FLIP

flip

i used to worship this shop... no word of a lie. there was one in glasgow, just down the street from the MOMA, and across the street from the rock garden pub(where sundry glaswegian popstars would get very, very drunk... even although the cool indie stars would be a few streets away in the griffin, but i digress), don't know when it opened but i was there in the 80's, gleefully chucking money at them for all manner of stuff.
it was in FLIP that my love of old clothing really took shape, where i finally honed my skills in choosing a look that i was comfortable with...
it all started with my schoolfriend jim, taking me to my first ever oxfam shop back in 1981, when i discovered that if you spent enough time trolling around the thrift shops on a regular basis, you could amass a wardrobe that looked not too shoddy.
luckily for me the 50's mobile urban dodger look(as defined by the then very streetwise i-D magazine) was in fashion, so i got sucked into levi jeans and plaid shirts... whilst worshipping books on US custom car culture.
i can't remember who first took me to FLIP, or which year it was exactly.
all i have is this impression of "red river rock" blasting out over the PA, with row after row after row of jeans, check shirts, bomber jackets, cord car-coats, badges, patches, raybans... you name it, i bought 'em... i remember the smell of stale hamburger that emanated from the jackets that had obviously once belonged to poor working class americans, who never would have dreamed that their cast-offs were so revered in a far flung colony of americana... once i bought a cord jacket and was delighted to find cinema tickets to some sleazy NYC cinema in a pocket.
my fascination with the cafe racer motorcycle jacket was also stirred around that time... and i used to fantasise of owning one of FLIP's brand-new NYC police jackets.
ironically today, i own a nice old battered and lived-in police motorcycle jacket, which cost me the same price now as those ones cost back in the 80's

sure enough, not all my friends shared this fascination... who would want to go shopping with me to the great mecca of glasgow, when all i did was hang around in the basement of some old clothes shop, greedliy sifting through piles of workshirts or sorting through tie-pins shaped like one of the US states...

eventually fashions changed - but i kept right on going there, even when the main floor became slightly mainstream(and the staff had despaired of the little JD's coming in all day...) with the vintage items being relegated to the basement, it was still the highlight(and more often that not, the only point) of a trip to glasgow, besides the bookseller i knew who sold old copies of jack kerouac books(i wasn't a poser, i loved this stuff!)...
even though i had to move away to attend college, i snuck back one summer, and tried to blag a vacation job in the shop... but the manageress with typical glaswegian suss didn't want to hire and train some goon for a few weeks, only to see him disapear when the leaves turned brown... one of life's regrets i suppose was that i didn't chuck in my course and move back to glasgow to work there in my dream job... but it wouldn't have been the same, the staff were a bit clubby by then and mostly resented having to play old rock'n'roll records.
groovin' at vicky's
that's me in the mid-80's wearing a jacket from FLIP with some friends out partying

so it was a missed opportunity to work there, even though i discovered the newcastle branch(in chinatown?) back in 1989 when i was living in carlisle but was way too skint from being at college to do any damage to their stock levels.
at the arse end of the 80's, vintage clothing was on the way out, new age threads and early hiphop styles started to come into fashion, grown men wandered about in floppy tracksuits with silky perms, like it was 1982 all over again... which meant of course that all the retro outlets started to shed deadstock 50s' and 60's clothing like no tomorrow... so there i was in the early 90's, back in the shops like birmingham's Razors Edge(now moved from hurst street and called Yo-Yo, but still selling fine vintage clothing)and retro markets like Quiggins in liverpool - which had miles of suede jackets, gleefully buying all the same old styles that i'd seen back in the 80's, only now it was a fraction of the cost.
i'm still buying this stuff... i was in the famous Rag Market in birmingham last weekend, and bought myself a mustard coloured baseball jacket with letters and leather sleeves... needed a dryclean but scrubbed up nice enough.

styles came and went, the grungers bought up all the plaid shirts in the early 90's, the fashion became very 70's for a while, then everyone wanted to live in the 60's and and now i help the other half to run our own mail-order retro clothing shop, we've got piles of old stuff around the house and FLIP is still going strong in it's newcastle shop.
and i'm still a vintage obsessed throwback who owns too many jackets to be practical.
it's hard to stress just how cool these vintage shops were back then... for the time being, you can wander about in camden and find plenty of outlets for retro clothes, but at the time, up north, places like this were very few and far between.
FLIP was a very important shop for me, it fed my passion for the clothes i needed as a retro obsessed vintage geek and kept me sane through the bad fashions of 80's excess, so i salute you Mr FLIP for all your hard work!
this one's for you:

good times and great clothes...
i wanted to be that guy in the jeans advert, who goes into the laundrette to wash his jeans... except of course i always looked more like buddy holly than nick kamen.

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