Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Subcultures: Mod

Mod (from modernist) is a subculture that originated in London, England in the late 1950s and peaked in the early-to-mid 1960s.[1][2][3]
Significant elements of the mod subculture include: fashion (often tailor-made suits); pop music, including African American soul, Jamaican ska, and British beat music and R&B; and Italian motor scooters. The original mod scene was also associated with amphetamine-fuelled all-night dancing at clubs.[4] From the mid-to-late 1960s onwards, the mass media often used the term mod in a wider sense to describe anything that was believed to be popular, fashionable or modern.
There was a mod revival in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s, which was followed by a mod revival in North America in the early 1980s, particularly in Southern California.[5][6]

Many of the styles often associated with the 1960s originated as part of the Mod subculture.
In the early 1960s, a small group of young people in London and the South of England became known for their distinctive style and attitude to life. This group became known as the Mods, and began gathering in crowds at seaside resorts on the South of England at weekends.
Clashes with another subculture called the Rockers brought widespread attention from the press, as did the Mods’ obsession with style. The 1966 Kinks song “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” poked fun at the Mod’s keen interest in fashion; the Mods spent a proportionally large amount of their salary on clothes, something which often brought scorn from the older generation.
Although the Mods had a reputation for fighting, many people who were part of the Mod movement in the 1960s say that newspaper reports were exaggerated; the majority of Mods would have been too worried about ruining their expensive suit to get involved in fights.
The Mods based their style on looks favoured by French and Italian men. Sharp suits were key to the Mod style, often made to measure by Italian designers. Other clothing popular with the Mods included button-down shirts, cashmere jumpers and narrow ties. Although the Mods favoured smart styles and tailored looks, they also seized the opportunity to express the Mod ethos through their clothes. They took iconic symbols like the Union Jack flag and made them their own, incorporating them on badges and bags.
Footwear was another important element of the Mod look; narrow-toed shoes called winkle-pickers were popular, as were brogues and brightly coloured bowling shoes. Clarks’ Desert Boots were another key part of the Mod look, and are still available to buy today.
In contrast to more feminine styles of the 1950s, Mod fashion for women in the 1960s favoured a more gamine look. Short hair styles were popular, as were trousers and flat shoes. The mini skirt was also an important part of the mod look for young women, and was another cause of concern for the older generation. British pop star Twiggy epitomised the female Mod look, with her short skirts, heavily kholed eyes and short bobbed hair.

Several of the fashion brands made famous by the Mods are still as popular today. The Mod spirit lives on in collections from designers such as Fred Perry, Ben Sherman and Mary Quant, all alive and kicking in London’s Carnaby Street as they were in the 1960s.
Jobling and Crowley called the mod subculture a "fashion-obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool" young adults who lived in metropolitan London or the new towns of the south. Due to the increasing affluence of post-war Britain, the youths of the early 1960s were one of the first generations that did not have to contribute their money from after-school jobs to the family finances. As mod teens and young adults began using their disposable income to buy stylish clothes, the first youth-targeted boutique clothing stores opened in London in the Carnaby Street and Kings Road districts.[27] Maverick fashion designers emerged, such as Mary Quant, who was known for her increasingly short miniskirt designs, and John Stephen, who sold a line named "His Clothes", and whose clients included bands such as The Small Faces.[28]
Two youth subcultures helped pave the way for mod fashion by breaking new ground; the beatniks, with their bohemian image of berets and black turtlenecks, and the Teddy Boys, from which mod fashion inherited its "narcissitic and fastidious [fashion] tendencies" and the immaculate dandy look.[29] The Teddy Boys paved the way for making male interest in fashion socially acceptable, because prior to the Teddy Boys, male interest in fashion in Britain was mostly associated with the underground homosexual subculture's flamboyant dressing style.

The Royal Air Force roundel, a mod symbol.
Newspaper accounts from the mid-1960s focused on the mod obsession with clothes, often detailing the prices of the expensive suits worn by young mods, and seeking out extreme cases such as a young mod who claimed that he would "go without food to buy clothes".[30] Jobling and Crowley argue that for working class mods, the subculture's focus on fashion and music was a release from the "humdrum of daily existence" at their jobs.[30] Jobling and Crowley note that while the subculture had strong elements of consumerism and shopping, mods were not passive consumers; instead they were very self-conscious and critical, customising "existing styles, symbols and artefacts" such as the Union flag and the Royal Air Force roundel symbol, and putting them on their jackets in a pop art-style, and putting their personal signatures on their style.[23] The song "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" by The Kinks from 1966 jokes about the fashion obsession of the mod community.
Mod fashion adopted new Italian and French styles in part as a reaction to the rural and small-town rockers, who were seen as trapped in the 1950s, with their leather motorcycle clothes and American greaser look. Male mods adopted a smooth, sophisticated look that emphasised tailor-made Italian suits (sometimes white) with narrow lapels, mohair clothes, thin ties, button-down collar shirts, wool or cashmere jumpers (crewneck or V-neck), pointed-toe leather shoes that were nicknamed winklepickers, as well as Chelsea or "Beatle" boots, Tassel Loafers, Clarks Desert Boots and Bowling shoes, and hairstyles that imitated the look of the French Nouvelle Vague cinema actors of the era, such as Jean-Paul Belmondo.[31] A few male mods went against gender norms of the era by enhancing their appearance with eye shadow, eyepencil or even lipstick.[28] Scooters were chosen over motorbikes because scooters' use of bodypanelling and concealed moving parts made them cleaner and less likely to stain an expensive suit with grease. Scootering led to the wearing of military parkas to protect costly suits and trousers from mud and rain.
Female mods dressed androgynously, with short haircuts, men's trousers or shirts (sometimes their boyfriend's), flat shoes, and little makeup — often just pale foundation, brown eye shadow, white or pale lipstick and false eyelashes.[32] Female mods pushed the boundaries of parental tolerance with their miniskirts, which got progressively shorter between the early and mid-1960s. As female mod fashion went from an underground style to a more commercialised fashion, slender models like Jean Shrimpton and Twiggy began to exemplify the high-fashion mod look. The television programmeReady Steady Go!, presented by Cathy McGowan, helped to spread awareness of mod fashions and music to a larger audience.

mod699 up435 down
Mod is a dandified youth subculture that developed and was strongest in the 1960's, but has experienced many reincarnations since then and is still very much in existance.

As with many subcultures, the defining characteristics are clothing and music, both of which become an obsession for Mods. The clothing has a vintage, well-taylored, and peacockish look, favoring bright patterns, plenty of color, brands like Ben Sherman and Fred Perry, and slim-cut, three button suits (preferrably Italian) in the style of the sixties. The favored music of Mods is varied rather widely but, for the most part, shares the characteristic of being danceable. Favored genres include old school Ska, Soul, and R&B as well as New Wave, Britpop, and some things that, today, are heaped into the rather loose label of "Alternative Rock".

Another defining characteristic of Mods is their chosen mode of transportation, the Italian moterscooter (most notably Vespa and Lambretta). Not everyone who rides a scooter is Mod, however. These scooters tend to be in a retro style and sometimes heavily customized.

Unlike the case with some other social subgroups, there exists no Mod ideology or philosophy(outside of a general avoidance of violence because of unwillingness to damage their clothes and the idea that, as The Who put it in one of their earliest songs "you gotta be cool"). However, this does not mean that Mods do not have any depth; only that there is no specific mindset associated with the group.

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