From the outside it’s a groovy-looking green shop on Port Street. On the inside, it’s even more colourful.
But behind the scenes of what appears to be a clothes shop, there’s a much bigger creative community unfolding.
Jutah Studios is the Northern Quarter’s newest independent offering and creative community. A three-storey space housing a menswear boutique, a tattoo studio and a flexible pop-up space.
It began as a pop-up in Afflecks back in 2016 with retail guru Emile K and visual artist Connie Page combining shopping sense with awesome artistry.
They moved to their current premises in April this year and since then have invited in a number of creatives. It’s two fingers in the face of sceptics who say the Northern Quarter is unconquerable.
We popped in to find out more.
What’s Jutah all about?
We are about showcasing international talent and providing an alternative to the mainstream. On the ground floor we handpick brands from around the world that hold quality and artistic integrity at their heart such as Italian streetwear brand Doomsday Society (exclusively available with Jutah in the UK) and place them alongside household names like The Hundreds and Cheap Monday.
The middle floor plays host to pop-ups from local brands, intimate gigs with Sonder Festival and Sofa Sounds, after show instores with Don’t Flop as well as EP launches, DJ sets and workshops.
On the top floor you can find Bulgarian tattoo artist duo Lighnink Tattoo blasting out incredible photorealism and line & dot work.
You’ve combined retail experience with visual artistry. Why do you think this is important?
Retail is a monster of an industry. The high street belongs to capitalist giants who quite literally steal artist’s work, slap it on tees, manufacture in bulk and flood the streets, our devices and our minds with generic, disposable product whilst hyped up logo driven drivel occupies the majority of the online offer.
Jutah is a small voice in opposition to this machine. By showcasing local and international brands that truly value creativity, thoughtful design and collaboration there is a genuine alternative on offer. We handpick every product, we are knowledgeable about each brand, its history and narrative. We know the people behind them and are building a creative community with a shared vision.
Becoming a homogenous group of consumers will be the death of our society. Creativity and original thought are the antidote. Sure, it takes more time and costs more money, but we think it’s worth it.
Is there still space for clothing retail in the busy online age?
The online marketplace is saturated. From flash-in-the-pan indie brands printing on blanks through to the big boys like ASOS selling all the usual suspects whilst simultaneously undercutting them with their own brands.
Admittedly, we have Primark and Topman to contend with but what we really wanted to do was build a space, a home for all our thoughts and ambitions. You can’t share an online space. It’s not tangible or accessible. You can’t go to a gig or get a tattoo online either.
If it was just about indiscriminately shifting clothes then we would have opted for online. It’s much less expensive. But we wanted to build a life for ourselves where we could be present and have conversations with people in the flesh. You can’t beat trying before you buy either.
What else is going on at Jutah?
We love to collaborate and share our space. Our flexible second floor hosts all kinds of activity. Most recently, we were one of five UK stores selected to sell The Hundreds X Friday the 13th exclusive collab and we celebrated with an intimate screening of the 80’s cult classic with BYOB and popcorn.
We have hooked up with Don’t Flop, Sonder Festival and Sofa Sounds to deliver instore gigs and we are super excited to be hosting some warm-up sessions with one of Manchester’s best loved art events in the new year.
Manchester is the city of opportunity and independent thought. With unrivalled cultural heritage, three universities, a thriving digital scene as well as serious capital investment, the city is burgeoning and it’s full of young people, politically engaged people, creative people, people who get what we are trying to do.
What has been the biggest challenge so far – and the most rewarding thing?
Getting our name out there has been tough. In reality, we are just two individuals fighting to be heard in a maelstrom of corporations. We could really do with a few more people getting behind us.
Building a network of people who support each other. We have customers who play gigs on our second floor, get inked by lighnink and rep Jutah’s clothing. There is no better feeling than when someone walks in a says ‘I love what you are doing in here, I want to be a part of it and support it.’ It makes it all worthwhile.
How can people get involved?
We are always looking for collaborators or pop ups to take advantage of our second floor. Just come down and meet us or ping us an email in the first instance. If you’ve got an idea, we want to hear it.