Like it or loathe it, the Red Light District is up there with Amsterdam’s most famous attractions. The windows with their neon lights, though, are slowly but surely being claimed by a refreshingly quaint collection of independent vintage shops. From searching out second-hand Surinamese LPs in hidden record shops to exploring fantasy chimera stores, these are five shopping destinations you must add to your itinerary.
About six people can squeeze inside Vintage Voudou, which is four more than originally intended. That’s right, this vintage record store, which is tucked down an alley opposite Oude Kerk – arguably Amsterdam’s most magnificent churches – used to be a brothel. If you can find the blue gate and press the bell marked ‘records’, you’ll be granted access to rows of Surinamese 33s, reggae 45s and rare belly-dance records. Indeed, its owners travel the world in search of vinyl that no other store in the Netherlands stocks.
Mirjam Nuver has been crafting headwear for three decades, and the best place to discover her timeless collection of avant-garde hats is the recently opened eponymous boutique on Sint Jansstraat – a De Wallen backstreet just around the corner from The Bulldog on Oudezijds Voorburgwal. Many of Nuver’s creations have a decidedly 20s feel, with felt being one of the milliner’s favourite materials. Make sure you visit between Tuesday and Saturday – Mirjam Nuver is closed on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.
Les Petites Puces
Les Petites Puces, found a few paces along Sint Jansstraat, towards Oudezijds Voorburgwal, is a resale shop that might just be the most delightful of its kind in Amsterdam. Susanne Bakker, who travels around Dutch antique markets in search of vintage goods to stock, runs the store. From quirky framed art to classic furniture, not to mention a cool collection of shoes, clothing and jewellery, Les Petites Puces is a cabinet of pre-loved curiosities. Visitors are welcome to have a cup of coffee or tea while they browse.
It’s technically on Zeedijk, but because Madchique – a chimera-themed shop selling flowery dresses, magic-inspired shoes and classic jewellery – has a second entrance at the top of Oudezijds Achterburgwal, it’s essentially in the heart of the Red Light District. Just take a look at its next-door neighbour on the canal side – four windows showcasing slightly more earthly delights. Madchique, whose attire comes in all shapes and sizes, is the vintage-clothing wing of Chimera, a fantasy lover’s paradise just a ten-minute walk away on Damstraat.
At the opposite end of Oudezijds Achterburgwal is Adiuvantes; a concept store selling everything from vintage-themed dresses to handcrafted tableware. There’s a collection of bags, hats and jewellery to discover too, with everything falling under the store’s theme of ‘collaboration’. Regarded as Amsterdam’s newest fashion outlet, Adiuvantes stocks a range of local brands that share its vision – one that’s incongruously, but impressively, showcased on one of the Red Light District’s busiest stretches.