'The Alien' advertisement, NME, 20th December 1980, page 72.
A brisk canter now through the NME clothing advertisements from my three surviving copies dating from 1980. Starting with an authentically menacing hand-drawn ad for skinhead coats (presumably Crombie style) with a nicely no-nonsense tag line: "Good Coats These."
Fab-Gear advertisement, NME, 20th December 1980, page 72. Click image for a bigger view.
Fab-Gear of Leeds have the new wave angle covered, and their ad indicates that their retail outlet was X Clothes, an alternative clothing business that started in Manchester. Music trivia fans will be delighted to learn that Johnny Marr worked in that Manchester branch just prior to forming the Smiths.
'Radar' advertisement, NME, 20th December 1980, page 73. Click image for a bigger view.
Radar appears to be a Scottish retailer with shops in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but mail orders are referred to 'P. Leach' of Chelsea, which must be the same company as (possibly misprinted) 'B. Leach' whose bondage trouser ad from 1979 featured in the previous post.
You'll notice that multi-pleated 'Bowie Trousers' were a firm favourite around this time and several advertisers (in this and the subsequent blog post coming soon) provide their own version of them.
'Baxby Fashion House' advertisement, NME, 20th December 1980, page 72. Click image for a bigger view.
Baxby's lamentable line drawings inspire little confidence, especially that Crombie in the bottom right corner. Oh dear.
These days we routinely expect online retailers to provide full colour photographs from every angle, eye-popping zooms and even rotating 360º views, and it makes you realise what a considerable leap of faith it must have been to have sent off your cross-signed postal order based on a tiny, mis-shapen sketch that gives only the vaguest idea of what the garment might actually look like.
'J. Holdsworth' advertisement, NME, 29th March 1980, page 48. Click image for a bigger view.
J. Holdsworth's drawings aren't much better, but at least there's a bit more detail.
'Printout Promotions' advertisement for punk gear, NME, 29th March 1980, page 47. Click image for a bigger view.
With some of these advertisers you get a sense that there might be some enthusiasm or at least interest in the culture they are
So above, you'll see the punk range, and coming up below is the rock selection:
'Printout Promotions' Giant Rock Sew Ons advertisement, NME, 29th March 1980, page 48. Click image for a bigger view.
Heavy Metal wasn't really the NME's turf (that was more Sounds territory) and this is the only specifically rock-related merchandise ad I found in my small and highly unrepresentative survey.
Mind you, I can't help warming to that slogan: "Rock on your Chest!"
'Printout Promotions' parka advertisement, NME, 29th March 1980, page 48. Click image for a bigger view.
And here Printout turns its hand to mod styles with Union Jack emblazoned parka. In fact, I'm sure there were plenty of other subcultural fields that Printout Promotions trained their sights on. An online search turned up a scanned copy of CB World magazine from April/May 1981 featuring a full page ad of theirs with the proud message: "Leaders in the field of personalised CB wear," which presents merchandise including everything from bodywarmers to car sunstrips.
From versatility to extreme specialisation, let's welcome the self-styled "most exciting Company in the Universe":
'Punters Choice by Cadiss' slim ties advertisement, NME, 27th September 1980, page 53. Click image for a bigger view.
Punters Choice by Cadiss want to help those of you with overly wide ties, and their Asteroids tie certainly sounds tempting. Interestingly, they accept Access credit cards - the only NME clothing advertiser I've found that does so - but without a telephone number it looks like those ties will remain "Hard To Find."
'Boy' mail order punk advertisement, NME, 27th September 1980, page 53.
Boy were one of the, er, big boys of punk clothing and I dearly wish I'd sent off for one of those full colour catalogues.
This ad has proved useful to me, though, by way of the mention of Kitsch 22. I have an old sleeveless t-shirt with a picture of Sid Vicious on tv (printed sideways) that has a perversely black on black woven label. After much squinting and angling to catch the light on this mystifying label I've discovered that it reads "Kitsch London" and probably came from Boy.
The t-shirt had been featured in a fashion magazine piece showcasing new t-shirt designs and I must have sent off for it, although I have no memory of doing so. But I kept that clipped picture of the t-shirt (indeed it may still be around, somewhere . . .) and the garment remains in my wardrobe nearly 30 years later.
Steering back to the business in hand, the blog Planet Mondo has some pictures from the 1981 Boy Blackmail catalogue that are definitely worth a look.
'Roy's Fashions' advertisement, NME, 29th March 1980, page 48. Click image for a bigger view.
I have a soft spot for Roy's ad, which has a lot to do with that black and white block panel mod dress.
'Roy's Fashions' advertisement, NME, 20th December 1980, page 73. Click image for a bigger view.
And here's Roy in December 1980 offering not just Bowie trousers but a full Bowie suit for £39.95.
Finally, its heartening to see that the Teds, Britain's oldest and most venerable youth subculture, were not forgotten in 1980. The General Franchise Company was there to dress them in Polyester Viscose Gaberdine:
'The General Franchise' Drapes and Drainpipes advertisement, NME, 29th March 1980, page 47. Click image for a bigger view.
The next post will gather up the remaining NME clothing ads scanned from issues dating from 1981 to 1985, and I'll include a handy directory of all the advertisers just to keep up the nerd quotient. Stay tuned . . .