Vintage shoe shopping is very different to other types of shoe shopping. At least, for me it is. My usual obligatory criteria of fit, form and function are cast aside in the far less practical pursuits of designer brands and rare items.
Living in Paris gave me a distinct advantage in my search. In Australia, I’d never really been one for op shopping (except for the occasional bargain $2 Jackie Collins novel). I think it has to do with the fact that Australians are far less likely to own big brand footwear (Chanel, Gucci, Bally) than Europeans to begin with, meaning that the chances of finding your desired object are slim. And, as glad as I am that places like Vinnies exist, I’m uninterested in wearing anybody’s second hand Hush Puppies.
In Paris, however, the chance of stumbling across a vintage pair of Prada boots, or Repetto flats are fairly good – even more so if you know where to look.
Now I may disappoint some of you by saying that I don’t have a secret black book* of the best vintage stores in Paris. Rather, I have a simple piece of advice to offer. Do your vintage shopping in the rich, residential neighbourhoods of Paris. The logic? It is simple, though twofold:
- The ladies who live in these areas have armoires full to bursting with decade’s worth of European designer clothes. And each season they must, of course, clear out their closet to make room for their newest purchases.
- The residential areas have little in the way of tourist attractions, and so none but the most dedicated of vintage shoppers venture there. Therefore, your chances of picking up those elusive two tone Chanel ballet flats have doubled.
That said, my best-ever vintage find wasn’t in a Paris store. In fact, it wasn’t in a store at all, it,was online at Etsy.com. My rare and precious find – a pair of black Bally pumps from the 1970s, in good condition, and only half a size too big.
Despite the fact that I’ve only worn them twice (outside of the apartment, that is) in the year that I’ve owned them, I have never loved a pair of shoes more. I routinely get them out of my cupboard just to admire them.
(*Okay, okay, I’ll let you in on one of my favourite stores: http://www.depot-vente-luxe.fr/fr/ note that here, quality is assured, but bargain basement prices are not.)