When I opened the door to the Flying Duck and into the Christmas Street Wear Fest, it was like opening the door to another world: cool, chic, and chilled. Leaving behind the bustling city centre, I couldn’t wait to explore Glasgow’s fashion scene – and it didn’t disappoint.
This wasn’t your average fashion market. Sure, there were stalls and stacks of clothes. There were people selling these clothes. But it was so much more than that. Each brand was unique in its own way; you could tell that they chose their products based on their own interests rather than what they believed to be popular. Their styles ranged from graffiti print, ‘90s hip-hop, to boho-chic – all polar opposites.
Whoever organised this event must have a degree in Appealing to Young People, I thought to myself. There were clothes for everyone, from the sporty types to the hippies. I didn’t think it was possible for one event to attract such a wide audience – but it did.
So, who was the mastermind behind all this? Meet The Locals, a small organisation that started out last year. Founder Ada Konkolska said: “What we want to do with Meet The Locals is to create this collective of different brands. There is no competition between anyone, because everyone is doing something different.”
As it turned out, “different” was an understatement. I was introduced to three brands: Navarah, The Worst, and Nautilus Inkworks. Let’s just say they made chalk and cheese look identical.
Navarah is a California-inspired brand – think tropical beach wear, palm trees and pineapple prints. Basically, it’s Glasgow’s answer to Hollister. “I was obsessed with the lifestyle and the brands that were in California, so I thought ‘why can’t I take a bit of that back to Glasgow?’” said Sarah, the brand’s creative director.
“I always tell people to shop independently if they can – you can get a unique find that you wouldn’t always get on the high street. Thrift stores, charity shops, things like that,” she added.
Feeling inspired by Sarah’s words, I asked Mark from The Worst if he had any style advice for our readers: “Buy our clothes” was the answer.
It was meant as a joke, but it shouldn’t have been. I can imagine teenage boys lining up for these clothes (a sentence I never thought I’d write, but true). In stark contrast to Navarah’s bright colours and bold prints, Mark’s stall held a collection of graffiti prints and black sweatpants.
The Worst started out slowly; graffiti writers turned t-shirt makers, they decided to use their talents and turn it into a brand.
At first, they intended their clothes to be worn by “the worst” type of social groups – now, they’re expanding. “It’s got elements from where we came from, but it’s got a wider target audience. Maybe even a lot of sportswear stuff.”
Nautilus Inkworks is equally different. As I approached a stall full of daring prints and edgy snapbacks, I thought I was on the set of an American hip-hop video – not a Glasgow market.
“My local MP bought one of these snapbacks,” said Chris, the brand’s founder.
“Normally, I spot my customers a mile off; I wouldn’t have spotted him. I stayed in touch with him, and he asked me to take part in an exhibition of local artists at his constituency office. Last week I went to the official opening and I met Nicola Sturgeon! She was like ‘this stuff’s cool’, so it must be cool.”
Chris’ story really opened my eyes to the success of Meet The Locals. Who would have thought that a small business could have such famous fans?
Chris was so genuine and humble that you would have never guessed he had achieved such a high level of success.
“It’s not about being the same as everyone else, it’s about doing things your own way,” he added.
He’s describing his brand – but I think this philosophy sums-up the Christmas Street Wear Festival as a whole. These brands were all completely different from each other; you wouldn’t expect them to work together. But they embraced these differences, and came together to celebrate the fashion industry.
It’s great to see the people of this industry using their powers for good. After all, teenagers spend most of their money on clothes. Meet The Locals could have a huge influence on young audiences. But instead of teaching them the latest catwalk trends, they’re teaching something much more valuable: that it’s okay to be yourself. If everyone behaved this way – accepting rather than rejecting people’s differences – the world would be a much better place.
In this case, fashion is a representation of something much bigger: diversity. So, if you walked away from this festival empty-handed, this was only in the physical sense. I took home the best bargain of the night: inspiration.
Check out the Meet The Locals Facebook page for upcoming events.