Introducing our latest #INMYDDs story, the Islington Twins. Famed for their statement fashion sense and dapper style, the brothers are regulars in and around Highbury & Islington from the early 70's to this very day. They sat down with our team to give us an insight into their namesake, their life in North London and their style inspirations.
Can you tell us a little about yourselves… How did you first become known as the Islington twins?
DUBEM: When we were Mods in the early 1980s, the Two Tone period, which gave us great music from bands like ‘Madness’, and ‘The Specials’, we started a Mod club called The North London Shades. The name was painted in white on the back of our army parkas. Our Mod friends couldn't pronounce our names and always referred to us as The Twins. To help them tell us apart we also had ‘Tw↑n Mod 1’ and ‘Tw↑n Mod 2’ painted on our parkas. After we quit the Mod scene we continued to use the arrow whenever we signed our names as The Tw↑ns. In the early 1990s we entered a competition to win a collection of books from Loeb Classical Library. Answers had to be submitted solely by email, so we got our first email address. We were unable to get one in the name of The Twins so we settled for The Islington Twins because that's where we'd grown up, and most important we felt it was easy for people to remember.
How did the ‘the bar’ come about? What happened there?
D: The reason for ending the first club we started, The North London Shades, and leaving the Mod movement was because we felt that too many Mods seemed more interested in fighting with skinheads and rockers. That was not why we became Mods. We became Mods because we loved the clothes, the music and the dances. Fortunately, we had other friends who weren't Mods and they became members of 'The Bar' when it started.
CHUKA: 'The Bar' was a street club which ran from the early '80's to the early '90's. It came about because we needed a place to meet our friends coming back from school, and as a place to meet it was convenient. The public referred to the place where we gathered as outside Highbury Station or 'the station', but to the members who stood there it was known as 'The Bar'. The name came from the yellow and black barrier which could be raised to allow Royal Mail vans through to collect mail from Highbury Corner Post Office. There were no tables or chairs, so unless you could balance yourself on the barrier you had the choice of just standing or leaning against it. Any food or drink, even music had to be brought as the nearby public house was out of bounds to most of the members. Meetings took place in the morning and in the evening. The one thing the members of 'The Bar' did when they met was talk. Talking was the main activity because that was all one could do.The main activity at 'The Bar' was talking, talking and more talking. There was always something to discuss, and with so many members coming to and fro, to school and back, we were never short of things to discuss.
What sparked your interest in ‘dapper’ fashion?
C: Our interest in fashion would have started in childhood. Once you start watching certain television shows or films you find the clothes worn by the stars are just as appealing as the action taking place. Films from the '30s, '40s, '50s and the incredible '60s with their spy themes, classic black and white films, especially the genre known as film noir, plus the glamorous musicals with the likes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and the Nicholas Brothers all fed our imagination and love of clothes. The likes of James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and George Raft in gangster films dressed in clothes you didn't see on the street. The Sixties with its films, television and of course great music would not have looked the same without the cool clothes. To see clips of groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and other groups not only from England but also the States - think of The Beach Boys and The Byrds - was to receive an unconscious education on how clothes can make you look and feel special.
What is the best outfit you’ve each worn?
C: Our first bespoke blazers which we wore on our second trip to Henley. The journey to getting those blazers made them extra special when we finally got to wear them: visiting shops like Borovick Fabrics in Soho hunting for the right cloth, walking round London in search of the right tailor, pondering over the best walking canes in James Smith & Sons, the umbrella and walking sticks specialists, plus untold hours planning that Henley Regatta look. Recently, we came across a picture that someone uploaded of us standing at Henley in those blazers wearing straw boaters and carrying slim walking canes. We look thoroughly at home in our surroundings.
What do you look for in a pair of shoes?
D: When it comes to shoes there must be no compromise in how they're manufactured or with the materials used. Shoes that have been well-made (preferably handmade) with love and an honest respect for craftsmanship win our vote time and time again. Not only should shoes be smart looking, they should also be sturdy and strong enough for daily walking.
What is your favourite pair of shoes you own?
C: A pair of Scotch brogues obtained from Blackmans near Brick Lane many years ago. The leather is incredible and takes a lot of walking to finally break them in, but like a tamed but well trained horse, once you have them under control (broken in) they are a total joy for your feet. Some people may find their new Scotch brogues hurt the feet, which is not the best way to enjoy them, but lovers of classic shoes who bear with them will find their look and feel make each step, each journey, no matter how painful at first, well worth it.
Location: St Pancras Renaissance Hotel stpancraslondon.com
Clothes: Cordings of Piccadilly cordings.co.uk
Creative Direction and styling Yordie Kidane instagram.com/yordiee