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The Relation Between Subcultures And Street Style

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The development of different subcultures and street styles in fashion industry throughout our history and the reason behind their developments will be discussed and analysed in this report alongside with names of famous designers in industry and their significant role in forming various subcultures and street fashion within the society.

It is true fact that subculture, culture and style have always played a key role in fashion and its industry and fashion followers’ life. Some believe that without these important factors most of the entertaining aspects of fashion or style can be faded. In other word they are a path to bring and unite people who have common interests together.

One of the most famous definitions from well-known authors of the word ‘’subculture’’ is a large group of people within the society who are following a specific culture and have certain point of views. [1] Furthermore, subcultures are divided into different categories of beliefs and perspectives which they all want to express their present by having a unique different clothing, music, style and lifestyle from most population. Subcultures will allow people to find their identity and brings them together due to them finding it hard to fit in mainstream society. Subcultures usually is being dominated by youngers and youth generation who would pick up a certain urban style and would follow the lifestyle and fashion style, what they wear would mould them to become who they are in society.

They are not scared of being the centre of attention in the crowd and they will always, and forever be rebellious. Subcultures represent noise (as opposed to sound): interference in the orderly sequence which leads from real events and phenomena to their representation in the media. We should therefore not underestimate the signifying power of the spectacular subculture not only as a metaphor for potential anarchy ‘out there’ but as an actual mechanism of semantic disorder: a kind of temporary blockage in the system of representation. (Hebdige 1979: 90)

Mod Subculture

During early 1960 in London an undergrounds movement began, and mod subculture created. They were the first post war generation whom wanted an immense change in their life and freedom.[3] They were modernist through fashion and lifestyle and named themselves “mods”.

This subculture was made by independent younger generation who were mainly working-class younger generation dressed like their better with earning money from an early age and they paid more attention to the fashion world. They were dressed smart and very fashionable also they were huge fan of ska and jazz music. Mods lifestyle provided a new chance to be rebellious and go against their older generation therefore they began a new revolution without knowing which was all about new and change and change started within them.

British mod subculture fashion looks were inspired and adopted by combining French and Italian style of the era and their looks was all about the future, sharp, bold minimalist and modernist. [5]

The Optical art and pop art had enormous inspiration on mods fashion style in sixties due to using monochromatic, geometrical prints which complemented the bold shapes of their style. They both has adopted geometric patterns and bi-colour clothing such as miniskirts. They were used in combination with long tight boots or high heel shoes and other geometrical patterns.

The 1960’s fashion changed when designers and garment makers started to make clothing that younger generation wanted. According to Christine Feldman-Barrett “we are the mods” book Mary Quant was one of the key famous designers in that era who transformed and moulded the mod and youth fashion. Her designs changed the way people looked at art and fashion. [8]

Punk Subculture

The punk subculture is built on the punk rock music in mid 1970s as a reaction to excess and affectation in mainstream culture and began to spread globally around the wold. Punk subculture like most of other subcultures was shaped and created by working-class young generation who express themselves also wanted the right to have freedom, and a less limited lifestyle. Individuals who were involved in the punk movement were faux anarchist and rebels who were anti-royalist, anti- racist.

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Punks is all about challenging the environment and people around them and punk followers were radical people. Punk fashion style is inspired by other older subcultures street styles such bikers, rockers and greasers. Punk changed street wear fashion in so many ways such as media, politics, makeup, art and hairstyles and hair colours.

Punks beliefs in d.I.Y (Do it yourself) attitude towards fashion and clothing and it was all based on a reaction to go against the consumerism of seventies era, high society and being anti-commercial. Also, it was a rejection to society and other society norms.

A good example of punks diying clothes is to take a broken and faulty piece of clothes both with a different quality and higher prices could be added to their own everyday inexpensive and lower quality clothes to make it appealing to their style, which can be called patch work. Also patch work fashion means their clothing going to be unique touch to it and being different from each other it’s like having individual stamp on it. This gave them the pleasure of wearing what they could afford and at the same time being exaggerated with something decorative with more dimension to it.

As you will see in the following photo taken by …. In …. (refence) the main fabric of the jacket is denim which perceived as inexpensive is made appealing by adding patches of other kind of fabric and bands patches.

Vivien Westwood is one of the famous punk fashion designers, who also was around when punk movement began, some believes she also was involved in the movement with her then boyfriend Malcolm McLaren from the sex pistol band. Westwood came from a middle-class family, her mum was a cotton weaver and her dad was a shoemaker, but she got involved in fashion in 1971, before 70s Westwood was a schoolteacher.

This was the time when she opened her first shop called “let it Rock” with Malcolm McLaren which was based in Chelsea 430 Kings road, London. “Let it Rock” would sell second-hand denims and Oshkosh dungarees. [11]

Then McLaren changed and transformed the shop name to “Too fast to live, too young to die” where they would sell vintage jeans and personalized vintage motorcycle leather jackets to their customers. Westwood started to customise sleeveless black t-shirts with slogans, safety pins, glitter glue and bleached chicken bones which were very cool and unusual for that time.

Then after some time they renamed the shop again and this time the shop was named “Sex” and their most common client was the bassist of “Sex Pistols” band called Glen Matlock. The used pink rubberised letters of SEX outside of their shop for the shop sign.

Once more they renamed their shop to “Seditionaries’”, where this time they would sell fetish clothing and used fabrics such as pvc , rubbers, latex and leather, continued to be part of youngers movement and the rebellious revelation in the Britain. At that time Kings Road was the heart of fashion industry and people from other subcultures would go there to shop but Westwood’s shop was first ever punk shop in there. This was the start of punk style becoming more well-known as a style between youngers in this famous road.

Today, everything changed, and fashion designers and manufacturers are borrowing punk fashion for their clothing. The sad truth about punk fashion is now it has become something it was once fighting against. Punk movement was anti-mass production in fashion and being expensive, now has ended up turning so mainstream and trendy from fast fashion to couture fashion and you can see some elements of punk fashion it in every single shop worldwide. Now other famous fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Rick Owns, Marc Jacobs, Anna Sui and Alexander McQueen are designing punk clothing.


  1. 2020. Subculture - Dictionary Definition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 June 2020].
  2. Hebdige, D., 1979. Subculture. Abingdon: Routledge, p.90.
  3. Modculture. 2019. Collection Of Mod's Monthly Magazines On Ebay - Modculture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 June 2020].
  4. casburn, m., n.d. A Concise History of The British Mod Movement. 1st ed. [ebook] gbacg, pp.1-4. Available at: [Accessed 16 March 2015].
  5. Museum of Youth Culture. n.d. Mods - Museum Of Youth Culture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 June 2020].
  6. Weiner, N., n.d. Mod Men: The Contemporary Mod Subculture Online. [ebook] Available at: [Accessed 2 June 2020].
  7. 4, M., 2020. Mods! Archive On 4 : Free Download, Borrow, And Streaming : Internet Archive. [online] Internet Archive. Available at: [Accessed 2 June 2020].
  8. Feldman-Barrett, C., 2009. 'We Are The Mods': A Transnational History Of A Youth Subculture. [ebook] Available at: [Accessed 2 June 2020].
  9. speaks, j., 2015. Vintage Fashion Icon Mary Quant - Dress The Part. [online] Dress the Part. Available at: [Accessed 2 June 2020].
  10. n.d. History Of Punk Fashion. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 June 2020].
  11. another, 2016. The Many Lives of Vivienne Westwood's Worlds End Shop. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 June 2020].
  12. Google Arts & Culture. n.d. Gene Vincent 'Let It Rock' Top - Vivienne Westwood - Google Arts & Culture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 June 2020].
  13. Google Arts & Culture. n.d. Google Art Camera; Gene Vincent Leather ‘SEX’ Skirt, 1974 By Vivienne Westwood And Malcolm Mclaren - Vivienne Westwood And Malcolm Mclaren - Google Arts & Culture. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 June 2020].
  14. Lister, K., 2015. Anarchy in the UK: A brief history of punk fashion. marieclair, [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 June 2020].
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