The mid to late 20th Century saw an explosion of subcultural activity in Britain. Skinhead, punk, rocker, mod, new romantic and many other cultures in captured the hearts of young people. Jackets have always been a dominating item of clothing: they completely transform a look. Here are some of the most iconic jackets used by British subculture members in the 20th Century.
The Patched Denim ‘Battle Jacket’
Thrash metal exploded during the 1980s. Bands like Nuclear Assault, Metallica and Slayer all gained huge traction and legions of teenage fans. Thrash metal combined elements of classic metal with elements of hardcore punk – a winning formula. Metalheads took to wearing ‘battle jackets’, heavily patched denim jackets that more often than not bore the scars of intense use. Battle jackets are back in style. It is easy to add patches to your denim jacket, and even easier to find great patches online.
Mod culture developed in the 1960s – partially as a reaction to the austere and disorientating conditions endured by English working-class people at the time. Mods adopted a smart fashion outlook: they wore sharp Italian suits and Chelsea boots. Over these sharp clothes, mods would wear their distinctive green parkas. These warm jackets were perfect for braving the cold of an English seaside town on a scooter during the Winter.
The bomber jacket is perhaps one of the most infamous and contested of the sub culturally important jackets in the UK. Developed just after World War Two to equip American Air Force personnel, the bomber jacket cuts a uniquely tough looking shape. It became a key fashion statement used by first wave skinheads in the UK. Some skinheads took on a ‘tough guy’ persona. The bomber jacket was perfect for looking mean as hell. In the 1980s, skinheads had developed a bad reputation due to the racism and discriminatory violence of some groups. Gay artists and musicians began wearing bomber jackets and Dr Martens in order to kick back at these prejudiced elements. Bomber jackets became popular with punks and anti-fascists.
The Frock Coat
Glam rockers like David Bowie helped to propel the frock coat back onto the scene in the 1960s. Originally fashionable in the late Victorian period among sailors and wealthy gentlemen, these coats had figure hugging cuts that promoted an androgynous figure. As the name suggests, they work well with frocks: frills poking elegantly over a collar held by double breasted buttons.
The Drape Jacket
Exuberant drape jackets were the outerwear of choice for the first subculture to have emerged in postwar Britain: the teddy boys. Teddy boys were inspired by the dandy fashions of the Edwardian era: hence the name ‘teddy’. 1940’s Style zoot suit drape jackets were not exactly authentically Edwardian, but they were about as close to the real thing as most teddy boys could get. Eventually, the drape jacket became the ultimate teddy boy expression of exuberance and rebellion against the strict, depressed and formalized British postwar world.