It is not often that you hear me taking about shops or shopping. But I think this is well worth the segway. Patagonia Manchester opened late last year and invited me to celebrate with them at the launch party last week. How could I say no?
For quite a while now, the once posh King Street has been a bit of a quiet space and I often wondered whether it would come back to life in any way other than the King Street Festival. In the run up to Christmas, I noticed a rather interesting piece of advertising art on Port Street. It actually caused a bit of controversy due to covering over some work from the “Cities of Hope” festival. I looked past that though, as my curiosity piqued at the fact that it suggested that there was going to be a Patagonia Manchester store.
To be honest though, I quickly forgot about it with my ambition to get all my Christmas bits sorted in as short a time as possible. Well, the non-homemade bits anyway.
Once the new year rolled in and I had a bit more time for my morning and evening wandering, the Patagonia Manchester store popped up on my radar again. Partly because I like to drink in Pret on Cross Street, a stones throw from the store. Without the hesitation I usually approach shops with, I was in there like a shot. I love outdoor gear shops, I have to admit. I’m a sucker for technical gear and tech.
One of the fist things that stood out for me was the personalised wall for the Patagonia Manchester branch (of which I later realised is the only UK branch! And they chose Manchester!!)
A month or so after my visit, I received an email into my inbox. One that happily contained a bit of Dutch too. It was an invitation to the Patagonia Manchester launch party that would be a whole day of fun activities, to explore the shop, watch some films and get to know a bit more about the store and the people. I can honestly say that an invite to a launch party and a message in Dutch was surely more than enough for me to get my party fleece on! (You didn’t expect me to dress up, did you?)
Patagonia Manchester Launch Party
I received a bit of a schedule of the events for the day, but went with no specific expectation other than to have a good time. (always the best way, I think) And I certainly had my curious mind at the ready. I had heard some interesting things about the decor of the place and wanted to investigate further.
Usually, when a big name brand land in the city, they bring with them their usual styling and design. So much so, you can barely tell many of them apart. Patagonia Manchester, on the other hand, landed with personality in abundance. I arrived to the store to smiling faces and the fresh smell of coffee. There was a really cool chilled out vibe and the music playing in the background reflected it. I felt very at easy to speak with the staff and to have a nosy around. And that, is a feat! I’m usually the one veering away from any oncoming shop assistant.
Within a few moments, I knew where the activities were taking place, had a delicious cup of coffee from local Idle Hands Coffee (in my refillable cup, I might add) and was learning about the decor that had sparked my curiosity.
It is not often that you find any organisation using locally sourced and recycled materials, let along a large company. The info that I had heard was correct, the Patagonia Manchester store was packed to the brim with reused materials from local places. The tiles for that impressive and wonderfully personalised wall were reclaimed from the old Burscough Police Station in Ormskirk. Believe it or not, they were originally in the holding cells for the station.
The lovely timber and scaffold boards that hold the products and make up the main displays are from all around Manchester and even from the McVitie’s Factory. Being a big fan of using reclaimed materials, this ticked a box in my imaginary “good store” list.
Even the lights are reclaimed from warehouses and factories around the Manchester and Oldham. There is even our bee tiled onto the floor of the changing room. I really think that they are looking to settle well into Manchester and are thoughtful about it too.
More than just a store
As I made my way down stairs to watch some of the films on show, I was surprised to see an actual event space. Yes, that’s right, an event space inside a shop. The last time I remember something like that was the gig space in HMV in the Arndale, way back when. Having worked in the charity sector in the city for many years and with me starting up Refill Manchester, I became curious about the space. I learned that it was available for local charities and NGOs to use for meeting and events. How very cool, I thought as I noted it into my phone for Refill events and meetings. It was such a comfortable space too, with a mini kitchen and toilet.
That wasn’t all of the discoveries. Apart from finding out there was a downstairs, let alone an event space, there is an upstairs too. Home to much of the ladies wear and somewhere I foresee myself browsing in the future. For the launch, as well as at other times through the year, Worn Wear come to repair damaged clothing for free.
I think it is an amazing idea and if you go on the website, you can learn to repair yourself. But of course, you can always swing by the store next time they are around. The idea of the project is to encourage us all to look after and repair our kit rather than getting rid and buying new. It is more towards the slow fashion movement. It is something I think more people need to consider when buying their kit. Pop into the store to check out the events board to find out when they’ll next be at Patagonia Manchester.
You know you’re having a good time when the time just flies by. Chatting to the team, recruiting Patagonia Manchester to be a Refill Station and, of course, browsing the kit, the musicians began setting up for the evening. The beer began to flow and the music started up. Plenty more people arrived to enjoy the scene and I have to say that everyone I met in the evening was equally as nice as those during the day. It is a great kind of crowd and I suspect it has something to do with the great ethos of the company hosting the party.
You would think that a launch party would be all about the company. Not this one. Although, of course it played a part. The proceeds from the day and evening went to Save Our Rivers, another amazing cause. Protecting our natural and unaltered waterways for the benefit of the natural life that live and thrive there. On the day you could buy posters, Keep Cups and pint cups with the money going straight to charity. I only just managed to resist by having brought my own reusables with me – reminding me that I don’t need more, even though they were very pretty!
A new favourite
I have to say that for a launch party, it was much more. I not only came away having met some fantastic people, but I learned more about Patagonia, discovered Worn Wear, signed Patagonia Manchester up to Refill and found some new bands, I also found a new favourite store. And that is something you won’t hear/read me say very often at all.
If you’re interested in ethical outdoor gear, fancy getting your current kit fixed or want somewhere a little more offbeat to hold your event, than I thoroughly recommend you poop into Patagonia Manchester on King Street. Luke, the Manager is great and I’m sure he’ll be happy to have a chat with you.
I think they have done a fantastic job of fitting well into our city. Thoughtful in the materials they have used and bringing back some much-needed life into King Street. I think if the launch party is anything to go by, we have a great new venue in town. And on that is as offbeat as a lot of the people of Manchester.
Now all I have to do it stay away long enough to save some pennies so that I can buy the new bag that I have my eye on!
Did you know about Patagonia Manchester? Did you know that they come with a high ethical standing?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.