vintage shop to the Raval in Barcelona because she “fell in love with the unique mixture of creativity, functionality and the inspiring surroundings”. Über began for Julia about 10 years ago when she was studying in Florence and started scouting the local flea markets, igniting a lasting passion for vintage and secondhand clothing.
Best for: Creative activities. Not only does Julia invest her time in hunting down great vintage wear, she also organises exhibitions and cooking classes on the top floor of the shop.