Now clubs are at the cutting edge of cool

Alister Morgan
Monday 22 July 1996 23:02

Fashion-conscious youths are by no means a new phenomenon on the club scene. Unfortunately, drab venues, surly bouncers and seemingly lobotomised bar staff in black baggy T-shirts are also all too familiar. All that seems set to change, however.

Over the past year club interiors have been going through a facelift. Architects have been commissioned to redesign venues, and now fashion designers are being recruited to provide staff and promotions with a fashionable image that customers can instantly recognise.

Metamorphosis, at the London nightclub Iceni, offers clubbers the chance to exchange items of their clothing for a brand new Red or Dead design. The event proved an instant success with no shortage of individuals willing to de-robe in public.

The Liverpool-based club Cream is currently the country's most successful club franchise. Members of staff have worn clothes from Ted Baker and the local retailer Wade Smith. "It just adds to the whole ambience of the event," explains Kate Owens from Cream. "The company is very style and design conscious and the staff need to reflect that."

Commitment to the fashion side of the business is demonstrated by the two successful fashion outlets bearing the Cream name. Selling a full range of club chic for men and women, orders have come from as far afield as Australia.

Meanwhile in London, Richard West (Mr C from the Shamen) and Layo created The End (pictured above), London's best looking nightclub, last year. Their main objective was to avoid all the things they hated about other clubs. They are now at the cutting edge of franchise club fashion. "When you're paying pounds 10 or pounds 15, there's no reason why good service and decor should not extend to clubs but too often you get no colour, rude bouncers and crap toilets," complains the managing director Layo. "If that happened in a restaurant you'd just walk straight out."

In an effort to create a complete club package and avoid staff in logoed T-shirts, they considered professional designers and decided on urban techno fashion designer Daniel Poole. "We approached Daniel and went through each member of staff and what we thought they needed," Layo explains. The clothes had to be brightly coloured and, most importantly, functional. Bouncers required designs in soft colours that could withstand the elements while bar staff needed lighter outfits to keep them cool.

"Daniel's initial drafts were mostly excellent, while others were a bit 'out there'. He initially wanted them to wear helmets, that looked great with the sort of look we were going for, but they weren't very practical."

Despite the success of the venture, there are already plans to change designs in the same way that clubbers constantly move with emerging fashions. The interior is repainted every few months and staff uniforms are about to give way to new sporting designs. If this trend continues around the country it will not be long before the nation's bar staff can offer fashion tips in addition to listening to domestic problems.

Cream: 40-42 Slater St, Liverpool; 0151 709 1693. The End: 16a West Central St, London WC1; 0171-419 9199. Metamorphosis at Flipside: Iceni, 11 White Horse St, London W1; 0171-724 6777.

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