Vintage Manchester

We originally wrote this post way back in May 2009 and since then there have been lots of changes on the Manchester vintage and hand-made scene so we thought it was high time to update our guide.

We’ll mainly concentrate on the Northern Quarter area of the city centre so we’ll start with Manchester Craft & Design Centre (17 Oak Street, M4 5JD). It’s a wonderful old Victorian building – a former fish & poultry market.

Spread over 2 floors, it houses a number of fabulous designer/makers, each with their own workspace cum retail outlet.

There are lots of gorgeous jewellery, clothing, home furnishings and accessories on sale.

Special mention must go to Calico Angel at Holm, owned by Susan Kane & Clinton Pilkington.

Not only are their products beautiful but the display was really imaginative – it’s an inspiring space.

There’s also a lovely little coffee shop, Café Aromat, on the premises. On a recent trip we had the best home-made muffins we’ve ever tasted!

As you leave the centre, don’t forget to pop into the RSPCA charity shop opposite (15 Oak Street, M4 5JD). We give it a mention because there aren’t many charity shops in the area and you can find the odd vintage treasure in there.

RSPCA charity shop on Oak Street, Manchester

Just around the corner is James Darby (Thomas Street M4 1ER) a bespoke tailor.

Exterior of James Darby, Thomas Street, Manchester

In his words, “Think authentic Saville row meets Picasso, old school quality with contemporary artisan twist.”

interior of James Darby Bespoke Tailor's shop, Thomas Street, Manchester

James counts many Manchester band members as customers; think Oasis, Happy Mondays, The Courteeners et al.

Interior view of James Darby, Thomas Street, Manchester

During the visit Adelle was completely smitten by James’s boxer, Trevor. He completely emptied her pockets of dog treats!

Interior view of James Darby, Thomas Street, Manchester

Sticking with the hand-crafted theme, we move along to Craft Saturday.

Its name is a giveaway, it’s an outdoor market held on Saturdays at the Piccadilly end of Tib Street alongside the Food Market.

It consists of a number of outdoor stalls selling clothing, bags, accessories, jewellery, gifts and homewares – many using recycled fabric and materials.

We’ll begin the vintage chapter with Retro Rehab (91 Oldham Street, M1 1JR).

Exterior view of Retro Rehab, Oldham Street, Manchester

It’s probably the best shop in the area to source pretty, patterned 1950s dresses.

Intterior view of Retro Rehab, Oldham Street, Manchester

Opposite is Ryan Vintage (46-50 Oldham Street, M4 1LE).

A real rummager’s paradise – both men’s & women’s fashion and very popular with Manchester’s large student population.

Also on this street is Pop Boutique (34-36 Oldham Street, M1 1JN), one of the most long-standing vintage shops in the area.

It always has a few tempting things in the window. Once inside, you’ll find their own label, retro fashion upstairs a bustling, adjoining café (great for people watching) and vintage homewares downstairs.

There are also branches of the shop in Liverpool, London, Leeds and Gothenburg, Sweden.

A bit further along the road on the opposite side is Blue Rinse (21-23 Oldham Street M1 1JG).

selection of vintage trainers hanging from the ceiling in Blue Rinse, Oldham Street, Manchester

selection of vintage trainers hanging in the window of Blue Rinse, Oldham Street, Manchester

Adelle found a bright floral shirt that she quite liked the look of!

selection of vintage denim dungarees in Blue Rinse, Oldham Street, Manchester

Also on Oldham Street is Oxfam Originals (51 Oldham Street, M4 1JR)

turquoise vintage crocheted maxi-dress in the window of Oxfam Originals, Oldham Street, Manchester

… a great selection of clothes, bags, shoes and ties and of course, the money you spend goes to charity!

Close by is Affleck’s Palace, (52 Church Street, M4 1PW) something of a Manchester institution.

Three floors of fashion, vintage and alternative culture.

Across the road & round the corner, Junk Shop (2 Dale Street, M1 1JW) is also a fairly new addition.

storefront of Junk Shop, Dale Street, Manchester

This shop’s ethos is all about sustainable, ethical fashion.

interior view of Junk Shop, Dale Street, Manchester

They make re-purposed fashion via their own labels – Made In The Mill, Jumble and Label of Love.

interior view of Junk Shop, Dale Street, Manchester

The entire shop interior is fitted using recycled and reclaimed materials – including a counter made from Fairy Liquid bottles! They also run regular dressmaking, tailoring and styling courses.

interior view of Junk Shop, Dale Street, Manchester

Deep Vintage Clothing (10 Hilton Street, M1 1JF) is the new kid on the block, based in the shop that was previously American Graffitti.

selection of vintage check shirts in Deep, Hilton Street, Manchester

selection of vintage denim waistcoats in Deep, Hilton Street, Manchester

Deep sells lots of up-cycled clothing using re-configured denim and screen-printed sweatshirts in a rainbow selection of colours.

selection of vintage upcycled sweatshirts in Deep, Hilton Street, Manchester

They also have a music station where you can stand and listen through headphones whilst admiring album artwork.

shop front of Cow off Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

A short walk away from the main Northern Quarter area, across Piccadilly Gardens is Cow (Unit C1, City Tower, Parker Street, Piccadilly Gardens, M1 4AH).

entrance to the Cow changing rooms

As well as Manchester, there are Cow outlets in Sheffield, Birmingham and Nottingham.

large green vintage trunk used in merchandise display at Cow off Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

It was by far the largest vintage store on our trail and its merchandise displays were really imaginatively done.

Adelle with two vintage dresses she bought from Cow off Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester

Adelle managed to keep her purse in her bag for most of the trip but, at £15 for the pair, these two dresses proved too much of a temptation – they came home with us!

red bench in the cow shop

There are also some good art & craft supply shops like Abakan Fabrics, Hobby & Home (111-115 Oldham Street, M4 1LN) and Fred Auldous (37 Lever Street, M1 1LW).

Here’s a handy map of the Northern Quarter where we’ve highlighted the location of all the shops featured in this post.

map of the Northern Quarter, Manchester with vintage & handmade shops marked out

On our day out taking photos we only walked round the city centre but there are lots of vintage shops in the ‘burbs. Our favourite out-of-town vintage shop is Wowie Zowie in Chorlton. They have a wide selection of well edited, excellent quality stock. It’s tricky to fill a shop with lots of choice without making it look too cluttered – Wowie Zowie really pulls it off.

interior view of Wowie Zowie vintage shop in Chorlton, Manchester

We don’t get to visit nearly as often as we’d like – but that’s probably a good thing for our bank balance as we never leave empty-handed!

interior view of Wowie Zowie vintage shop in Chorlton, Manchester

Here are a few of others we highly recommend:

  • Planet Vintage Girl – Often to be seen (wo)manning a stall at vintage events, Laura has permanent pitches at Insitu and Empire House Antiques Warehouse (see below for details)
  • Electric Slims Vintage – Also at Empire Mill (upstairs), they have a small but well edited stock of vintage clothes for men & women.
  • Levenshulme Antiques Village – The Old Town Hall, 965 Stockport Road, Levenshulme M19 3NP
  • Insitu – 252 Chester Road, Hulme M15 4EX
  • Empire House Antiques Warehouse – Ashton Road West, Empire House, Failsworth M35 9AB

One of the biggest changes on the vintage Manchester scene is the rise in the number of vintage fairs & events. It suits some folks – no need to have a permanent bricks & mortar shop where you need to be at least 5 days a week (and therefore frees up your time to go hunting for stock!); none of the associated overheads of having premises: rent, rates, utility bills; you get the chance to meet lots of other sellers; you can have a stall in Manchester one week, Leeds the next and York the week after – have vintage, will travel!

Here’s a list of vintage Manchester events & fairs – we’ve covered the whole of Greater Manchester as there are lots of them popping up.

If we’ve omitted any vintage shops or events out please let us know – we’ll happily add them!

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17 Responses to “Vintage Manchester”

  1. mooosh says:

    I am booking a ticket to Manchester NOW!

  2. Wow, looks amazing. I have never really been interested in going to Manchester but now I am so jealous of the people I know that live there.

  3. Don't let Manchester's reputation for being grey & rainy put you off – it's a great city with lots to see & do!

  4. Wow, Manchester looks like such a vibrant spot!

  5. Matt Simpson says:

    Great round up of the NQ, a great reason to visit Manchester. I live practically round the corner from the craft and design centre, but have never been! I really must take a look!!

  6. It's been a while since I visited Manchester, I hadn't realised there were so many vintage shops! Thanks for the great info – I may be able to find some bits and pieces for my new work.

  7. Well I had heard of Manchester's reputation but now I see why! I suspect I would be bankrupt in my first week of living there! Great tour! t.x

  8. Carmen says:

    Great tour! I lived in Manchester for 8 years, loved the NQ. I always liked the DoJo eco shop on Mason street and Oklahoma on High street.

  9. OH WOW!!! Thanks so much for featuring Manchester on your blog! I'm from Bolton (just outside of Manchester) I was thinking of doing a post very similar to this, but you've done it- and so very thoroughly too! Hurrah for Manchester!

  10. [...] for today’s post. It recently caught my (Adelle’s) eye in the window of one of Manchester’s Northern Quarter vintage shops – a real bargain at just [...]

  11. jen says:

    Excellent! I found this originally on the design*sponge site and thankfully you gave a link to your blog which has the photos. I'm off to Manchester on April 14th for the day – solo – to pick up a Ryan Giggs jersey for my step-dad's birthday. I was hoping there'd be more to see than just the FC stuff…. hooray you've shown me that there is. THANK YOU!

    • Hi Jen,

      Little word of warning – a couple of those shops are sadly no longer with us. Rags to Bitches closed about a year ago and American Graffiti closed just last week :-(

      There are however a couple of new ones that have open since we wrote that post. We are due to update the post on Design*Sponge – we're waiting for spring & sunny weather!

      Have a great day! x

  12. [...] graffiti, vintage shops, and studios of the Northern Quarter (and beyond)… Aided by this helpful city guide originally published on [...]

  13. Hattie Crook says:

    Ahhhh, home sweet home! Manchesters Northern Quarter has been my go to shopping district since i was 13 shopping at Afflecks Palace :) Lovely blog!!!! from @peppermintplace xo
    Hattie Crook recently posted on their blog…Mi casa, Part 2.My Profile

    • We've been meaning to do an update on our Vintage Manchester blog post. A couple of the shops we featured have unfortunately closed, but a few others have popped up… watch this space! :-)

      • Hattie Crook says:

        Well next time you go check out Retro Rehab on Oldham St, across from Ryan's Vintage (which is the biggest indoor vintage shop in Europe apparently, but as I can see you've visited before) Also Magma is an amazing Arts book shop a couple of shops down from Pop! I was lucky enough to work in my friends shop whilst I was studying Fashion, The Secret Boudoir, which was behind Bluu Bar…unfortunately it's not there any longer, sob! xo
        Hattie Crook recently posted on their blog…Mi casa, Part 2.My Profile

  14. You must…if only for one of those fabulous muffins!

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