With most shoppers today swayed by speed and convenience, fast fashion retailers and multi-brand online stores seem to be ruling the roost. But the heart of the boutique is still very much beating.
Providing truly personal customer service, select edits over heaving inventories of products, unique interiors, as well as the experiential aspect of shopping; independent menswear stores continue to offer something incomparable to even the most discerning of style enthusiasts.
Here’s our guide to the top 20 up and down (and back up again) the UK has to offer.
Oi Polloi (Manchester)
Established in Manchester in 2002, Oi Polloi was born after its two founders bonded over the idea of selling tie-dye Lacoste polo shirts. The shirts in question never quite materialised but the Northern independent, now with an outpost in London also, is still to be commended for its offering, which goes above and beyond the usual run-of-the-mill brands.
Included in the store’s unconventional catalogue of brands are Munich-based operation A Kind of Guise, Japanese workwear brand OrSlow, the store’s own brand label Cottonpolis, as well as accessories from the likes of Il Bussetto and Fisher Space Pens.
If you’re still not sated, pore over its blog for outfit guides, exclusive interviews with iconic personalities, reviews of independent films and local eateries, as well as dispatches from the staff’s far-flung travels.
Address: 63 Thomas St, Manchester, Lancashire, M4 1LQ
Phone: 0161 831 7870
Trunk Clothiers (London)
Founded by Swedish-born Mats Klingberg in 2010, this unassuming Marylebone independent led a wave of men’s labels to set up shop on London’s Chiltern Street.
Klingberg created Trunk Clothiers after realising that he only ever bought clothes when visiting places such as Japan, Italy or Sweden. So, he decided to bring a tightly curated selection of the finest global menswear brands to London and save the rest of us a trip.
Expect to spend hours shopping the likes of Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons, Japanese label OrSlow, Italian outerwear specialist Aspesi and more. Or, if it’s the finer details you’re looking for, try out Trunk’s recently launched made-to-measure suit service or head a few doors down to Trunk Labs, the store’s dedicated accessories shop.
Address: 8 Chiltern St, Marylebone, London W1U 7PU
Phone: 020 7486 2357
A concept store based in Birmingham that’s been trading for over twenty years, Autograph has been commended by a range of menswear publications for its comprehensive brand mix.
With a base of British heritage brands including Sunspel, Grenson and Crombie, the store builds on this foundation with a contemporary offering from the likes of 3.1 Philip Lim, T by Alexander Wang and Neil Barrett, as well as several lesser-known names like streetwear brand FI5TH from Manchester and Italian reversible jacket experts Fifteen & Half. Plus, the owner’s close-knit ties with big brands such as Paul Smith mean you may even be able to find a store-exclusive piece or two.
Mixing up this stable of fairly standard independent brands are glasses from British eyewear specialists Eye Respect, bags from Madrid upcycling label Ecoalf, as well as plenty more accessories and reading materials. Pore over the succinct yet incisive blog posts for inspiration on how to wear key pieces.
Address: Autograph Menswear, 15-17 Ethel St, City Centre, Birmingham, B2 4BG
Phone: 0121 633 3540
MKI Miyuki Zoku (Leeds)
Housed in the iconic Corn Exchange building in central Leeds, MKI has been kitting out the north’s most stylish men for the best part of a decade.
Founded by Vik Tailor, a former head of tailoring for Paul Smith, the store takes its name from the Miyuki Zoku, a Tokyo fashion tribe during the 1960s who brought US Ivy League styles to Japan for the first time.
MKI Miyuki Zoku is a multi-brand retail space, stocking an ever-changing selection of guest brands. However, the main focus is the eponymous in-house label, which offers stylish, superior quality contemporary menswear, at affordable prices.
Address: Leeds Corn Exchange, Unit C4, Corn Exchange, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR
Phone: 0113 246 8917
End Clothing (Newcastle)
One of the UK’s foremost menswear providers, End started out in 2005 in Newcastle but recently spilt over into Glasgow with a new 3,500-square-foot flagship.
Online, End’s now a different beast; offering the slickest of streetwear, exclusive trainer drops and homespun British clothing. Appreciating that today’s man needs more than high quality clobber to impress, End also stocks an array of grooming labels from Murdock, Aesop, Imperial and Baxter of California along with fragrances from Comme Des Garçons.
With a roster full of world-renowned brands, you may need a word of advice on where to spend your money first. Luckily, the store’s blog is updated daily with posts focusing specifically on noteworthy products, collections and labels, all featuring rich, illustrative photography shot by the team at End themselves.
Address: 4-6 High Bridge, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1EN
Phone: 0191 231 3983
The Priory (Bridlington)
When you imagine a shop brimming with the world’s coolest menswear labels, a place where only the most style savvy gents go to update their wardrobe, a small East Yorkshire fishing town probably isn’t the first location that springs to mind. However, The Priory is putting Bridlington on the map for exactly that.
Set up by three guys with a shared love of quality clothing, The Priory has become a local institution for Yorkshire’s trendsetters and has built up a strong online presence at the same time.
Quality denim from Edwin, minimalist wardrobe staples from Norse Projects, rugged Scandinavian outerwear from Fjällräven. The Priory has all of this and so much more.
Address: 11 Manor St, Bridlington YO15 2SA
Phone: 01262 228285
Accent Clothing (Leeds)
A family-run business established way back in 1984; Accent is located inside the Queen’s Arcade in Leeds. Honing in on edgy, contemporary yet accessibly priced labels, the men’s online store stocks around sixty brands including 7 For All Mankind, Baracuta, Gibson, Eleven Paris, Swims, Victorinox and Weekend Offender.
If you’re in need of a brief respite of shopping its well-curated range, head to Accent’s blog, which is an eclectic mix of news of the latest arrivals at the store as well as brand profiles and commentary on the hottest new advertising campaigns.
For those on the hunt for details on what their favourite celebs are wearing and where to buy, the store’s Instagram account is regularly updated with ‘Get the Look’ posts.
Address: 11-20 Queens Arcade, Briggate, Leeds LS1 6LF
Phone: 0113 234 6767
The Bureau (Belfast)
The Bureau began life down a Belfast back street in 1989, during the height of political unrest in Northern Ireland. However, despite having opened at such a difficult time, this attractively furnished, menswear paradise has been thriving ever since.
The Focus at this Irish indie is set firmly on heritage and durability – clothes for men who value timeless style and high quality above all else. Think selvedge denim, moc toe boots, flannel shirts and workwear-inspired outerwear.
This means that brands such as Barbour, Red Wing and Visvim take pride of place on The Bureau’s carved, wooden displays – attracting the city’s most clued-up guys.
Address: B2 Portview, 310 Newtownards Rd, Belfast BT4 1HE
Phone: 028 9046 0190
At 35,000 square feet, Psyche, found on Middlesbrough’s Linthorpe Road, is by far the largest independent on our list. Not dissimilar to a department store, it’s a veritable fashion emporium spread out over three levels, with menswear on the ground floor, tailoring on the first and womenswear on the third.
Psyche began life as a modest punk-themed boutique in 1984, being one of the first UK-based stores to stock internationally renowned labels such as Dries Van Noten, Prada, Jil Sander and Helmut Lang.
In 2002, Psyche took over the site of ailing outlet E. Upton & Sons, transforming the space into a lavish department store with a distinctly boutique-flavoured atmosphere. It’s not gone unnoticed – Drapers has twice awarded the store the title of UK Retailer of the Year.
Founder Steve Cochrane populates the several thousand square feet of Psyche with the world’s most esteemed brands, from heritage labels like Hackett, Farah and Paul Smith to European heavyweights Armani and Hugo Boss.
Address: 175-187 Linthorpe Rd, Middlesbrough, TS1 4AG
Phone: 020 7183 4767
Opened by brothers Andrew and Duncan McKenzie in 1994, Aphrodite is one of the North of England’s most beloved menswear boutiques and is held in high regard by those in the know.
While it may have started off small, the Sunderland store has steadily grown over the years into a force to be reckoned with. Aphrodite has undergone a major expansion, increased the size of its team from two (Andrew and Duncan) to around twenty-five and has built up a portfolio of brands that would make most other retailers green with envy.
Pop in, and you’ll be greeted with a sprawling collection of menswear from the likes of Stone Island, A.P.C., Canada Goose, Moncler and Filling Pieces.
Address: 8 Vine Place, Sunderland SR1 3NE
Phone: 0191 567 5898
Intro Clothing (Manchester)
Intro Clothing first shook up the Manchester retail scene over ten years ago and has since continued to provide its clientele with of-the-moment essentials with a streetwear bent.
Home to a chock-full roster of both home-grown and far-flung lesser-known labels – including The Cuckoo’s Nest, Fi5th, Good for Nothing and ABE – it’s one of the most unique retail destinations in the UK.
But it’s not only hyper-florals and all-black sports-inspired styles. Here, London-based chino brand MQT rubs shoulders with the likes of white shirt-centric label Simon + Simon, while Jeffery West and Linda Farrow make up the smart shoes and eyewear contingent.
For the punter pressed for time, the store gears its online content around occasions and looks that feature the season’s major trends.
Address: 51 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 2AY
Phone: 0161 839 5323
Peggs & Son (Brighton)
Brighton has always been a pretty stylish place, but when native midlander Ian Pegg couldn’t find the clothes he liked there, he decided to bring them to the city himself.
In 2000, with next to no money and even less experience, he opened Peggs & Son. The focus was (and still is) quality labels from the UK, Japan, America, Sweden and even further afield, as well as rare pieces and quality denim.
Since then, the store has changed locations twice and is now one of the most respected independent menswear stores in the UK. The Peggs & Son you see today is situated in the very heart of the seaside town, offering a carefully curated selection of the finest clothing, footwear and accessories available.
Address: 39 Duke St, Brighton BN1 1AG
Phone: 01273 711847
Weavers Door (Liverpool)
Centred on what it dubs the ‘true brands’, Liverpool independent Weavers Door champions labels manufacturing high-quality goods with watertight integrity.
Established in 2010, the store is nestled among the neighbouring retailers of the city’s Cavern Walks, providing a haven for those who prioritise quality over quantity.
The in-store Weavers Door Journal, helmed by manager Lee Fleming, sheds light on the craftsmen and women from the brands they sell. So expect features and interviews with the creative minds behind Barbour, Sunspel, Universal Works and YMC.
Address: 1 Cavern Walks Shopping Centre, Harrington St, Liverpool, Merseyside, L2 6RE
Phone: 0151 236 6001
All Blues Co. (Leeds)
Another must-visit boutique to spring up in Leeds’ Corn Exchange building in recent years, All Blues Co. is a purveyor of all things heritage and Americana.
The guys behind the store aim to create a community of like-minded people who keep coming back again and again, even if it’s just for a chat.
If the conversation isn’t enough to get you hooked, the selection of the best globally-sourced heritage brands certainly will. All Blues Co. stocks lesser known brands such as Gung-Ho, Le Labourer, and Boozehound, which have roots in places like France and Korea, as well as more established and well-known brands, such as Champion, Sperry and Lee.
Address: Leeds Corn Exchange, Unit C3c, Call Lane, Leeds LS1 7BR
Phone: 0113 244 1022
Xile Clothing (Edinburgh/Glasgow)
Arguably Edinburgh’s most exciting clothier, Xile burst onto the Scottish capital’s streets in 1984. Since then, it has expanded into a small retail empire that spans stores in Edinburgh, Livingston and Glasgow, as well as an online store that epitomises clean and considered design.
What sets Xile apart from its competitors is its assemblage of British brands with a contemporary edge, including 140-year-old Scottish label Lyle & Scott, the more street- and sportswear-led Blood Brother and Boy London, as well as coveted international brands such as Yohji Yamamoto, Saucony and Canada Goose.
A refreshing alternative to many retailers’ overly commercialised editorial, Xile’s blog revolves more around satellite areas of interest from marketing campaigns the team considers captivating, to whatever tracks are currently on the store’s playlist.
Edinburgh Address: 92 George St, Edinburgh, EH2 2HB
Glasgow Address: Unit 55 St Enoch Centre, Glasgow, G1 4BW
Livingston Address: The Centre, Livingston, EH54 6HR
Liquor Store (Birmingham)
Since opening in 2012, Birmingham’s Liquor Store has quickly become the go-to spot for the finest timeless menswear brands anywhere in the midlands.
With a beautiful wooden shopfront, exposed brickwork and reclaimed timber interior and super friendly staff, the award-winning independent truly is a pleasure to shop in.
The store’s stylish, stripped-back aesthetic is reflected in the brands it chooses to keep; you’ll find globally-sourced, apparel from classic labels like Woolrich, Elka and A.P.C., alongside favourite British staples, such as Clarks Originals, Oliver Spencer and YMC.
Address: 100 Great Western Arcade, Birmingham B2 5HU
Phone: 0121 236 5830
The Goodhood Store (London)
What started out as a self-funded project in east London’s Hoxton in 2007 has since established itself as one of the UK capital’s most significant retail destinations and creative forces.
The Goodhood Store first set out to bring like-minded brands that pride themselves on independence and exclusivity to the area’s burgeoning design scene.
It rapidly caught on, and in 2014 the store expanded to a super-sized 3,000 square-foot space with enough room to feature clothes from more than 180 brands including Gasius, Fuct, Mark McNairy and Soulland.
Everyone from Time Out reviewers to influential bloggers have lavished praise on The Goodhood Store, and given its seamless combination of commerce and creativity, and it’s easy to see why.
Address: 41 Coronet St, London, N1 6HD
Phone: 020 7729 3600
Son Of A Stag (London)
Tucked away in one of London’s hippest districts is every denim head’s dream shop, Son Of A Stag.
This often overlooked Shoreditch outfitter specialises in hard-to-find brands, utilitarian style and, most of all, some of the best denim in existence.
The walls are lined with jeans from some of the most sought-after and notoriously difficult to track down labels on the planet. You’ll try on raw denim from Japanese legend Samurai Jeans, American made selvedge from Tellason and rare cuts from Edwin and Lee Archives.
The staff are endlessly knowledgeable about their products and even offer a free on the spot alteration service, in case you need your jeans hemming for a perfect fit.
Address: 9 Dray Walk, London E1 6QL
Phone: 020 7247 3333
It’s been almost thirty years since Triads began carving out a niche for itself in the North East’s menswear scene. Even in the beginning, Triads was known for bringing new, quirky brands to the city and now, with two locations in Middlesbrough, it’s still doing it brilliantly.
The flagship store focuses on lifestyle-inspired contemporary clothing, often introducing customers to new brands and the latest cutting-edge designers. Triads II, on the other hand, was built to house labels’ luxury, mainline collections.
The brand portfolio is constantly updated, but you can expect to find a broad variety of names like C.P. Company, Stussy, Vivienne Westwood, Belstaff and Filson.
Address: Triads, 54-56 Albert Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 1QD
Phone: 01642 254124 ext. 2
Address: Triads II, 182 Linthorpe Rd, Middlesbrough TS1 3RF
Phone: 01642 254124 ext. 3
Wolf & Badger (London)
Founded in 2009 in West London’s Notting Hill by entrepreneurial brothers Henry and George Graham, Wolf & Badger gives young, exciting and emerging design talent pride of place. Here, you can expect to find Ollie Proudlock’s Serge DeNimes alongside Peregrine and London’s rising menswear stars, including Karim Maher and Domingo Rodriguez.
Wolf & Badger has two permanent stores in Mayfair and Notting Hill, an online store, and every now and again expand its reach through pop-up stores, having to date had pop-ups in Selfridges and Porto Montenegro.
As well as the rich, well-edited product selection that’s won Wolf & Badger high praise from a range of titles, there’s plenty of useful content including how-to guides, store news, designer profiles and food reviews, as well as a slick print edition magazine highlighting need to know brands.
Address: Wolf & Badger Mayfair, 32 Dover Street, London, W1S 4NE
Phone: 020 3627 3191
Address: Wolf &; Badger Notting Hill, 46 Ledbury Rd, London, W11 2AB
Phone: 020 7229 5698