COW Vintage Manchester, 61 Church Street, Manchester, M4 1PD – Visit Now
COW Vintage is one of the biggest and best vintage shops in the UK. Their handpicked clothes and accessories are ethically sourced from around the world, and span a good fifty years, from 60s mod attire right through to 00s revival pieces.
COW Manchester’s shelves colour co-ordinate the stock, allowing for easy browsing. If you want a floral tea dress because you refuse to let go of spring, you can find it in the hue you’re after. Or if you’re hankering for some dusky natural tones ahead of autumn, you’ll find them really quickly due to the thoughtful layout.
The décor, too, is well thought-out – a mix of faded luxury and urban interior design. Which makes sense when you clock that the designer behind it is Peter Masters, whose previous clients and projects include Oi Polloi and a pop-up for Adidas Originals. So, flowerpots and battered suitcases line the walls, while lights in glass jars, oval hangings overhead and tulip-shaped crystal shades add to the vintage feel.
A few years ago, the shop was based in Piccadilly Gardens between the pound shop and M&S, and it always looked a little out of place. It makes much more sense in the Northern Quarter – the home of all things vintage. “One of the things we like about the new shop is how well the airy interior fits with the old wooden features by the windows,” says sales assistant Lydia Matthews, referring to the Victorian Smithfield Buildings (on the corner of Oldham Street and Church Street).
Yet as you traipse your way downstairs, there’s a different feel. Rails stretch away, making the basement seem exceptionally lengthy. The fitting rooms, hidden around the corner and complete with vintage wallpaper and paint-peeled doors, come somewhat as a surprise. There is a level of intricacy maintained in this shop. This could either stem from the fact COW Vintage has worked very hard to match its new layout with that of its partner branch in Sheffield – or because the new Manchester space is simply spacious enough to allow a good spread.
With so much stock, it is important to remember that the entire lot is reclaimed; it has all been picked out with an eye for different fashions. It has huge appeal, if slightly contradictory branding; the name may have a slight crudeness, but this shop is nothing if not sophisticated.