The 90s American Invasion.

 In early 1998 to much furore Tommy Hilfiger opened his first flagship store in Europe. London being his Capital of choice. But what significance does this hold with Liverpool and its band of travelling protagonists? Three years earlier New York once again became the destination of choice as the youth of our city once again needed to quench their appetite for stylistic pedantry.  

  The 90s had also seen Florida become the number one travel destination for Brits. With the dollar at a good rate of $1.65 to the £1 and air fares at a very reasonable price suitcases would be filled with Calvin Klein, Timberland, Gant, Bass Weejuns and Ralph Lauren at almost half the cost of the stores back home. A new concept on us Brits was the Outlet Malls with prices even more reduced than the Department Stores. This influx of Americana cast its spell on Britain not least the acolytes of this city.

  The draw of the USA was there for all to see. Florida may have been the place for a once in a lifetime family holiday but New York had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about it. A good friend of mine was one of only a few to jet out for a weekend in early ’95. Another guy owned a small store and knew he could stock up on Lacoste as well as Hilfiger. They went to Macys and Bloomingdales and stocked up on Hilfiger jackets, jumpers and polos. They had paid £180 for flights, stayed at cheap digs and spent the least they could on expenses. Tommy Hilfiger was about to explode onto the Liverpool fashion scene. The jackets cost £80 in New York but back home could command a fee of £160/£180 depending on the style. 

  The closest Outlet Mall to Manhatten is Woodbury Common and it was here that besides a Hilfiger store there was also a Lacoste store. Lacoste would become massive in Liverpool over the next 10 years and would eventually open its largest independent UK store adjoining Wade Smith in the city centre. Wade Smith would sell that much Lacoste over the years that the president and owner of the brand  Monsieur Lemaire came for the opening of its new store and stated “Liverpool’s a bit like the Lacoste capital of the world and shows no sign of waning.” It could be said that he should have thanked the entrepreneurs who made these trips to New York for starting a trend.  

  It wasn’t long before my wife and I were flying across the Atlantic and touching down at JFK. Half empty suitcases in hand in readiness for some serious shopping. There wasn’t enough supply to deal with the demand, so even before we left home we had a shopping list of Hilfiger Jackets and Lacoste tracksuits. The profits made covered the weekend trip and we had a bit over to put towards the next trip a few months later. That’s how it was for a couple of years. New York 2 or 3 times during the year and Florida in the Summer. For us it was about the New York experience as well as the product. Our enthusiasm for travel bordered on fanaticism.  


An Interview done with local Merseyside blog ‘Sevenstreets’ when our ‘Vinyl Only’ Record Label launched in 2012.

We’re in a vinyl state of mind this week. After Paul Du Noyer’s selection of his seven favourite album sleeves (and yours) we’re rather excited to discover a limited imprint series, launched by 80s Casuals chap, Dave Hewitson.!
The label, Eighties Vinyl Records, is only one release in, but already it’s sporting a philosophy that’s close to our hearts: only release the good stuff, do it to the best of your ability, and do it because you love it.!
It’s a manifesto that Hewitson lives by, having set up the 80s Casuals clothing label a decade or so ago. Records, well, they’re his other passion.!
“Everyone knows that if you’re from Liverpool you’ll have a passion for football, fashion and music. With 80s Casuals (which Hewitson owns with Jay Montessori) we get the printing done locally plus the embroidery and any sewing, and for the last eight years we’ve donated clothing to fundraising/ charity nights. It was through one of these nights that the chance to put out a single came about,” he says.

Curiously, the lads won a day in the studio (did they win the GIT award? Oh no...) and The Sand Band obligingly came along for the ride.!
“I thought, let’s keep this 80s ethos going, and do a limited run on coloured vinyl,” Hewitson (right) says.!

“From there things sort of snowballed as a few more bands got in touch as they loved the idea. So we then decided to set it up as a ‘not for profit’ showcase for the bands, the sleeve designer, the studio, the videographer – everyone involved.”!
With all monies generated from the limited (250 copies) release returned back into the label for the next single, no contracts or publishing deals and an altruistic approach to getting it out there, Hewitson’s created the anti X Factor, and a real shot in the arm for those of us who are still using the wax, not using the CD (as the great Adam Yauch once said).

“Vinyl sales have gone up by 39% in the last two years, up to its highest level since 2005,” Hewitson says. “To me, that confirms that music is an artform that should have tangible presence.”! !
“The sleeve in itself is a piece of art,” he says, adding to Du Noyer’s rallying cry. “If you’re going to listen to a piece of vinyl then you’re taking time out from your daily activities to actually remove the record from the sleeve, place it on the turntable and really listen, rather than throwing an iPod or Spotify on and skimming through thousands of songs which generally have no meaning to the listener.”
But it’s more than that. It’s a quality thing too. It’s about fidelity. Listen carefully, here comes the science...!
“Vinyl is an analogue recording, whereas CDs are digital. Analogue captures the original sound, capturing the waveforms accurately, and capturing a truer sound to that played by the bands,” Hewitson explains.!
“Digital takes snapshots of the analogue recording, therefore it can never capture the full soundwaves.”!
So that’s why your Ed Sheeran CD sounds shit. Possibly.!
So far, the feedback has been encouraging (and we’re not talking about a nasty howling sound loop) – with the website generating 50 sales in its first day.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Hewitson says. “One or two well known bands have got in touch wanting to support the project and help out. We obviously need to sell a good percentage of each release so that we can generate monies to re-invest, so it would be fantastic to have some few high profile names do a song now and again...”

Dream pressing?

“The Las to reform...”

Ah, it’s nice to dream. In the meantime, the label’s first imprint, by The Sand Band, is available for pre order now: with a limited edition T shirt available at a bargain £15 plus p&p. Next up, The Troubadours...


'A Different Kind of Ellesse'

Ellesse Penguin x 80s Casuals.

Ellesse was founded in 1959 in Perugia Italy by Leonardo Servadio.  The name Ellesse deriving from his initials 'LS'. The first ever branding used by the company, until the mid 1970s Palla logo, was a Penguin (see the 80s Casuals book for pics).  First seen in 1967 the Penguin referenced Leonardo's two pet Penguins which often accompanied him on Ski trips. A rubber Penguin logo would be stitched onto Ellesse's revolutionary Ski Pants.

Our Collaboration uses that branding to stand out from the crowd. Last year we built up a great friendship with the guys at the iconic Italian Sportswear brand and this year we continue that friendship with some new and exciting products inspired by our T-Shirt 'Travel' range including new Winter Jackets designed by ourselves in collaboration with Ellesse.

There will be new T-Shirts for Summer with a Capsule Winter Clothing Collection to follow. 

More details soon.


A few years back I, along with a TV Crew from LFC.TV, visited Robert Wade-Smith at his home in Caldy on the Wirral. We spent a couple of hours in his company interviewing him on his life, from the early beginnings of working for Peter Black in Keighley to opening the Wade Smith Store on Slater Street in 1982 and through to it's demise in 2005. Here is a short excerpt from that interview.


Q) When did you first come to hear about the phenomenon in Liverpool regarding trainers?

A) I was introduced if you like to the Liverpool phenomena as soon as I joined the Top Man concession business. We had twenty concessions around the UK. I was involved in controlling those concessions and driving around the UK for three years, so for one hundred and fifty weeks. Not only was Liverpool the number one for those one hundred and fifty weeks in a row, they were triple the number two and they were doing a third of the whole adidas business for the UK in Top Man Liverpool. They were doing a third of the business out of twenty shops from one shop, so if you like I saw this phenomenal opportunity in Liverpool, it was a micro market, it was unreal really, It wasn’t happening anywhere else in the country the way it was in Liverpool, or even the world quite like it. Particularly as the average price in Liverpool was £30 and the average price of the UK was about £17 at the time. So I was lucky enough to see it from close quarters and that’s what inspired me to start the Wade Smith shop.

Q) Could you just take us back to pre Christmas 1979, just tell us the story about Stan Smiths and the popularity of the Stan Smith trainers back then.

A) Well obviously Stan Smith was the first of the tennis trainers, the breakthrough from the Sambas. So in 1979 it kicked in on the Stan Smith and that was the first big cult. There had been a bit of a fashion thing going on around ‘Kickers’ and a brand named ‘Kios’ that was a copy of Stan Smith. So the Stan Smith was the real thing. Kios were £15 and the Stan Smiths were £20. I think in the Christmas of 1979 we sold something like two thousand pairs of Stan Smith's, so it was the first big cult trainer if you like in the UK.


PLACES I REMEMBER is available in the PRINT Section of the site.

CAMP NOU [88000]


Whenever the draw is made, phone calls and texts are quickly sent. Numbers need to be confirmed on who’s going. Their trust is then with the organiser who will obviously try to get everyone there as cheap as possible. Then it’s the dilemma of a single or a two night stay. This fixture pairs us with Barcelona, not only a brilliant team but also a great place to visit.
The texts keep coming thick and fast. Everyone fancies this one including John, who
is spending as much of his redundancy as possible on seeing as many European away games as it will a
fford. It appears that if ever there was a football ground bucket list, then this is up there near the top. It’s also one of those places on quite a few flight paths and expectations are of a cheap journey. So after many hours trawling different routes, that may save us a tenner here and a tenner there, it’s sorted.

Click ... that’s it done. The most up to now. Nineteen of us, all booked for Barca. Liver- pool to Glasgow Prestwick by train, Ryanair from Prestwick to Reus, Reus to Barcelona by coach. I just hope I’ve booked the correct dates and nothing goes wrong. Worst nightmare would be such a major cock up of my doing. I can’t relax until we’re on the plane. We arrive at Prestwick and all’s fine as I herd everyone together to pass in their passports. Then young Joes friend Anthony passes over the mintiest passport you’ve ever seen. Scuffed cover, pic hanging out, water stained. ‘Oh shit’ I think as Passport control tell him ‘Sorry, You can’t fly with that”. His mother had put it through the wash. Apparently not just the once but twice. My leadership tendencies had to take over, so I pointed him back towards the train station ‘Liverpool’s that way’ and went for a beer.

Five minutes later there’s a plan being hatched by the young lads, Joe, Rob, Jack, Dan and Anthony. ‘We’ll bunk him onto the plane’. This is post 9/11 not 1977 I think. So as we head towards the departure lounge and start boarding Anthony gets in between us all. We show our boarding cards and make our way onto the plane. I get on and as I’m fastening my seatbelt, I can see Anthony’s made it onto the plane before a young stew- ardess asks for his boarding card. A quick thinker in the party passes him his own and Anthony turns to show the stewardess the card. ‘No problem’ she says. He’s onboard but obviously there will be a head count and now there’s an extra person on board who should be on the train back to Liverpool. No worries, we’ll hide him under the seat. Have you seen the gap under the seats on Ryanair? Well remember them contortionists getting into boxes on Opportunity Knocks. This lad would have won the show. He gets curled up in a ball and Joe puts his coat over him.
The plane takes off and once we’re airborne it’s ‘All clear.’ He gets up a bit dazed and looking the colour of boiled shite, but unbelievably, in this day and age, it’s job done. On arrival in Reus, there’s no showing of any passports, we walk straight through and its away we go. Airport security. A doddle.

We arrive at our hotel, the classy Hotel Silken next to the famous gherkin shaped building. In fact, the gherkin is that famous I can’t remember its name, but it looks great from the terrace as we take in the surrounding cityscape and decide whether to take a dip in the rooftop pool. The hotel is perfect for us old fogeys, stylish and comfortable. Not one of them cheap and cheerful, ‘it’ll do, it’s only a bed for the night!’ type places for us. The younger element thinks it’s cool too, apparently the Arctic Monkeys recorded a video up here.

Anyway back to the day in hand. The luggage is abandoned in the rooms and we head off in numerous taxis to join the inebriated at the world’s best Champagne bar, La Xam- panyeria, located down a small side street close to the port. It’s a cool Bodega, a typical working class Spanish place, where the local Cava and Tapas are cheap. The tables are barrels and everyone stands.
Our taxi arrives ten minutes aft
er the first one and already arl Ken is sitting outside
in the mid a
fternoon sun getting some fresh air. The first couple of glasses had gone straight to his head. We did hope he wasn’t too hot as his string vest could soon be
on show. Typical Englishman abroad was Ken, God rest his soul. String vest, hanky
on head, white socks with sandals etc.
The afternoon is spent quaffing a glass or three whilst enjoying the odd tapas, plus we also get involved in a photoshoot and chat with some journos from the Champions League Magazine, which made for a pleasant after- noon. It’s gonna be a good day.

The younger lads disappear early on. They want to go to the local square to kick a ball 100 foot into the air. A bizarre ritual that seems to amuse everyone after a few pints. Later we journey along the Ramblas to meet up with them before heading off to the game.

Oh yeah, the game, that ninety minutes that always seems to get in the way of a great day. A magnificent 2-1 victory against the reigning champions, topped off a magnif- icent day. Bellamy and Riise hitting the net. Ironic given the fact that rumour had it, both had a falling out after Bellamy struck Riise with a golf club. Craig’s goal celebra- tion couldn’t have been more apt.

The following day on the journey home Tony was asked the same question about his passport by Spanish Airport security. The answer was simple, it had fallen into the hotel swimming pool.


Welcome to the new look 80s Casuals website. There have been a few changes of late. Original founder of the label, [along with Mike Ashcroft] in 2003, Jay Montessori, has moved on and will be working with Transalpino, the new store in Liverpool that recently opened. Mike moved on quite a few years back. Myself, Dave Hewitson joined the brand in 2004 and along with Jay we designed product and a book, before I distributed the goods to Stores whilst Jay looked after the website. Now I have control of both distribution and the website.

The wish is to continue producing goods that are aimed at the Terrace lad who doesn't want to conform to the latest 'fashion' and magazine looks. We have a mind of our own, thanks. Hopefully our T-Shirts, Sweatshirts and Jackets etc will have a long lasting appeal and can be brought out of the wardrobe year after year.

Also, a designer that I have been working with for a few years now, Dom, will be joining me in producing design for the label as well as more product. The idea is to have a more varied website and as you can already see we have put our heads together to come up with a Print section which will house Contemporary style Posters as well as cards and books. Dom works in the music industry producing design work for Liverpool Sound City as well as Posters for major promotors and videos for many bands. We hope to bring some Limited Edition music related goods that sit perfectly alongside the 'Casuals' style goods we have produced for the last 12 years.

Lastly, Thanks for the continued Support and we hope to bring you some quality design and product that will be at a good price and very limited.