Manchester is one of the jewels of the north of England. Year after year, visitors are attracted by its rich cultural and musical history, its Victorian architecture and, of course, its world-famous football teams.
But did you know Manchester is one of the UK’s leading fashion hubs, with a vibrant community of designers and manufacturers? We’ve picked 5 of our favourite independent stores and boutiques to help you plan your trip.
Afflecks: market for alternative style
Afflecks is housed in an old department store from Manchester’s textile heyday. It’s now an indoor market for independent retailers, and is home to more than 70 stalls and businesses - ranging from cafes to music shops and some excellent alternative clothes shops.
It, and the other shops on our list are in Manchester's Northern Quarter - the small area of the city between Piccadilly and Victoria train stations, which is very much the heartbeat of the city. It’s a cultural hub with independent record shops, stylish bars and cool cafes.
Must-visit spots for fashion lovers in Afflecks include Moloko (famous for its leather satchels), urban women’s specialist Huk, Off the Cut and Wanderland boutiques, and alternative jewellery emporium Rowfers.
Retro Rehab: vintage hub
If you head out of Afflecks you’ll find yourself on Oldham Street. It’s Manchester’s main shopping street and home to many quirky shops and bars and is a real treasure trove for vintage fashion lovers. Within a 2 minute walk of Afflecks you’ll find Blue Rinse, Oxfam Originals and Pop Boutique, while Cow is around the corner on Church Street.
Our pick, however, is Retro Rehab, one of Britain’s best vintage fashion boutiques. The garments, accessories and jewellery on sale here are sourced from across the world, and repaired to give them a new lease of life. With an eye for the classics and an Instagram account to kill for, this is a vintage fashion lover’s dream. Looking for a pair of 80s slingbacks? A coat that looks like it’s from the Mad Men set? This is the shop for you!
Oi Polloi: Manchester-born menswear
From the slightly down-at-heel feel of Afflecks, just a few minutes’ walk away on the corner of Oak Street and Thomas Street is Oi Polloi.
The very definition of Mancunian cool, this men’s boutique sells work and sports casual wear as well as classic men’s clothing. Pick up some garms from Oi Polloi and you’ll be joining the likes of Brit Pop icons Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher who are occasionally shop here.
49 Hilton: Flagship for the conscious
Set on the ground floor of a Victorian townhouse, 49 Hilton Street is the home of Manchester-born ‘conscious clothing’ label Beaumont Organic.
Combining classic and contemporary styles with organic, fair trade and eco fabrics, Beaumont uses luxury fabrics for the environmentally friendly hipster. 49 Hilton Street also hosts regular creative workshops and events, so if you fancy creating a macramé masterpiece be sure to drop in!
NOTE: premier skate shop
From luxury elegance to something a bit more ‘street’ – NOTE is Manchester’s longest running skateboard shop.
You’ll find a selection of the best skateboards money can buy, and an impressive array of street clothing labels, including Diamond Supply Co, Call Me 917 and Brixton.
So, if you want to finish off your Northern Quarter tour with a new hoodie or a fresh new pair of sneakers, you know where to go!