What’s this all about? I’ve
chosen to do something different. The challenge was to find a youth culture that you could strip out all the symbols but the meaning and themes would remain completely relevant to today’s culture. Once we go beyond the fashion, the localizations, the fads we see that youth today, youth back then, youth 100 years ago share many the same needs and desires that you’ll find all over the world regardless of colour and creed namely – the need to belong and the need to be significant,
Part One Mods Mods were
a quintessentially English movement that has spread throughout Europe and even to Japan. Originating in the 60s at a time of great social change Mod has remained popular and continues to be reborn in new guises every 10 years
Rituals Dancehall music played a
large part in Mod culture. From the late 60s soul nights saw a new phenomenon – boys and girls dancing on their own. Previously dancing was always an act between boy and girl, never on your own.
Rituals: the weekend away In
an era when youth didn’t take foreign holidays and most lived at home with parents the ritual of the bank holiday away day trip was a big deal. Pilgrimages to Brighton and Margate were legendary and a core part of the belonging & significance offered by the culture.
Own Media Pre-internet, pre-text messaging
Mod culture placed a heavy emphasis on word of mouth and cottage industry media; pirate radios (eg Caroline) and cheaply produced fanzines were a key part of keeping members informed
Belonging How does this brand/
movement/ tribe help me belong, how does it help me be significant? Get this right and you have sustainability. Mods were one of the last groups of youth able to gather freely in public (ravers later tried but were eventually sanitized). When was the last time you saw a large group of youths hanging out without having to pay for the privilege?
Significance Every tribe, every movement,
every brand has to give its people a chance to express significance to survive. For Mods, it meant dressing up the scooter (the over-the-top mirrors & lights) and perfecting sartorial elegance.
Symbols of Membership Symbols have
defined tribes since the dawn of human history. No Mod worth his or her salt would be seen without the right shoes – desert boots, bowling shoes, two tone sneakers, flat sole pumps (for girls) and winkle pickers (for boys) were essential wear.
Symbols of Membership Price of
Entry If you want to become a fully paid up member of the tribe you have to pay the price. Tattooing and the Sundance are just two examples of “entry rites” as old as time. For Mod boys it meant expensive suits (often bespoke) and wearing make up!
Symbols of Membership Microbrands If
you want evidence of how a brand can stay popular without heavy advertising just take a look at Fred Perry. By simply attaching and supporting the subculture, the popularity of iconic Perry emblem remains timeless
Symbols of Membership Microsigns Patterns
often form a microsign of membership to the tribe. Horizontal stripes preceded by tartan checks were strong indicators of whether someone was “in” or “out” of the group.
Symbols of Membership Microsigns One
of the most residual microsigns of membership is the white sock. From the 60s until present day white socks worn with suits were an anomaly for all but the fashion victim and a microsign that this person was no city banker but heading out on the town to the dancehall.
Symbols of Membership Authenticity All
movements need to be authentic – what are its roots? From the sartorial Italian & French influences of the 60s, the 80s Mod revival drew from early Ska (reggae) influences hence the emergence of the “pork pie” hat synonymous with Jamaican rudeboys of the 60s.
Symbols of Membership Authenticity As
Mod grew with Ska in the early 80s, two-tone (black/white) coloring became popular emphasizing the corruption of formality as well as the implicit racial inclusiveness of the scene (black & white together)
Symbols of Membership Badges Mod
would not be complete without the Parka coat popularized across 3 decades. Originally a military jacket, the Parka’s popularity grew with the ownership of scooters as the perfect bikers windbreaker
Symbols of Membership Mobility Youth
& Mobility meant something very different in the early 80s. In a time when few youth could afford a car, the scooter (Vespa & Lambretta) became the icons of a mobile, emancipated generation free from the restrictions of geography and family.
Symbols of Defiance Wherever young
people gather en masse, trouble follows. The strength of a tribe is defined by the clarity of its perceived outsiders. From the rockers of the 60s to the police of the 80s, Mods have always had a common enemy to challenge and strengthen their own identity
Symbols of Defiance It doesn’t
seem a lot to shout about today but Mod a racially inclusive scene. From the sounds of Motown in the 60s to the influences of 2 nd generation Jamaican immigrants with their Ska in the early 80s, Mod has – just like Jazz generations before – been a crossover between white youth and black culture.
Symbols of Defiance Girls on
bikes? It doesn’t seem anything untoward in the 21 st century but this was the late 70s and early 80s when young girls were expected to get married, have kids and certainly not to be messing around town on a scooter.