Vintage store Cow Manchester: Shows why vintage is an ever-growing trend

We speak to Charlotte Righton, manager of vintage store Cow, who has worked at the store for nearly two years.

For the last couple of years, vintage clothing store Cow has grown rapidly on a national scale.

The new Cow store. Image taken by Faye Wong.

When Cow first launched ten years ago, it could’ve gone either way. As there was no real outlet in the North for trend driven vintage, the store offered something new which was a huge risk that paid off.

In September this year, the Manchester store –which now has an extra floor- had relocated from Parker Street, Piccadilly to Church Street, which was formerly Bench.

Cow’s new location is situated on Oldham Street among other vintage shops.

Not only is the new store location larger but the style of visual merchandising has changed along with it too. Compared to the old store that had plain white walls and a yellow ceiling, they now have more space to play with.

Visual merchandising window display. Image taken by Faye Wong

On the first floor there are dolls houses hanging from the ceiling and buckets used as mannequin heads, menswear is located to the right and women’s is the larger section on the left.

The walls are either red brick wall, quirky retro wallpaper or red and white barber style stripes.

Downstairs is more than double the size of the first floor similarly to a warehouse. The new location has space for a sofa next to a rack that fills the whole wall with scarves and belts.

Not only is the clothing a blast from the past but the décor reflects how vintage isn’t just a trend or style but a way of life.

Charlotte Righton, manager of Cow Manchester. Image taken by Faye Wong.

Charlotte is dressed in a tight fit black tee, boyfriend jeans and burgundy Doc Martens looking like she’d jumped straight out of an American Apparel ad.

Charlotte describes how the first store in the UK that opened around ten years ago differs from the latter.

“Birmingham was the first store and really symbolises the beginning, it has a real warehouse feel unlike the more commercially led stores.”

In the last nine months, Cow has been launched in high street store Topshop/Topman as a vintage concession and ten more in the New Year are to be launched.

History of Cow

· Birmingham was the first Cow chain to open ten years ago.

· Although the Manchester store is one of the biggest in the cow chain they also have stores in Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham.

· In the last nine months the independent brand has been launched in 24 Topshop/Topman stores as a vintage concession and plan to launch ten more in the New Year.

· Around two months ago, the Manchester store was relocated from Parker Street, Piccadilly to the corner of Church Street and Oldham Street.

Stairs leading to the next floor. Image taken by Faye Wong.

The website is becoming a huge point of promotion for the independent brand by offering products to further a field customers from places such as the US and New Zealand.

“They’ve picked areas with a large student base which is our target customer, the busiest time of the year is September when the students come back and then Christmas when people want party looks.”

Certain trends and eras are more popular for example, 70’s prints are requested most frequently although the store gets a lot of 90’s pieces. The most popular sold items depend solely on the season, particularly when festivals such as Parklife are held every year in Heaton Park, Manchester.

In summer Levi shorts and rework sell the most as do tie dye tees and bomber jackets. In winter menswear sells best, the knitwear, jackets and flannel shirts are classic staples.

Lower ground floor. Image taken by Faye Wong.

The shopping styles with vintage clothing between men and women differ, as women don’t tend to shop brands but look for quality and one off pieces. However men do the opposite and tend to go for brands such as L.L.Bean, Wool Rich and Barbour.

When asked about future plans Charlotte has high hopes for Cow and is enthusiastic about opening stores on an international scale.

“Similar to Beyond Retro, fingers crossed soon we’ll be down south and have stores aboard.”

Men’s clothing on lower ground floor. Image taken by Faye Wong.

Seeing Cow grow as an independent brand from the once independent store in Birmingham exhibits how vintage is expanding as a trend.

Think twice before you throw away that shirt. You never know when it might just come back into fashion.

Thank you to Charlotte Righton for your help and contribution towards this article.

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