The rain waltzed through the antiquated, beige porticos lining the cobblestone streets. Soaked as I was, there was respite in the distance, peeking through the sun-dappled smog: Humana Vintage in all its vanity-inducing glory.
The thrifting here in Bologna has been a real treat for a clothing maniac like me. In the past week or two I have found more classic pieces than I have during my twenty years in the United States. As much as I’d like to gatekeep my secret spots, I wanted to give a brief rundown of the thrifting scene in Bologna and my experience shopping in a different vintage culture.
First we have the ever popular, ever diverse Montagnola market that sprouts up at the piazza every weekend. Here the market-goers’ flesh melts into fabric as you encounter bazaar after bazaar dedicated to everything from the uniquely American Levi’s, three-foot-high piles of sweaters, and selections of Burberry trench coats for pennies on the dollar. My trips here have been fruitful for the tweedy professor/ “we-have-Drake’s-at-home” style that has overtaken my outfits: it’s giving “Indiana Jones when he’s teaching at university,” and I can’t say that I’m not enjoying it. A little trick for sport jackets and coats is to check in the jacket’s interior pocket for a size tag that might not be apparent at first glance. Sizing and inconsistent pricing remains a problem for most of the stands, but taking the time to try on and feel each piece you're considering (along with a healthy dose of haggling) is a process well worth the effort.
For a more structured thrifting experience, I would recommend a visit to Humana Vintage, as I believe it to be the best vintage store I have ever shopped at. The inside is a decade-bending dream. Mannequins stand dressed in, at minimum, five layers of every style known to man, and the space is filled with clothes from the 60s to the 80s in every color. I have found a variety of sport jackets, big tweed Balmacaan coats, and a litany of wear ranging from the bell-bottom expressions of the 70s to the Armani inspired 80s and 90s. I also recommend their large collection of tastefully wide 70s ties (yet another step towards my Teddy Pendergrass phase). The pricing is comparable to the open air markets, but on a good day you can find amazing deals for very cheap rates. During end of season sales, there were days where every piece in the store was five euros, and the day after that, three euros. Needless to say I have been buying blazers like a maniac and will probably need a second suitcase as a result (I’ll cross that bridge when I get there).
What really surprises me about the thrifting here is the sheer availability of everything. Back in America, in-person thrifting was, for me, disappointing: Everything within a reasonable distance was filled with clothes either too big, too poorly made, or too expensive. I remember when my boyfriend and I trekked through the curated shops of Nashville, we encountered the poisoned remains of the childhood of 60-year-old men: stunning oeuvres of leather and suede tassels and two hundred dollar band t-shirts for Bad Company. While the specter of the 70s and 80s remains present in much of the clothing in Italy—namely the low buttoning points of the jackets, the top-heavy Armani-style jackets lining every shelf—the options available outclass American vintage stores in price and creativity. The coat stand at the vintage market alone had more coats than I have ever seen in my entire experience in the United States.
Thrifting is a collective hobby for the clothing obsessed, and I have to say that Bologna is some of the best thrifting that I have seen in my brief, glen-plaid-cloaked time on this planet. Vintage shopping is always an environmentally preferable alternative to the endless cycle of fast fashion and internet aesthetics so go forth and seize your thrifting finds! Happy hunting!