Cow Sheffield: A new look for a new season
Exposed fashion blogger Kate Mitchell takes a look around retro wonderland Cow to see its recent store makeover and check out the new season offering.
Cow is starting the new season in style after a makeover during the summer.
Whether Cow’s an old favourite of yours or you’ve just discovered it, next time you stop by you’re in for a treat; a store famous for its reworked retro couldn’t possibly be anything other than innovative in its approach to refurbishment.
The result is a fun, fairytale look that complements its wonderfully kooky sartorial offering.
Imaginative touches elevate it from your standard retro shop to an enchanting dressing-up box; doll’s houses have been reborn as chandeliers, redundant allotment gates form inventive display units, and disused scaffolding has been re-purposed as a unique new set of clothes rails.
And Cow regulars may notice something different about one side of the shop; lighter, perhaps? The design team stripped layers of false walls back to reveal hidden windows, making the whole store look fresher.
You’ll also notice they’ve lost the acid bright yellow storefront and a sophisticated matte grey-black.
I asked the Cow team, and their lead designer on the refurb project, what they love most about the transformation…
Peter Masters headed up the design team for the refurbishment, and he shared some of the stories behind his ideas.
“Cow is about re-using items, so the refurbishment had that energy behind it. It’s all about seeing something in a different way, looking at it with new eyes almost, and imagining it being put to a completely different use. I don’t see it as ‘up-cycling’ as such because most of the stuff we used for the refurb, well, people probably wouldn’t have used it again!
A conversation in a chippy led to me getting the carpet I envisaged for the changing room walls. A guy overheard me telling someone we were after some carpet, and he said we were welcome to take the old carpet they were removing from a relative’s house. It’s about seeing the potential in something and giving it a new lease of life.
The doll’s houses are pretty unique. They’ve all got stories, and they’re really fun, they have a sense of humour. Initially, I wanted to have telescopes placed around the shop so you could look closer and see the weird little paintings on the inside. In one of them, there are squirrels having a disco! Some actually have little notes in them — I once came across one that had a birthday greeting in from 1956.”
Terri-Jayne, store manager
“I love how we’ve collaborated as a team to create the new look. We all got involved from ripping down walls to sourcing materials.
Peter used locally sourced discarded materials and objects in his work, and we all enjoyed going out and about in Sheffield to get inspiration — we wandered round the shops in the Abbeydale road Antiques Quarter.
We love our makeover, but we’re still the same brand, and we’re still all about affordable vintage.”
Chloe, Cow store assistant
“I love the ‘catwalk’ mirror area where the stairwell used to be; we don’t have our upstairs floor any more! So the stairwell has become a space where people can play dress-up with their mates, have a little wander round in what they’re trying on and make the most of the big mirror.
“We also envisage people having a bit of space in the catwalk area to take selfies and share them with us on Instagram @cowsheffield.
(I tried this out at the post-refurbishment launch party and can vouch that it is the perfect selfie corner).
Talking of rework projects, Sally & Jack from Cow Sheffield’s rework team chatted to me about what goes on behind the scenes…
“I’m proud every time I go on the shop floor and see people picking things up, trying things on. It’s an amazing feeling when someone loves something you’ve made, or it really suits them,” Sally said.
“We get bales of vintage and retro clothes and we decide how best to re-work things. For example, tops might work really well as smock dresses, and we’ve just made up a batch of ’90s style crop tops out of some long retro skirts. The prints look amazing as tops, it’s exciting how something can completely change. It’s also fun to completely start again and create a new product out of something. We get to be really inventive,” Jack added.
Photos © Shaw & Shaw