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Can u dig it?

Second hand doesn’t mean second rate. We dig out the best vintage clothes stores in Manchester

Published on July 14th 2006.

Can u dig it?

‘Digging’ was something normally reserved for the likes of Alan Titchmarsh and Pete Doherty. Although Alan’s version of the recreation is much more respectable and legal than Pete’s. Confused? You may well be – as there’s a new form of ‘digging’ which has wormed its way to the forefront of British pastimes.

“Digging” is all about rooting for something unique, kitsch, niche or retro. And it’s vintage clothing which sits prettily, if not a little tattered, at the top of the things worth digging for.

Fortunately for us Mancs, we don’t have to dig tunnels to find such gems as over the past couple of years, The Northern Quarter has seen vintage clothes shops pop up more frequently than mole hills (v weak analogy – Ed).

Retro Rehab
What: It’s the collective dressing room of all iconic female leads from Olivia Newton John’s Sandra Dee to Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly

Where: 91 Oldham Street

Why: The lovely Shelley and Gemma are the fashion equivalent of Cagney and Lacey – vintage trouble-shooters. All items are washed or dry-cleaned to avoid that allotment smell indigenous to old people. And clothes are sectioned under “glamour puss”, “summer loving”, Jackie O’ etc. Lovely touch ladies

Ryan Vintage
What Only just opened its doors - this is the new kid on the block. It’s how Aflecks used to be (when I didn’t look out of place) a bloody good rummage. Get in line for the vintage Levi’s and cords

Where: Oldham Street (opposite Retro Rehab)

Why: It may be vintage but it’s not stuffy. Leave pretensions at the door. This is get yer digging equipment out and get stuck in. Pack a lunch - you could be there for a while – it’s massive.

Rags to Bitches
What: Grandma’s attic full of little treasures. It’s every girl’s dressing up box- minus the handcuffs, although considering owner, Flic Everett was Company magazine’s sex columnist, they might not be that out of place.

Where: 60 Tibb Street, www.rags-to-bitches.co.uk

Why: Well apart from having rather cutesy fairy cakes on offer and a tipple of something cheeky, it’s the sort of place that has made Dot Cotton into a style icon and that gets a salute from me. It’s also very astute, I’ve noticed, at spotting fashion trends before they’ve made it to the high street.

Pop Boutique
What: It’s vintage on a retro level. Fresh funky – all very summer of 69.

Where: 34-36 Oldham Street

Why: You’re more likely to leave looking like your mum in her heyday than your great grandmother in her’s. Plus there’s a tasty little vegetarian café downstairs and record shop where you can extend your digging to LPs.

My Goodniss
What: It’s the closest thing you’ll get to a jumble sale or car boot sale (without the car or the boot).

Where: 40 Thomas Street

Why: This is for your die hard diggers, the ones that would rather eat their own foot than leave without a bargain. There’s the added bonus of having a gander at the very hip Stroon Gallery downstairs


  • Persistence pays
  • Always try on. A 1930s size ten is far more petit than today’s sizes. They had smaller arses back then or was it the fact they were malnourished?
  • Hand wash clothes to be on the safe side. Washing instructions on the label are often worn and illegible.
  • Check for stressed fabric, such as underneath the arm, zips and moth holes. It may have survived 50 years or so, but if there are signs of deterioration, it’s not going to last much longer.
  • If you’re not ready to completely step back in time. Start by accessorising with jewellery, handbag, scarves or belts.

Vanessa Lees
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