Oxfam Originals is the last one of its kind, and it’s in Manchester; tucked away between the muso-makkah Piccadilly Records; Wood, Carhartt and opposite some of the city’s hippest cafes: Night & Day, Fig & Sparrow and Pop.
“Forget Market Street, visit Oldham Street (and the rest of the Northern Quarter) instead! Much more interesting and exciting.” Ah, Trip Advisor reviews – so true. Oldham Street is where you need to be if you want to find high-street and high-end stuff for less dollar. Or if you want a tattoo by some of the most revered artists in the region.
Of course, it’s amazing what you can find in Northern Quarter generally – which all Mancunians have known for years and years and its freshest emigre will always have the enviable pleasure of discovering for themselves. 1st run Radiohead vinyl, old white-label; Northern Soul, Smiths T-Shirts, custom jewellery, carefully crafted coffees and (probably) over 100 types of tea in the entire 3-mile-squared area.
Oxfam Originals is a TROVE of treasure! Woollen blazers, loads of kilts… 50s lingerie and gloves, 70s dresses, men’s designer suits – all pre-loved and reasonable and while it’s considered ‘expensive’ for a charity shop: you’re paying for high-end gear. It’s not unusual to see brand new Gucci, Karen Millen, Whistles, Fred Perry and amazingly well-kept Adidas from the 80s.
I have the pleasure of being a volunteer there at the moment; and the items that come in each week are incredible. WIthin a week I’ve learned how all of it is hand-picked for quality, labels and particularly, when they are of high-couture or historical interest. (Yes: I have seen a nearly-new yet vintage Yves Saint Laurent blazer retailing for £30. Ridiculous.)
This selection process means real vintage – as much as the remakes and the high street will continue to improve the cut and fit; expanding hem according to waistlines: there’s nothing quite like finding a genuine 60s swing dress complete with huge bell-bottomed sleeves for a third of a new dress on the high street of similar quality.
In the winter, Oxfam Originals is a jumper-hunter’s paradise; the guys and girls rolling in, checking jumpers from each section regardless of its labelled gender; which is wonderful.
Don’t miss it.