Vintage shopping in Bandung might involve digging through smelly piles of clothes and haggling, but the most dangerous part is perhaps discovering that you are running out of space in the two big shopping bags you brought for the purpose.
Back in 1996, word of a new shopping spot in Bandung called Cimol — short for Cibadak Mall— began to spread.
Cimol, however, is not actually a mall. It is composed of numerous street vendors selling used clothes at very cheap prices, some as low as Rp 5,000 (51 US cents) a piece, on Jl. Cibadak.
Reeking piles of clothes cover the footpath, while nicer ones, usually sold at a much higher price, are hung-up.
And so suddenly Bandung’s fashionistas began to rave about Cimol. Perhaps because it was the time when everybody was getting into 1960s and 1970s style and wearing bell-bottom pants and tight patterned shirts, thus, making Cimol the place to hunt for these items. Soon, Jakarta began to hear the whispers too.
However, Cimol was to be short lived as the fashion craze was all about the glimmering millennium and welcoming Y2K and so the vendors moved to Tegal Lega and Gede Bage Market.
Fast-forward to 2011, and a trip to Bandung Post Office on Jl. Asia Afrika reveals two spots selling vintage clothing. These stores, inside buildings next to the post office, have good collections and are much more comfortable compared to Cimol.
The first store is Cimol in an effort to channel the legend, and the second is Dezon.
Dezon, which is inside a colonial building, is larger and more comfortable compared to its darker neighbor Cimol. While Cimol houses only one seller, Dezon is composed of many.
Cimol is open anytime of the day unless they need to close for family matters but just to be safe go there around the same time as Dezon's opening hours, which is daily from 10 a.m to around 6p.m.
Both places sell mostly woman's clothes such as dresses, skirts, shirt dresses, tops, coats and even winter attire.
Owners of both Cimol and Dezon quoted the same source for their collection.
"Korea. Some are pre owned clothes and some are new but could not be sold because the export or import quota had been reached," the owner of a stall at Dezon said. "We buy them in volume or by weight," he added.
That could explain the signature damp, earthy smell that clings to the clothes.
Here are some tips to make your shopping for vintage clothes here a winning trip:
If you come here by car, try to park at the post office parking lot, which is easier to get to before 10 a.m or after 3 p.m.
Alternatively, park at Jl. Alkateri, preferably at the same time of the day as the post office car park.
Take the time to visit both places to compare and find the best pieces. When you do find clothes you like, put them aside as it's going to be hard to find them again!
The sellers here are really nice, so even if you do not buy anything it is unlikely that they would mind.
Cash only. Set a budget aside and stick to it.
Bargain. Do not always agree on the first price.
Check for defects and stains. Judge if you can reduce or remove the stains by normal washing. If you shop at Cimol always check by bringing the clothes outside to the bright light. If you decide to buy, despite imperfections, try to ask for a further discount.
Bring some wet tissues not only to clean your hands but to test if the stain on the fabric is easy to remove with proper washing.
While you are in the neighborhood, reward yourself with a nice cup of coffee and kaya toast at the vintage Warung Kopi Purnama at Jl. Alkateri, which is located within walking distance.
Read also: Finding treasures in Jalan Surabaya