The men who know what's v. good: E Jane Dickson discovers that hell for hip fashion stylists is rubber-soled shoes, double cuffs and gaping, beltless belt loops

GREG FAY and Justin Laurie are v. good stylists. Not very good, but 'v. good'. It says so on their letterhead. In the higher echelons of hip, post-ironic deconstructivist details matter.

Today, for example, Greg is wearing a stained and scrofulous camel coat, with matching food- stained shirt worn loose over geography teacher's trousers and a pair of unlaced desert boots (no socks). Justin, on the other hand, is pin- sharp, with a precision-cut goatee, limited edition denims and mirror-finish ox-blood boots. But the fact that Greg knows he looks pretentiously tousled and Justin knows his image is on the uptight side of neat, makes them equally smart in each other's eyes. Style, they emphasise, is all about attitude.

Attitude fairly drips from the pages of Fay and Laurie's editorial spreads for magazines such as The Face and Arena. A lustrously beautiful youth in a designer suit is saved from po-faced prettiness by the Tesco-bag rain hat wrapped around his head. A respectable stripey shirt and silk tie combo looks larkishly outre, accessorised with a fleecy balaclava and nylon sleeping bag.

Irreverent is the word that springs to mind, but it is quickly batted back by the v. good stylists. Calling Fay and Laurie 'irreverent', it turns out, is an embarrassingly inadequate cliche, on a par with calling Andy Warhol 'kooky'. 'Everybody seems to go out of their way to be irreverent,' says Fay in the blithe tones of a size-eight teenager wondering why on earth anyone would ever want to diet, 'but we're just trying to do things that are aesthetically pleasing in more than one sense.'

Apart from their editorial work, Fay and Laurie act as stylists to a number of bands and rock stars. They are chary of naming names (admitting to a personal stylist is a curiously unmacho thing for a rock idol, rather like telling the world that your mum still irons your underpants), but they are rumoured to have a hand in the public image of Blur and New Order.

'We try to make them look as unstyled as possible,' says Laurie. 'We want them to look extremely good, but we don't want our names stamped all over them.' Fay agrees. 'We're not saying 'our look is the only look, we are the super- creative artiste types'. We delight in clothing. We delight in fashion. We delight in looking at people in the street and then turning that into something new.'

An ear-to-the-ground, finger-on- the-pulse sensibility is central to Fay and Laurie's success. London street style - ebullient, evolving and independent of any catwalk creed - is, they argue, Britain's most marketable fashion export. 'The cultist attitude towards clothing has always been stronger here than anywhere else,' says Fay. 'The mod thing, the punk thing, the skinhead thing, the house thing, travelled all over the world, not just as fashion statements but almost as a way of life, coupled with the music and the attitude.'

Cults rely on arcana to keep them cultish, and Fay and Laurie can quote chapter and verse on the secret signs of any given fashion faction. 'Everyone wears baseball caps. Granddads wear baseball caps,' says Fay, 'but they just wear them ordinary, with a straight brim. But then you'll see young guys into the jungle thing and they'll have the front of the cap in a little peak, so that they can slip it into their pocket. Most people don't know the reason behind it, but they know that it's the look.'

There are, however, certain universal rules that span all social groupings. Rubber-soled shoes with a suit should never be seen. A shirt without double cuffs is a shirt without purpose. There are 'a million and one' ways to wear a pair of trousers, and a million of them are wrong. (This comes as distressing news to one who thought that, bar putting them on back to front, you couldn't really go wrong with trousers.) 'Belt loops,' pronounces Fay, with the haunted look of a man naming his worst demon. 'I can never understand people who wear jeans, or any trousers with belt loops if there's no belt in them. I mean, what is the point?' What - one might ask - indeed?

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Armie Hammer in the new film of ‘The Lone Ranger’

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans has been confirmed as the new host of Top Gear
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map