In April of this year Manly got its first natural wine store. Chic fashion brand Sir The Label launched its first Australian store there in May, and a few months later Deus Ex Machina opened a cafe and shop five minutes down the road. The latest in the slew of new openings revitalising the Manly retail scene is Henrietta Skate, a skate and vintage clothing store run by two young creatives who have traded Sydney’s inner west for the northern beaches.
“As the cultural hub of the [northern] beaches, Manly has been stagnant for way too long,” co-founder Dylan Sheehan tells Broadsheet. “Over the past few years it’s started to re-develop its unique and creative personality and we are proud to be a part of that. It started with independent bars and restaurants and now it’s spreading to the retail and the arts scene.”
Sheehan and co-founder Peter de Witte, whose friendship was forged at a skate ramp in a Marrickville warehouse five years ago, have recently taken over the ocean-view shop that was known as Skater HQ (previously Manly Blades) for 28 years. A generational shift is happening, and in the case of Henrietta Skate, it’s centred on bringing contemporary skate culture and a new creative community space to the beaches.
“Dylan had been working at Skater HQ for years and approached me with a way to expand my screen-printing company and turn a traditional skate shop into something bigger,” says de Witte. “I’m stoked to use this new location as a platform to create a brand and work on some fresh projects.”
Like the boys, the renovation was low-key. With help from their mates, over 10 days they ground the tiled floors back to raw concrete, spray-painted the walls, and set up a feature wall lined with decks by skate brands such as Passport and Five Boro. The store is also stocked with a range of vintage shirts from the ’90s and wind breakers de Witte sources from Sydney-based and overseas suppliers.
The back room is de Witte’s screen-printing studio, Nine Lives, where he prints custom orders for small bars such as Frankie’s Pizza and Earl’s Juke Joint, and the Solotel group. There’s already a range of Henrietta’s branded tees and jumpers in store. And there are plans to use blank vintage tees for the line in the future.
“It’s a big process to source it all – fast fashion is a lot easier to deal with – but moving away from that is the best option and means the clothes get another life,” says de Witte.
As well as top-range skateboards and protective gear, on the walls you’ll find takes on the Henrietta logo by young Sydney artists, and branded ceramic cups handmade by Sheehan’s mum. They’ve already sponsored a few local skaters, and just a month after opening they transformed the skate shop into an art gallery for a one-night exhibition.
“We sell skateboards and vintage clothes as a job, but if someone wants to screen a short film, throw a party or do a collab we’ll always try and work on that. We just want to support anyone doing creative things and help people get their work out there,” says de Witte.
The store backs onto Henrietta Lane, and on the website you’ll find stories about the fictional founder Henrietta: a washed-up rock star who became a pro skater and decided to open a skate shop where she hosts cool music and art events. Her next will be a collaboration with cocktail bar The Hold, and an official opening party at Manly’s oldest music venue, The Boatshed, in late November.
“We’re a skate shop in the fact that we sell skateboards and skate gear, but really what we want it to be is a community store,” says Sheehan.
Shop 2/49–53 N Steyne, Manly
0425 322 117
Mon to Sat 9am–6pm