A guide to Sydney’s op shops & thrift stores
Go on a modern-day treasure hunt through Sydney’s best op shops, thrift stores and vintage emporiums. From carefully curated boutiques to huge stores jam-packed with fashion, you’ll find unique pieces for a fraction of the price.
In the city
Australian fashion stylists have been visiting The Vintage Clothing Store in the heart of Sydney city for decades to style shoots. It’s a favourite with costume designers too; Wendy Cork sourced most of the hats, gloves and handbags in the shop floor display cabinets for the Australian film Ladies in Black, set in 1959 Sydney, here. It’s a haven of high-quality pieces from the 1880s to the 1980s with dreamy costume jewellery, wool coats and delicate netted hats.
At the western edge of the city, the Red Cross Op Shop at Broadway feels like a cool boutique, with its colour-coded racks, huge piles of denim and boxes of good-as-new t-shirts that have been donated by stores as excess stock. There’s also a small collection of homewares, crockery, books and toys, so you could bag a genuine collector's piece for just a few dollars.
This vibrant inner-city suburb is known for its pubs, cafes and shops, and it’s the place to hunt for one-off vintage finds and seriously cool collectables. Zoo Emporium is bursting with vintage dresses and accessories throughout the eras, from 1920s Art Deco sequined dresses to faux-fur capes and 1940s suits. They also stock a good collection of vintage fascinators, hats and sunglasses.
You’ll find a huge range of retro t-shirts at C’s Flashback, many of them sourced from America, as well as shelves of denim, leather jackets, floral dresses and lots of good quality shoes. Cross the road to dig through scores of Doc Martens, bold retro shirts, bomber jackets and knits at UTurn. If you like the vibe, there are four other UTurn stores across the city in Newtown, Rozelle, Bondi and Punchbowl.
For that perfect mid-century modern sofa or a set of glass Art Deco trifle bowls, Vampt Vintage Design will have what you’re looking for. Their pieces don’t come cheap, but you can consider them an investment in timeless style for your home.
Paddington & Woollahra
William Street in Paddington is known for its crop of Australian designers, but it’s also the place to find luxe vintage labels. For high-end global designs, don’t miss Di Nuovo. This well-established recycled retailer stocks preloved Ferragamo and Hermès scarves, Chanel sunnies, Stella McCartney dresses, and many other beautifully constructed pieces.
At 90 William Street you’ll find long-time consignment store, Pelle Shoes, a fine purveyor of preloved designer shoes, bags and accessories. With new stock every week, there’s Gucci, Givenchy, Marni and more. Just around the corner on Oxford Street, Vinnies Paddington is a favourite with local thrifty fashionistas. You’ll find almost 70 Vinnies second-hand shops across the city, from a brand-new store in Newtown to outlets in West Ryde, Glebe, Waverly and more.
Forever Vintage stocks an exclusive range of hand-picked designer and couture vintage clothing from the 1930s through to the 1980s, mostly imported from Europe and America. This is another store costume that’s popular with filmmakers and they also have a special collection of vintage wedding dresses.
Potts Point is a colourful slice of inner-city Sydney with Parisian-esque tree-lined streets and cool retro finds. Wayside Chapel Op-Shop is a Sydney stylist’s best-kept secret (there’s also an outpost in North Bondi). Set on Hughes St off Macleay, the community op-shop has print dresses, crochet bags, fur jackets and big brands such as Gucci and Ksubi donated by well-dressed supporters. Funds go to important services such as the Twilight Program, which provides evening meals for the homeless.
Potts Point Vintage is on Hughes Street too and owner Arnold has fascinating tales about the Aussie military jackets, vintage wedding dresses and safari suits on sale. It’s a veritable treasure trove and collectors will love the furs, handbags, cufflinks and Art Deco fine china. Expect the unexpected every time you walk in – don’t be surprised to see a taxidermied fox standing next to a patchwork denim jacket from Jean Paul Gaultier.
Clovelly & Bondi
Not far from Clovelly Beach you’ll find a strip of delightful boutiques and coffee haunts, and one of Sydney’s hidden vintage gems, The Frock Exchange. The Frock Exchange is where local, well-heeled ladies take their last season's international and Australian designs. Snap up a preloved Céline bag, Chanel dress or Christian Louboutin heels.
Venla puts a new spin on the concept of second-hand stores. The rent-a-rack model is hugely popular in Finland and allows sellers to display their unwanted items in a proper store, rather than online. Each rack contains around 40 items and is in-store for two weeks, maintained by the Venla staff, who then take a commission. Garments range from designer labels to cheap and cheerful brands like Zara and Seed. The racks change regularly, so it’s worth visiting every couple of weeks. As well as the Venla store in Bondi Junction, there are outposts in Balmain and Mosman.
Newtown is one of Sydney’s most eclectic and alternative suburbs. It’s home to Sydney University, craft breweries, endless cafes and some of the best live music venues in Sydney, giving it a true bohemian vibe. South King Street, which runs from Newtown Train Station down to St Peters, is one of the quirkiest shopping strips in Sydney and a true thrifting paradise. Real King Vintage is one of the suburb’s original second-hand stores and has been dressing the local uni students for years.
Don’t miss the giant shoe wall and the colour-coded racks at Vintage@313. If you’re looking for high-end or one-of-a-kind sneakers, drop in to The Stitch Up or Irreplaceable Store, sitting just a couple of blocks apart. And if records are your thing, Repressed Records has a seriously cool collection. Storeroom Vintage (which recently moved from Surry Hills) has Sydney’s largest collection of vintage clothing from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, including a huge range of classic band t-shirts.
To find the perfect vintage button to repair that one-off blouse or jacket, head to All Buttons Great and Small. The store sources buttons globally and has an expansive collection of over 15,000 plastic, enamel, carved, metal, diamanté buttons and more. Close to the Enmore Theatre, SWOP clothing swap, buy and sell preloved clothing from brands like Acne, Bassike, Scanlan and Theodore, Gorman and Zimmerman. Don’t expect to see any fast fashion on these racks. Look for bellbottom jeans, leather jackets, bright blazers and sunglasses.
Redfern & Alexandria
Redfern has gone from gritty to glam in recent years with small bars, indie boutiques and luxury preloved buys. Blue Spinach on Liverpool Street is one of Australia’s top sellers of things like Chanel sunglasses, Dior dresses and Hermѐs calfskin boots. Every piece is authentic and you’ll get the kind of attentive service you would expect in a luxury boutique.
Set on a quiet corner of a residential street in Alexandria, The Corner Shop is an unexpected goldmine. Set out more like a gallery than a cluttered op shop, each piece has been carefully curated and restored by hand. They have also thoughtfully added in modern sizing and measurements.
Rozelle & Balmain
Tucked away along the inner harbour to the west of the city, the twin suburbs of Rozelle and Balmain have a buzzing arts scene, organic cafes and plenty of classic Aussie pubs. Vintage Times sells exquisite jewellery, including Art Deco diamond rings, vintage fob chains, cocktail rings with various precious stones and an interesting collection of carved Bakelite rings, bangles and brooches. Shopping by appointment only and each visitor is allocated a two-hour timeslot in the studio so they can peruse all the beautiful pieces at leisure.
It’s a mix of vintage and new furniture and homewares at Balmain’s Insider Traders, so it might take a little more digging to find that perfect side table or reading chair. But the owners have a great eye, and this is the place to find a piece that will get your visitors talking.
A few doors further down Darling Street is Quintessential duckeggBlue where a whimsical set of English cricket score numbers sit alongside a leather Chesterfield sofa that’s priced at close to $10,000.
The Restore in Seven Hills is something of a trade secret among serious thrift shoppers. There’s new stock every week and the store itself is an industrial-chic mix of exposed brick, wooden pallets and vintage furniture. The best part is, most of it is seriously cheap with non-designer pieces less than $15. If the prices at the standard UTurn Vintage stores are still too high, head to their massive outlet in Punchbowl.
One of the most popular markets for bric-a-brac, antiques and second-hand clothing is Rozelle Collectors Market, held on the grounds of Rozelle Public School every Saturday and Sunday. Also in the Inner West, Markets at Glebe are held every Saturday and have lots of pre-loved records, clothing, jewellery and furniture alongside handmade local artisan collectables to peruse, as well as delicious food trucks.
Heading east, many Aussie designers started out at the Bondi Markets, a vibrant, bustling hub of beachside style. Hang with the locals and discover vinyl records, fresh flowers and one-off second-hand dresses, jackets and shoes.
Paddington Markets is where iconic Sydney brand Zimmermann famously got their start. Stay ahead of the curve and buy from up-and-coming Sydney fashion designers and browse vintage dresses, fur vests, cocktail rings, leather boots and pre-loved handbags. Meanwhile, Surry Hills Markets specialises in recycled, second-hand and handmade pieces. Stop by the open-air market to search for hidden gems among the racks of vintage clothing and tables of bric-a-brac, before stopping by the community cafe for vegetarian and gluten-free delights.