iStyle: Greatest knits

Gabicci first found favour with the ‘casual’ scene of the 1970s. Now it’s celebrating being back in fashion, says Paul McKenzie

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Gabicci knitwear, with its suede trim and extra fly collar was designed by two friends, Jack Sofier and Alex Pyser, for the more discerning Seventies man.

But the inner-city kids of Brixton and Hackney had other ideas. The year was 1973, the “casual” scene was just finding its feet and young trailblazers were looking for labels to up the ante.

“Pringle and Farah were hot, but the label all the tops boys were wearing was Gabicci,” recalls DJ Norman Jay, MBE. “A Gabicci top was a must for young black kids come the weekend”.

It may not have been what Mr Sofer and Mr Pyser had in mind when they started 40 years ago, but style moves in mysterious ways.

The label’s fortunes suffered a dip in the 1980s and by the early 1990s, it had been taken over. However, Gabicci has always been held in affection by likely lads in the know.

Now a new generation of musicians including The View and Labrinth have started wearing the label. The powers at Gabicci picked up the scent and, launching a project for the brand’s 40th anniversary, noticed that Norman Jay’s name kept cropping up. Jay couldn’t have been happier when the brand got in touch to ask him to create a capsule collection, out in July: “They let me raid their archive and... put a new twist on it”. 

While the famous heavy “G” logo can still be found, collars have been clipped, the colour palette broadened and the cuts streamlined. “Today’s generation of stylers are not just casuals,” says Jay. “ People like to be turned out well. Clean-cut and smart is where it’s at”.