Tag Archives: Arthur Black

dedicated follower of fashion: part 1 (1970 – 1974)

(Post by Paul Fitzpatrick, of London – February 2021)

I’m not sure when I started having a say in what I wore off field.

On field I knew what football kit I wanted (although I never got it), what football boots, what training kit, etc.

No surprise then that my first flirtation with fashion was football related.

I remember seeing a picture of the Liverpool footballer Steve Heighway in a football magazine wearing a nifty ensemble, cutting the page out and asking my parents if they could get it for me. They took this on board, quite pleased for once that I was taking an interest in clothes but of course came back with something quite different. This was 1970 and understated clothes like Steve’s were not de riguer of the day.

I learnt a valuable lesson at an early age, do your own shopping!

1970 was a seminal year, the transition from primary to secondary school, the start of going to youth clubs and school discos and parties with girls in attendance, so how you looked, suddenly became ‘a thing’.

In 1970 everything was BIG. The collars on shirts, the lapels on jackets, the width of trouser hems and especially the width of ties, the amount of fabric used in that period must have been colossal.

Also, the colours were mental; the gaudier the better, bright oranges, vibrant purples, lavish lilacs, shitty browns, nothing was off limits.

Great looks if you’re a pimp working your ‘ladies’ on Times Square but not so cool for a 12-year-old on the mean streets of Bearsden.

I had a big mop of curly hair when I was younger, in later years everyone thought it was a perm which was annoying, particularly c.1978 when everyone did have a perm (and a moustache) so I look back now and wonder if my parents had been influenced by watching too many Blaxploitation films when they were choosing my clothes. 

Thankfully mixing with older kids at secondary school and playing boys club football against teams from other parts of Glasgow gave me a wider perspective on fashion and fuelled my interest. Some of the trends that followed were national (you could always tell by watching TOTP), but some were very Glasgow centric.

First came the skinhead look which consisted of Doc Martens (or Monkey Boots), Oxford shirt or Fred Perry polos. Wrangler jeans and a denim jacket or a Harrington Jacket. We cut our hair short, but not that short and we never got into Ska or Reggae or any trouble come to think of it. We were the politest, softest skinheads you could meet, a complete discredit to the culture.

Next came our suede-head period, which was a favourite of mine and partly inspired by going to see the film A Clockwork Orange. The component parts consisted of Levis Sta-prest trousers, Ben Sherman gingham check shirts, Bass Weejun loafers (penny loafers) and a Crombie coat, with a full-length umbrella as an accessory.

This was a smarter look altogether and our parents seemed to be both pleased and befuddled, as we left the house in our formal attire, brandishing umbrellas on a perfectly sunny day.

Skin & Suede-head fashions were nation-wide but with regional twists, Levis Jeans rather than Wrangler in some parts of the country, etc.

However, there were a couple of really interesting Glasgow trends that followed, based on the principals of made to measure customisation, and the sheer gallus nature of the local punters.

I remember seeing my first Arthur Black shirt and being mesmerised, I hadn’t seen anything like it. It was the coolest thing I had ever laid eyes on; it also had the bloke’s initials embroidered on it, genius!

Arthur Blacks Shirts and Slacks was an establishment in St Enoch Square where handmade clothes were produced to your own specification. They specialised in western yoke shirts and at Arthur’s you could choose your own colour combinations as well as how many buttons, pleats, zips, epaulettes and pockets you wanted.

As you can imagine there were some weird and wonderful designs and it also reflected the wearers personality from plain and sensible to wacky and weird. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of images in circulation but there’s a couple below to give you an idea, although they’re from the wacky category.

Arthur Black shirts: I’m guessing the on on the right was inspired by a fan of Tennants Lager.

Following on from this, a wonderful shop called Argyle House in Buchanan St, offered a similar service specialising in knitwear. My pride and joy back then being a wool turquoise, full zip cardigan with a Royal Stewart tartan yoke and my initials PF embroidered on it, I wore it to school one day and a teacher pulled me up and said there were two O’s missing – quite funny for a teacher…

Of course, these artisan classics didn’t come cheap, and Mums & Nans from Clydebank to Rutherglen were busy trying to work out how to knit their own versions with varying degrees of success.

The shirts and jumpers would later be copied for mass production and sold in boutiques like Krazy House and City Cash Tailors in Glasgow and worn by the likes of Bay City Rollers, which of course was the sign for us to move on.

In 1974 we started going up the town to discos, with Clouds and Shuffles being the main ones for our age group back then.

At this point the influence of our pop idols had started to kick in and we were wearing platform shoes, patchwork jeans or high waist ‘oxford bag’ trousers, with Simon shirts and long woollen cardigans or satin bomber jackets. There were also a few ‘influencers’ I think they’re called now, guys like my pal Hughie Kinnaird who always had the right look back then.

Interestingly the cardigans, bomber jackets and trousers were often purchased in girls’ boutiques as they weren’t available elsewhere (Chelsea Girl or Miss Selfridge in Lewis’s department store, both on Argyle Street) we were bamboozled at first trying to work out the sizing, asking the assistants for an age 15 as they only had 8’s, 10’s, 12’s and 14’s available, we were soon schooled.

There’s a pic below of me in Blackpool, September weekend 1974 wearing part of this ensemble. I’ve no idea why I’m wearing a hat with the hat ribbon worn as a scarf/tie, but I can only think that the years of being dressed as a pimp by my parents had a lasting and damaging effect.

Blackpool – September Weekend, 1974.