Over the last three years, Manchester city centre has seen some fantastic new shops open their doors. From handcrafted heels at Irregular Choice to one of the world’s largest fashion brands Uniqlo, these newcomers have only enhanced the city’s excellent shopping scene. Here’s a roundup of what’s new, and what they have to offer.
Jewellery shop Austen & Blake opened in Manchester in 2018, bringing a uniquely tailored buying experience to King Street. This company isn’t about ready-made jewellery - instead, its customisation services allow customers to design their own diamond, engagement and wedding rings, as well as earrings, necklaces and bracelets. Setting, cut, carat, metal and colour are all down to personal choice; Austen & Blake provides a digital preview and samples to try on. It’s a jewellery experience like no other.
Classic Football Shirts became a new addition to Manchester’s Barton Arcade in 2018, bringing a 3,000-strong collection of football shirts to two floors of this beautiful Victorian shopping arcade. Starting at just £20 and ranging through banned strips to legendary match-worn gems, the shirts on sale are a football fan’s dream.
Cos opened in a historic, Grade II listed building just off St Anne’s Square in 2019, much to the delight of the fashion brand’s fervent fans. The company focuses on classic, understated designs - and the Manchester branch reflects this ethos, with beautiful wooden flooring, elegantly arranged rails and a small but comfortable seating area in which to mull over potential purchases. The clothes do come with a higher price tag, but are made to last.
Fjällräven may have opened back in 2017, but the brand is as current as ever, with its backpacks in particular gaining real fashion currency. Translated to mean ‘Arctic fox’ in Swedish, the outdoor clothing and equipment company places emphasis on functionality and making nature more accessible through its trademark bags, clothing and accessory lines.
Though not new to Manchester city centre, Gap moved from its former site off St Anne’s Square (where Cos now is) to a unit in Manchester Arndale in 2018. This firm fashion favourite had a shiny new shop fit-out across two floors in the shopping centre and continues to be a clothing staple.
Irregular Choice really is an off-piste option for shoe shopping, having been founded to push back against the monochrome designs that the brand’s owner, Dan Sullivan, saw dominating the high street. The shoes here feature cartoons, art works, glitter, accessories and hand-carved heels; this branch opened in Manchester in 2018, and Irregular Choice has been selling its unique creations at the bottom of Market Street ever since.
Cosmetics powerhouse Morphe, which opened at Manchester Arndale in 2019, has a distinctly modern approach to makeup. The store not only showcases its best selling products, it also highlights influencer favourites and collaborations with creators such as Jaclyn Hill, James Charles and Jeffree Star. You’ll also find a full spectrum of professional quality tools and makeup inside, including over 300 brushes, plus advice from Morphe’s certified Beauty Artists.
Kenji’s Japanese-inspired products arrived at Manchester Arndale in 2018, a welcome addition for those looking for unusual homeware, stationery, fashion and kitchen goods, including comical socks, ornate pin badges and Bento boxes. The ethos here is ‘simple but daring’ - and everything in store bears this out.
Not new to Manchester city centre, clothing shop AllSaints nonetheless made the move from Market Street to Manchester Arndale in 2019, with a brand new shop fit-out giving the cult British brand with its rock and roll aesthetic a refreshed feel.
Athletic apparel brand lululemon is suitable for running and training, but has had yoga firmly at the heart of its business from the beginning. Though beautifully designed, streamline and always on trend, lululemon apparel doesn’t compromise on functionality - all of which has earned the company a dedicated following. This branch in St Ann’s Square opened in 2018.
Monki’s arrival in Manchester Arndale in 2018 was something of an event - not least because of the shop’s lavish interior decorations. Colourful, wacky and playful throughout, the shop has mirror balls hanging from its ceiling and specially-created clothing racks. Part of the H&M Group, the clothes here blend a Scandinavian aesthetic with creative street style.
Manchester’s branch of Patagonia opened back in 2017 - but the outdoor clothing and equipment store is still worth mentioning due to its outstanding environmental credentials. Recognition of the climate emergency is at the heart of the business; which, locally, has meant the use of recycled tiles and timber as well as light fittings reclaimed from factories in the Manchester and Oldham areas in the shop itself. This is a city centre shop that continues to be worth celebrating.
A much newer addition is Uniqlo, which has occupied a huge, glass-fronted unit on Market Street since 2019. This clothing company, which was originally founded in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1949 as a textiles manufacturer, focuses on simple designs using quality textiles.
Polo Ralph Lauren started over 50 years ago, with Ralph Lauren himself selling a collection of wide ties out of a single drawer in a showroom in the Empire State Building. Its signature style has since become iconic - and Manchester’s branch on New Cathedral Street opened in 2018.
In 2019, Danish lifestyle store Søstrene Grene brought its hygge-inspired homeware products to Manchester. Inside you’ll find a winding route through practical, creative products, all beautifully designed and at low prices. Keep an eye out for some real gems here.
Victoria’s Secret is a leading lingerie company that also sells fragrance, accessories and lounge wear - Victoria’s Secret Pink is the brand’s sister store, aimed at younger, ‘college-aged’ women. Both opened in Manchester Arndale in 2018, with interiors decked out in the brand's trademark black and pink stripes, with lingerie displayed on tables and wall racks.