Overflowing with top boutiques, eye-catching events and talented up-and-coming designers, Manchester is a hip haven for all things fashion. Lifestyle blogger Jen Scrafton offers her tips on the very best places to visit and shop in the city.
The Manchester fashion scene is so diverse. At one side of the city centre we have the luxury retail quarter The Avenue, home of luxury brands Mulberry and Emporio Armani, and at the other the Northern Quarter’s collection of vintage stores and independent fashion labels.
There is a fabulous selection of the best high street stores but the city also offers plenty of unique fashion with stylish boutiques offering individuality and glamour. And let’s not forget that Manchester is also home to many top fashion e-tailers such as Boohoo and Missguided, showing that the city, famous for its historical textile industry, really is a modern fashion centre.
My favourite Manchester shops and brands
Quirky independent store Junk is one of my favourite independent stores in the Northern Quarter. They sell sustainable “reworked vintage” fashion and cute jewellery pieces and the store décor is very distinctive as it’s created from recycled materials and there are vintage typewriters, books and parasols dotted about. They also offer dressmaking courses, so you can create your own sustainable fashion pieces. Altogether, it’s a very unique place.
2 Dale Street, M1 1JW (0161 238 8517, www.junkshop.co.uk)
Thunder Egg sells a diverse range of fashion and accessories, ranging from cute vintage-style tea dresses to the colourful collections of popular contemporary boutique labels like Glamorous and Brat & Suzie. They’ve also got a great selection of kitsch items for the home, which all makes it a vibrant and fun place to look around!
22 Oldham St, M1 1JN (0161 235 0606, www.thunderegg.co.uk)
Curiouser and Curiouser is a designer ladies fashion boutique with décor and branding inspired by Alice in Wonderland. They stock fashion from young independent designers with plenty of limited edition and one-off pieces, so it’s great for finding something unique. The store is small and has a definite luxury boutique feel to it, but the prices are still reasonable so I love browsing there.
35 Tib Street, M4 1LX (0161 835 4068, www.curiouserboutique.co.uk)
The Manchester branch of Cheshire boutique chain Laundry Boutique is quite a recent addition to the city centre. Selling designer-inspired fashion at reasonable prices, this store has become very popular with local fashion bloggers following their debut appearance at the recent Manchester Fashion Week.
9 Police Street, M2 7LQ (0161 8352204, www.laundryboutique.co.uk)
Didi’s Boutique (pictured) was founded in Cheshire last year, and has just moved to new premises in Altrincham. It’s a little outside of Manchester centre, but well worth the trip. Their customers call it a “Girly Heaven” and, uniquely, they offer Clothing Parties at people’s homes, as well as an appointment shopping system to create a relaxed and personal shopping experience. There’s now apparently quite a bit of demand for ‘Didi’s Personal Stylists’.
18A Ashley Road, Altrincham, Chesire, WA15 2DW (0161 850 2880, www.didisboutique.co.uk)
Manchester beach and swimwear brand South Beach is one of my new favourites. They don’t have a store, but you can shop through their website or via online retailers like ASOS and Figleaves, and it’s worth mentioning them because their eye-catching and trend-led swimwear is popular with TV celebrities yet all comes at fantastic prices. They’re one of my top choices for holiday shopping and I’m sure they’re going to continue to build on their success so far.
Essential Manchester fashion events
For those with an interest in fashion there’s always something going on in Manchester. Any fashion lover with an eye on Twitter can find out about the city’s exclusive shopping events, fashion shows, pop-up boutiques such as the Boohoo bus and markets including Judy’s Vintage Fair.
Excitingly, Manchester proudly welcomed Vogue Fashion’s Night Out for the first time in October 2013. Having Vogue acknowledge Manchester as a significant fashion centre was a great boost for the city, so it’s hoped that we might see it return in the future.
The city also has its own fashion week to showcase the best of the city’s fashion. The second ever Manchester Fashion Week took place in April and featured upcoming local designers and boutiques in a series of fashion shows over three days.
— Fair-T (@Fair__T) April 30, 2014
And for lovers of local talent, the exciting pop-up shopping festival Love Fashion: Manchester takes place at Quay Street studios (the former Coronation Street studios) on the fourth Saturday of every month. Featuring stalls and shows from emerging designers and local boutiques plus live music and entertainment, it’s great for a unique shopping experience.
Manchester designers to watch
Joshua Rufflee and his clothing label Rufflee are worth keeping an eye on. His range is full of quirky fun designs and his latest summer collection inspired by the funfair is full of fun shapes, quirky prints and vibrant colour. His label Rufflee has a very strong brand identity (with brand fans being hailed as “ruffians”) and he’s already experienced success with invites to international fashion shows and events.
— Haus of Roughley (@hausofroughley) May 12, 2014
Sally Ellis is another rising star as the designer of her ready-to-wear and couture fashion collection sold through her own Cheshire boutique store SVE. Her sleek and elegant one-off designs are perfect for the modern woman, and she’s already had some great success with celebrities wearing her gowns at red carpet events. She has also shown her collection at London Fashion Week, and she was the winner of Fashions Finest Designer of the Year award 2012.
There’s plenty more emerging design talent here in Manchester too, and thanks to support from Manchester Fashion Week and the opportunity to showcase their collections there are some recent fashion graduates who are definitely names to watch out for, including Sofia Dourvari and her luxurious monochrome collection and the summery, youthful collection by Lucy Cowan, featuring floaty skirts, pastel striped socks and polka dot shorts.
— Charles Davis (@ProPhotography) April 27, 2014
Find top boutiques and outlets on our Manchester map:
More Manchester guides:
• 10 of the best shops in Manchester
• 10 of the best bars in Manchester
• 14 of the best restaurants in Manchester for any budget
• 10 things to do for free in Manchester
• The knowledge: Fashion Rambler’s guide to Manchester