The main reason I tagged along on Patrick’s business trip to SXSW was because I’d never been to Austin and the city seemed to offer up a decent amount of vintage shops to check out.
I checked out four areas of Austin, leaving out at least two good sized shopping areas due to time, proximity, lack of a car and my feet hurting, so I’m not too sure if my opinion on Austin “vintage” is all that true, but for me, I found it rather…lackluster. This was mainly because a good chunk of the “vintage” wasn’t really vintage at all, at least in my book. My definition of “vintage” with regards to clothing is the 1930s to the 1970s, which is pretty broad in my circle of friends. The 1920s and earlier is “antique” and as of this moment, the 1980s and newer is just “second-hand”. With the exception of two shops, most of the inventory of the stores offered up more Buffalo Exchange like garments. They were just selling second-hand goods and maybe had a few true vintage pieces. Which is fine, just not me.
The two shops I was really impressed with (although I didn’t buy anything at either shop) were Flashback and Amelia’s. Both shops were situated in adorable old homes along South First Street with lots of charm and loads of garments and accessories.
The shops are well curated with items that are selected for their style and uniqueness. Flashback offered up a combination of earlier pieces with a handful of later pieces, and was predominately of items from the 1960s. There was also a very decent mens section with so many wonderful items, it was kind of a bummer Patrick wasn’t there to shop too!
Amelia’s is where you’ll find the true vintage and even antique. Delicate turn-of-the-century garments hang along side flapper coats and glamorous dresses of the 40s. Then there’s the accessories to take in… Shoes, purses and a glorious selection of hats abound and rhinestones sparkle and Bakelite shines from the counter display case.
Like Flashback, Amelia’s also offers menswear too! A pretty good section too with a wide variety of items and styles.
The shop owner has been into vintage since her teens and has been dealing in vintage for nearly 30 years and is very, very knowledgeable.
I also enjoyed shopping on South Congress, which was home to many more wonderful shops and a stellar more antique mall like venue, Uncommon Objects. They carried beautiful bits and bobbles of home decor and knick-knacks with a bit of vintage clothing thrown in. Then there was the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store where I picked up three glorious newer western wear shirts…
But maybe my favorite find was this new addition to my Mexican tourist jacket collection.
I picked this up at Ragalicious, another fabulous store on South First.
Austin was pretty good to me, I’d say so. Let’s hope Palm Springs is just as nice if not more so! Stay tuned for one more Austin post tomorrow, y’all!
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14 comments on “Austin Vintage”
I agree every time I drive up and visit and try to find anything vintage I’m always very disappointed. 3 times I really tried on 3 different occasions I left with 1 thing each time.
I lived in Austin for a little while and my vintage experience was great. True, that you have to sift through a bunch of crap or crappy stores to find those true gems but once you do its worth it 🙂 I found the best ones on the square between Congress,1st, 71, and the river. There are even free buses that will take you around the different shopping districts in the area, or at least there was 5 years ago when I lived there. There are some really good ones scattered around town, but I dont remember where.
I’m heading to the West Coast of the US soon (from Australia) and would love any vintage shopping tips if you have any to share!
Fran, I’d love to help you out! I think the first thing to do is do a Yelp search for “vintage” and “antiques” in the city you’re visiting. Read reviews, but always take them with a grain of salt. All shops that carry second-hand items can’t totally control their inventory. There are times when I go into buy-sell-trade shops and there will be no vintage to speak of, but other days there will be loads! Also be aware of lighting. I’ve come home with damaged goods because the lighting wasn’t all that great. So take your items to a well-lit area of the shop if you can to take a closer look.
Thanks Janey! I’m super excited about the trip, as while we have some vintage here, its usually well overpriced and usually the vintage stores have imported it from the US & Europe anyway (with a massive mark-up of course!).
Where are you off to?
Palm Springs should be a great place to vintage shop! That’s where a lot of the big movie and TV stars retired, and they would donate clothes to shops there. Here is an article that mentions some of them–
Also, I typed in vintage stores in that area and came up with quite a few hits. We lived in Palm Desert for a short while 3o years ago, but I was too broke to go to any of them then. If you get near LA, there is a whole avenue of stores where they sell vintage!
My other half is in Austin right now at the SXSW music festival!! All the way from Wales. I’ll have to tell him about these vintage haunts and get him to buy me a present….
Those shirts are absolutely killer! Love each one, as well as your awesome new jacket! I can’t help but think they’d all be perfect to wear to Calgary, Alberta’s famous stampede which takes place every July (coincidentally, during the week of my birthday, and when I used to live there, the whole town always felt like an extension of my birthday party because of the happy, festive mode everyone was in because of the stampede).
Thank you for sharing your take on some of Austin’s vintage scene with us. It’s great that you were able to find a few shops offering up true vintage (and even antique pieces) still.
Those last two cowboy shirts look fab on you! Especially the turquoise
Love the jacket. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in just black and green.
WOW! The western shirt with rose embroidery is amazing!! Plus the mexican tourist jacket is great! I still haven’t gotten my hands on one of those, but I’m always on the lookout.
That jacket is just beautiful. And I know what you mean about ‘vintage’ shops carrying items from 80s to early 00s – I am ok with this but I like to know what I’m getting into before I visit them. In my mind those items are perhaps ‘retro’ but not vintage.
As an Austinite and fellow lover of vintage, I can totally agree with your statement of finding the Austin vintage scene lackluster. So many shops here have thrown a bunch of what I call “hipster vintage” into a space and tag it with the line vintage. There’s definitely a lot of 80s and 90s which I know is technically vintage but not in my book. Amelia’s and Flashback are by far the Austin gems and local favorites of mine!