The definitive club-wear label for revellers with endurance, Gio Goi is an integral part of Manchester’s dance culture and a brand that keeps high rank with only the best of British artists.
Hanging out with their sister Tracey while she chopped locks and chatted to all the local lads and bands, Gio Goi curators and general wide boys the Donnelly brothers befriended the likes of The Fall, The Smiths and New Order back in the day. Uninterested in laying down tracks of their own, always involved in some hare-brained, entrepreneurial scheme to generate a bit of extra cash, Christopher and Anthony Donnelly entered into the acid house scene in the late 80s and then established Gio Goi. Perturbed by so many cooperate brands’ attempts to cash in on the free-spirited and liberating lifestyle movement sweeping the Northern hemisphere, Chris and Anthony began creating straight-up outfits for straightforward people.
Going on their first big adventure at the ages of eight and nine abroad with their parents, the brothers made friends with two Portuguese lads named Nuno Gio and Edwardo Goi. Christopher finds irony in how his company came to fruition, explaining “I find it quite funny that there are two blokes walking around in Portugal with not a clue that there’s a huge fashion label named after them.” The brothers front a mission statement straight out of their hometown streets, commenting, “Coming from the estate where we lived, you have to be a certain breed of person who will take risks. I suppose Gio Goi has a certain ‘Fuck It’ attitude which Manchester has instilled in us.” Pete Doherty famously described his understanding of the label as: “when I wear Gio Goi it makes me feel bus stop.”
Whatever you make of this label’s in your face fronting, it’s pretty impossible to deny its success amongst the masses. Party locations Creamfields, Global Gathering, Ibiza and Marbella are filled with tribes of youffs Gio-goied up to their eyeballs. Amy Winehouse, Pete Doherty, Plan B, Dionne Bromfield and Lily Allen are a few of the famous faces who have been ambassadors of the brand. Not bad for two boys who grew up working on a scrap metal yard.
What was life like at the time of the Hacienda? To try and encapsulate that time is difficult to put into words. The energy, music and spirit made you think you could do or be whatever you wanted to be and for a kid like me who was statistically set to fail it was a revelation. In the Hacienda you were surrounded by like-minded people having the time of their lives, you just couldn’t wait for the next night there. The Hacienda was the catalyst for a lot of creative kids’ future careers.
Why do you think the label became a favourite with cultural tastemakers? It embodied the spirit of the time. As far as I know we were one of the first brands launched by people with no fashion background. In fact, our background was in the scrap trade – my dad had and still has a scrapyard in Manchester. Our slogans and logos were so off the wall, I think we captured peoples’ imaginations. They loved the attitude and realism behind the brand. This is still the case today.
The label has defied time and endured trends, why do you think this is? The label is steeped in history, Gio Goi’s past is so intertwined with the music and art over the past 22 years. I think the fact that we keep moving forward and always work with up and coming talent has been a big factor in our longevity – from the designers, photographers and musicians – everybody involved with the label brings something to the table.
Who were the original design team behind the label? Myself, Jonathon O’Garr who designed all Adamski’s early stage stuff, Matt and Pat Carroll of Central Station Design who were responsible for all the Happy Monday artwork and Jelly Universe.
Which musicians would you like to work with in the future? We don’t have a hit list or anything like that. It’s about working with interesting people, musicians, actors, artists, sportsmen and women… so long as we gel and the feeling is mutual then we work together. I’m off to Ibiza for the summer so hopefully I will meet some raw new talent there.
What are the top 5 places to party in Ibiza
1. Cream Amnesia on a Thursday – Gio Goi night
3. Kumharas a great place to start a night
5. Any villa we are staying at… with Sonica Radios Andy Wilson on the decks