24 hours in Manchester with... Ste Wing

Director of creative agency Visionarism and visual stylist to clients that stretch around the globe, he's lucky if he gets more than three days at a time back in the city. But when he’s back, he makes it count.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 12 June 2020

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Inner-city born and raised with the North Manchester accent to match, avid sneaker collector and proud Mancunian Ste Wing says there’s no better feeling than being home.

This is his latest 24 hours…

4:00am: Back in 0161

I’ve just landed back into Manchester Airport, fresh from shooting a campaign in L.A. Jet lag is a myth for me these days, but sleep when you’re dead right? Getting in an Uber I catch up with the driver on United’s latest performance and how it’s been raining non-stop for 4 days. I look out the window, and he ain’t lying, it’s pissing it down!

Knowing I’ve got a mad busy day ahead of me, the cogs in my head are going 100mph.

6:00am: OCD Routine

I get back and my OCD routine kicks in. Unpack and repack, as I’ve only got
24 hours before I have to shoot a campaign with my business partner and team in London.

What sneakers to pack? What’s on the agenda for the next few days? Styling kit, scrap book and putting my phones, camera and laptop on charge. It’s strange how it all runs like clockwork when it’s been your life since you can remember. Everything’s where it should be, and if, what I thought I needed ain’t there, then I don’t need it.

7:30am: The selection

Jump in the shower and decide what I’m wearing for the day. Sneaker choice is essential. I go through the process of lining up 5 pairs and then go with what my mood suits. It’s easy when you’ve got 5 pairs… not so easy when you’ve got over 500 pairs in the archive!

9:00am: Catch up with creatives and clients

My working day starts in my home office with Manchester’s very own Children of Zeus playing in the background. A candle’s lit and the kettle is on ready for a brew. I catch up with emails and touch base with our creatives from all over the world, all on different time zones. Making sure all of our clients are up to date and going through a list of new creatives who are all eager to work with us is my priority. There’s nothing more exciting to me than coming across a new creative that wants to work with us and especially one that’s a home grown talent!

11:00am: The barbershop

Clients are booked in at the barbershop (Close Male Grooming, Bridge Street). I’ve been cutting hair for about 15 years now, won all the awards I needed to win and now do it to stay in touch with everyone. I have a client base that are not only loyal to me, but they also understand my lifestyle – that I’m only able to cut hair one day a month (sometimes even every two months). It’s always good to see the lads and there’s nothing quite like barbershop chat. We’re all mates in there and clients join in with the piss taking.

My OCD is a running joke in the shop. My stuff has to be laid out in a certain way and the weirdest thing of all… I CAN’T STAND HAIR! I’ll clear it mid-way through a cut and make sure there’s no strands of hair on my client’s shoulders or face.

3:00pm: The walk through town

I’m done at the shop, and head up towards the NQ. There’s something about growing up in the city that never changes and that’s the love of walking through the different parts of town. We have so many characters in the city, from buskers and Big Issue sellers, to the market traders that have been hustling for time! They’ve watched me grow up and I’ve seen them grow old, but what hasn’t changed is the hustle and their cheeky smile whilst doing it.

You will always hear “Yes Ste mate, not seen you for timeeee lad! All sound yeah?”

3:30pm: Bags of Flavor

Passing the back streets and through to Tib Street I find it mental how back in the day you wouldn’t dare walk this route, but now it’s buzzing with cool independents, alongside the long-standing picture framers and sex shops that seem to have been there forever.

I drop in to see my good mate and vintage legend, Dicki. Owner of Manchester’s go-to spot for vintage sports and outdoor gear, Bags of Flavor, he’s been doing his thing for like 19 years and is still the plug for vintage connoisseurs from all around the world. He knows his shit, honestly, the knowledge and stories he has on the pieces are insane.

I used to shop here quite a lot when I was younger, but now I see it as an archive of my youth and Manchester’s fashion scene. I still spot the odd piece though in there that makes me want to get my hustle on and bag a bargain!

4:30pm: Interview with END

The guys at END Clothing got in touch a few weeks back wanting to shoot and chat about the agency and the plans we have for the future. So whilst I was back, I made sure I locked in their interview. I love what these guys are about so was a pleasure to spend time with some like-minded peeps and show them around the city. It’s mint to be the only guy from the north to be asked to shoot this feature alongside guys in Paris, L.A. and N.Y.C, showing the END team some of my favourite spots in town.

6:00pm: Face to face

I’m definitely old school when it comes to business, and I try to work with my clients face-to-face as much as possible. There’s no better feeling than throwing around ideas and creating moodboards that then help them bring to life their concepts in the digital world.

7:30pm: Boy in the corner

I head to Corner Boy to meet my mate Ste P from Manchester’s Finest for a coffee and a catch up. I love hearing what new concepts and businesses are about to make noise in town, and of course, see what gig tickets I can blag from him!

He’s been trying to lock me down for like 6 months to do this feature and I really wanted to make sure I gave you guys a proper insight into how I move and show that my love for this city goes far beyond that swanky new bar in Spinningfields or the hipster beer house that’s just popped up by Piccadilly.

8:30pm: Keeping it real at Viet Shack

Time to grab a bite. With so many spots to choose from and with Manchester being such a multi-cultural city, you can find any kind of food you’re dying for. Since I’ve not seen me mam for a while, I’m craving a good Vietnamese, so there’s only one spot in town and that spot is Viet Shack. Owned by my good mate Nelson, he’s taken Vietnamese street food and given it a twist. Keeping to traditional flavours, he’s used his creative kitchen skills to make his own signature dishes and the result… a mint menu.

I’ve gone for the Remix Pho, Bun Thit Nuong, Shack Fries and Summer Rolls.

I love seeing my friends do well and places like this are not just great for the city, but for the ever growing number of people visiting and moving here.

9:30pm: The mood switches

The sun’s gone down and the mood in town switches. There used to be a time when the city would be dead after 6:00pm. But now… there’s like a change of people, the 9-5’s leave the city and the ones that reside in the city come out and create a different kind of buzz. Whether you’re out for food, having a chilled drink or if you’re like some of my guys (you know who you are) you can find, or even create a party any time of the week!

But that’s what I love about this place. We’re all like a big family, you can walk into any bar, restaurant or cafe and bump into someone that you know, or even better, a new face, and as us typical Mancs (not a shy bone in our body), we’ll be straight over with the… “Easy mate, where you from? And what are you doing in the best city in the world!”

A saying that I’ll always remember from back in the day – “If you come to Manchester for 48 hours, you’re most likely to leave with a best mate or even your soul mate!”

11:00pm: Back to where it all started

Shock… it’s pissin’ it down. I grab an Uber up the road to a place that means more to me than most around the world. It’s HOME. I’ve had this spot for years wedged between the city and the rawness of real Manchester. It’s an area that’s now pretty much classed as ‘in town’.

This place still hasn’t lost its charm or the characters that have lived here for years. It still has the family homes passed down through the generations, the mams and grans sat out having a brew and a cig, chattin’ over the garden fence – the dad still working on the old motor he’s had since the 70’s and the kids that have grown up playing footy on the streets, to now pulling up at their mam’s in a brand new Merc or a blacked out Range.

It’s stuff like this that makes leaving here hard. This lift has seen more drama than any Netflix box set. Not always pretty, but the memories will never fade.

12:30am: The restless mind

This is when I’m most active. With having friends and clients all over the world, it’s the perfect time to catch up with them all and get as much done as I can. I’m listening to a mix of Sade, Nas,
Wu-Tang, Lauryn Hill and Frank Ocean.

2:00am: Nothing beats this view

Sat looking out at Manchester’s skyline. It’s a view that no other place in the world can beat. This city has shaped me, given me the life skills and DNA to be the person I am today. I might not be here as much these days, but I’ll tell you this, there’s nothing better than coming back here and feeling its energy.

I’ll try get my head down and rest for a few hours.

Night Manchester. Peace.


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