The North(ern quarter) Remembers

places

A couple of weekends ago I spent some time in Manchester.

Manchester is an incredibly cool city and while I was waiting to meet my friend (this is the friend who is a part-time wizard), I spent some time mooching around The Northern Quarter – the city’s recognised hipster refuge.

Home to “alternative department store” Afflecks alongside a barrage of vintage shops, record stores and pseudo-quaint cafes, the pretentious side of me was positively salivating.

Perhaps my favourite location was We Are Cow – a vintage shop whose range is stocked at Topman among other places. Independent fashion meets big business. I enjoyed the decor – the highlight of which had to be a sign that spelt out the word ‘cow’ with filament bulbs in mason jars suspended from the ceiling. I love the ridiculousness of that sentence.

Aside from kitsch decor and lifeless mannequins that were still somehow cooler than I am ever likely to be, We Are Cow clearly took pride in their extensive range of preloved, restored and repurposed clothes that sprawled over two floors of nostalgia. Alongside the usual assortment of classic jackets, jeans and knitwear sat unique Frankenstein-esque creations such as Polo by Ralph Lauren shirts with cotton sweatshirt arms spliced on. And vice-versa.

After leaving the shop, safe in the knowledge that I too am in fact Cow, I wandered around a couple of record stores and a few more vintage shops until I was drawn in by the distinctive neon sign outside Pop Boutique (an independent vintage chain) which said “Come and Worship” in green and electric blue. I thought it might be a hipster church or something, I don’t know.

Inside I was greeted not by a vicar, but a by bearded man in a wood panelled room full of retro clothing, leaning nonchalantly on a glass topped counter in front of an onsite barbershop. That was good enough for me. Downstairs was the furniture department, which was basically like stepping into the set of a Wes Anderson film, with its nostalgic yet somehow timeless yet still very 70s atmosphere.

I popped into self-proclaimed “design store and speciality coffee bar” Fig + Sparrow for a drink and a sit down. The cafe (which also boasts an apartment, rentable on Airbnb) has a light and airy interior – tall ceilings, white walls and lots of pine. After enjoying a delightful peppermint tea, I had a browse of the products on offer which were mostly cool knick-knacks for the home.

I also got the chance to have a brief look in book and magazine shop Magma. I’ve always loved magazines and this design-focused shop didn’t disappoint with their unprecedented range. They basically stocked all the cool design publications that I already followed on Instagram. Supplementing the literature was an array of cool gifts and fun things. Pretty MAGnificent.

I’m sorry, there was no need for that.

Ok, that’s about the extent of my Northern Quarter wanderings, really.

As you can probably tell from the reference that I crudely shoe-horned into the title of this post, I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones recently, so I thought I’d sign off in classic Westerosi style.

Yours sincerely,

Edi Adegbola of House Adegbola, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.

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