Look Good

A beginner’s guide to vintage shopping in the North East

New to vintage? HLN's Bekki Ramsay has put together a beginners guide so you can look stylish, have unique pieces in your wardrobe and help save the planet.

Written by High Life North
Published 13.03.2020

By Bekki Ramsay

Did you know that an estimated £140million worth of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK alone every year? At 350,000 tonnes, this is THIRTY times as heavy as the Eiffel Tower.

With this in mind, I believe there are all little changes we could make in our lifestyles to better the environment. Now, one of the ways could be by shopping more sustainably – or in this case, second-hand.

Four Reasons to Favour Second-Hand Clothes Shopping

It’s a lot more sustainable

I think the vintage shop owner, Helen Belles, has summed this up the best: “As much as the majority of us love to shop and look our best, I think the time has come that it can no longer be at the expense of our planet. When you buy vintage or pre-loved items, you’re not only saving unwanted clothes from ending up in a landfill but you’re slowing down the need for the fast fashion movement.”

Vintage items are usually higher quality

A lot of the time, high-street retailers skimp on production value to provide a low price-point, however with vintage clothing, this isn’t the case at all.  Vintage shop owner, Rachael, from The Yesterday Society, also confirmed this. “As a rule, vintage items are generally created to a higher level of quality than fast fashion items, therefore, making them last longer.”

Also, Helen Belle’s “advice to anyone who is shopping for vintage for the first time is to not get too disheartened as you won’t always find what you’re looking for immediately. Instead, it helps to know your measurements and carry a tape measure with you as vintage sizes tend to measure up a lot smaller than modern day sizes.

You can make your personality more prominent with vintage

When you shop for vintage clothes, there’s the bonus of being able to “stand out from the crowd and express yourself with your fashion clothes. [Rachael from the Yesterday Society] loves experimenting with clothes and mixing different eras together and would advise everyone to have more fun with fashion.”

It’s less likely to break the bank

If you’re willing to put the time into searching for an item, you’re much more likely to find a bargain. That’s why we’ve uncovered the top vintage shops in the toon and beyond – all of which offer quality vintage clothing at affordable prices.

Revealed: Our Favourite Vintage Shops to Visit in the North East

Helen Belle’s Vintage

Visit here if you’re interested in picking up a classic 80’s midi dress. Not only are they super versatile and easy to wear, but they usually have pockets!

Prices start as little as £10 for a blouse and can go up to £55 for a coat. Naturally, prices for dresses, skirts and jackets are in-between.

How did Helen Belle’s Vintage start?

Helen has always had a love of fashion and shopping but found herself becoming increasingly frustrated with not being able to find what she liked on the high street. So instead she decided to give second-hand shopping a go and fell in love with her first-ever vintage dress.

 But to her total surprise, she also discovered she had a new-found passion for vintage fashion overall. After countless purchases, this new craze left her with a bursting wardrobe so much so that she decided it was time to share her love of finding treasures with others. She then began her business, a stall at Tynemouth Market called ‘Helen Belle’s Vintage’

What makes Helen Belle’s Vintage unique?

Every single item in the shop is carefully picked by Helen herself. As a self-confessed perfectionist, only the best will do. She also believes that vintage pieces should be able to work alongside people’s everyday items so is very careful about what she buys. Most importantly, Helen also chooses items she believes she will wear herself rather than following a particular vintage trend.

Where is Helen Belles Vintage based?

Online via Etsy or at Tynemouth Market, every Sunday between 9am – 3:30pm. Helen also regularly updates her Instagram with her ‘new in’ collection.

The Yesterday Society

Visit here if you want a brightly coloured shirt or shell suit jacket. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that they do also sell an extensive range of other products!

Prices start as little as 50p for a vintage pin badge to a £95 custom made 1960’s twinset made by a tailor on Maddison Avenue. The Yesterday Society pride themselves on being as affordable as possible to allow vintage to be accessible to all – so much that the majority of the items they sell are under £30.

 How did the Yesterday Society start?

The Vintage Society was set up in 2013 by Rachael and her former business partner, Rosie, who both worked together at the Tyneside Cinema. However, they shared the ambition to one day open up a vintage shop. Luckily, that dream became a reality when one lunch break, they decided to look at a vacant unit in the Grainer Market. And just like that, the Yesterday Society was formed.

 Since then, Rosie has moved to San Francisco and Rachael still runs the Grainger store and has expanded to a concession in the independent business hub, Flea Circus.

What makes the Yesterday Society unique?

Rachael has always been an advocate for vintage clothing so much so that despite studying Human Geography at Northumbria, she still managed her write her dissertation on vintage clothing and identity creation.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise that every item she sells is unique and quirky. She also prides herself in offering a personalised service, perfect for those that are new to vintage shopping or who are after a particular item. Best of all, if you become a regular customer, you’re in great hands as she goes out of her way to message regular customers when she finds something she thinks they will love.

Where is The Yesterday Society based?

The Yesterday Society’s home is still based in the Grainger Market, Newcastle. Opening times are Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm.

Flea Circus

Visit here if you want to find a unique piece in the 200 square metre shop chock full of brilliant stuff. Not only do they sell clothes, but they also have an extensive range records, comics, curiosities, handmade jewellery and so much more.

 Prices start at £10 as they’re big believers in providing ‘Newcastle prices’ for their customers.

 How did the Flea Circus start?

Jess and Jim set up the Flea Circus as they both wanted to sell their furniture, but they didn’t have the money or time to set it up themselves. So instead, they used their initiative and created a unique shopping hub for local independent businesses.

 To sum up the Flea Circus, the shop space is made up of 35 independent businesses, with the rule that each person has to complete one shift per month. With these alternating shifts, it not only allows the business to be open six day a week but for the entrepreneurs and creatives to do what they do best in their spare time – find, fix, make and sell.

 What makes Flea Circus unique?

Although the Flea Circus sells a range of products, what makes this shop unique for fashion enthusiasts that they have six vintage clothing sellers. Each seller – Lisa, Hap, Nana Sylvia’s Wardrobe, Lazy One, Vintage Revival and the Yesterday Society – bring their own style to the shop, so there’s always a wide selection for both men and women.

Where is the Flea Circus based?

The Flea Circus fan be found on 210 Warwick Street in Newcastle. Opening times are as follows: Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 6pm, and on Saturday – Sunday

Curiosity Box

Visit here if you want to support a business that gives back to the community.

Prices start at £5 as they try to keep their prices low to cater for everyone.

 How did the Curiosity Box start?

The Curiosity Box started with a love for vintage and two racks of clothing in January 2018, however, in two years, their shop has gained so much popularity that they now have three rooms full of clothing.

What makes the Curiosity Box unique?

The Curiosity Box believe in supporting local businesses and, therefore, only buy vintage clothing from local people, ensuring that every single piece is hand-picked.

 They also believe in up-cycling and believe that the amount of clothing wastage in this current throwaway society is simply, terrifying. With this in mind, they try to repair as many products as possible after purchasing them. Then whatever they can’t repair for sale goes to a local homeless shelter or if it’s unwearable, it goes to a cat and dog shelter. To sum it up – they don’t waste anything.

 What’s more, after looking at their reviews on Facebook, I was surprised to find that all 33 reviews were 5/5 stars – with most customers emphasising how unique the products were, and also how friendly the owners are.

Where is the Curiosity Box based?

The three-room vintage shop can be found at 115 Chillingham Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne. Opening hours are Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm and on Saturday, they are open from 9am – 5pm.

We also love...


Founded by super-stylish Louisa Rodgers, Trendlistr curates a high-quality collection of wearable vintage from 70s prints to designer pieces and also offers styling appointments for those who are new to vintage shopping or want some advice.  Louise also designs her own collection which is inspired by vintage and led by trends.

“When I started to see the parallels between vintage clothing and what was on the catwalk, I realised that fashion was always in conversation with itself: a blend of the old and the new. I think that’s when it really captured my imagination. I love to see how trends reappear and get reimagined, and that’s my process with Trendlistr.”
— Louisa Rogers, Founder & Designer 

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