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too much rock & roll

a story about rock & roll, fashion and life in Manchester and beyond.

anthony donnelly

This was the late 1980s, a time of Acid House and the rise of Madchester, the music scene as dominated by fashion and Ecstasy as it was by the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. The Donnellys, quickly tiring of bootlegging, went along for the ride, roping in a couple of designers, and started making their own clobber under the label Gio-Goi. (The two words were plucked at random from a Vietnamese dictionary, the first appealing to Anthony because it reminded him of Giorgio, as in Armani.)

They befriended, and subsequently dressed, many of the Madchester acts, and soon all sorts craved their sartorial swagger: snooker's Alex Higgins, boxing's Nigel Benn. Even the then Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took to wearing a Gio-Goi beanie hat at games.


Within a couple of years, the label was being hailed as Manchester's rough-hewn equivalent of Yves St Laurent, and clearing, they claim, £3m a day. Not bad for a pair of siblings who, as they admit, "didn't know our arse from our elbow".

But, Anthony says now, their success didn't surprise them. "We come from a very hard-working background, so when we put our minds to something, we expect to do well. Very well."

But success didn't rein them in and suddenly render them sensible businessmen. Anything but. Crucial to the label's branding were the garrulous brothers' presence at every social event. They didn't just make, wear and sell Gio-Goi – they lived it.

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