Vintage Shopping in Berlin: Where to Go to Get Exactly What You Want
My smart, beautiful, talented friend Galen is currently living in Germany and traipsing around Europe so OBVIOUSLY I begged her to do a series of guest posts for you guys. Ok, she actually didn't make me beg, but offered it up, because she is an amazing friend and super supportive. Follow her adventures over on IG 👋 @heyitsgalen - without further ado, here she is!
For my first guest post (oh yes, there will be more), Cyn and I decided that something about shopping vintage in Berlin would be a good blend of clothes and travel - two things we’re both always down for and that you can find plenty of here at Postcards and Polkadots.
As I’ve discovered, typing “shopping in *insert large metropolis here*” yields results that are… mostly boring, tbh. The results for Berlin are typically the larger malls or high-end shopping streets.
What I’m looking for are those little independent stores that are reasonably priced and are more unique than chain stores in terms of style. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, if you love exploring guide-less), these are the types of stores that you will typically stumble upon when you are not looking. And Berlin is full of these types of stores, and then some.
Actually, no matter your style, I think you would be hard pressed to walk away empty handed from a shopping excursion in this city of anything-goes-please-yourself style.
...but just in case, I’ll give you some tips, yes?
Vintage in Berlin
I’m starting with vintage because it fits neatly into its own category. AND because Berlin has so many options for vintage shopping - from the cooly curated to the jumble sale - so if the thrill of the hunt is what you’re after, prepare to be thrilled!
Now, admittedly, vintage shopping is not my favourite. First, because I have a very particular style and I tend to stick quite closely to it. When I’m shopping it is usually with a particular item in mind (still searching for the perfect black maxi dress, and don’t even get me started on The Great Denim Vest Hunt of ‘15).
Also, I’m impatient. Vintage stores are, rightly so, never uniform and this does not mesh well with my shopping style; I get a little overwhelmed.
HOWEVER, I appreciate the art of vintage shopping and am always happy to explore what is on offer, especially when wandering the streets of a new city. So, with that said, let me introduce you to four stores where you can shop the best vintage in Berlin.
HUMANA - Frankfurter Tor
Its big. Like, four floors big. But this space allows HUMANA to spread out and organize items and not cram their wares on each rack upon rack (a particularly nerve wracking experience - see what I did there?). This location is easily shoppable with a specific section on each floor, organized by clothing item and colour. There is even a housewares section.
Humana is definitely a second hand store, everything is affordable and the store is organized, but it is totally unpretentious. My favourite thing about Humana? Clothing sorted by colour, I can ignore everything else and head right to the black (very specific shopper, remember?).
The outerwear section is also fantastic, easy to pick up an affordable jacket/coat/parka to survive each season in Berlin. Humana has fifteen (FIFTEEN) locations in Berlin and also has shops in Hamburg, Cologne, Leipzig and Dresden.
Picknweight - Mitte
This store is not only super cool as a concept, but it is also located in a major shopping area making it a unique stop in between chain stores like H&M and upscale specialty stores like Ben Sherman.
Clothing items are categorized by coloured tag which corresponds to a price by weight: how much you pay is based on the weight of your items. However, most bags, shoes and scarves are fixed price, meaning you pay what the price tag on them says.
My personal favourite part about this store is the selection of bags. Picknweight offers a great selection of (fixed price) vintage leather bags of all shapes and sizes from all eras.
If it’s 70s boho you’re after you won’t be disappointed, likewise for 80s retro.
As for organization and layout, there is a loose organization by colour, but there is sort of a jumble sale vibe to the place, so be prepared to do a bit of digging. There are also locations in Cologne and Munich and a few others in Berlin.
A friend came away from an impromptu shopping excursion here with a short sleeved, cropped lavender leather jacket - perfectly suited to her indie style and the climate in her hometown of LA (Hi, Justine!). I, however, came away empty handed after desperately trying to wedge my 8.5 sized feet into size 8 hot pink desert boots (see what happens when I try to branch out??).
Made in Berlin - Mitte
This one also belongs to the Picknweight brand. Located in the same central shopping area as the one described above, Made in Berlin has a less overwhelming layout. With two levels, items are organized on smaller racks by item and colour.
If you’re easily overwhelmed (ahem), this might be the Picknweight stop for you. While there is less selection here than the other Picknweight or HUMANA, the space is bright and easy to navigate.
And they have a great selection of leather jackets, vintage heels and Chucks (photographic evidence included).
Rocking Chair - Friedrichshain
This one is a little off the beaten path. Rocking Chair is tucked away on a side street in the Boxhagener Platz neighbourhood of Friedrichshain. Its small and unassuming from the outside. But the leopard print fur coats in the window definitely caught my eye.
This place is vintage in the truest sense, carrying all sorts of items from the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Furs, jewellery, aviation jackets, and I don’t know whether I should tell you that there is an entire section of Hawaiian shirts or an entire section of vintage beachwear but ooops I just told you about both?
It almost feels like going into a museum of kitsch, and I mean that in the best way possible. If you’re in the neighbourhood stop in and pick up a genuine bowling shirt!
There you have it, friends! I hope you've been sufficiently encouraged to bring an empty suitcase to Berlin and spend days if not weeks just scouring the incredible shops. You wouldn't regret it, I promise you that!
Don't forget to follow Galen for more excellent Berlin (and other European) tidbits!