Chine Machine – founded by a native New Yorker, this blue-washed thrift shop near Abbesses gets its inspiration from the SoHo district of NYC. Although chine means “to hunt,” unlike most second-hand stores in Paris the Chine Machine has a very organized, open layout. The decor is as funky and chic as its merchandise: pictures and posters cover the stone walls, weathered chests overflow with sale items, vintage TV sets display belts and glasses, bright-lipped mannequins flaunt perfectly mismatched styles. Prices start low but range rather high for big-name designer finds. Everyone needs to splurge once in a while, right?
Vintage Desir – probably the only vintage friperies in Paris that don’t have starting prices of 50€. Vintage Desir has two central touristy locations, one in the Marais amongst the ever-crowded falafel eateries (don’t be fooled by the bold “COIFFEUR” lettering left by the previous owner), and one off the Abbesses metro stop in Montmartre. Both have crowded, narrow aisles full of fun throw-back items. Come here to find sequin-heavy dresses, colorful blouses, stacks of hats, furs and plenty of leather purses, all within a student budget.
L’Interloque – “La Ressourcerie” – L’Interloque’s main goal is to reduce waste and advocate responsible consumption by taking in unwanted or nonfunctional objects to recycle, upcycle, repair and/or reuse. They play an active role in educating the quartier about environmental protection, offer free pickups to anyone unable to transport their old items and offer employment primarily to those recovering from hard times. Any useful items they sell in one of their three boutiques on rue de Trétaigne, in a garage-sale or flea market-esque fashion, offering furniture, decorations, books, clothing, dishware, DVDs and other miscellaneous household items.
Eileen – relatively unknown (every time I’ve gone I’ve shared the shop with women older than forty), this tiny, cramped store is without a doubt the best-priced friperie in Paris. Located next to the Arenes de Lutece, its discreet façade, dirty windows and messy arrangement of clothing may intimidate most. Admittedly, shopping here is a bit of a challenge; the majority of the clothing is piled 2.5 feet or so high in the middle, with racks of dresses and jackets bordering it. I actually took off my shoes once so I could climb to dig at the back of the pile. Despite being disorganized, the clothes—jeans, dresses, coats, scarves, purses—are in great condition and often come from well-known brands. I’ve found Minelli leather derbies for 6€, Zara shirts for 2€ and Aubade lingerie for 1€.