COW Vintage, 61 Church Street, Manchester, M4 1PD – Visit Now
COW Vintage has moved into the Northern Quarter – we took a look at this Manchester shop’s impressive redesign.
No well-known vintage shop would move to a new location – altering its entire set-up in the process – without good reason. So, when COW Vintage recently re-located from Piccadilly Place to the vintage-crammed Northern Quarter, we went to investigate what prompted the move. “We wanted to feel more at home. There are lots of vintage shops here and we wanted to be a part of that,” says sales assistant Lydia Matthews. “At the same time, we wanted to maintain our own vintage brand, and refine our reclaimed look.”
The idea of “refining” a vintage shop may seem like an odd one – surely part of the point is to invite rummaging around – but far from falling into a gentle kind of chaos, COW’s newly styled 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. Alternatively, if you want to buy velvet ahead of autumn, you can have that, too.
The décor reflects a mix of faded luxury and urban interior design
The décor, too, reflects this 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. “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 Matthews, referring to the Victorian Smithfield Buildings (on the corner of Oldham Street and Church Street).
Yet as you traipse your way downstairs, the space becomes much more enclosed. 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.