Evolve Vintage has been around for about 15 years now, founded by the lovely Mancunian that is Hannah and it has become a staple of vintage clothing within the city. Hannah started to sell vintage clothes when she was 18, getting onto the local markets then to Levenshulme Antiques Village, mills in Stockport and now to her own website. Throughout her career she has worked in the good old Ryan’s Vintage, COW, Afflecks and so many more where she learnt the trade of ‘vintage’ and the mystique of up-cycling.
Hannah comes from a long line of ‘women that made things from textiles’ and that home life really impacted the person she is today with a lot of what Evolve sell actually being refinished, updated, up-cycled or adorned with new embroidery embellishments. Her stock ranges from Americana workwear to 50’s A-Line skirts, great denim, floral pattern dresses, 90’s Fendi and everything in between, even some menswear occasionally.
She has really created a strong female vintage loving community through her shoots and styling, getting amazing people from across the city involved like Núria Otilles, Samantha Jagger, Gaëlle Mic, Nxdia, Lilly-Tai Adedoyin, Hina Ansari, Sophie Condliffe, CURRENTMOODGIRL and Elle Brotherhood just to name a few.
How did Evolve begin?
When I was a teenager my friends and I were regulars in a local charity shop that used to be kind to us & let us go digging in the back room, it was so fun! Our collection inevitably started growing & so we started selling/sharing our vintage finds with people at a weekly market inside a bar. I was working at Ryan Vintage at the time too, for those of you who remember it was a proper Manny treasure trove. From then on I sold at markets & hosted popups around the city as a bit of a side hustle, whilst studying & working part time in various places, as well as doing some freelance photography & costume jobs. During lockdown, I started photographing my collection in my back garden, (with small child in tow!), just as I knew people needed to get hold of some summer clothes & my collections were selling out! I built a website & then started the webshop in July 2020. It’s all just been a natural, slow & steady progression and I still really love the work I do.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your other outputs such as: artist, photographer and designer.
I’m originally from Manchester & have always lived here. I’m a disabled single Mum to a 4 year old. I studied Fashion Styling & Image Making at Salford Uni. I photograph & style the majority of the shoots for Evolve (when I’m not bringing incredibly talented people in to collaborate with me), as well as sourcing, buying, cleaning & garment care, mending, listing, posting & the rest!
I make mixed media art too with paint, pastel & collage (using my collection of vintage ephemera). It’s just a way of relaxing really, not for work but I might start sharing this one day.
What is Evolve to you now after 15 years of it?
Ha, I feel old…It’s nice after doing something for ages, just feeling more confident you know what you’re doing! With the experience I’ve been able to build up a really good knowledge of fashion history & dress through the eras, although I’m still always learning from each and every item I find, as they’re all so unique, which is really nice.
I think my favourite part of the job is sourcing & I’ve built up a pretty great list of fave thrift haunts in the North West now! I’ve been loving making thrift haul vids lately (you can follow us @evolve_vtg to see what I’ve been finding.) After all these years though, every single cool old item I find fills me with joy, and I can’t get enough of thinking about the people that wore them before & their stories.
We’ve just launched a Vintage Swimwear & Summer Collection, which is full of some of the sweetest pieces I’ve been gathering lately, with pieces from the 1920s-2000s.
Moving forward I’m going to be doing lots more visible mending & embroidery on pieces, whilst caring for them & extending their lives; it’d be sweet to add a personal touch & a timestamp! I’ve also been hoarding vintage fabrics, so keep an eye out for handmade clothing in the near future too.
How did your love for repairing vintage clothing begin?
The women in my family were always into textiles; I got taught how to knit really young, and there’s photographic evidence somewhere of a friend and I trying to make some flares at some point during my childhood! My Mum, Nanna & Auntie are v knowledgeable & I learnt a lot from them. My Great Auntie was before them, too & used to have a clothes shop, in the 70s on Slade Lane in Levenshulme. I guess I was always drawn to fabrics, sewing, weaving, clothing & textile art.
When you’re selling vintage it is just a bit of a necessity too that you learn to do basic mending as you will find well loved things & you just gotta save as many from landfill as poss!
Could you pick your favourite decade for fashion and the most essential pieces from it?
For me, it’s all about clashing decades!
My dream fit would be a 1940s handmade floral silk blouse with some 70s wide leg flares, a funny/ridiculous 80s sweater that makes me laugh & a boxy 60s jacket. I think cotton prairie maxi dresses from the 70s are pretty divine, too. I love anything in a natural fabric like linen, embroidery from every era & I live in hard wearing workwear & denim. I regularly check in with my customers to find out what items they’re currently looking for, the idea is that I can provide a second hand version of something they might otherwise buy on the high street. There’s been lots of demand for Vintage Tees atm & I am obsessed, too! So expect a killer, weird & wonderful unisex Vintage T-Shirt collection V soon.
What do you see going on in the fashion world right now? And then what new stuff do you think needs to happen in the local area to make a change?
I think the reality of what corporations are getting away with doing to produce fast fashion garments and the exploitation taking place has been coming into public consciousness a bit more.
I’m always so happy that the business I’m in is environmentally positive & sustainable and it’s been really nice over time to see the popularity of second hand grow and become more normalized.
At the same time I don’t think the big change we need to see happen will with people’s shopping habits (& if the numbers from lockdown are anything to go by, they aren’t shifting); I think we need deep systemic change, to hold companies & governments accountable for the harm they have enacted & continue to on vulnerable people to sell & produce more, more, more.
Are there any other people working with and repairing vintage clothes in the city?
Stockport is full of great indie businesses atm – record, book, plant & homeware shops, slow fashion, vintage, food & drink & lots of art happening there too. Pear Mill is full of amazing old clothes, furniture & niknaks. Top of the Town Vintage is opening soon, which I’m looking forward to. In town & beyond – Iconic Archive, Be Diddy, September Girl, Bionic Seven, Lucy & the Caterpillar, Honeymoone & Pop Boutique are all sellers I love.
Could you recommend 3 businesses, shops, musicians, artists, pretty much anything from Manchester that we should know about right now?
4 but : Black Spring Zine, Currentmoodgirl, Virginia Wing & Laura-Jo Samuels and Wardrobe Wellbeing!
I shoot at On The Brink Studio & they have just received arts council funding to put on some workshops locally, there’s a great mix of different creative disciplines working together in the space & im so excited to pick up some new skills. They’re open to local low waged people and are free!
I’ll be hosting 2 workshops in collaboration with local artists & craftspeople; mending denim as well as naturally printing a vintage shirt with plants. Feel free to book in and come along if you meet the criteria & expect to see much more of this in the future, too.
What a legend Hannah is. Make sure you now go visit that amazing website right here - https://www.evolvevintage.co.uk/