New York is a shopping capital with no shortage of major brands, online pop-ups and small businesses. When you’re shopping on a budget and trying to be more eco-conscious, thrift and vintage stores are the best places to look.
However, thrifting isn’t a simple task; it requires sifting through seemingly endless color-coded racks and depending on the area you’re in, sifting through crowds of locals and tourists alike on the hunt for the perfect deal. To find the perfect pieces, you must first a find good store.
With so many options, Yelp can begin to feel more like Netflix’s homepage. Unfortunately, Yelp can’t help you narrow down stores based on what type of pieces you’re after — so I’ll explore stores in NYC and give you the rundown. In each column, I will try to find an outfit for $30 and share my results.
This week, I found a great store if you’re looking for the essentials. Hop on the downtown 4 train, get off at Union Square and head down to 204 1st Avenue to No Relation Vintage in the East Village.
As a part of the L Train Vintage thrift stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, No Relation is dedicated to honest prices: “the vintage shop that’s not related in price to any other vintage boutique in NYC.”
The store is no-nonsense at its core. Its décor is the clothing itself. The store is organized by clothing type and framed by the unique jackets and crewnecks that hang from the ceiling. On their two floors it has everything from fur coats, Carhartt cargos, vintage Coach shoulder bags and, of course, denim. When you walk in the store, you’ll be greeted by a sea of denim jackets followed by bright windbreakers that are perfect for a ’90s-’00s look.
There are more denim jackets, dress shirts and leather goods on the left side of the store. Downstairs the store has more shirts, sweats and denim in addition to an entire collection of army jackets and pants dowstairs.
For this outfit, we need basics like t-shirts and jeans. If you’re in the market for a t-shirt from Harley Davidson, Nike or a high school in Ohio (Go Lancers!), this is the go-to. No Relation sources from around the country, which is why I found the aforementioned t-shirt from my hometown of Cincinnati, while my friend found one from hers in San Francisco. Aside from t-shirts, the store carries essentials like Ralph Lauren polos and flannels, available in a variety of different colors from neutral to neon. The shop has a collection of crewnecks from places like Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Café, alongside more athleisure looks from brands like Nike and Adidas. The prices for tops typically run anywhere from $6 to $25, with the sweatshirts being at the more expensive end.
After picking out your top, you can check out the huge selection of vintage Levi’s, Lees, Wranglers and more. There are a few racks upstairs, but if you don’t find your size there, head downstairs where there are plenty more. The price range for jeans is similar to the tops: from $8 to $15. For anyone looking ahead to spring break, the vintage jean shorts are the same price (and brands).
Jeans aren’t the only option for pants. If you are going for a Sporty Spice look, you can pair some Adidas track pants with a matching sweatshirt for a set. If not, a graphic t-shirt is also a solid match.
For my outfit, I found a yellow, oversized Ralph Lauren polo for $8 and a pair of Levi’s for $10. I could go over budget and splurge on a pastel pink, lined Carhartt jacket that’s listed at $25. This would bring my total look to $43. Without the jacket, the outfit was under $20, which is perfect if you need to stock up on the basics.
You could also easily substitute the jacket for another pair of jeans, a pair of sneakers or a new purse. The shop has lots of mini shoulder bags that are dripping in 2000s nostalgia (calling all vintage Coach lovers!). The faux fur coats are also a great splurge, starting around $30, for those who are sick of wearing the same black puffer for the fifth week in a row like me. Looking good will keep me warmer than a frumpy coat will, right?
What is great about No Relation is that most of its selection does not exceed $50. You can still find great vintage pieces without paying the vintage mark-up price. Its selection guarantees you will find something you like, but you do have to put in the time to search for it, as there are so many clothes. Besides having a huge selection, what is available changes every day because L Train stores’ monthly shipments allow their stores to be updated at least three times a week.
Of the many thrift stores in Manhattan, even in the East Village alone, No Relation remains one of the most affordable places. Check out its Instagram @ltrainvintage to see its newest additions and head downtown to shop the looks yourself — maybe you’ll find a t-shirt from your hometown too.