Shopping Showdown - Glasgow
Glasgow vs Edinburgh
Scotland’s two largest cities are separated by a whole lot more than an unreliable train service. The List’s resident shopping addicts try and put their fingers on what makes each city’s style distinct
Glasgow styles better
Kirstin Innes and Sharon Stephen report on the heavily accessorised cheap chic trend-setting of the West Coast
Despite the manicured, designer labelled image promoted by the city marketing bureau under the umbrella Glasgow: Scotland with style, it tends to be Edinburgh and not Glasgow that the big brands head for. Glasgow’s upper-strata shopping areas like Princes Square and Ingram Street are dotted with quirkier, funkier labels and locally-run independent stores.
Don’t get me wrong: we’re obsessed with clothes over on the West Coast. Yet, Glasgow’s style, as any tight-jeaned hipster kid worth their Deirdre Barlow specs knows, stems from three hallowed institutions: the raw creativity buzzing around the art school, the hard-edged, 80s-inspired electronica still shaking the foundations of the city’s club scene, and the arrival of not one but two huge Primark stores in the city centre.
Ah yes, Primark. It was in late 2005 that they made it onto the local fashionista radar. Glasgow has acquired a serious habit for instant trends, pieces that can be thrown away once you’ve worn them every day for a month. It’s certainly not environmentally friendly, and leaves one wondering whether the city is singlehandedly propping up the mass-produced cheap labour industry, but it is indicative of the try-anything-once, fleeting nature of the city’s look(s). If Edinburgh fashion is a classic romance, Glasgow style is that really dirty one night stand that you can’t quite get out of your head. It’s blunt and quick, it has an edge to it, and it’s shot through with a fiercely original experimentalism. Gallus. Last year, when nu-rave was all over the place, Glaswegians didn’t shy away, blinking, from neon accessories or even leggings.
Let’s take it from the top: headwear. Specifically, the trilby. Not for hardened West Coasters, the foppish flat cap of Edinburgh’s slumming posh boys. Men in Glasgow take risks and make efforts, teaming their skin-tight trousers (if not denim then occasionally patterned) with pointy, pale winkle pickers and gangster-sharp fedoras. Hair is important – it might rain more on the West Coast, but we don’t get too much of that style-killing wind. We’ve just emerged from a particularly sticky love affair with the electro-mullet, and we’re still a little sore about it, but we’re quite into angular, pointy bobs, fringes and the odd quiff, as long as it’s spiky.
Glasgow likes accessories – quilted metallic handbags, punk-y skulls on scarves, knee high socks, tacky gold charm bracelets and necklaces and belts over everything. Heels are high, and even the boys are wearing Cuban lifts. ‘Vintage’ means something very different either side of the M8, too. In Edinburgh, you might pop into Armstrongs for a 50s prom dress or some wide-legged 70s flares; in Glasgow it’s the micro hemlines of the 60s and the flinty, gilt-edged glam of Studio 54 in the 1980s. And it’s better if it’s cheap; how much you paid for something isn’t as important as how flashily you’ve accessorised it or how loudly you’re proclaiming your creativity to the massed revellers and art school hipsters on Sauchiehall Street.
In the indie bars and electronica-driven clubs like Mono, Stereo, Death Disco and Optimo, you’ll catch people road-testing trends that will become huge in a year’s time; you might have sniggered at the mention of Deirdre Barlow-sized spectacles above, but trust us: they’ll be all over your face for 2009.