Links Between Youth Culture and Fashion

2705 words (11 pages) Essay

23rd Sep 2019 Fashion Reference this

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Discuss the links between youth culture and fashion giving three (3) examples

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Punk Fashion

The Hippie Movement

Mod culture


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In this essay I will be looking at the links between youth culture and fashion; I will research three types of youth cultures and show how particular views and events influenced the styles in which they wore. I have chosen to look at mods, hippies and punks as these were very iconic. I have focused on both male and female fashion as both were very different in their own way. A youth culture is the norms and values of a culture in which they share, which can influence fashion hugely, therefore I have chosen 3 iconic subcultures to research in depth.

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Punk Fashion

In 1970 was the era in which punks started to emerge, this culture was particularly popular with youths as this was about finding their own style which set them apart from others around them. Everyone interpreted punk fashion differently, to some it was about the music and expressing them self to others it was about the political views of others. Punk fashion was more about opinions and rebellion than the clothing in which they wore, they did not want to wear the clothing everyone else was wearing which is why they started to buy their clothing from charity shops, car boot sales or making their own.

Youth culture were criticised within the press for violence and drug abuse, punk culture confronted the dress codes and principles of the conservative nation said Berg 2010). They were experimenting with their identity and were open to new and upcoming trends. Pauline Weston Thomas (no date) stated that punk fashion ‘‘suited the lifestyle of those with limited cash due to unemployment and the general low-income school leavers or students often experience’’.

 Figure 1

Music was changing and so were the attitudes towards fashion. Musical artists such as the sex pistols where evolving and the youth culture started to relate to them and follow their views, which set them apart from other youth cultures.

Fashion has been used to identify peoples social class for many years, ‘‘once in the fifteenth century, second in the seventeenth century, during the thirty year war and finally in 1780 and 1790 during the French revolution, individuals would dress in extreme clothing to express their horror’’ said (English, 2013), after this British punks emerged and started to dress in this manner which dominated fashion at the time. Soon after the punk culture had emerged, designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren began to create punk inspired clothing; which was for their shop ‘Sex’ in London. This shop was already seen as scandalous due to the phallic images displayed so when then couple started to sell punk styled fashion including t-shirts with anarchic symbols and slogans. This Became a much more iconic style of punk fashion however more expensive; this made the sub-culture rise due to the amount of fashion statements (Bloomfield 2016).

However previously to this in the 60s there were a lot of feminist who strictly anti-sexist in their views, therefore the actions of Vivian Westwood did not fit very well with their conceptual views. Because of this Westwood established a fashion for young women to feel empowered this unrestricted them from the ideal perceptions of beauty at the time (Bloomfield 2016).

Figure 2

In figure two; you can clearly see the style in which Vivian Westwood represented, throughout punk fashion there was a lot of skin that would been shown and a lot of the clothing would have associations with sex and nudity This was very shocking with in other cultures due to the style being very different at the time .As you can see, for women punk represented an enormous period of liberation: PVC and S&M become the routine for youth culture, and makeup went from brightly coloured glitter to glossy black paint, hair was cut short and sometimes styled e.g. spiked. Men wore tight jeans which included bondage straps, chockers, ripped shirts. Meanwhile both genders would use safety pins to style their clothing as well as to keep it from tearing.  This instructed the breakdown of gender boundaries due to them looking similar (Redazoine 2017). 

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The Hippie Movement

In the mid-1960s was when the hippie culture had begun, this was a movement that was created by youth culture; which liberated the idea of free spirits. Many hippies had adopted the life style of taking drugs, dropping out of schools and starting up their own business, which started off the hostile response to hippies. This culture developed as hippies felt like they did not fit in with the social norms of society, due to it being liberated by materialistic belongings therefore they developed their own unique lifestyle in which suited them (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica ,2018).

They would protest against capitalist’s culture and war; and to do this they wore bright colours, silks and satins all covered in embroidery. ‘‘Sometimes their fashion began more like a second skin’’ (Berg 2010 p417) as fashion was now available at more wide range due to traveling abroad becoming more accessible to people. Many were now able to visit countries in which they could bring back garments, inspiration and fabrics which have not ever been seen (Emerald).

Figure 3

This youth cultures again blurred the lines between gender and social class, men and women wore similar styles of clothing such as caftans, cheesecloths tops and handmade clothing with slogans on such as ‘make love, not war’, the clothing in which they wore showcased their political views and beliefs which was hand embroidered on (English. P109). This is shown in figure 3 as you can see that there is a protest which is undergoing, the clothing in which they are wearing is very fitting and you can instantly tell that they are hippies.

Although hippy culture was very significant and iconic with the ‘‘Donning psychedelic floral clothing and growing beards that rivalled Rasputin’s in length all became part of the evolving counter-culture. With this also came a new epoch of fashion’’ (All that’s interesting 2018). The hippy movement wasn’t all about fashion, hippies would wear lots of bright colours, floral patterns and hand out flowers to the soldiers to bring peace to the wars and the riots.  This worked for a while however it started to decline when the wars stop as there was no longer any reason to protest their piece, therefore hippies were slowly decreasing in size (All that’s interesting 2018). Dating back to the ‘60s and the ‘70s, hippie style meant freedom, and returning to countryside. Second-hand or self-made clothes were a real must-have, as this showed that you were authentic and did not buy into the ‘mainstream’ clothing ‘‘alongside must have pieces like bell-bottom pants, ample maxi-skirts and micro-tops embellished with psychedelic, floral or tie-dye patterns’’ (Tortora, LLT. 2011)


Mod culture

Mod culture was first established in post-World War II in London, after the war rationing was no longer a restriction meaning that people could go out and buy whatever they wanted, due to them being constrained for 6 years they were very eager to try new things. ‘‘they had the money to spend and chose to spend it in the best Jazz clubs and on the finest Italian slim-fit suits’’ ( /mod-culture/ (2018) which began the rise of mod culture.

Mods dressed to look smart, on the other hand they also wanted to distance themselves from their parents and the way they dressed. ‘‘They were (and still are) certain connotations attached to be a mod; a mod’s clothing is often a uniform for their societal beliefs. By becoming a mod that’s exactly what you are, regardless of race or social class’’ ( /mod-culture/ (2018) Racism was never an issue with in the mod youth culture, as to be classed as a Mod you had to except other cultures within the group, therefore the racism was kept to a minim.

 The mod youth culture consisted of teenagers who were from working class families, who were trying to go beyond their old every day, traditional customs of the 1950s and adopt and more exciting, fashionable social life. (Karin Gonzalez (no date) Mods did not buy their clothing form the shops as this signified an off the peg lifestyle, therefore they kept away from logo shirts as this is the kind of lifestyle in which they wanted to move away from. For that reason, Mods wore a lot of suits and tailored trousers to appear much older and wiser with in society. ‘‘In the late 70’s there was a growing feeling amongst teenage Britain that they’d had enough of floral shirts and peace signs and the paperclip for earring Punk movement did not resonate with them either’’ said John Smedley (no date)

Figure 4

In figure 4 you can see that the group of boys are quite young, however as they are in suits it immediately makes them look a lot older and professional. Suits weren’t cheap but as the war was over and more money was being ploughed into the economy as well as more and more teenagers getting jobs and making their own money, this meant that boys could dress how they wanted therefore that is the reason we have a lot of different cultures around this time, but Mods were seen as the most popular due to their lavish unique lifestyle at the time.

Weight, RW. (2013) stated that Mods have formed the DNA of youth culture for 60 years and more, influencing trends from glam rock to Britpop, it has enabled successive adolescents to create their own identity, as well as creating a family of interrelated Mod styles that have been accessed by all ages.

Figure 5

Referring to figure 5 there is an image of female mod fashion, as you can see the fashion made teenagers look older and more like business women rather than troubled teenagers which was the stereotype in this era. The fashion of mods went from being an underground fashion statement to a more commercialized style, fashion designers started to target these specific types of youth cultures and create something entirely modern.



In conclusion there are many links with youth culture and fashion; I have chosen to focus on three very popular sub cultures as the links are much clearer. A lot of events happened for these youth cultures to become well know; for example, Mods became well known and their style became iconic due to teenagers now being able to go out and buy their own clothing as they now had jobs of their own. Therefore, they wanted to be taken more seriously so they dressed like adults. Similarly, the hippy youth culture was to protest against middle class laws and war, therefore hippies became more popular due to their outspoken minds. Fashion plays a huge part in these groups as what they wore defines them as an individual and shows which group in which they belong in, the clothing in which we wear will also show what part of society and groups we belong in its whether we chose to stick to these.

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