Monday, June 27, 2011

Lecture Five - Rebels with a cause

The 1950s saw the emergence of the teenager as a distinct entity. This new group wanted to rebel against their parents and authorities ruling their lives, and within an atmosphere of budding consumerism they had the disposable income and free time to do it. Thus the 1950s witnessed the origins of subcultures. Having studied subcultures last year I have become a lot more aware of their continued influence upon fashion.

The group that I spent the most time studying and that continues to interest me is the skinheads.

Skinheads have been quite well represented within film with This Is England, American History X and Romper Stomper exploring the skinhead subcultures within the UK, USA and Australia respectively. While the later two spend more time focusing on the ideological and racist aspects that emerged towards the end of the skinhead subculture, This Is England (particularly at the start) presents the subculture in its infancy when style was as equally if not more important than any racist ideology.

This is one of my favourite scenes where Shaun gets made over. It really shows the importance of clothing in creating the subculture's identity and sense of belonging. The big boots, blue jeans, checked shirt, braces and iconic closely shaved head all play a key role in making Shaun into one of the gang.

Pamela commented that the skinhead style was the one subculture that had not been reproduced within mainstream fashion due to its racist associations. Although I appreciate that skinhead style has not been drawn upon as clearly as punk or mod styles, I think it has had a significant influence upon fashion. For example, the popularity of the Doc Martin boot, the iconic footwear of skinheads, acid wash cropped jeans and checked shirts.

I have noticed several skinhead inspired photo shoots lately that clearly represent the sartorial style whilst trying to subvert the racist connotations with the use of female and black models. Given the presence of these images within fashion media, I would suggest that the skinhead subculture has had an impact on contemporary youth fashion.

Agyness Deyn for LOVE Magazine 2010

Clayton James Cubit's Lagos Calling portraits

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