The home of haute couture, Paris is a world shopping capital with enough high-end boutiques to strike fear into the heart of any bank manager. However, inexpensive retail therapy is plentiful for those who venture beyond the glossy grands magasins (department stores) of traditional shopping districts, snapping up bargains in the city's jumble sales and stocks (designer outlets).
Vintage-hunters flock to the 11th arrondissement’s Marché Rétro d'Oberkampf for its exquisite accessories; from dainty clutches, elegant brooches and designer heels, to restored timepieces and eyewear frames. Held on varying weekends throughout each month in a warehouse off Paris's trendy rue Oberkampf (with a new, larger location to be revealed soon), the market also features fashion from eras past, often in excellent condition. Quality comes at a price however, with most items selling for upwards of 50 euros. Anne-Elyse, a fashion student, is a regular on the jumble sale circuit. "They are classier than traditional flea markets," she said, "there's less mess to dig through."
The Vide-Grenier Rétro-Vintage de Fifties Sound (held on varying Sundays throughout each month) is – as the name suggests – for aficionados of the 1950s. Heaving with punters young and old, the 11th arrondissement market attracts zoot-suited gentlemen and ladies flaunting 1950s frocks and glamorous up-dos, while performances from rockabilly musicians and dancers keep the atmosphere festive. Plus, there is the veritable vintage treasure trove, from battered leather handbags and silk scarves, to 1980s-style embellished cardigans and Lurex maxi-dresses. A Chanel bolero was up for grabs for 50 euros, unworn jade serpent slingbacks were only 35 euros and a bordeaux croco purse with gold chain was available for 30 euros. Founder "Turky" said his event is a continuation of "what people have always done: swap and sell pre-loved goods, because boutiques aren't accessible to everyone".
In an airy loft tucked behind the 11th arrondissement Place de la Bastille is the smaller Braderie Chic (held one Saturday per month), where Parisian fashionistas gather to sell their unwanted clothing. Second-hand pieces, which start at around 20 euros, and the odd new item from labels such as Chloé, Isabel Marant, Sonia Rykiel and Vanessa Bruno, are major draws. Agnes Aoudai, the event's organiser, said luxury designer brands are the most in demand. "The Prada, Dior and Louboutin shoes go in a flash, even if the buyer can't fit into them!" she said. "They won't have any use for them but still – they have them!"
Die-hard vintage fans are no strangers to the pop-up boutique at Au Bon Coin (30 rue Montcalm; 06-03-69-18-98; varying weekends) in the city's 18th arrondissement, home to a vintage sale that spans three days. The store practically overflows with clothing and accessories from the 1920s to the 1980s, in a kaleidoscope of colours. All the usual suspects are present: Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin, Dior, Celine and Chanel, but surprises can also be found, with rare labels such as Charles Jourdan, Karl Lagerfeld and Tod's. With prices averaging around 10 to 15 euros for beautiful baubles, second-hand gems are the most popular items. Event founder and self-described chineur (bargain-hunter) Emmanuel Prévost said that vintage is a way for his clients to own quality articles at reasonable prices. “It's difficult for young people who like to dress up and wear nice things because they often can't afford to buy brand new Hermès,” he said.
Somewhere between jumble sale and vintage boutique, Kilo Shop (with two locations in the 4th and 6th arrondissements) offers a unique concept: recycled clothing and accessories priced according to the items' weight. In scenes reminiscent of a supermarket's fruit and vegetable section, shoppers weigh their haul on scales that are dotted around the store. Kilo Shop's Head of Coordination and Development, Eric Rey, described the concept as “a return to basics – a conscious effort to do our bit for the planet. Why buy a 100-euro pair of jeans that have been put through a machine to get that distressed, worn-in look when you can buy the real thing for 15 euros?”