From Ichi-Ni-San to Vivienne Westwood - the shops that made Glasgow a fashion hotspot in the 80s and 90s

Alexander McQueen scarfs modelled at Cruise.
Alexander McQueen scarfs modelled at Cruise.

IT WAS the late 80s, and Glasgow was in the middle of a fashion explosion.

The ‘City of Couture’ had style running through its veins, and it was attracting big-name designers by the shedload.

It was a reputation which was to last for the best part of two decades, with high-end fashion houses and couture specialists falling over themselves to set up shop here.

Glasgow Times: Vivenne Westwood opened her store at Princes Square
Glasgow Times: Vivenne Westwood opened her store at Princes Square

Who remembers Ichi-Ni-San, responsible for bringing funky panache to the Merchant City?

Run by Linda Lawrence, Michael and James Johnson and Stephen Flannery, it brought the very latest ranges from Paris, Milan and London to Glasgow, introducing names such as Thierry Mugler, Duffer of St George, and Helmut Lang to delighted fashion fans.

Blazing a trail in the fashion retail industry, it created a very different kind of ‘clothes shop’ than Glaswegians had been used to, with stripped back interiors and cool design. Even the name was intriguing, although the translation was more mundane. It’s Japanese for one, two, three, as its address was 123 Candleriggs.

Cathal McAteer was a shop assistant at Ichi-Ni-San when he was a teenager. At 17, he was sent to Paris and London to buy for the store, which set him on his career trajectory, eventually setting up seminal menswear brand Folk Clothing in London.

Then there was The Warehouse, six glorious floors of fashion and the epitome of cool on Glassford Street; Armani and the rest of the delights at the Italian Centre; and upmarket boutique Cruise, just round the corner on Ingram Street, where a young Sharleen Spiteri of Texas fame modelled,

(Of all the big-name, effortlessly stylish designer shops mentioned in this article, Cruise – founded by June and Jim Gibson - is the only one still there, still going strong both in the city and beyond.)

David Mullane, at the helm of The Warehouse, brought labels such as Paul Smith and Ann Demeulemeester to the city.

It was famous for its epic fashion shows, none moreso than its 1990 extravaganza, held on the set of Mahabharata [director Peter Brook’s nine-hour theatrical adaptation of the Sanskrit epic of the same name], at Tramway.

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It closed in 1994.

Glasgow Times: Katherine Hamnett was famous for her slogan t-shirts.
Glasgow Times: Katherine Hamnett was famous for her slogan t-shirts.

Katherine Hamnett opened her first Scottish store in Glasgow in 1988. Famous for her slogan t-shirts, the designer pitched up in the new Princes Square ‘boutique’ mall.

She told our sister title, the then Glasgow Herald, that the environment for women who were shopping for clothes “had to be seductive.”

“I asked the architect to create the kind of warm, subtly decorative, post-Gaudi ambience where people walk in and say, ‘Oh God, I wish I lived here’,” she said.

“I want them to browse, and I want to have a bookcase or two where men will find something interesting to read while they sit and wait.”

Katherine Hamnett was just one big name designer to move in to the fledgling and striking Princes Square – she was soon joined by Whistles, Viyella, Nicole Farhi, Ted Baker, Vivienne Westwood, Brownns and more.

Hamnett left a decade later, citing that the mix of shops was changing and suggesting the centre’s new proprietors wanted to “attract more affordable High Street clothing names as opposed to designer names. It is important for us to be somewhere where the mix is right.’’

Fashion entrepreneur Camille Lorigo made Glasgow the home of her six-floor design venue, Che Camille.

She called Glasgow style “gutsy and stylish - the women make a huge effort towards glamour, which is a nice change from America where everyone is so casual. Men here are an interesting mix of stylish yet masculine.”

Che shut up shop in Glasgow in 2010, going global with a web presence and pop-up events around Europe.