Vintage clothes in Bangkok

Always a fun time

What we say: 3.5 stars

As someone who grew up with a father who would dumpster dive for kitchen tiles, and a mother who would drag home tattered couches from the street curbs, I was taught early about the natural high of stumbling across a ‘find’. You know, the shopping euphoria that washes over you when you find the most beautiful garment at the bottom of the five-dollar bin, wrinkled and smelling like a grandma, but bursting with potential. It’s become an addiction.

Old is the new new.

Though shiny spankin’ newness is the preferred Bangkok ascetic, vintage-chic has been a popular new look, especially in the Thai hipster crowd. But unfortunately, new is still godly, and clothing is mass-produced to only appear like it was made in a past era. This aging clothing effect often backfires to emphasise its cheapness, like a bad nose job.

For the brave ones looking for authentic vintage clothing, or those who would like to practise recycling even with their fashion, Union Mall in Lad Prao is the perfect find. Open every day and easy to get to from the Phahon Yothin MRT, Union is an air-con, convenient, and almost empty alternative to the vintage clothing shopping experience at Chatuchak Market or Thonburi.

Rolled up sleeves and ready to rumble.

Union Mall, which is opposite Central Lad Prao shopping mall, is smaller and less assuming than its giant neighbor, with cheaper street-stall style stores catering to a young Thai university crowd. Even those who often frequent Union might easily have missed the vintage section, which is hidden on the fifth floor of the shopping centre. While the second and third floors are lively and full of shoppers, the fourth floor is a boarded up, and the fifth is largely bypassed to get to the movie theatre on the sixth floor. On the fifth, each of the vintage stalls has slightly different hours, and many of the spaces remain permanently unoccupied, giving the whole floor an empty feeling.

Don’t let the abandoned warehouse ambiance fool you, though: I guarantee you will go home with more than one shopping bag filled with vintages goods, even with designer brand names that would go for 600 times the prices elsewhere. Skirts and dresses are around 100 to 200 baht, though the vendors are open to negotiating, especially if you buy more than one. If you’ve bought out the fifth floor, you can also ride the elevators down to the third floor, where there are even more vintage finds on “2nd hand street”, though these stalls seem to sell more of a hybrid of retro, high-quality clothing and cheap modern goods.

There's always a sale on the fifth floor.

Wear an outfit that is easy to slip things over, as there are no dressing rooms and stripping down is not appropriate in Thailand (along with most other countries). Vendors will have mirrors and elasticised skirts, which closely resemble shower curtains, for you to use to cover up your bottom half while you change. When you are done? Complete a new look with synthetic hair extensions or nails on the second floor, or try Thailand’s spin on American steak at Jeffer on first floor.

More details
Union Mall, 5th (and 3rd) floor, 54 Lat Phrao Rd, Bangkok
Opening Hours: The mall is open daily from 11:00-21:00, but 12:00 to 16:00 is an ideal time to catch the vintage st
How to get there: Union Mall is opposite Central Lad Phrao mall and can be easily reached from Phahon Yothin MRT station.
Last updated: 17th May, 2014

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Vintage clothes in Bangkok
Union Mall, 5th (and 3rd) floor, 54 Lat Phrao Rd, Bangkok
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