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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Rossi: Glasgow

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Last week, after proudly viewing my gallery installation of street style in Cruise Ingram Street, I noticed a new menswear store I hadn't seen before. Having lived in Glasgow for quite a while, my expectations of Scottish menswear are far from high. Call me cynical but with W2 being the only independent menswear store worth mentioning, it's not doing too well in the stores to people ratio stakes.

I thought I was fairly up to date with the state of Glasgow shopping (as my overflowing-with-press-releases inbox will tell you) but somehow Rossi on Miller Street slipped through the net. With a pair of classic brogues in the window & some silk scarves tied to a wall, I found it hard to resist having a wonder and was pleasantly surprised to find a well stocked store that also has knowledgeable and friendly staff. I rarely do store reviews on Les Garçons de Glasgow but decided this one was too good to pass up.

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Rossi instantly struck me as the kind of store you only find in London; a showcase of subtle quality this is only sustainable in mega-cities that have a large group of wealthy business people. Glasgow may be a shopping mecca but go beyond the jungle of massive chain stores (we all like a bit of Topshop but 7 stores in the Greater Glasgow area is a bit excessive) and you'll be hard pressed to find many independents that will stand the test of time. For me, a good store is all about intelligent buying and for this level of brand acquisition, you need knowledgeable and experienced staff. Not the type that are so pushy it's clear they want a sale, the ones that know which certain shirtmaker in Italy has the finest clothes available or will give you an honest opinion if something is your style, good or bad. Other than the tailors on Saville Row, I haven’t spoken to many men as enthusiastic and knowledgeable as those found in Rossi.

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As soon as I entered the store, I had a feeling that this would be more of an experience than the usual quick swatch and exit routine. I was instantly drawn to their selection of Macintosh jackets as Scottish produce is always of interest to me. I knew that 187 year old Macintosh supplied the global heavyweights like Louis Vuitton and Gucci from their small Glasgow production unit but what I didn't know was how difficult it is to get your hands on an original Mac jacket. Rossi are they only store in Scotland to stock Macintosh and they have a small but perfectly formed collection of the key styles for the season for men and women. Naturally I tried on all of them (yes, even some of the women's) but it was the Dunkeld that I was drawn to most. Paired back design, buttonless front and stiff collar in the classic stone colour – with it's rubberised cotton and belted waist, this is a jacket that could repel bullets – the Scottish weather has no chance against this. All I need to consider now is how I can get it in my wardrobe in time for Paris Fashion Week.

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Taking more time to fully investigate the store I discovered blazers, suits, shirts, overcoats and a plethora of hats, cufflinks, ties...the list goes on. How did I not know about this place? Where the real strength lies is in the mix of brands. For shirts Rossi have brought in Penrose London, a collaborative menswear label with a background in Duchamp and Saville Row, being the only stockist in Scotland (a pattern began to emerge here) and after trying one on, I can confirm it's probably the most comfortable thing I've ever worn. The range of tweed available was also exciting for me as I'm generally prone to something Scottish, but these are probably the softest weaves I've ever felt.


At the back of the store there is a range of fabric swatch books to make any mouth water and as I dug around to see the textiles on offer I couldn't help but notice the tailoring section in the store. A range of sewing machines, cutting tables and cotton spools are hidden in the back corner so I just had to ask what it was all for. The owner Graham told me about his vision for their new line of Rossi suits, fitted to the customer, made from the best fabrics, going back to the original concept of quality tailoring. He's also managed to get an old-school Scottish tailor on-board who's one of the most sought after in the UK, an expert in fitting suits. Not too shabby.

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As the store's only been open a year I'm surprised to see such a strong range of brands; Graham even suggested that Mr Hare shoes may be available from next season, a brand that would bring a real cache for a small Glasgow store. After watching an old episode of “Mary Queen of Shops” last night, I wondered what Mary Portas would make of the store. In this episode, she coincidentally overhauled an old menswear store in London leaving me thinking about all the things Rossi have done right: personalised service, staff who know the product and a concise range of brands which target customers looking for quality and style perfectly. I did also consider what she would change - perhaps the foot-space is not filled to capacity, the fixtures are a little bare and the store soundtrack could do with tweaking but I think overall Rossi are onto a pretty good thing.

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This is a store that's not about hyped up label or huge bling watches – I feel (read: 'hope') we've left that era of egotism behind. As we creep further into the 2010's I welcome the new era of subtle craftsmanship and appreciation of quality. It's about getting advice on the best jacket available, having it personally fitted and wearing it for the next 30 years. It's about knowing the name of your local store owner and hearing the stories of their trips to fashion week straight from their mouth. For the first time in a long time, I've found a store which can do just that.