Belfast Telegraph

Blast from past as youth culture hotspot Apache enjoys a rebirth

By Brett Campbell

A clothing store that was once a symbol of Nineties youth culture in Belfast has made a surprise comeback.

Chris Murray, the owner of Apache, hopes this blast from the past will help regenerate a run-down part of the city centre and make it a hub for artists.

"During the Troubles Apache was a hotspot for youth culture. We sold clothes promoting Northern Ireland talent including George Best and Snow Patrol," he said.

"We went all around the world and brought brands back to Belfast, and everyone wore it back in the day."

Apache always prided itself in being more than just a clothing store.

It showcased the previously hidden talent of local artists during the latter years of the Troubles and offered an escape for people who were fed up with politics.

"During the conflict we were like a little light for people who wanted to be different, we were something real," he added.

The DJ, who once kept hundreds of revellers on their feet at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, also ran club nights in Belfast, and produced a CD called Apache Presents.

"We asked people to submit their music to us and Tennent's paid for us to produce 10,000 copies," Chris explained.

The CD included a track called W.A.S.P In The Jungle featuring Rev Ian Paisley.

Award-winning film editor Nick Emerson and former film studies teaching fellow at Queen's University Hugh McGrory helped create music videos for each of the 19 tracks on the CD.

"It was made entirely from audio that Hugh had of Ian Paisley speaking," Chris said.

"It got played everywhere and thousands of people came to a party we had in St George's Market, which included a skate ramp - it was the first one in Belfast."

When other shops began selling the same popular brands Chris stocked, he started manufacturing his own clothing line, which proved popular.

"We had everybody wearing it from Gary Lightbody (left) to Brad Pitt," he said.

"But then the multinationals came along - and that was us out."

The shop is proving popular today, with Belfast IBF World Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett already among Apache's customers.

Chris has started restoring a derelict building on the corner of Gresham Street and North Street, where he has relaunched his store.

"It really is beautiful, I have been very lucky in acquiring it from the owner," he explained.

"I have begged and borrowed and persuaded a lot of people to help bring this building back to life and I am confident it will be unrecognisable by the time we are finished with it.

"We have done everything from nothing using only our own craftiness."

Some of the rooms, including a former butchers shop, are being used as studios by artists including graffiti specialist Kev Largey.

"Belfast used to be so original and creative, but we have lost all that to the multiples - it's time we showcased Northern Ireland talent again," Chris added.

Belfast Telegraph

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