Editor’s Note: Last November we had the pleasure of spending 10 captivating days in Scotland. Below is but one adventure of many from our stay. We hope the joy we experienced comes through in all our posts and missives from our adventure, which no doubt read better with a wee dram in hand.
This week, we speak with Gordon J. Millar, marketing and social media guru and style aficionado.
My name is Gordon J. Millar and I am the founder of Scot Street Style.
I was a shy kid, an awkward teenager, an under confident young man, and now at 46 years old I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Born in Kilsyth, Scotland in 1970, the descendant of coal miners, I found my potential self-expression at an early age through creativity. Mesmerized by the escape of the cinema, the limitless imagination of comic books, and my own ability to dream and to draw.
That moment ignited my passion for peace, and boosted my confidence, in the knowledge that one person could reach out and inspire millions.
Meanwhile, culturally and politically, Scotland was not a positive place in the 70s and 80s. This era of inferiority was summed up eloquently by author Irvine Welsh in his seminal book Trainspotting , which went on to be a genre defining film during the 90’s. That classic line by principle character Mark Renton “It’s shite being Scottish!” resonated with me deeply as I struggled, like many other Scots, under the dark days of Thatcher.
I did make it into art school, which I loved but my lack of confidence led to many missed opportunities. My other driving force was an innate sense of compassion, and a desire to do no harm to any living thing. I trained as a registered nurse in Glasgow then moved to London, where a new found confidence slowly began to emerge.
The world was changing, communication and travel options were improving and, when Bush & Blair declared an illegal war against Iraq in 2003, I, like millions of other people around the world, felt compelled to do something about it. There was no social media so I wrote a letter which was anti-war not anti-American to TIME Magazine, to remind people about the great American man of peace; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
I’ll never forget receiving a reply from the Editor to confirm that this letter would be featured in the most famous magazine in the world. That moment ignited my passion for peace, and boosted my confidence, in the knowledge that one person could reach out and inspire millions. I also studied Philosophy and stopped eating animals.
Fast forward to 2008 and the dawn of Facebook where I found a platform for self-expression, which attracted the attention of other influencers to my peace and environmental groups. In 2012 I was invited to be the social media guy for his Holiness the Dalai Lama when he toured my beloved Scotland. During this trip the coordinator gifted a new World Peace Tartan scarf to the humble Tibetan monk, which was captured in a photographic image in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh. We sent the photo to New York City and were invited the following year to participate in the Tartan Week celebrations.
While strolling along 5th Avenue with my partner, wearing the peaceful plaid, we were stopped by a very sweet older gentleman with a very impressive camera. He directed us to walk towards him a couple of times, holding hands, as he took some street style shots. He told me his name was Bill and, when we got back to Scotland, we discovered that he was Bill Cunningham and his image of us was published in The New York Times.
Everything came into alignment and Scot Street Style was born. I founded this movement to reinvigorate perceptions of Scotland, and to get people to feel good about themselves again. We are immensely proud of our history and heritage, but we do not live in the past. Our grassroots, organic, Instagram following grew like wild fire… and I had a thought. Why don’t we get like-minded individual’s talking to each other, face to face, once again.
So, inspired by the movie Highlander, I held our first Gathering in a cool bar in the Scottish capital. I knew six people were coming, but when over 100 turned up I knew we were on to something special. Over 250 people came to the second Gathering in Glasgow, then over 400 turned up at our return to Edinburgh in the Summer of 2015. Last year we held back to back, coast-to-coast, Gatherings in L.A and New York City, and the attendees had over 1.5 million followers on social media.
The last 20 years can be book ended by both ‘Trainspotting’ movies, which are way more than films to us, they are reference points for a transformational cultural shift. In this new era of confidence, I am delighted to say “It’s great being Scottish!”
As for my personal style:
Jeans: black slim/skinny (but not too skinny)
Shirts: White linen for summer, G69 Clothing or Cragg & Tail with a tartan flash for smart occasions.
Pants: Tartan bondage punk trousers from Tiger of London.
Suits: Stewart Christie & Co
Shoes: Worn but shiny Dr Marten boots, modern British classics.
Accessories: Birline Watch (Harris Tweed strap) and A Child of the Jago Fedora, Harris Tweed bag by Catherine Aitken , Feltraiger Bandana / neck tie
Outerwear: Vintage military jackets, uniquely accessorized with patches and pins.
Favorite cologne: Armani Code
Favorite app: Instagram
Favorite piece of technology: iPhone
Next style/gear purchase: Anything by Kent & Curwen
Cover photo courtesy of Stephen Gunn