The Thrifting Capitals Of The World
Thrifting is a sustainable shopping trend that is currently thriving around the world. Many people see thrifting as a greener alternative to the fast fashion industry.
Thrifting involves prioritising the purchasing of second-hand clothing from places like flea markets, vintage clothing stores, charity shops, or even online. Thrifted items are often sold at heavily discounted prices when compared to buying new, but where can you find the thrifting capitals of the world?
We have scoured the map to reveal the best locations for thrifting shopping from around the globe, as well as discovering the thrifting capitals of Europe, plus the best places to go thrifting in the UK. We have also revealed the nations that are spending the most time searching for vintage football shirts online.
Using a data-led points scoring system that takes into account the number of vintage, thrift, charity and second–hand shops, plus the number of flea markets, car boot and garage sales, as well as the population of each city, we have determined where you can find the best places for sustainable fashion.
What is the best thrifting capital in the world?
The citizens of the USA are truly doing their part in promoting sustainable fashion trends, with locations in the USA dominating the thrift shopping scene. Ninety per cent of the world’s top ten thrifting cities are located in the USA.
Los Angeles is officially the thrifting capital of the world, ranking first place with a total score of 408. Los Angeles has plenty of places to go thrifting, too, with 240 vintage or charity shops spread across the city, plus 168 flea markets and car boot sales, meaning that the 3,898,747 citizens of L.A. can shop as sustainably as they like - perfect for the many wardrobe departments of Hollywood.
The world’s second-best thrifting city is New York City, receiving a total score of 379. New York City is home to one of the largest populations on the planet, with 8,804,190 people living in the city. However, the Big Apple boasts a large collection of thrift stores to match, with over 350 thrifting locations for savvy fashionistas to pick up something special.
The third spot, and the only city outside of the USA in the top ten, goes to Berlin as the capital of Germany is also the European capital of thrifting, with a total score of 296. Berlin is famous around the world for its various subcultures and alternative fashion scene, so it is no surprise that you can find almost 300 vintage or charity shops, flea markets and second-hand sales.
The fourth spot takes us back to California with San Jose receiving a total score of 292, while California contributes another city to the top ten, with San Diego clinching joint sixth place with a total score of 283. Despite San Jose having a smaller population than San Diego - 1,013,240 San Jose citizens to 1,386,932 people of San Diego - but San Jose proves a better place for thrifting with 52 flea markets and car boot sales compared to the 43 in San Diego.
The rest of the top ten is made up of cities across the USA, including Philadelphia in fifth place (291), Houston in joint sixth place with San Diego (283), plus Chicago and Dallas tying for eighth place (281) and finally, Portland claiming tenth spot (277).
What’s the best country in Europe for thrifting?
Europe is blessed with a thriving thrifting scene, with thousands of flea markets and charity shops trading second-hand clothing over the counter and online every day. But where can Europe’s thrift capitals be found?
The official thrifting capital of Europe is Berlin, with the German capital city receiving a total score of 296. Berlin boasts one of the largest populations in Europe with 3,654,000 people living within the city, who are blessed with a choice of 240 vintage and charity shops, plus 56 flea markets and car boot sales.
The second best thrifting city in Europe is Helsinki, which receives a total score of 264. The Finnish capital has a slightly smaller population than some other European capital cities, but the sustainable fashion scene in Finland is thriving, with 215 thrifting stores in the city plus 49 flea markets and car boot sales.
Third place is clinched by London, with a total score of 262. London’s second-hand fashion scene is shining brightly with over 260 vintage shops, flea markets, and car boot sales available to the 8,691,989 citizens of London.
Other excellent European thrifting locations include Paris, France in fourth place (261) and Copenhagen, Denmark finding its way to fifth place (255). Paris has slightly more flea markets than Copenhagen, 21 compared to 15. However, Paris’ population dwarfs that of Copenhagen’s. With approximately 1,500,000 fewer people in Copenhagen than in Paris, Danish citizens should have a better chance of getting their hands on a second-hand bargain.
What’s the best city in Italy for thrifting?
With internationally renowned powerhouse of fashion Milan located in Italy, it is not surprising to imagine that thrifting opportunities in Italy are plentiful.
Data shows that the Italian capital city, Rome, is in fact the thrifting capital of the country. The city that is bathed in history receives a total thrifting score of 123, for the 110 vintage and charity shops, plus 13 flea markets and second-hand sales in the city. As such, your chances of picking up some vintage tailoring on the cheap in Rome are nothing short of terrific.
Milan is internationally recognised as one of the four official fashion capitals of the world, and the Lombardy-based city’s total thrifting score of 112 is good enough to see it crowned Italy’s second-best thrifting city. Milan still boasts 97 vintage and charity shops, plus 15 flea markets and second-hand sales, providing its 1,352,000 strong population with plenty of ways of staying fashionable.
Elsewhere in Italy, Naples is home to an impressive number of vintage and charity shops (29), pitching to the Southern-Italian city’s thrifting score of 32. Meanwhile, Turin boasts a flurry of flea markets and second-hand sales (9), contributing to the Northern-Italian city’s thrifting score of 14.
Where are the thrifting capitals of South America?
North American cities have proved to be top thrifting destinations, dominating the top ten list with nine cities. But where are the thrifting capitals of South America?
While South American cities do not leave a huge stamp on the global list, the continent is not without its own fantastic thrifting hubs, with the nations of Brazil and Chile each contributing four cities to the thrifting world.
South America’s best thrifting city is Sao Paulo, Brazil which receives a total thrifting score of 163. There are 158 vintage and charity shops, plus five flea markets and second-hand sales spread across Brazil’s most populated city, so the 12,400,232 citizens of Sao Paulo have no shortage of second-hand style. Sao Paulo ranks as the 43rd best thrifting city in the world.
The second-best thrifting city in South America is Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio de Janeiro may be one of the most popular travel destinations in South America, but the coastal city trails behind Sao Paulo in terms of thrifting, receiving a total score of just 62 for its 59 vintage and charity shops, plus 3 flea markets and second-hand sales.
Two more Brazilian cities earn the right to name themselves thrifting capitals, in the shape of two of three Brazil’s capital cities, Brasilia and Salvador. Brasilia receives a total thrifting score of 35, while Salvador’s total score tallies up at 15.
Which UK city is best for thrifting?
The UK has completely immersed itself in the thrifting culture, with charity shops and vintage clothing outlets located across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But where in the UK is sustainable fashion most thriving?
England’s capital city is also the UK’s thrifting capital, with London proving a better place to buy sustainable and cheap goods than anywhere else in the UK. London runs up a total score of 262 for the city's vintage and charity shops, flea markets and car boot sales.
The second best thrifting location in the UK is Liverpool with a total score of 241. Liverpool is a city that loves to do things a little differently, so it comes as no surprise that the 498,042 citizens of Liverpool have totally immersed themselves in thrifting culture.
The next best city in the UK for thrifting is Birmingham, with the midlands city receiving a total score of 217. Birmingham may boast a huge population of 1,141,816 people, but there is still plenty of retro goods to go around with 214 vintage and charity shops plus 3 flea markets and second-hand sales in the UK’s second city.
Travelling up to Scotland next, with Glasgow’s total score of 184 being enough to earn the fourth spot. The 632,350 won’t have to spend long rummaging through the rails to find some retro goods, with 178 vintage and charity shops in the city, as well as 6 flea markets and car boot sales.
Bristol completes the top five, beating other cities in the thrifting department with a total score of 161. Bristol has a long association with the subculture scene, so the 151 vintage and charity shops plus 10 flea markets and car boot sales are never short of customers in the South-Western city.
Other UK locations in the top ten include sixth-placed Manchester (151), Edinburgh just behind in seventh (150), Leeds claiming the eighth spot (145), plus Cardiff in ninth (97) and Belfast in tenth (68) waving the flags for Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.
What’s the most popular nation for vintage football shirts?
The UK leads the way when it comes to hunting down vintage football shirts, claiming first place in the vintage shirt search table with 5,900 monthly searches.
The vintage football shirt industry is blatantly booming in the UK, as fans of famous football clubs such as Manchester United and Liverpool rummage through the rails to find retro shirts.
In fact, the vintage football shirt industry is so popular in the UK at the moment, that entire stores dedicated to them have opened up in Manchester, London, and other cities across the nation.
The second-highest number of searches for vintage football shirts is found in the USA, where Americans search for ‘vintage football shirts’ an average of 500 times per month. The USA may have a stronger association with other sports such as basketball and baseball, but that clearly has not stopped American citizens from scouring the web for classic ‘soccer’ shirts.
Heading back to Europe for the rest of the top five, where Germany and the Republic of Ireland place joint third for their respective 450 monthly searches for ‘vintage football shirts’. Meanwhile, the final spot in the top five is claimed by the Netherlands with the nation searching for ‘vintage football shirts’ 300 times per month.
Vintage football shirts are surprisingly popular down under too, with 250 searches in Australia, helping the nation to clinch joint sixth place with both France and Spain (250).
We took a seed list of OECD nations, plus Brazil, and worked out their largest cities by population.
For every city on the list, we used yelp.com to search for the vintage shops, charity shops, thrift shops, flea markets, and car boot sales in that city, citing these as the most common, established thrifting retail locations.
Cities were excluded where yelp.com did not have information listed for the location.
We combined the score for vintage, thrift, and charity shops, with the score for flea markets and car boot sales to produce a total score for every location.
For the Vintage Football shirts information, we used ahrefs to find monthly search data for “vintage football shirts” on Google. We used the nations listed in the Thrifting index above as the seed list of nations.