The received wisdom is that Men Hate Shopping (MHS) and sure, that has been the case in the past – heavy bags, busy crowds, that thing in Primark where everyone goes wild and throws everything up in the air into one huge mess – but times, they are a-changing.
This collection of stores and shops share a single passion – in catering to the fashionable needs of men, helping all who cross their thresholds to find the perfect fit. Pack your wallet and prepare to embark on a hassle-free shopping tour of the UK.
Oi Polloi, Manchester
63 Thomas Street, M4 1LQ
You may already be familiar with Oi Polloi for their superb online store (if you aren't, we suggest you rectify your error immediately), but the men of Manchester will know the physical store as a must-visit for casual style. With extensive seasonal collections and next season previews, you'll struggle to find a good reason to visit any other store on your spree. (They also now have a shop in London’s own Soho – 1 Marshall St, Carnaby, London W1F 9BA)
10 Ruthven Lane, G12 9BG
No, this isn't someone's shed. The outcome of a Guerilla Stores project held by Japanese label Comme des Garcons back in 2009, this compact menswear boutique had simply too much character to be shut down. Owned by the hugely influential David Mullane, you'll find something a bit different in this gem of a store – be it your new favourite jacket or a fragrance the likes of which you've never smelt before.
Store Special: W2 is actually housed in a 19th century cowshed. It's much cleaner these days.
Paul Smith, Nottingham
10 Byard Lane, NG1 2GJ
While you can find this most British of designers in many department stores, none of them have the same intimate feel as Nottingham's Byard Lane store. Hidden a stone's throw from the opulent Willoughby House store (which is also well worth a visit), this is the first store Paul Smith opened in 1970. Stocking a collection of Paul Smith's Jeans, shoes and Red Ear styles, this is one of the most accessible, dressed down Paul Smith stores you're likely to find.
Store Special: There's a chance you might even bump into Mr Smith himself (he still lives in Nottingham).
32-34 Division Street, S1 4GF
Ever longed for something a bit different? A t-shirt print that isn't replicated by every other high street retailer or a pair of jeans that actually fit your weird legs? Best head to Sheffield's Sa-Kis – a streetwear flavoured collection of well established (like Vivienne Westwood) and little-known (like Nine In The Morning) labels stretched over 2,000 square feet of well-curated shopping space.
Store Special: Can't make it to Sheffield? There's one in Nottingham as well.
Liquor Store, Birmingham
No.3 The Grand, 27 Colmore Row, B3 2BS
Mixing the best of British with some international staples, this Brum-based store offers a refreshing take on the modern gent's wardrobe – without blowing a hole in your bank balance. Should your look be in need of refreshing but you're all out of ideas, their carefully selected range of denims, bold print tees and Americana style will rekindle your imagination.
Store Special: Thirsty? The boutique now have their own speakeasy bar in town, befitting their name.
END. Clothing, Newcastle
133-137 Grainger St, NE1 5AE
The last word in Newcastle style, End. has been guiding the men of Tyneside in the dark arts of streetwear since 2005. With a huge online warehouse and in-store offerings impeccably curated, there really is nowhere else quite like it in the north-east.
51 Deansgate, M3 2AY
For the last decade, one Manchester store has been working tirelessly to provide a selection of on-trend designer labels and British-made brands, reducing the hassle of high street shopping to a collection of well stocked rails. You'll find something you haven't seen before in here, whether it's one of Good for Nothing's print designs or a new shoe from Swear.
Store Special: Need inspiration? Head to Intro's website to browse their blog or get inspired by their regular outfit compilations.
151 Curtain Rd, EC2A 3QE
Not only has Goodhood Store – the brainchild of Jo Sindle and Kyle Stewart, founded in 2007 – helped shaped Shoreditch’s post-nu rave style more than any other single shop, it’s also become a fully-realised lifestyle curator, with loads of homeware and good shit to liven up even the crappiest Clapton flat. And in featuring over 200 brands featured in store, all with a focus on culture, creativity, and an easy-going charm, there are very few that can come close in terms of scale or consistency.
Store Special: Renowned for their great taste, Goodhood’s blog Insider keeps you up to date on all the cool stuff going around their universe – new catwalk shows, drops, and anything else that takes their fancy.
175 Linthorpe Rd, TS1 4AG
Thirty years experience in the fashion business has helped Steve Cochrane establish one of the most influential stores outside of the UK's capital. A veritable smorgasbord of designer labels, anyone passing through Middlesbrough (we recommend you make a trip just for the excuse) would be mad to miss out on this superb shopping experience.
Store Special: Best make a day of it when you visit Psyche. The 35,000 square feet of store space deserve a thorough exploration.
The Hip Store, Leeds
Trinity Leeds, LS1 5AR
We envy the men of Leeds. If they want to browse the latest in head-turning streetwear and casual looks, rather than traipsing around the city centre they can pop into Trinity shopping centre and visit a single, shining beacon of style: Hip. Stocking contemporary brands alongside classic mainstays, you’ll find the best of menswear in this gem of a store.
Store Special: Hip are all about breaking in new talent, having previously collaborated with students from Leeds College of Arts.
Gibb Street, B9 4AA
Magazines, books, artwork, clothes – you'll find yourself walking out of Birmingham's Provide with a new lifestyle if you're not careful. This independent store can be found in Digbeth's creative quarter at The Custard Factory, kitting out Birmingham's gents in range of fresh street styles and their own print tees. This one's for lovers of urban, casual and skate style.
Store Special: The store's own Provide label is proud of its Midlands heritage, with bags, hats and tees available with their unique typography prints.
J. Crew, London
38 Lamb’s Conduit Street, WC1N 3LD.
Really? J. Crew? The vastly popular American label? Yes, that J. Crew. Whilst the clean, neat basics of this brand can be found elsewhere, their men's boutique in London's Holborn is well worth a trip if you're in the capital. Specialising in shirting, the label's Ludlow suiting and a range of accessories - from the best socks you've ever seen to umbrellas and bags. In short, classy city stuff.
Store Special: J. Crew is kept in good company on Lamb's Conduit Street, fast become a beacon of men's style in London - Oliver Spencer also has an outlet on the street, while Folk Clothing boasts similarly sharp, clean collections.
43 Hoults Yard, NE6 2HL
Do you dream in shoes? Not as in while wearing them, but rather spending your nights lost in a world of high tops and weaves? Best get yourself up to Newcastle's SoleHeaven. Run by a team obsessed with sneakers, you'll be able to find a stock of new releases, old releases, special editions, one offs - anything from the likes of Nike, Air Jordan, ASICS, New Balance, The Hundreds, Supra Footwear, Saucony, Vans, King Apparel, Eastpak, 10 Deep and Mishka.
Store Special: Got a bad spending habit? Leverage this to buy MORE THINGS with SoleHaven’s loyalty points program.
Late Night Chameleon Cafe, London
18 Shacklewell Lane, E8 2EZ
Far from the maddening crowds of central London in cooler, calmer Dalston, LN-CC has been quietly going about a retail revolution since 2010. You can't just wander in off the street – shoppers are recommended call ahead and book an appointment to tour its minimalist rooms having selected items of interest from the store's website. Less a 'retail space', more a fashion/arts/music experience, the venue comprises of four product rooms: a library, a record store, a gallery and a club space, with a custom built, vintage sound system.
Store Special: An overwhelming sense of smugness. (You can also walk-up and buzz the door if you want, if you’re not into all that “planning” stuff)
48 Conduit Street, W1S 2YR
Few brands in the UK can boast to clothing the country's fashionable gents for over 200 years (a quick Google suggests there are a number out there, but they're not as common as Starbucks). Edinburgh's Crombie is one of them, with a prestigious history dating back to 1805. Its Edinburgh boutique closed recently but its London store remains, and sits firmly at the luxury end of our list, boasting a heritage of fine wool production and the highest quality outerwear and suits. If you're looking to invest in an item of clothing that's likely to outlive you, this is the place to spend your money.
Store Special: Crombie has dressed the likes of King George VI, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Regan, and 90,450 soldiers who fought in World War II. You'll be in good company then.
If you feel we've missed your local gem, do let us know in the comments below.