10th October 2019

The best second hand shopping in the Northern Quarter

Does the thought of thrift shopping fill you with an existential dread of ‘where to start’? Fashion editor Alice Porter narrows down the best second-hand shopping Northern Quarter has to offer
The best second hand shopping in the Northern Quarter
Blue Rinse in Manchester. Photo: Alice Porter

Manchester is renowned for it’s second-hand shopping scene. While this is certainly a good thing for anyone looking to find a bargain whilst reducing their carbon footprint, the vast amount of vintage stores and charity shops can be a little bit daunting. This is especially true of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, which is mostly made up of second-hand clothing stores and independent restaurants.

So, rather than aimlessly wandering round all of them, the trick is to target the ones that are best for your fashion needs.

If you’re new to second-hand shopping and are looking for the a shopping experience which isn’t too far from the high street, start with COW.  COW has a vast array of vintage clothing, curated and divided into sections based on categories and different types of style. Although it could be seen as overpriced, you’re paying for this easy, curated shopping experience and, often, this means you’re more likely to find something you like, especially because there are some real gems in COW.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re looking for the cheapest clothes and are happy to spend some time digging, the OXFAM charity shop as you first enter the Northern Quarter is as good as any. It’s very reasonably priced, especially for a charity shop based in the city-centre, and there are lots of items from current high-street brands including Topshop, Zara and Missguided, meaning you can still shop from your favourite stores without the devastating environmental impact of fast fashion. It’s also presented much better than most charity shops, with the all of the clothing organised by colour.

Oxfam’s second branch in the Northern Quarter, Oxfam Originals, is a haven of second-hand pieces for those looking for something more high-end. With vintage and current pieces from brands including ACNE Studios, Calvin Klein, Levis & COS, you’re sure to find lasting pieces in your wardrobe in this branch at a fraction of the designer pieces’ original price.

For the most authentic vintage shopping experience, Blue Rinse, based in a warehouse style building, is your best bet. Slightly less expensive than it’s nearby competitor COW, finding your perfect piece does require a little more digging, but the quality of the items, just like the price, is only very minimally less than COW. This is definitely the number one spot for vintage denim as well as a great selection of high-quality dresses ranging from the 1950s-1980s that are distinctive to their time.

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