Chester is well known for its unique tourist attractions, such as The Rows, Chester Races and Storyhouse and is becoming more and more popular for its independent cafes and restaurants. Chester also has a selection of great independent women’s fashion boutiques, some of which have graced the streets of Chester for decades.
ROCK BOTTOM, BRIDGE STREET
In 1988, Donna Fryer took a gamble with the five hundred pounds her husband received in redundancy money to open their first boutique, rock bottom, in Mold. Donna explains that the culture was different back then and they were fortunate that “people sought out indies”, which helped with the success of their business. Since then, three more boutiques have opened in the North West and Wales, including the Chester store on Bridge Street specialising in clothing and accessories for women. Donna says they take a fresh approach to fashion by catering to women of all ages, rather than one age group.
NICHOLS & CO., BRIDGE STREET
Nichols & Co. sells vintage furniture, accessories, lifestyle pieces and avant-garde women’s clothing from Europe. The 3-storey independent clothing shop has been situated on The Rows for the last 16 years. The boutique was not initially opened with the intention of selling clothing, but as an independent shop selling just vintage homeware. The owner, Jean Myles, says that her fashion background slowly influenced the range of products they sold, and they soon began selling clothing and accessories as well.
ERJ, FAULKNER STREET
Rob and Ev opened Erj Boutique in Hoole about eleven years ago to fill the gap in the market for independent fashion boutiques as more and more corporate businesses began to move into the area. Situated in the suburbs of Chester, Rob explains that the location works well because it’s a combination of “old school and modern community” with other independent businesses such as the greengrocers and the butchers neighbouring bigger chains such as Boots and Sainsbury’s. They sell contemporary women’s clothes from fashion labels all over Europe, particularly from Scandinavia. They have fashion pieces from trade and fashion shows for all seasons and were also the first independent retailer to stock ChloBo, a local jewellery brand.
LAUNDRY B, BRIDGE STREET
After falling in love with Chester, Dawn Robinson opened her independent fashion boutique in 2012. Laundry B is one of eight independent fashions boutiques that have been opened by Dawn and her two business partners around the UK. Dawn feels that once women reach a certain age, the fashion industry forgets about them, and her idea behind setting up her women’s boutique was to have a shop “that women could come into and still feel trendy”. The boutique is constantly being restocked with new clothing and accessories from all over Europe, mainly from Denmark, Italy and Paris. Laundry B stores can also be found in Altrincham, Northwich, Stockton Heath and Chiswick, London.