Freshers o’clock style – the best places to shop in Manchester

Written by Zahra Mukadam.

After 18 months of online teaching we are finally back in person and while many of us are no longer fresh it still feels like it. If you’re new to Manchester, you’re in luck: you’ve just arrived in the third best city in the world (and therefore the best city in the UK). That means one thing – it’s time to improve your fashion game. It’s style time for all the new fees and we’re here to help. We’ve done the research for you and created the ultimate guide to all of the best places to shop for clothes in Manchester to make sure you’ll look flawless.

1. Manchester Arndale

Photo: Zahra Mukadam @ The Mancunion

Starting with an old but a goodie, Manchester Arndale is one of the UK’s largest shopping centers with over 200 stores. It is mainly full of renowned shops but also a few independent places to discover. Located right in the city center, it is very easy to access and there is certainly a shop for everyone. Whether you love sportswear, the grandpa aesthetic, or the standard look of plain top and jeans, the Arndale has you covered.

Our favorite store: Monki.

2. Market Street

Best places to shop in Manchester urban outfitters
Photo: Zahra Mukadam @ The Mancunion

Market Street leads to the Arndale. Other stores include the Big Three: H&M, Primark, and Urban Outfitters. While you might spend some time in these 3 stores, the street also has a few shoe stores as well as a Mango (the clothing store, not the fruit) and a Uniqlo.

Our favorite store: H&M.

Manchester Primark buys fresh produce
Photo: Zahra Mukadam @ Le Mancunion

3. Trafford Center

A more boujee version of the Arndale but a bit difficult to navigate from campus. It’s definitely worth it, just for the architecture – it’s an iconic building that makes you feel like you’re in a completely different country. Lots of nude statues too… definitely an interesting vibe. It’s also ready for a full day of shopping as it’s home to Europe’s largest food court. Stores include H&M, Selfridges, John Lewis, Zara, and pretty much every other well-known brand you can think of.

Our favorite store: Pull & Bear.

Best places to shop in Manchester Pull and Bear
Photo: Zahra Mukadam @ The Mancunion

4. Afflecks Palace

Now we come to the right bits. If you want to unleash your inner quirk, Afflecks is the place for you. Channeling the 2016 Tumblr emo vibes combined with cute, random fun, it has 3 floors filled with independent boutiques selling all kinds of fun and unique items, from painted denim jackets to ’60s fashion dresses.

Our favorite shop: Hook (everything in this shop is £ 10, it’s a lot of fun).

5. Thrift store

A lesser known place for shopping in Manchester but a gem nonetheless. Filled with well-priced second-hand items, this is the place to be if you want to get away from fast fashion. Durable, inexpensive, trendy and with a wide variety of styles – what not to love? It’s big enough, with plenty of clothes to browse through to find that one-off purchase you’ll love more than anything.

6. British Heart Foundation charity shop in town

Manchester has a lot of great charity shops, and while it may seem like a hit and miss, this is (subjectively) the best charity shop you’ll visit here. A little more expensive than your average charity shop, but my God is worth it. The clothes are so much cooler there than anywhere else. Unlike the classic retiree charity store (which is always 10/10), this is the place to be for Gen Z.

7. The northern district

Filled with cute boutiques and vintage boutiques, the North Quarter is the place to go if you want to have the best drops in town. If you want interesting items that you won’t find on the main drag, the North Quarter is for you.

Our favorite store: Blue Rinse.

If you want to learn more about thrift stores in the North Quarter, be sure to check out The Best Second-Hand Shops in the North Quarter.


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