Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Skinhead Culture.

Due to the hideous amount of uni work I have had recently it has been weeks and weeks since I last blogged :(. Nevertheless, now I am back and I have a super long list of things I want to write about.

For part of my PR module this semester, we had to do a Petcha Kucha on any topic of our choice. This is a presentation in which you talk about a certain subject for twenty seconds on twenty slides, (It's more difficult than it sounds).

As it is something I am already interested in and as an excuse to watch 'This is England' for the umpteenth  time, I chose a topic of skinhead culture. I already knew a fair bit about this era and in my efforts to learn more, I found some pretty powerful photography. I have been wowed by some of these images and am excited to finally share my research with you!

A skinhead is a member of a subculture that originated amongst the working class youths throughout the United Kingdom in the 60s. This would later spread to other parts of the world. The first skinheads were influenced by Jamaican rude boys and British Mods; in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle. In the late 70s, the image of the rude boy became more popular thanks to the band The Specials.

Rude boys were associated with the poorer sections of Jamaica. Dressed in the latest trends, they wore sharp suits, thin ties, and Trilby hats; inspired by American gangster movies. Street violence became an integral part of the lifestyle and as the UK Jamaican population grew, rude boy music and fashion, as well as the gang mentality, influenced the skinhead subculture. 

Skinheads donned a variety of sportswear shirts, with Fred Perry and Ben Sherman being in the forefront. Both brands were popular with both sexes, it wasn’t rare that couples would share each other's clothes and both remain popular and highly sought after with men and women today. Musicians such as Pete Doherty, Paul Weller and Amy Winehouse have endorsed the Fred Perry brand, strengthening its link with popular culture. The Harrington jacket is also synonymous amongst the skinhead crowd. It is a lightweight, waist length jacket usually lined with Fraser tartan. Baracuta still make the same model now, the G9. The jacket was popularized when Elvis Presley wore it in ‘King Creole’ in 1958. Steve McQueen and Frank Sinatra were also frequent wearers of the Jacket whilst Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren have also made their own versions. Sta-prest trousers originated in 1964, wrinkle resistant they were designed and manufactured by Levis and since, original pairs have become collector’s items. The other trouser of choice was the Levis 501, shrink to fit jeans that were sold in a unique size arrangement. Jeans would then be shortened or rolled up to show off footwear and Denim would often be showered in bleach to create an acid wash effect.

One of the most important components of skinhead uniform, heavy brogues and military style boots were notorious, but it is Dr Martens that are iconic to the skinhead era. The brand has always been associated with rebellious teenagers, however the boots have become mainstream amongst the fashion industry, due to them being popularised by celebrities. Boots were always kept in pristine condition and it was a case of the shinier the better. 

Short hair was a brave statement in the late sixties, in opposition to the hippy movement, when most young people wanted to grow their hair long. The original Skinhead was not completely shaven, but had a short, smart crop. The inspiration may have been a combination of the college boy haircut favored by the Mods. In the 1960s, most female skinheads had mod-style haircuts. Many female skinheads had feathercuts, short on the crown, with fringes at the front, back and sides.
Female skinheads often referred to themselves as skinbyrds. They would wear the same attire as their male comrades and may even share clothes with a partner. The hair was cut short in an outright statement against the hippy movement. Although the look was harsh, the girls still held the same feminine values. Skinhead women took pride in their appearance and would stray away from fighting unless in extreme circumstances of self-defense. They wanted to portray an image of a gentle, attractive, women who had the skinhead spirit inside of them.

The skinhead era has had much influence on the catwalk and is proving to inspire designers even today. Henry Holland’s spring 2012 collection is dominated by the skinhead fashion movement and his first look sums up the whole collection. The typical skinhead uniform of a buttoned-up shirt and suspenders, paired with bleached-out jeans. He named the collection Pastel Punks, an idea sparked by Gavin Watson photographs of skinheads and punks in the late seventies and eighties.

Henry Holland Spring 2012.

Here are some of the incredible images i found whilst researching my topic!

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