Alan Goouch is one of those rare people in the fashion business. He’s been at it almost half a century. Through good times and bad, fads have come and gone, as have hemlines and hair. And yet he remains witty, cheery, and boundlessly optimistic.
Goouch came to Toronto from London in the mid-1960s and began work as a photographer. Increasingly he found himself taking fashion photographs. That business, he thought, looked like fun. Entirely self taught, he not only began opening shops but also making his own clothes. Toronto in those days was a crash pad for many of the American and British rock bands on tour. Conservative America couldn’t satisfy their needs for colourful skintight velvet jeans, but Alan Goouch could. He jokingly referred to himself in those days not as a designer so much as a “Knockoff Artist.”
He has managed through the years to keep up with times and yet remains true to his own whimsical view of the world. The only concession he’s made to the passing years is to have consolidated his business under one roof. It is a compact shop in the city’s exclusive Yorkville district.
He doesn’t read the fashion magazines but he does travel the world to find that unique mix of clothing and colour that appeals to his customers. Men who, he says, cannot be faint of heart. Know who you are and express it in how you dress.
Goouch is in his shop most days (you can find it at www.thebrickshirthouse.ca) He remembers customers’ names and what they bought. He’s always keen to talk about art or music, but most often fashion. In his spare time he paints and mentors young fashion designers at a local college. In a business often obsessed with youth, Alan Goouch brings a sense of history and tradition, while at the same time remaining fresh. As he himself might say in his warm Cockney accent: “He’s a pip!”