The History of UK Rock Fashion

As you may know, fashion and music have always been inseparable. In particular, rock music and fashion have a very high affinity. This article will explore the history of the sanctuary of rock fashion in the UK. Why don’t you discover your favourite UK rock music-fashion style today?

The 1950s – Teds (Teddy Boys)
“The teds” are the first post-war subculture groups born on the streets of London in the early 1950s. They were so-called the bad boys of the working-class who were wandering around the city as a group of rebellion against society.

Teddy boys

In the first place, Teddy is the nickname of King Edward VII of England. The teds became known as Teddy Boys as they arranged Edward VII’s favourite fashion style, “Edwardian Look” (Slender silhouette and a long jacket) in their way. The characteristics are a long drape jacket, a thin tie (slim gym tie) or loop tie (bootlace tie), slender pants, and a rubber sole (Platform shoes). The hair is regent (called quaff in the UK), and the back is beautifully I-shaped (ducktail).

Cliff Richard, a famous rock’n’roller also wore the Teds’ style.

The 1960s – Mods and Rockers
“Mods” is a general term for the style of young people in the suburbs of London, England, who loved fashion and music from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. Many of them were working-class and were dissatisfied with society. The young people who gathered at clubs late at night loved rare black music and R&B and created their unique worldview by pursuing originality in fashion. Some started to refer to them as Modernists or Moderns, which eventually became Mods.

The mods wore slim three-button suits with side bents, button-down shirts, and thin ties or Fred Perry polo shirts. The hair was often not styled with no grease, and some wore a port pie hat. The style of wearing a military parka (M-51) over a suit is the basic form of mods. Incidentally, the military coat worn by these mods is the origin of the “mods coat” that is still popular to date. Many of them usually gathered at clubs and spent time there. Many of them came to use scooters as a means of transportation to the clubs. The main reason for this was that their suits would get dirty if they used motorcycles with bare engines. The same applies as to why the military parka (M-51) became so favoured; that was because they didn’t want their suits to get dirty.

Speaking of scooters, the “Lambretta” and “Vespa” were the most popular models, and the customization of decorating them with lights and mirrors took root. Jaguar emblems and leopard print seats were also very popular. It seems that their longing for luxury cars, which were far away from them, led to these customizations.

Around the same time as when the mods were born, another style called Rockers became known by young people who loved single-cylinder motorcycles and speed. They wore masculine items such as leather jackets, and their hairstyle was regent. They gathered at cafes and repeatedly raced motorcycles in which the style is ironically the opposite of the mods.

The 1970s – Skins and Hippies
As time went by, from the late 60s to the 70s, mods divided themselves into two extremes, Hippie and Skins. The name skins do not stand for a buzz cut (although they styled themselves in skinheads) but for those who had antisocial thoughts. They wore Ben Sherman’s button-down shirts with H-shaped suspenders (not X-shaped crossed ones), rolled up tight Levi’s, boots with steel such as Geta Grip, and had skinhead’s hair.

In the late 1960, a music genre, psychedelic rock was born. It was around the time when drugs such as LSD were prevalent among the youth of the West Coast in the US. These hippie movements spread so quickly to the rest of the world. Psychedelic rock is said to have embodies the hallucinations of drugs.

The psychedelic hippie fashion speaks on the spirit of the hippies’ return to nature. The characteristics, for example, are the paisley pattern that was an image of the root of life and the spirit. Some stoic hippies had nothing to do with fashion and were very naturalistic, letting their hair grow naturally and sometimes even living naked.

In the 1970s, UK rock and its accompanying fashion entered an era of diversification. One of the most famous artists is David Bowie. At first glance, the costumes may seem too flashy, but when combined with the psychedelic emphasis, they sublimated as art. This fusion is the perfect example of how fashion and music go together.

The Rock Against Racism is one of the historical political and cultural movements of young people who stood up against the increasing number of racist attacks on the streets of England in 1976. Through marches and tours, they used the power of all genres of music, not just rock, to make racism unacceptable.

1980s – Punks
In the 1980s, there was an unprecedented punk rock boom. The representative artists were the Sex Pistols. Their criticism of the British Royal Family and the mass media stimulated and strongly captivate the youth. The punks imitated the fashion and wore leather jackets over very tight t-shirts and tight skinnies, dressed in very flamboyant hairstyles, such as spiked hair.

From the late 80s, post-punk was born, mixed with various genres of music such as reggae. The fashion has also evolved with the original ‘extreme’ elements and a mix of many added tastes such as ethnic essence, aesthetic worldview, and death rock.

1990s ~
In the 90s, the fashion trend from the 60s to the 80s has started to repeat itself every 3 to 5 years and is continuing to date.

Did you find any favourite fashion or the artists? There is a strong relationship between music and fashion. By combining those old fashions with modern trends, you may also discover your one and only new style!

If you found this article interesting, comment below to let us know what other fashion history you’d like us to explore!

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