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28th November 2022

Exclusive interview: GIO-GOI x Umbro on Rihanna, rock ‘n’ roll and international recognition

GIO-GOI x Umbro has just released its latest collaborative line. We caught up with GIO-GIO co-founder Anthony Donnelly about everything GIO-GOI and what’s to come next
Exclusive interview: GIO-GOI x Umbro on Rihanna, rock ‘n’ roll and international recognition
Photo: Anthony Donnelly @ GIO-GOI

Last week, we saw the release of the much anticipated GIO-GOI x Umbro collaboration, a partnership between two of the most famous Mancunian clothing brands to date. We sat down with Anthony Donnelly, one of the founders of GIO-GOI, to chat with him about the GIO-GOI x Umbro collaboration and how it came to be, in what is an exclusive interview with The Mancunion.

GIO-GOI, a brand created by brothers Anthony and Christopher Donnelly, and now led by their sons Leon and Dylan, is what Anthony describes as, “the only answer to many brands that try to replicate the Mancunian style.” The brand is said to represent the football scene, the music scene and most importantly the attitude of Manchester. Speaking more about the influence of the brand we are told that, “GIO-GOI is a great ambassador of Manchester having helped create the buzz that surrounds the city, alongside the likes of Factory Records, Manchester United and Manchester City.” GIO-GOI is certainly a brand that knows what it wants and one that is recognised worldwide.

Photo: Anthony Donnelly @ GIO-GOI

Before meeting Anthony I had heard about GIO-GOI and their connections to superstars with artists such as the Arctic Monkeys, Plan B, Rihanna and Amy Winehouse. However, there was one interesting rumour about a night out with Rihanna that I was so eager to learn more about. Not only did the Donnelly brothers do the honour of taking the pop star to their local pub, but they partied with her till 4am, and finished the night off in a kebab house somewhere in South Manchester.

Stories like this are truly incredible and are what makes GIO-GOI so unique as a clothing brand. Another account that was incredible to hear was the story of how GIO-GOI were the front cover of Vogue in 2007, with singer Pete Doherty modelling his own GIO-GOI line, along with Dior Homme by fashion designer Hedi Slimane. As if getting the front cover of Vogue wasn’t enticing enough, Mario Testino, a world-renowned fashion and portrait photographer was on the job.

In the run-up to the interview with Anthony, it was clear that this was an exclusive. Anthony exclaims, “We have always released information to the press, but the press follows a typical narrative of mentioning the past. The narrative they follow is predictable and doesn’t talk about the brand. As a current brand, we find it refreshing to talk to new people who are starting their careers and life journeys. We are interested in the future, new ideas, new designs and a fresh take on our brands.”

“Now that our sons have taken over, we want to introduce them to a new audience,” as the next generation of GIO-GOI is certainly off the mark with the GIO-GOI x Umbro collaboration.

Speaking to Anthony about the details behind the partnership he told us that, “Umbro was originally based on an industrial estate in Wythenshawe, a stone’s throw away from our council house. Many of our friends Mums and Dads worked there, so when the opportunity arose to collaborate with them, we grabbed it with both hands.”

GIO-GOI and Umbro are two great Manchester brands steeped in rich history, coming together to form a phenomenal Mancunian partnership and collaboration. Anthony then goes on to say, “Umbro’s football history mixed in with GIO-GOI’s rock ‘n’ roll authenticity is genius. With the World Cup underway, GIO-GIO x Umbro is something really special.”

Photo: Anthony Donnelly @ GIO-GOI

The collection released features some incredible World Cup ready items. From football shirts to t-shirts to bucket hats and beanies, the collaboration comes with a whole range of products to choose from. Not only was the design inspiration behind the GIO-GOI x Umbro collection, “based on a nautical theme from a boating shop, where the hacienda was later built ” but also, “on some original artwork from early GIO-GOI prints that were part of our acid house roots.”

Anthony explained, “Leon and Dylan loved the backstory, and so did Umbro, so it was just a natural progression,” to what has already been well received by stores and online.

Some of the most prominent pieces from the collaboration are the football shirts. Anthony states, “The football shirts are inspired by our local clubs. For us, the relationship between the terraces and the dance floor are so intrinsically linked. Therefore, we decided to put acid house GIO-GOI prints on football shirts to represent GIO-GOI and Umbro working together, a piece of Manchester original art. [It’s] a nod to the Manchester music and acid house scene, together with Manchester United and Manchester City colours mixed in. We’re honoured to be with Umbro for the 2022 World Cup.”

The GIO-GOI x Umbro collaboration sees GIO-GOI already making headlines under the leadership of Leon and Dylan Donnelly. “What’s next?” I asked Anthony.

“There are many rumours about what the lads Leon and Dylan are going to do next. GIO-GOI is a new toy for them. There is no rush to produce anything, as this should help them make what they want, when they want. It’s not so much about the money, but more about quality over quantity. It’s about the art and their vision with the brand, myself and Christopher have had our fun with the brand. The boys are young, with time on their side.”

Photo: Anthony Donnelly @ GIO-GOI

It’s clear that Leon and Dylan have the brand under control, whilst the Donnelly brothers are now looking to various other projects that will help contribute towards the community. Anthony finishes the interview by telling me, “One project in particular is Asylum Sneakers. It’s a disruptive sneaker brand that also has a strong social conscience. Their first collaboration will be with a fantastic not-for-profit housing provider, One CIC,” a company that provides homeless people with supported housing.

The interview ends with Anthony exclaiming, “We are incredibly excited to be putting something back into the local community with Asylum Sneakers. Watch this face,” as I’m left wanting to hear more about all that is GIO-GOI.

The GIO-GOI x Umbro collaboration is an iconic piece of Manchester culture which offers quality clothing at affordable prices. Prices for football shirts start from £50, t-shirts from £35 and bucket hats and beanies from £30. GIO-GOI x Umbro is now available from Umbro online and other stockists including 80s Casuals, Scotts, and many more.

One thing is for sure. GIO-GOI are a brand of the people. They are prepared to host a party for up to 5,000 students, free of charge. Old school rave, new school DJs. If you want to be there, make sure you and your friends are following the GIO-GOI Instagram (@giogoi_1988) to hear all about it. This is not to be missed.

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