“I don’t wanna be the same as everybody else. That’s why I’m a Mod, see? I mean, you gotta be somebody, ain’t ya, or you might as well jump in the sea and drown.” Said by Jimmy, in the 1979 British film Quadropheina.
The day I watched Quadrophenia was the day I declared to be a Mod for the rest of my life. Alright, I was only 15, but that film influenced me in a way nothing had ever done before. Two hours of amazing music, stylish outfits, fights, drugs and dancing, Mods were the original teenagers of the 1960’and I wanted to be one of them.
The Mod/ Modernist movement originated in London in the early sixties, the war was over and Britain was looking towards a brighter and better future. Thanks to the growing economy, youths were no longer expected to contribute towards the family finances and were free to spend on new music and cutting edge fashion.
Boy Mod’s adopted their sense of style from the Italians; in fact you owe it to your Mod forefathers for making it socially acceptable for men to be interested in fashion. Some of their famous looks include; slim tailored suits, parker coats, Chelsea boots, button-down shirts and Fred Perry polo tops. Girls Mod’s stayed well away from their Mother’s 50’s fashion sense, and were often seen in their boyfriend’s trousers and shirts. Their hair was short, their lips were pale and their eyes were adorned in eyeliner and false lashes. As the Mod subculture became more commercialised iconic models like Twiggy were known for sporting the high-fashion mod look of shift dresses and provocative miniskirts.
Mod’s were known for their innovative music taste, which at the time, was very controversial. Ska, African American Soul and old school Rhythm and Blues. Popular British bands included The Small Faces, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and the The Kingsmen. As dancing was a major part of mod culture , clubs were a place to ‘be seen’ and show off your new purchases from Carnaby Street, get high on speed and dance till 5am, get noticed and you were known as a ‘face.’
I don’t give a monkey’s arsehole about the Mods and Rockers. Underneath, we’re all the same, aren’t we? Said by Kev (Rocker) in Quadrophenia
Although I sided with the Mod’s early on, I’ll never forget the gut wrenching moment when Jimmy ends up attacking one of his oldest friends Kev, who happens to be a rocker.
The Rocker movement began in the 50’s way before the Mod scene. Rockers also known as Greasers, Ton- up and Leather Boys where heavily influenced by American culture. A Rocker’s motorcycle was his pride and joy, shop bought and often customised they were used in illegal races and for chasing Mods.
Gene Vincent ‘Beep bop a Lula she’s my baby’ , Elvis Presley, George Melly are just a few of the ‘rock n roll’ artists they listened too. Although their music choice was considered to be out of date, Rockers were responsible for changing traditional ‘rock n roll’ dancing into a heavier more violent form of dancing. Unlike the pill popping mods, Rockers did not take drugs and anyone who did was disliked intensely.
As Kev so poignantly highlights, the biggest difference between Mods and Rockers was their appearance. Leather Jackets and trousers, high wasted jeans and Dr Marten boots were some of the staples worn by Rockers and silk scarves and studs were their only accessories. Their greasy hair and grubby appearance often meant they refused entry to local dance halls and pubs.
The Rocker’s appearance and behaviour was misunderstood by modern Britain, they were isolated, outcasts. Mods on the other hand were loud and flamboyant, their extravagant behaviour meant they lived for tomorrow. Great for those that could handle it.
ROCKER LOOKS; Leather Jacket – Vintage, White T-Shirt – Primark, Dark High-Waisted Jeans – American Apparel, Black Boots (Both) – Dr Martin’s, Suede Tassel Jacket – Vintage, Light High-Waisted Jeans – Topshop, Sunglasses – Topshop, Black Vest – H&M, Black Belt – Vintage
MOD LOOKS; Blue dress – Fred Perry, Tartan/Check Skirt – Topshop, Polka Dot Tights – Mary Quant Originals, White Shoes – Topshop, Brown Dress – Vintage, Brown Shoes – Topshop, Tan Bag – Fred Perry, White Dress – Topshop, Faux Fur Collar – Ebay, Sunglasses – H&M, Black Tights – Primark