For nearly two years, the pandemic turned down the high-octane fashion heat. Westender asks if isolation has had a long-lasting impact on our style choices?
by Diana Kiernander
Where I once lusted after party dresses and sparkly shoes, this lengthy lockdown has seen me slide into something more comfortable. Trainers set us up at the start of last year for all those long, languishing walks around the Botanics when there really was nothing else to do! Soon we discovered that all we needed to look professional on a Zoom call was a fierce tee or a pretty,but understated top and a flash of rouge.
But what do our Westend boutiques feel staying in did to our style? We speak to two very different businesses to discover if isolation has had a lasting impact on our fashion hearts or are we all just longing to unleash the glam again, in time for Christmas?
Jenni Peach, manager, buyer and all-round brand ambassador for the Pink Poodle emporium, a shop set on the pretty cobble stretch of Cresswell Lane, found the perfect way to guide customers away from pandemic gloom.
‘Everyone was stuck indoors, staring at walls,’ says Jenni, ‘so the focus was on their home environment.’ And the cleverly curated Poodle picked up on this and gave customers what they needed in the shape of colourful Frida Kahlo inspired ceramic vases and planters.
Interior escapism aside, it was comfort clothing everyone latched onto in lockdown and Jenni recalls how sales of their colourful cardi’s, joggers and oversized sweatshirts soared. It was a chance to overdose on fine knitwear from their Sugarhill range and feel cocooned in a vortex of cosy. That luxe loungewear vibe has followed us out of lockdown though. No one knows if it’s down to those wine-drinking pandemic pounds we’ve put on or a nod to the 90’s fashion boom, but oversized fleece sweats are still seeing a massive revival and west-end shops like Pink Poodle are showing style hungry fashion followers how to do that look right. “As we come out of the pandemic the loungewear trend has continued,” says Jenni, who recommends teaming your comfies with an iconic band t-shirt, like those Nirvana, Blondie and Joy Division ones scattered nonchalantly around the shop.
But has the sparkle really faded so fast from fashion? Jenni doesn’t think so. “Our younger customers seem particularly keen to get back to normal,” she says, as they eye up Jurassic adventure print dungarees and polka-dot smock tops, found within the latest collections stocked at Pink Poodle and sister store, Gallus Alice. And there’s Louche dresses in beautiful fabrics and prints too, just waiting in the wings for a glittering Glasgow night out.
Head over to Finnieston Clothing on Byres Road and it’s another lockdown success, with the heritage brand owners focused fiercely on the future and where their fashion vision can take them. Ross Geddes, Creative Director at the helm of the store is certain that the clothing styles he sells can succeed in or out of a pandemic. “The look is casual into smart and t-shirts are our biggest seller,” says Ross. The hard-wearing, sustainable shirts they also sell are garments with a special narrative. There’s badges, overtime tickets and shipbuilding company logos stitched into perfect workwear pieces, like on the bestselling Anderston shirt. The store brims with pride in bringing out Glasgow’s naval, merchant and passenger shipbuilding past in the collections.
But the pandemic was a challenge, like no other. Opening their doors in December 2020, just days before that cruel Christmas lockdown last year, Geddes admits it was the hardest time to launch a business and not just because he wanted to avoid exploring the heritage face-mask market!
Swerving that, he got to work instead on sourcing more Scottish materials and putting sustainability at the heart of his business. It’s a work in progress and something the store is looking at all the time.
But the extended shutdown that happened at start of his journey forced him into exploring social media channels and podcasting and gave him time to think about the creative collaborations he would like to establish with makers and artists across the city. Post pandemic, Geddes has his sights set on a style most of us had never thought possible before the pandemic. Geddes wants you to watch this space, but he has a post-lockdown dream of his store becoming a bigger destination bricks and mortar shop with a factory and restaurant on site too. It seems fitting now, with people recognising how important social contact is to the style experience. Anything is possible. The pandemic has taught us that at least.