So maybe Santa didn’t give you get exactly what you wanted for Christmas? No worries! Shop where the stylists and the kids that were too cool for school do…in the hip areas surrounding.
With Chinese New Year coming up, what better time than to indulge in some great Asian fare after a long day of shopping. These cool boutiques can seamlessly blend vintage couture with goodwill, mixed with high street. Just like New York, where the chic boutiques of Nolita, Soho and the Lower East side border Chinatown, England’s independent designers and vintage boutiques are opening up next to their Chinese neighbors.
Like the cool little sisters of London, Manchester’s Northern Quarter and Leeds are big on style and easy on the wallet.
Manchester’s Chinatown is the second largest in the UK and the third largest in Europe, marked by an elaborate entry gate on Faulkner Street, neighboring the hip Northern Quarter. By day, the Northern Quarter has quaint cafes nestled amongst dozens of vintage and up and coming designer shops on Tib and Thomas Streets. At night, the area is completely transformed into a rocking bar scene filled with hipsters. As Manchester has heavy roots in music, Afflecks Palace pays homage to the various music genres over the decades selling affordable punk, goth, retro and experimental fashion.
Pop boutique and Blue Rinse have recycled and remade vintage from the 60s to the 80s, and the Craft and Design Center with 2 floors of workshops and studios selling jewelry, accessories, and clothing. If you’re a serious bargain hunter and have the time to rummage, be sure to visit Three Pound Shop, a massive thrift shop that has racks of fabulous vintage where everything, is yes, 3 pounds or less, a little less than $5.
While Leeds has a much smaller Chinese population, their Chinatown borders some of England’s best vintage and thrift shops that are frequented by students and designers alike. It’s rumored that some of Brit’s most well known designers comb Leed’s vintage for ‘inspiration’ for their own collections. Be sure to hit the Exchange Quarter on Newmarket Street filled with vintage boutiques and Birds Yard on Kirkgate which is a department store filled with boutiques of the area’s best new designers and creative talent. Be sure to reserve a couple hours just to devote here.
Over the last decade, Newcastle has been transformed into an art and cultural haven of the North, and they have also been celebrating its ethnic diversity. In 2005, they erected a Chinese Arch to mark their Chinatown district on Stowell Street- a vibrant area brimming with restaurants and curio shops.
Around the corner on Monk and Friar Streets, you’ll find a vast selection of independent boutiques, retro vintage stores and art galleries lining these quaint cobblestone streets.
The best way to get to Northern England is via American Airlines with direct flights from JFK to Manchester.
Travelling around England is easy on the high speed trains with a Britrail pass that works around your schedule.