Why are we called Clonezone?
Clonezone officially ‘began’ on the 5th March 1982. Over 35 years ago. Four friends in the UK were frustrated at the lack of quality product available to the gay community. The first Clonezone launch happened at SUBWAY Nightclub in London’s Leicester Square; where we sold American tees, vest, leather accessories, sweatshirts and ‘sweatpants’.
One of the most common questions we are asked is “Where does the name Clonezone come from?” Back in the day, when it was still considered dangerous to be openly gay, a ‘code’ of dress was created by the gay scene, so that men who identify as gay or bisexual could identify each other.
Men who dressed this way were nicknamed ‘clones’ or ‘Castro clones’. The clone meant different things to different people. The style was thought to have been originated by working-class men in the Castro area of San Francisco in the late 1970’s. The unique style rippled through the USA and into the UK & Europe. It’s still present now, in 2017.
What was the ‘Clone’ look?
- Levi 501s or chinos
- Bulge, bulge and more bulge
- Sneaker or boots
- Full moustache and sideburns
- Checked/Plaid shirts
- Form-fitted tee’s and tank’s tucked into jeans
- Leather biker jacket
- Ray ban sunglasses
- Leather ‘cap’
- Hankies – colour coded to flag your kink
The ‘Clone’ look was popularised by the YMCA-era Village People video. The look was again popularised in the homoerotic artwork (Tom of Finland, for example).You’ll clock a Tom of Finland silhouette in one of the original Clonezone logos. The Clone represented a home-grown, positive gay stereotype – therefore becoming hugely popular in the 70’s and 80’s.
During a time of uncertainty and homophobia, its importance became an integral part of gay history. This was the post-Stonewall era, but things were still a little risky. We know this because we were raided more times than we can remember. Once for simply stocking a product called ‘Gaynopolis’ or ‘Gay Monopoly’.
The look was often imitated and when the police ‘caught on’ to the attire, the scene had to change the look again-and-again, until eventually becoming a staple ‘look’ which within itself became a fetish and trend.
One Clone remembers:
“When the straight community started mimicking us, we had to change the styles over and over. Some places, when the police “caught on” to our attire, we also had to change it again, to stay safe and out of jail, or just to find one another. We are a clever bunch, and understand even subtle changes in language, attire, hair styles among other characteristics. It is built into our psyche and genes. We will survive, always! “
So, our original directors, Mike and David named us after this craze. We were the ‘Clone Zone’, the safe haven for the gay community to shop for product that was imported by gay men, for gay men. It is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the community that we are proud to be a part of.