If there’s one thing us Mancunians are good at, it’s wearing our unique fashion sense with pride.
Gone are the days of London being crowned as the UK’s fashion capital – because away from the big smoke, a fashion revolution is taking place and it’s happening right here in our great city.
We’ve put ourselves firmly on the fashion map in recent years, but in true Mancunian style, we’ve affirmed ourselves in a way that says “we do trends a little differently here”.
With a bigger focus on shopping independent than ever before, our collective eye for fashion and love of ethical buying has led to a number of vintage stores popping up all around the city.
And if you love buying guilt-free garms and zestily reworked vintage online rather than in-store (lockdown, eh?) then you’re going to want to add Stockport-based clothing brand, The Marmalade Vintage, to your list of preserves.
Something of a holy grail for fashion lovers wanting to shop sustainably, Marmalade Vintage is your best bet for finding curated pieces, timeless knits and one-of-a-kind garments you simply can’t get anywhere else.
What started as a side venture while at university soon turned into a ceaseless passion Marmalade’s owner just couldn’t ignore.
Obsessed with ‘the hunt’ for a true hidden gem in between lectures as a student, the fashion-savvy entrepreneur realised they could put their eye for impeccable finds to use for people whose least favourite part about thrifting is… well, the thrift itself.
“I started selling some of the vintage pieces on Etsy,” the local business owner tells Manchester’s Finest. “I didn’t expect people to be as interested as they were and it just sort of snowballed from there. It definitely wasn’t planned, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else!”
And like anybody who’s really business-smart knows, the local entrepreneur knew the best way to propel her plans forward was to first turn to that one person in everybody’s life who knows the answer to everything… her mum:
“My mum does all of the reworking for us, she’s always sewn as a hobby so having her help out happened naturally,” says the independent store. “I love that I was able to hire my mum to do something she loves so much and there’s honestly nobody I’d rather work alongside.”
Now a solid mother-daughter team, the pair couldn’t see themselves working with anybody else.
Never fancied filling your wardrobe with the clothes of yesteryear? Many of us appreciate an antique staple as an artefact from another era… a statement piece with a whole bunch of narratives wrapped up inside just waiting to be told (plus, it also just looks really cool on your coffee table).
And the same can be said for our clothes. Up for filling your wardrobe with a whole rail’s worth of stories? Then you’re going to want to dip into Marmalade’s pot of must-have mom jeans, cute crops and dreamy pastel palettes that’ll have you forgetting about our eternally grey skies.
As if that wasn’t motivation enough, you can shop their range safe in the knowledge that you’re doing good for the planet… and looking pretty sharp while you’re at it.
Research shows that fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, so after realising 95% of the clothing we throw away is able to have a second life, the owner of Marmalade set off on a mission to do just that.
A firm believer in circular fashion, their 25-year-old founder tells us: “I think in the past few years everyone has become much more aware of their impact on the planet. There are so many issues with the fast-fashion industry and the further you look into it the more you want to distance yourself from it. Unfortunately, a lot of the alternatives can be quite expensive.”
In the UK alone, each household throws away an immense 35kg of clothing a year. That’s the same as 90 pairs of jeans – and when you times that by the entire population… that’s a lot of dumped denim.
Here to give them a new home, instead, Marmalade really is your dream denim destination for stand-out jeans and jackets that only get better with age. And if you’re tired of sifting through your fair share of drivel just to find that dream piece, when you shop Marmalade, that part’s taken care of for you.
“You really can’t beat a good vintage denim number,” says the owner. “With Marmalade, we just wanted to make second-hand clothing as appealing and affordable as possible to a younger market. This was one of the main reasons we started reworking pieces – it takes the legwork of finding and tailoring cool pieces out of the equation for younger people who still want to buy fast, but guilt-free.”
And it’s fair to say the treasure hunting team at Marmalade are true connoisseurs in saving these rare beauties from a time gone-by, possessing a true flair for bringing them into this era:
“We just want to make second-hand clothing more attractive to younger people, whether that’s by reworking dated pieces that’d otherwise be thrown into landfill, or by providing quality names, like a Levi’s denim jacket, at affordable prices,” the Stockport business owner tells us.
And the results of their efforts truly speak for themselves…
A wardrobe staple for everyone, a quality vintage shirt in a flannel check is the perfect addition to your smart-casual outfit. The layering potentials are immense… whether you’re looking to spruce up old dungarees or add a bit of flair to your outfit by popping one on under a graphic tee, purchasing a decent flannel shirt can change your wardrobe a million times over.
“You really can’t beat a good vintage denim jacket or flannel shirt and they truly don’t make them like they used to,” says the Stockport-based vintage brand. “These are also pieces that seem to get better with age, so people tend to prefer to buy them second-hand.”
And if you’re a fan of retro vibes with big 2021 energy, then you’re going to love the entire inventory of second-hand pieces that Marmalade has to offer.
“We’ll often find pieces that are a just a little outdated – you’d be amazed how easily you can transform an old blouse or t-shirt by cropping it,” says the founder. “Over the years we’ve grown a pretty impressive collection of materials after reworking items. We’ve been wondering how best to use them ever since, because we’re really passionate about sustainability and don’t want to throw them away. We’re really excited about expanding the shop while maintaining our ethical grounding as much as we can.”
Instead, Marmalade is putting their canny ability to save castaway clothes to good use by using off-cuts to create a dreamy selection of coin purses and make-up bags – and they’ve turned out even cuter than expected.
They’ll be available for all to see on Marmalade’s website soon, so if you’re hankering for a new staple to keep your change in, or your make-up bag has seen better days, be sure to keep your eyes peeled.
Been inspired by Marmalade’s story? They have some cracking advice for those looking to set up shop amidst the throes of lockdown:
“I think this year has taught us all that you can’t predict the future. You can work hard and believe in your business but you never know what obstacles will be thrown at you. Learn to adapt your business to the situation you’re in and remember that this isn’t forever, even though sometimes it feels that way. Don’t be afraid of failing. You’re constantly learning and evolving – as is your business. It can feel like everybody else knows exactly what they’re doing and the direction they’re going in, but they don’t.”
And when they’re not dishing out stellar advice, you may spy the team behind Marmalade at a (post-lockdown) festival near you soon as they continue with their plans for growth – go say hello!
The Marmalade Vintage is regularly adding cool finds and dreamily reworked pieces to their inventory – you can shop the range here;