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THE 4 SUBCULTURES THAT SHAPED MODERN MENSWEAR
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL UNIFORMS OVER THE PAST FEW DECADES
Subcultures, we’ve all been part of at least one at some point or another. You might look back on it now and cringe, but it’s impossible to over-exaggerate the impact that these fringe groups have had on the way that all of us dress today, whether we realise it or not. Alongside music, fashion is one of the defining elements of any given subculture. It’s a way of telling the world of your affiliations and interests without even having to open your mouth. This means that different groups need their own unique looks. Over the years, fashion’s ravenous appetite for appropriation has seen these cultural uniforms chewed up and spat out more times than we care to mention, but some of the elements have stuck, caught on and completely altered the way that the rest of us dress. These are the ones which have had, arguably, the biggest impact.
The anti-authoritarian dress-code (if you can call it that) of the punks consisted of ripped jeans, leather and denim jackets, piercings and outlandish hairstyles. They topped off with more badges, pins and patches than most of us would know what to do with and wore it with attitude. Today, all these elements of punk fashion remain in some shape or form. Next time you’re in shop looking at a pair of heavily distressed jeans, ask yourself, “would these still be here if it hadn’t been for the punks?” The answer is probably no.
One of the most influential, yet often overlooked subcultures in terms of how we dress today were the casuals. The movement was started by football supporters in the ‘80s who took to wearing expensive European designer clothes, Adidas trainers and jeans rather than their teams’ colours. You only need to take a look around to see the level of their influence. Track jacket, jeans and Adidas Gazelles is a pretty standard outfit, right? Well, it wasn’t before the casuals came and put their stamp on menswear in Europe.
The mods were famed for their elaborately decorated scooters, parka coats, slim fitting tailoring and Caesar cuts. They ruled the streets during the 1960s and in terms of fashion, were probably one of the coolest and most well-presented subcultures of them all. Anyone who’s ever seen Bradley Wiggins or Paul Weller before will be able to tell you that mod fashion is still very much alive and kicking today. Even if you don’t follow it to the letter, it’s more than likely that you’ve buttoned your polo shirt all the way to the top before, or draped a parka over your suit in the colder months – you’ve got the mods to thank for that.
Hip-Hop fashion in the early days consisted of tracksuits, trainers, baggy clothes and somewhat over the top jewellery. Although the look has morphed and is vastly different today (just look at a photo of A$AP Rocky and Run DMC side by side), it still retains many of the key elements and the rest of us have a lot to thank Hip-Hop fashion for. Oversized T-shirts, sportswear and bling are all still hugely popular today. Hip-Hop made it acceptable to don sports clothing as everyday wear, something which would have been considered highly unusual beforehand. Would we have had athleisure without Hip-Hop? We don’t think so.