Style: Bright things
Saturday 13 June 1998
"Can I speak to the manager please?" I shout to a very tall blonde girl with several facial piercings. She points to a man wearing flashing clothes, bouncing - the floor is made from the same spongy stuff as that of children's playgrounds - near the till, where he is serving a Japanese customer. I nod and walk over. "Are you the manager?" It turns out he is. He removes his earplugs. "I have to wear them," he says. "A day of this leaves me with ringing ears."
The shop is Cyberdog. It began life as a market stall - the owners, Terry Davy and Spiros Vlahos, had to excavate a rubbish tip to get their pitch - in Camden Market in 1994. It now occupies a tunnel in the market and has recently spun out into shops in Covent Garden and Ibiza town. It was named after the owners' Chihuahua, Chi-Chi, a tiny dog with a big attitude who now, thanks to Davy, has a website dedicted to his travels in cyberspace.
The story so far has similarities with Red or Dead and Duffer of St George, two successful companies which also began life in Camden Market. Cyberdog's product couldn't be more different from their super-trendy ideals. Davy, 32, a Tank Girl lookalike and the designer of the clothes, says she can't see the marque ever going mass market. "I never thought anyone would want to buy my designs in the first place. I just wanted to design clothes that I liked."
What she liked was technology, science-fiction, rave clubs and dressing up. "I didn't like high fashion, Prada and all that, and I didn't want to look 'dolly dolly'."
So she mixed up her interests and put them into her clothes: T-shirts with fluorescent strips and blinking lights; mini-skirts with reflective panels; umpteen shapes of unisex combat trousers; slim jackets with useful pockets all over them; and multi-purpose waistcoats. The idea was to have affordable and fun clubwear that was practical, and very individual.
Cyberdog soon realised that its niche was to create an intense clubbing environment to sell its clothes, which are usually worn in clubs such as Otherworld at The Fridge.
"The people who shop here are really into the techno we play and sell, and the clothes, jewellery and accessories are all about the synergy that comes from that music," says manager Tim Bell, who was recruited from the Disney Store and is also Terry's brother-in-law. His staff are into the scene that accompanies the clothes and look like a cross between ravers, new-agers, fetishists and cyberpunks. Davy describes them and her customers as "Shiny Happy Cyberpunks".
"It's not about a dark and seedy scene any more. It's about fun and not wanting to grow up. Well, it is for me anyway," she laughs as she bounces off on her platforms back into the throbbing shop.
Cyberdog, 6 Earlham St, London WC2 (0171-836 7855)
See the travels of Chi-Chi at www.cyberdog.co.uk
Capt: Light fantastic: Zoe (logo T-shirt, pounds 18; Extreme pants, pounds 60); Paola (Bullet pocket vest, pounds 40; short stripe skirt, pounds 35); Emma (white vest with zip, pounds 22; cyber chiffon top, pounds 40; Oversized pants, pounds 55); Tim (Fluro dot shirt, pounds 30; Bolle visors, pounds 60; baggy pants, pounds 55); Luca (survival waistcoat, pounds 45, rave pants, pounds 60)
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