The mod style legacy
By Sarah Kershaw, 28 May 2016
Long weekends to you may mean Netflix and chill but in 1964, the second bank holiday of May was the date of a big ol’ subculture clash in England. Mods faced off against rockers in seaside towns and while it’s debatable who won the style fight, one thing’s for sure – the mod legacy is still alive and kicking.
The early days
Born in the early 60s out of a love of slick European fashion and modern jazz, the mod subculture quickly expanded to include ska, soul and R&B, and a penchant for parkas, Fred Perry and sideburns. Early mods roamed London’s Carnaby Street and the King’s Road in skinny, made-to-measure mohair suits, thin ties, buttoned-up shirts and loafers.
It was a lifestyle choice as much as a trend – if you were a mod, you were a mod from your head of close-cropped hair to your Clarks Originals-covered toes. Bands such as The Who, The Small Faces (above) and The Kinks set the style and musical agenda for the scene.
The mod revival
The mods’ influence died down a little in the 70s with the arrival of hippie culture and a more relaxed (a much more relaxed) style of dressing. But then a certain Mr Paul Weller arrived on the scene. The Modfather himself (pictured above with The Who’s Pete Townshend in 1980) was the instigator of the retro revival, sweeping the charts with The Jam and inspiring a whole new generation of wannabes to don smartwear and Harrington jackets, and style out the streets on their Lambrettas.
A decade later, the look was resurrected once again with the arrival of Britpop. Whether you were on the side of Oasis (parkas, scruffy sideburns and laddy bravado from the north) or Blur (adidas, arty pop and witty lyrics from the south), everyone had an opinion about the Battle Of Britpop.
Both bands were inspired by mod culture and style – in fact, Blur even featured actor Phil Daniels from seminal mod revival flick Quadrophenia on Parklife (‘It’s got nothing to do with your vorsprung durch technik, you know…’).
Nowadays, as with so many retro looks, you’re free to pick and choose elements of mod style to incorporate into your own personal look. The classic Air Force target and Union flag still feature on smart polo shirts from the likes of Lambretta and Ben Sherman, while desert boots, Chelsea boots and parkas have practically become essential pieces of kit.
The likes of Jamie Bell, Miles Kane and Jake Bugg have adopted the look as their everyday uniform, while others, like Alex Turner, take elements of the look and mash them up with new trends or vintage gear. Grab yourself a piece of British style history below and enjoy your bank holiday (no rioting, though, please).