Vintage Fashion Boutiques – Junk Shop

Junk Shop Front Door

The popularity of Vintage fashion is ubiquitous. In fact, vintage boutiques have become such a high street staple that one could fairly assume that the fashion industry is secretly at a halt, and rather than buying newly made clothing, the savvy fashionistas of the world are all adorned in carefully appointed garments of yesteryear. With this said, it is hard for the vintage boutique to be considered as edgy and trendy as it once was. What can be called vintage these days can similarly be called ‘Shabby Second-Hand’, and it is harder to trust a vintage supplier to accurately discern between the two.

It is truly novel therefore, that ‘Junk Shop’ in Manchester offers a refreshing and original vintage shopping experience. Its self-appointed name is an irony only, and although resourceful in it’s recycling, Junk Shop offers nothing close to junk.

Although the Junk Shop I am discussing is based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, there exists a second, original branch, which was established in 2006 in the not too distant, West Didsbury. Junk Shop boasts a mission statement of providing fun, fresh thinking and affordable clothes yet it is not merely fashion that Junk Shop provides. In fact, Junk Shops sells a wide range of vintage goods, from general brick-a-brack, to gifts, typewriters and more. The unifying element is that everything has been selected and curated with passion, good taste and staunch faithfulness to the quirky, ‘Urban-Bohemian’ aesthetic.

The Décor is an Eclectic Interactive Exhibition

Junk Shop Vintage Clothes

Even the Boutique itself has been furnished with the ‘make-do and mend’ mantra at heart. The fixtures and fittings have been made with reclaimed materials that are nothing short of ingenious in their design. The décor therefore is in one part a walk-in art installation and one part a post-apocalyptic dreamland where there is no limit to resourceful appropriation. For instance, shelves are made from reused drop spindles and the counter is made from re-moulded fairy liquid bottles, even the walk-in-wardrobe changing room adds an individual touch. Furthermore, the store is decorated with ornaments and pieces that are available to buy, making even walking around the interior feel like an interactive shopping experience.

From Revived Vintage Classics to Bespoke Creations, the Clothing is Compelling

Junk Shop a model wearing one piece of the Jumble's collections

A model wearing an outfit from one of ‘Jumble’s collections

However, it would be disingenuous to say that Junk isn’t an emporium of quality fashion, jewellery and accessories at heart. What makes Junk Shop stand out is the fact that it does not merely relay old clothes in a new store setting, yet the members of staff at the Junk Shop clearly have a dedication to restoring glory to the garments. The vintage clothes are often ‘upcycled’ and truly given a new lease of life. One can peruse the racks at Junk, knowing that they’re not doomed to hunt for hours to find a rare treasure, rather a careful selection of fashions that fit the mission statement ensure that, shopping here is really a compelling experience.

Junk Shop vintage clothes and decor

The pride that Junk Shop has for its affordable but wearable clothes really is apparent. The ‘image’ that Junk Shop promotes is that of a youthful but timeless trendsetter with alternative and bold pieces with a level of finish that one would be hard pressed to find on the high street without a dosage of DIY haberdashery. The fashions are colourful, romantic and eclectic. The restorations that Junk Shop likes to perform include giving sleek trims to knitwear and reusing vintage fabrics, even to the extent of repurposing them when creating a new dress altogether. However, if a vintage garment need not be restored then Junk Shop rightfully leaves it well alone. Expect to be paying around £40 for a cardigan, £50-£60 for a dress and £25 for a skirt.

Furthermore, the design team that restores these clothes have also developed three unique labels of their own, ‘Made in the Mill’, ‘Label of Love’ and ‘Jumble’, with items from the later made in Manchester’s very own Islington Mill. With a stock supported by items created by an in-house design team, one can be confident that the clothes on offer are always intelligently arranged and balanced, so that visitors of varying styles and sizes can each find what they’re looking for. Some of the fashion demographics that Junk Shop itself claims to appeal to include ‘Ravers, Dreamers, Schemers, Urban Hippies, Eco-Warriors, Sci-Fi Queens and Vintage Vixens’. Simply, for excellently crafted and economically sourced fashion that swims away from the mainstream, then you really cannot go wrong with Junk Shop. Similarly, the ethical sense imparted to the treatment of vintage goods is also seen in Junk Shop’s environmental stance. Junk Shop is a member of the North West’s Green Pound Initiative, which sells gift vouchers that can be used in across several Manchester business wherein a portion of the proceeds are put towards reducing carbon emissions.

It is also worth mentioning Junk Shop’s impressive jewellery and accessory department. The pieces here are too made from recycled vintage objects, but more so in the guise of children’s toys than fabrics. For instance, expect to see scrabble letters and kitsch figurines dangle from necklaces and earrings. The jewellery is bold, and perhaps less easily wearable than the fashions, but certainly will allow any outfit to make a statement. The jewellery is certainly recommended for those who like the quirkier accent to their wardrobe and is akin to many of the products found in the nearby ‘Affleck’s Palace’, only is higher in quality and more durable.

Although Junk Shop doesn’t sell men’s fashions, shopping here has always been a pleasurable experience for myself and has marked a perfect location when in need of a special gift.

Learn How to Harness the Power of the Haberdasher with the School of Junk

Although we have talked about Junk Shop as a vintage emporium, it is also as a destination for those looking for fun things to do in which I recommend it. Junk Shop regularly hosts classes in its ‘School of Junk’, wherein skills in sewing and dressmaking are taught in a setting rather reminiscent of the ‘Great British Sewing Bee’.

The first of these is perfect for those looking for free excursions in Manchester and inform part of Junk Shop’s series of completely free sewing and recycling series. These sessions last 3 hours and teach you the basic skills needed to turn your old and unwanted clothing into veritable phoenixes from the couture flame. The free sewing classes encourage you to bring with you your unwanted pieces of clothing and during the time, will show you the techniques needed to reform the tired pieces of cloth into revived pieces of art. These classes are booked on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis and are held across all of the 9 districts of Manchester, at a host of local venues at very regular intervals. One would need to check the website for the annual schedule, but the classes provide a fun and informative way to spend your time. The classes truly couldn’t be any more convenient and any more of a bargain.

Junk Shops also hosts more intensive, paid courses as part of its School of Junk which are held in its studio too in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. These classes are wide-ranging and are often held over the weekend as part of a longer crash course to truly get its students up to ‘stitch’. Although the classes can approach the price of £150, the level of expertise that will be imparted by it’s talented instructors truly is invaluable, particularly as then can help one along on the journey of wearing their own creations. Examples of courses include ‘Beginners Dressmaking Evening Dress’ and ‘Shirt-Making and Gentleman’s Tailoring’. I envisage these courses as part of a perfect weekend retreat in Manchester, particularly for friends looking for something to give a City Break a bespoke and memorable edge. Alternatively, if a couple has caught the dressmaking bug, then there is little more suited for a relaxed but enriching day of activities.

Junk Shop truly is a fantastic way to spend your time in Manchester, whether its for soothing retail therapy without the designer expense, or whether it’s looking for an enjoyable way to develop a new skill for friends, I wholeheartedly recommend Junk Shop as a means to thread together the lost hours when looking for a creative and rewarding way to thing to do.

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