The affordable travel trend that’s shining a new light on city breaks

When it comes to retail therapy, there is surely no greater joy than that of unearthing a rare find tucked away on a rail in a thrift shop; wondering what previous life, or lives, it led, revelling in the simple pleasure of bagging a true bargain. Then there’s the smug satisfaction of someone asking you where you got it. “Oh it’s vintage, from that city break we took.”

If you can get to know a culture through its art, its architecture and its cuisine, you can equally embrace it through its fashion. For an increasing number of fashionistas, one answer to the very of-the-moment question of how we can travel more mindfully and more sustainably is to shop second-hand. 

And given this year’s wince-worthy economic forecast, with households set to be £1,200 worse off on average, there’s never been a better time to join those embracing the growing trend of “thrifting”. According to a global report by fashion resale platform Thredup, the resale market is growing at a rate 11 times faster than traditional retail, and is estimated to be worth £63 billion by 2030. The fashion industry accounts for around 10 per cent of global carbon emissions and 20 per cent of wastewater: by already being in the system, second-hand clothes account for zero.

With holidays front of mind again, if you are off to a foreign city and have the time, money and inclination to shop, you may want to prioritise second-hand shopping over heading to the nearest department store. High-street fashion is becoming increasingly homogeneous; not a charge that can be levelled at thrift or vintage stores. They may be harder to find than the monolithic H&Ms that occupy every major high street in Europe and beyond, but, once found, the rewards can be far sweeter.

From specialist vintage emporia to thrift stores to charity shops in affluent neighbourhoods that yield great treasures, these are the second-hand shops worth tracking down in some of the world’s most popular cities. these are the second-hand shops worth tracking down in some of the world’s most popular cities. 


A week in Berlin wouldn’t be long enough to explore the rich and varied second-hand stores that pepper the city. The Neukolln, Friedrichshain and Mitte districts are particularly fertile grounds.

Paul’s Boutique

Not so much a niche find as a mini empire, there are four Paul’s Boutiques in Berlin. Head for this one; it also has a sister store next door, Goo, which only sells designer brands, with a focus on avant-garde ones such as Comme des Garcons, Alexander McQueen and Helmut Lang.

The details: Oderberger StraBe 47, 10435 (00 49 30 44033737;

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