Skip to content

G-Force Eighties Clothing Company in Nottingham

July 16, 2018

Anyone who remembers names like Cocky’s Shed and Culture Vulture in Hockley, Nottingham, was probably (like me) around there in the mid eighties when different forms of street fashion were establishing. I was chatting recently to a friend from my Trent Poly days about living in Nottingham and the name ‘G-Force’ came up, as we remembered the boutique clothing shop with it’s strong, bold knitwear.

Funnily enough we had both bought our own G-Force knits, to wear and be ‘in with the in-crowd’ of the time.

Although to be honest I didn’t always have the guts to wear it as often as I would have liked. This was my jumper.

Their label and logo with great details, heavy zip and characteristic stitching on the seams.

G-force was often worn by bands like the Stereo MC’s, the performance artists Stomp, celebrities like Cher and Eric Cantona. I started googling the name to see what was available and the name of it’s founder Robin Kerr appeared. As luck would have it, Robin not only had an accessible email address but is now a Senior Lecturer in Fashion at non other than the Manchester School of Art ..small world again eh !! I got in touch with him to ask a little more about this iconic brand…

How and when did the company G-Force first form ? ( can you explain a little of it’s back ground, the main contributors etc ) 

It was set up in 1979 after graduating from NTU with a degree in fashion.  Initially it was a small studio on Bottle lane a back street in Nottingham it was only open on a Saturday as the rest of the week was used to make the garments that usually sold out on a Saturday.  A range of hand knitted sweaters were produced and sold to Paul Smith.  By 1980 it hand moved to the shop on Goose gate with a small factory on Fletcher gate.  The shop remained until 2006 when it finally closed, the factory moved around the lace market and eventually ending up on Alfreton road as the rents became too high.

Who were your customers, where were your garments being seen (magazines etc). Was it an exciting time to be starting out int he fashion world ?

In the beginning it was the punk era that started the brand, also selling to Johnson’s on the Kings Road along with some Japanese stores in Tokyo.  Shoes designed and made with the DM sole were a major part of the retail growth.  The brand went trough many changes from suits worn by Depeche mode, rockabilly suits and leathers, zoot suits and finally moving into work wear which became synonymous with the brand.  G Force became one of the forerunners of what is known as street wear selling all over the world.  We always used to advertise in ID Magazine which was the bible in Japan and we would have small Japanese independent stores coming to Nottingham to buy stock that when we realized there was a massive market in Japan, so I took a collection over in 1983 and it sold out.

What was your day to day roll in the company and did you yourself originate from a textile back ground ?

Pretty much everything from design, pattern cutting, fabric and production sourcing and sales abroad.

I remember the shop being very metallic, solid and bold (as well as that fabulous construction of the metal gate). Where did the ideas and motifs for the knitwear originate and what was the main themes behind the collections ?

The shop went through many changes but the strongest look was the industrial metal interior which went with the work wear collections, the interior was designed and fabricated by John Eager a graduate from NTU who went on to do all our shops and the shops for FREELANCE in Paris and New York  At the time the collections were very  work wear based with heavy denims and waxed cottons stitche with large white stitching. The most successful range was the one with engineered garments designed to give maximum movement of the body, there were worn all over the dance floors and picked up by many bands like the Stereo MC’S.  There were strong graphic images on boiled felted woo knitted jackets that can still be seen being worn today.

I remember the stitch detail being a defining look on each piece. Did details like that help to flow one collection into another, or where they kept separate by colour, design, shape etc ?

Stitch, cutting and construction were very important in building the collection, garments were designed to last, all were made in the UK, shapes tended to be over sized.  Collections tended to evolve from one season to the next.

Your customers were often strong, confident, sometimes famous individuals. At what point did the one shop in Hockley turn into a much larger expanding business ?

The mid 80’s saw a massive growth, we started to sell all over the world and opened stores in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Lisbon and London.  Garments were seen being worn by, Eric Cantana, Stereo Mc’s, Take That, Cher and many more.

Hockley in the 1980’s was full of amazing small businesses like Culture Vulture and Cocky’s Shed. When you first opened G-Force, was the lace market still a developing, area, or was already quite arty and defined as a new place to be and buy ?

When we opened in 1980 we were the first independent store to open in Hockley it was very much a working area with a fruit shop, butchers and bakers servicing the workers in the Lace market, as the area declined more independents moved as the rents were low, it was a great place to be until the council realized it was becoming fashionable then the rates and rents doubled overnight. It is now full of bars and restuarants, busy at night and dead during the day.

Is G-Force still around in anyform at all ? Do you have any plans for it’s reissue ?

There is production of hand made leather bags under the label System G.  Currently there is no production under the G Force label but here are several collaborations happening shortly which will bring a retrospective collection onto the market.  I am also working on a collaboration with a French company, designing a range of fishing and shooting garments to be launched next year, this has the G force signature, heavy fabrics from Scotland and all made in Nottingham.

You heard it here first, watch this space !!

Another small piece of 80’s and 90’s culture. Who else remembers these ?

Save

Save

Save

Save

23 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2018 4:49 pm

    I enjoy your blog very much. I’m not usually familiar with the artists you show here, so am glad to have a chance to see these beautiful graphics and textiles. Thanks so much for taking the time to post them.

    • July 17, 2018 8:36 am

      Many thanks for your comments, always great to hear when someone else likes what you do. 🙂

  2. Alex permalink
    February 15, 2019 8:53 pm

    Ha ha remember G-force.. There was a little stall in ken high street market. Great trousers too. Good raving gear.

  3. Philip Pidduck permalink
    May 3, 2019 7:04 pm

    Just saw this so thought I’d leave a comment. I was at school in Mansfield with Robin’s brother Alistair. I shopped at G force in the early 80’s when the clothes were predominantly rockabilly style. I still own a Zoot suit that I bought from there but sadly or luckily it now doesn’t fit? They also had another shop a few doors down that sold punk clothing.

    • May 5, 2019 7:27 am

      Priceless memories Philip, thanks so much for sharing them with us. I bet there’s a market forming for the old Zoot suit as we type!

  4. Matty permalink
    May 29, 2019 7:07 am

    I also used to frequent the stall in Hyper Hyper in kensington in the late 80s/early 90s. The Gforce suits then were two tone affairs with matching tops/bottoms and an industrial feel. I was into Hip Hop so they fitted that style nicely, although i had to tuck the bottom of the pants into my Argyle socks. 😉

    Wish I still had some of the clothing, it was my go to back in the day and a favourite among the crew.

    • May 29, 2019 7:26 am

      Thank you Matty for that descriptive recollection. Any photos of you wearing it ?

    • Frank permalink
      January 10, 2020 11:35 pm

      I always coveted the shoes in gforce. I forget the prices, but was several weeks wages for me at the time, would have bought a dozen different styles. Really cool.
      I caught a glimpse of the style in ‘office’ shoes range ‘ask the wife’.
      Classic style.

      • January 13, 2020 9:19 am

        Great memories, thanks for sharing

  5. Jase permalink
    June 8, 2019 7:46 am

    My friend Anne used to work for and made lots of the knitted patches and jackets. They also did great drill cotton jeans with contrast stitching

  6. Jennie Garner permalink
    August 27, 2019 4:02 pm

    Had the very same long sleeve zip up as you. Also had a short zip up and long waistcoat ( which I still have, it’s now worn by my daughter). My boyfriend had a great pair of industrial work trousers with braces. I remember they had labelling inside with a warning that they took no responsability when you wore them.
    I’m going to hunt some photos out

    • August 27, 2019 6:04 pm

      Great memories Jennie, thanks for sharing and if you find some photos, do send me a copy.

  7. David Butler-Hind permalink
    November 2, 2019 8:57 pm

    Their double button front trousers were my faves along with the work-wear jackets and pit boots

  8. Rose permalink
    November 3, 2019 8:12 pm

    I shopped at G-Force in the 80s and bought coats and jackets and waistcoats hats and scarves for me and my daughter. We still have the items today well made loved it

  9. Jane Taylor-Powell permalink
    February 6, 2020 4:13 am

    Had 2 pairs of trousers, a shirt and a jacket in a baggy workwear style with the white seam over stitching. Loved them. Sadly all lost in a recent house move. Used to enjoy the exhortations on the labels. Best wishes from Cardiff.

  10. Russell permalink
    April 17, 2020 8:52 pm

    Used to print the labels for them – Robotnik textile printers, lol.

    • April 17, 2020 10:24 pm

      Cheers Russell, the name is familiar to me as I was part of a company called October also textile printers, around the same time in Nottingham lol

  11. Phil pidduck permalink
    April 18, 2020 1:25 pm

    I was at school with Robins brother Alister in 08/81. At that time G force was more about Rockabilly style clothing than knitwear. I wore for school uniform a pair of black “20” pleated tapered trousers. They used to sell hand painted kipper ties with 50s pinups on them. I bought and still have somewhere a G Force Zoot suit (50’s style gangster) teamed with the DM style pointed brothel creepers and a sharp flattop haircut I felt like a boss.

    • April 18, 2020 1:43 pm

      Wow and I bet you looked like a Boss too Phil. Great memories and description Phil, thanks so much for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: