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International and UK expansion ahead for Gio Goi

Gio Goi founders Anthony and Christopher Donnelly are planning to roll out the brand internationally and open standalone stores after buying the label back from JD Sports.

The Donnelly brothers, who established the streetwear label in 1990, are relaunching the brand for autumn 17. They want to open flagship stores in London, Manchester, Dublin and Japan.

“We’d love to see flagship stores,” Anthony Donnelly told Drapers. ”We are fully financed so we can do it. We’re in talks to open a flagship in Tokyo, the possibilities in Asia in particular are huge.”

The Donnellys are also speaking to wholesale accounts in Japan, Spain and The Netherlands about stocking the label.

“We have been overwhelmed with buyers getting in touch, but we can be selective and decide who we want to work with. We were very strong in those territories in the 1990s and we’ve had lots people getting in touch about getting involved,” said Christopher.

He continued: “There’s a lot of anticipation around the brand. The industry is seeing a big 1990s revival at the moment, so now was the time for us to do it.”

In the UK, the label has been taken on by JD Sports’ Tessuti, Aspecto and Infinities fascias. It has also agreed terms with a 50-door multiple and 10 premium independents.

“In the past we were able to go across multiples and indies organically and we’re hoping to do the same this time around,” said Christopher.

“We can sit next to Stone Island and CP Company or we can work with more young fashion, mainstream brands. Retailers have been very supportive. They know we are taking the brand back to the beginning.”

The 60-piece autumn 17 collection is based on the brand’s original archive of early-1990s designs and the label has brought back its original branding.

The Donnellys have brought in menswear designers from Bench and Primark, and former Lyle & Scott brand director Stuart Graham as sales manager. Robert Excell, managing director at The Gallery Agency has also been taken on as a consultant. 

The rebirth of the label preludes the launch of a TV series about the brothers, co-written by Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, which is due to be released later this year. The show will be distributed to 180 countries.

Anthony said the TV deal spurred them to buy the brand back: “How can we talk about the brand if we don’t own it? The show is going to put Gio Goi on screens all over the world and it was going to make someone really rich.”

The Donnellys sold a minority stake in Gio Goi to USC founder David Douglas in 2005 and a majority stake to Pentland Brands chairman Andy Rubin in 2008, before walking away from the label in 2012. The brand fell into administration in January 2013 and was then bought out of administration by JD Sports for £3.5m.

“What happened was upsetting. [The administration] was not down to us. We lost the power and there was a price to pay,” said Anthony. “JD was a custodian for the brand and we’re very grateful that Peter Cowgill [executive chairman of JD Sports Fashion] was considerate enough to sell it back to us. He realised how passionate we are about the brand. It’s our life.”

Christopher added: “It was a foolish decision to sell the brand –this time we will keep control of it. The product has to be right and we have an amazing team working with us who have a lot of experience. We know the path the brand should go down.”

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