Belfast has a long tradition of buying and selling second-hand clothes, predominantly at Smithfield and St George’s markets. However, there are still few second-hand shops located in the city centre, especially in comparison with other cities in Ireland and Britain.
Most second-hand stores are charity shops, selling clothing donated for a good cause. One place that sells vintage clothing in the city is the Clothes Agency in the Spires Centre and Mall in Wellington Street. The flamboyant shop also sells clothes and accessories made by young local designers.
A good place for bargain hunting is the Lisburn Road in south Belfast, which contains numerous charity shops. Combat Cancer is the largest, and alongside clothing it sells bric-a-brac and the odd piece of furniture. It is very popular with locals and students alike, offering everything from the conventional to the eccentric.
Also on the Lisburn Road is Déjà Vu, for a long time the only designer second-hand store in the city. It buys and sells good quality designer outfits, shoes, accessories and eveningwear for a commission. In 2004, it celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a large fashion show in Queen’s University Common Room.
A shop in aid of Barnardos has recently opened close to Déjà Vu. It also sells designer outfits and Cherie Blair donated one of her dresses to it.
Botanic Avenue, near Queen’s University, has two charity clothes stores. The Rusty Zip is a commercial retailer, specialising in vintage clothing from the 60s, 70s and 80s. It also has pieces from earlier periods.
The Ormeau Road also has some interesting charity shops.