A real Gabicci history : The smart side of being casual.

fatman_and_coxsone_1

They came in all shapes and sizes…

It’s the height of Summer in 1973. In a basement on Maddox Street, London, two friends Jack Sofier and Alex Pyser came together to create a knitwear brand. All after a joint visit to the Italian coastal town of Gabicce Mare. It was at this place where they came to truly realise the quality and style of Italians and their manufacturing. With a mixture of East End rag trade expertise and the idea of sharp Italian styling taken away, a unique brand was born in the UK.

I say the UK, as throughout the 50s and 60s Italian knitwear manufacturing was already booming. American labels such as Damon, Leonardo Strassi, Banff to name a few were big players in the knitwear game. However, pieces such as these had yet to make their way over the pond and this is where Gabicci found its gap. The formula was to run two seasonal knitwear collections using an acetate/polyester mix for S/S and wool with suede trims for A/W.

Looking for vintage knits like this check out my vintage knitwear online-shop: www.styleandclassics.com

srasta

Dancing at the Notting hill carnival in Late 70s.

Their vision for the brand was aimed towards the more discerning seventies man, to be worn at a country club, whilst sipping a G&T, but the inner-city kids of Brixton and Hackney had other ideas.

Aswad-1981

Hanging in the back street of south London. 1981.

Quickly the brand fell onto the shoulders of the second generation black Londoners. Dressed to the nines and followed by their white counterparts, they would head to dancehall sound-system parties where they would move till the early hours. As time went on these button-up knit shirts came to be known by some as ‘yardie cardies’.

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Scene from ‘Babylon’ – Dancehall documentary.

The term yardie derives from the slang name given to impoverish inhabitants, mostly involved in crime, in Trenchtown, Jamaica. This group started to dress in a certain way and married with emigration into the UK in the 1960s, it was brought with them. Other brands desired by them included Farah trousers and shoes by Bally and Pierre Cardin.

Music has been synonymous with the labels heritage and around the same period it was in the Reggae filled London dance halls, it was also being worn in the ballrooms of soul all nighters in stoke and wigan etc.

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Knits weren’t just worn by brothers, sisters wore them too… (Alan Handscombe, Ian Jackson & friends)

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Soul Boy – Ian Jackson.

By the 1980’s, Gabicci had been cemented into the terraces of the varying divisions of the football league; this seeming more common-place in the northern parts of the country. ‘Casuals’ up and down started to don these knits on game days amongst other brands including Stone Island, Sergio Tacchini and Lacoste. This scene carried on throughout the decade but due to the burgeoning fashion wars between fans, who were endlessley trying to up the ante between one other Gabicci soon fell by the wayside.

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Terrace viewings.

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Anfield – Early casual days.

Gabicci hit its peak in 1988 although, with the on set of harsh market conditions in the early 90s the company started to show signs that they were struggling. Identifying their problems Helene (a large clothing company) bought them out. By this point though, the brand was too far gone and in 1997 the label was on the open market. It was bought by the known label owner Joe Bloggs, entrepreneur (Shami Ahmed).

The course of the brand may not have been what the partners had in mind when they started up in that summer of 73′, but it just goes to show how fashion moves in mysterious ways.

Several years on Gabicci has re-launched itself and sets out to pay homage to it’s true, pardon the buzz word, ‘heritage’. All pieces are inspired by archive photographs and original samples and in some way or another bear the iconic gold ‘G’. The knitwear is made from finely knitted cotton and where needed uses mock suede trims. The body shape and collars have been tapered to fit and suit today’s buying market (possibly too much in my opinion) as well as bulking out the collection to offer a total look.

I look forward to seeing the future of the brand and how they keep connected with the music and style scenes that kept them alive in their hey day.12_01_20_GABICCI_S22_015-edited Gabicci-Vintage-01 12_01_20_GABICCI_S17_013-edited

Check out the last campaign SS13 video they did – featuring well… me and to see vibe they were on.

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This entry was published on June 21, 2013 at 11:21 am. It’s filed under Blog post and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “A real Gabicci history : The smart side of being casual.

  1. Pingback: A real Gabicci history – The smart side of being casual. | The Mod Generation

  2. Second picture is a rare one – Kenneth ‘Fatman’ of Fatman sound system (Tottenham) & Lloydie Coxsone of Coxsone sound system (Brixton)

  3. The third is Aswad

  4. The eighth is Stamford Bridge 1982-193 season

  5. Terrace Pic is The West Stand Chelsea , April 1984 against Leeds .

  6. Elizabeth Coulson on said:

    Hi,

    I am an MA student on the History of Design course at the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum and I’m writing my MA thesis on Casual dress and was searching for information on Gabicci as part of the ‘origins’ or ‘influences’ chapter. I just wanted to say how helpful this article was and enquire as to where you sourced your images? Would it be possible for me to reproduce them as part of my work?

    Thank you,
    Elizabeth

    • Hi there, Thanks for your interest in the piece and the comments. Your course sounds really interesting. As for the imagery, I found them via a variety of websites and I collected them over several years from various places. I do no own any rights to them. Good luck with the thesis.
      S

  7. Great memories and shame the brand went wonky in late 80’s n sold on a completely ‘value for money’ option which killed brand

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