It's chic to be a Gleek: Why everybody wants to join the Glee club circuit

The American TV hit is taking the UK by storm with pupils joining choirs and styling themselves on the show's geeky stars

We have taken their television series to top ratings, their albums to permanent residence in the charts and their stories of high school loserdom to our hearts. Now we want their musical lifestyle and the clothes off their backs.

After gaining an army of fans (known as Gleeks) since hitting our screens in January, the quirky characters of the all-singing, all-dancing phenomenon Glee are enthusing schoolchildren and inspiring the launch of show choirs across the UK. The internet is also awash with viewers replicating their looks.

Mandy Miller, chair of the Scottish Association for Music Education, said Glee had created a "surge" across Scotland, with schools setting up musical groups and pupils joining existing choirs. "It was the same when High School Musical came up, but more so this time, I think."

E4's American hit has also had a positive impact on Sing Up, the national programme for singing in primary schools, because parents and music teachers find it "positive and motivating". The children are too young to watch Glee, said a spokeswoman, but "perceive it as something cool".

The Golden Globe winner is the fastest-selling TV show in Zavvi's history, with fans placing more than 7,000 orders for the T-shirt and soundtrack package in the first hour of it going live on the website.

Five is tapping into the popularity by launching Don't Stop Believing, an X Factor-style show for musical groups. Alongside the competition, the public can audition to represent the UK on the American glee club circuit. Tomorrow's Glee episode, "Sectionals", sees McKinley High School compete against rival choirs.

The show's geeky diva Rachel Berry and mysophobic school guidance counsellor Emma Pillsbury are also unlikely new style icons. Even the acerbic cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester's wardrobe of tracksuits is attracting admirers.

Ali Hall, editor of the fashion magazine Look, said people were "as bothered about what someone is wearing on the set of Glee as they are about what Posh is wearing".

Fans are using the online trend barometer Polyvore's virtual styling tool to pick products from online stores to create Glee-related collections, called "sets", with Rachel, Emma and cheerleader Quinn Fabray topping searches related to the show.

Maryam Ahmed, 18, from Manchester, said Glee was influencing her dress sense. "Now, instead of just pairing my cardigans with T-shirts, I'd wear a nice blouse with them or add a vintage brooch for a more vintage look, like Emma," she explained.

"When I go shopping, I see something and think 'Rachel would wear that' ... Since I've started watching Glee, I'm more open to wearing brighter colours."

The show's styling earned the costume designer Lou Eyrich a Costume Designers Guild Award last month. Ms Eyrich said she wanted to reflect the glee club's ethos of embracing individuality by showing each personality's uniqueness through their clothes.

With 14 principal characters each requiring at least 12 costume changes per episode and every episode taking eight days to shoot, Ms Eyrich said the team was "constantly shopping, constantly fitting". "So it's really a bit of a jumble to be honest, so the fact that it's caught on and people want to mimic it, that definitely surprises me," she added.

Fox TV is launching a Glee merchandising line in the autumn. However, online retailers such as Shop Glee are already cashing in.

Krista Madden, founder of the beauty and fashion ezine Beauty and the Dirt, said Glee was a "junior version" of the style inspiration created by the TV series Mad Men.

"For a younger audience I think it's very aspirational because the girls are quite wholesome-looking and the glee members are all different shapes and sizes and different looks," she said. "There's someone for everyone to feel quite connected with."

And, according to Ms Eyrich, the styling gets even better. The second half of the series, which begins on E4 on 19 April, sees glee club teacher Will Schuester returning "a bit more sexy, a little more Gene Kelly".

Too cool for school? Get the Glee look

Rachel Berry (Lea Michele)

The geeky wannabe diva sports a preppy look. "One of the scripts called it toddler meets grandmother, so it's very adolescent yet she's trying to be a grown-up," said Glee's costume designer, Lou Eyrich. "She's a cross between Ali MacGraw in Love Story and Tracy [Flick, played by Reese Witherspoon] in Election."

Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer)

Self-proclaimed fashionista and soprano Kurt is bullied by the jocks. He has a rigorous beauty regime and impressive collection of designer threads by the likes of Marc Jacobs. "I love putting together all the fashion-forward, quirky ideas for him and taking risks in the way he dresses," Ms Eyrich said.

Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith)

The quarterback commits social suicide in joining the glee club. "Finn's a jock so he's going straight to Abercrombie & Fitch or American Eagle or Gap, places where boys would tend to shop because they are basically T-shirts, sweatshirts," Ms Eyrich said. "They don't really tend to think about their clothes that much."

Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays)

The wide-eyed teacher mixes enviable vintage pieces with high street finds. "Because of her OCD habits, everything's perfectly tailored, perfectly fit, put together very prim and proper," Ms Eyrich said.

Check out teacher Danielle Bruno's What Would Emma Pillsbury Wear? blog for inspiration wwepw.blogspot.com

J. Crew, one of the stores used to dress Emma, will be accessible to UK shoppers for the first time from May through the website Net-a-Porter.

Real-life club brings together singers of all ages

Glee gave singing and piano teacher Richard Whennell, 39, the impetus to launch the community choir he had been planning.

After four sessions, Bracknell Glee Club boasts more than 160 Facebook fans, with 40 people – aged 13 to 70-plus – turning out to sing harmonies to tunes such as Take That's "Shine".

Mr Whennell said the club's members tend to be "people who love to sing in the shower or the car".

"We are not out to do handsprings and pyramids and all that kind of stuff, but we are out to have a good time singing songs and do some dancing as well," he added.

High school choir boosts its ranks

At Dunfermline High School, the choir has welcomed 10 new members since Glee started, boosting its ranks to 35. "What I am hoping is once the other people have heard the choir singing 'Don't Stop Believin' [at the school awards ceremony] it might encourage them a bit more to join it," said music teacher Fiona Miller. She hopes to rename the choir as a "show choir" after the summer.

Fifty pupils will learn routines from the show, while others are practising an instrumental arrangement of 'Don't Stop Believin' in class.

Famous fans... and foes

Think High School Musical for adults. Created by Ryan Murphy, who was also behind plastic surgery drama Nip/Tuck, the show follows optimistic McKinley High teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) as he resurrects the school's glee club – a show choir – with an eccentric bunch of pupils.

A-list fans include the First Lady, Michelle Obama, who has invited the cast to perform at the White House's annual Easter Egg Roll, guest star Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna, who has allowed the show access to her musical catalogue.

The band Coldplay, however, have refused to let their hits feature on the show.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Guru Careers: Business Analyst / Digital Business Analyst

£50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Analyst / Digital Bus...

Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power