A stroll around Florence’s lesser-known quarters reveals both second-hand and original vintage treasures, one-off pieces and carefully upcycled clothes.
If Paris and Milan are for women’s fashion, Florence is the place to be for impeccably tailored menswear. Never is this truer than during Pitti Uomo, which took place last month, bringing myriad well-dressed (and some bizarrely attired) men’s clothing buyers to town. Maybe inspired by this long history of tailoring excellence and discerning Florentines, the city is also home to some wonderful second-hand, thrift and vintage stores if you know where to look. Around Florence, these are the ultimate spots to dress as a vintage gentleman for cheap. They are not your usual vintage shops, but secret spots known only by a few.
Polo shirts, sports jackets + one-piece ski suits at the Cascine Tuesday markets
Stretching almost a kilometre long, the legendary Tuesday markets in Cascine Park (viale dei Lecci) are a mixed bag. On first appearance, you’ll find mountains of rip-off swimsuits, “Ghalin Klain” boxer shorts and cheap sunglasses. Dig deeper, however, and you’ll find heaps of vintage polo shirts, tennis shorts, leather jackets, cashmere jumpers and Levi jeans. One of the best places in Cascine is banco number 66, about halfway along on the right-hand side, where they change the stock almost every week: one Tuesday it might be retro All-American sports gear, another week they will sell nothing but colourful ski outfits (for under 10 euro).
Vintage watches + buttons at Sant’Ambrogio market
Open every morning except Sunday, Sant’Ambrogio is more than just a food market. On the north and south walls of the permanent space, the stalls selling old clothes, accessories and antiques are popular among vintage bargain hunters and students. One of my favourite shops is close to via Mino, where you can rifle through trays of second-hand watches in various states of disrepair. Many are missing straps and long since stopped working, but you can occasionally find a serious collector’s item if you’re willing to search. Also pay a visit to the stall dedicated solely to vintage buttons in Nuovo Mercato delle Pulci just over the road, which you can use to accessorize and upcycle your vintage finds.
High-waisted trousers + trench coats at Tartan Vintage
Retro British style is quite popular among certain Florentine flaneurs, who can often be seen in Barbour jackets and chinos as they strut down via de’ Tornabuoni. They pick it all up at Tartan (via dei Palchetti 5a), a dream for anyone who likes 1950s and ‘60s English clothes, just like the dress code from Season 1 and 2 of The Crown on Netflix. In the men’s department, expect pea coats, wool trousers and original high-waisted Gurkha trousers imported directly from Scotland. They also stock an impressive amount of Gucci and Ferragamo shoes, bags, belts and scarves.
Affordable tailored suits at Ditutto Dipiu Mercatino dell’Usato
This cluttered second-hand store (via dei Vanni 56a) is covered in a thin layer of dust. It’s not strictly vintage and you’ll find ten crumpled H&M t-shirts for every good piece. Still, the main appeal is that very few tourists find their way this far out of town. If you spend a bit of time looking, you can pick up a good-quality black tie suit for a lower price than most of the vintage shops in the centre of Florence. Apart from clothes, check out the second-hand bicycles (costing around 60-80 euro for one in fairly decent shape), and accessories like cufflinks, bow ties and scarves.
1970s flares from 21 Giugno 1975
Six years ago, a chance discovery of an old photo of his parents in the Seventies led Daniele Luciani to develop an obsession with vintage clothing. “The name of the shop is my parents’ wedding date as a tribute to them and the amazing clothes they wore back then,” Daniele explains. As well as selling original vintage clothes and deadstock from Florentine designers, 21 Giugno 1975 (via dei Serragli 30 / @21giugno1975) collaborates with designer Alessandro Pelagatti to research and share old vintage clothes and antique curiosities.
Leather brogues from Epoca Vintage
The final stop on this tour around Florence to get the best vintage buys brings us to Epoca (via dei Fossi 6). Finish off your outfit with a pair of well-made leather lace-up shoes or perhaps a pair of old-school, white-and-brown golf shoes, of the type that haven’t been produced for 20 years. Expect vintage sunglasses, jackets and ties.