Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review {Secondhand and Vintage London}

Around the same time that I was contacted by Collectif to review some of their clothes, I was also contacted by Vivays Publishing to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing a couple of their books on the subject of vintage. Well, I love books and I love vintage so I said yes! The first book that I was sent was Secondhand and Vintage London by Andrew Whittaker - now, some of you may wonder what an Australian who (I should add as a disclaimer) has never been to London might have to say on such a book. 

And I was wondering the same myself but I found I actually do have enough to say; the only things I can't comment on, of course, are whether the descriptions given to each places are accurate and that sort of thing. Hopefully this will still be a helpful review, though.


The book is quite a nice size at A5 - it's got a lot of information packed into its 160 pages so if it were any smaller I think it would be too thick and unwieldy. It's small enough to fit into a larger handbag or satchel so easy to cart around with you as well.


There is a reference page that will tell you how to use the book - it is divided up into chapters that each have a theme as well as an 'Only in London' section that has carboot sales, etc. Each entry is organised by location. Then there is the price guide so you know what kind of price-range you're in for at each store (though I always find that pricing and what's affordable and what's expensive will be relative to each individual).


Every store, market, etc., is nicely described by Whittaker and he concisely sums up each place in a few sentences.


As mentioned in the introduction to the book, you won't find high end antique dealers nor are there many charity shops (there is a page dedicated to a small selection toward the end) - instead, Whittaker has assembled a very fine collection of everything that sits in between the two extremes.


The organisation and layout of this book is fantastic - with each chapter providing you with an assortment of stores, markets, etc., combined under a common theme it's very easy to find what you are looking for.


I also think this would be a great book for anyone who is travelling to London and those who live there, alike.


The map section is very well set out using the colour code system from each themed chapter. Each map also has a QR code that you can scan with your smartphone if you find Google maps easier to use than paper maps. The maps accessed on your phone still have the codes for each shop and are updated regularly "to keep pace with London's evolving secondhand and vintage landscape".

One may wonder - why would I buy a book when I could just use google? Which is a valid question but sometimes it's just nice when someone else has done all the (hard, incredibly well researched) work for you! Plus, don't you ever find google overwhelming? Where do you start? I personally find books like this far less overwhelming.

Of course, in this digital age we may also wonder how up to date a book may stay when websites can be updated much more regularly but each of the entries has as much information as you could need - phone numbers, websites, opening hours, etc. - so you can always check up on your favourite entries to make sure they are still there by the time you get around to them. And the online maps, at least, are updated regularly.

And if I didn't want to visit London before (which I did) then I most certainly do now!

Vivays Publishing | Secondhand & Vintage London

TL;DR - well organised, articulate & concise, comprehensive, easy to use & navigate.

Andi B. Goode


  1. Sounds a good buy! Although as a Londoner, a good 50% of Charity shops aren't 'low end' anymore and have specialists picking out the designer and vintage- certainly MUCH more expensive than bootsales- so I'm surprised (as this is a London phenomenon) it isn't covered. Mind you, I'm not too unhappy because we all have our secret faves and are quite possessive about where they are and keeping them 'secret'!

  2. Perdita: 'high end' (and therefore the implication 'low end') was my own - shops are definitely getting more like that here, too. Though I would still say that there is a huge gap between that and an antique store that sells...whatever it is you get in a top notch Antique store (I think it's obvious I don't shop in them hahah). There is one page with about 5 charity shops on it but, oh I definitely get what you mean about 'secrets' ;)


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