There is little web information on the “Australian lad”. Other than what can be sourced from web forums, which consists of a significant number of people asking exactly who they are, where they came from and what this trend represents. I have encountered these Australian lads first hand and am intrigued to learn more about this intimidating subculture.
The most accurate description of this subculture, or at least accurate to what I have witnessed, was found on urban dictionary;
“An Australian term used to describe teenagers who wear a nautica, polo or nike white hat, tilted upright revealing the front of their hair with the strap at the back done up tight so it is dangling out the back, a striped polo or nautica shirt with the collar popped and either saucony or nautica trackies or shorts, topped off with nike Tnz.” (Urban Dictionary 2015)
Urban dictionary lists the term lad as Australian. However, it originated in the United Kingdom and the Australian “lad” has devolved from the derogatory stereotype given to a type of youth subculture called “Chavs”. The British media coined the term “Chav”, which was used to describe lower class citizens who participated in anti social behavior while wearing imitation and heavily branded designer clothes.
The Australian lad aesthetic follows the English Chavs uniform but relies more on a disregard for mainstream fashion and anything regarded as mainstream. In this way lads manage to completely contradict everything their subculture represents when their entire uniform is made up of wearing only certain sporting brands. They are so anti mainstream and disregarding of the fashion norms that they are now considered fashionable in some circles. With the rise of fashion elite around the world sporting Nike shoes and button ups to fashion events.
Sydney is where the lad first began to appear within Australia with their early origins emerging in the 90’s street style scene. This subculture has a long history of being ingrained within Australian hip-hop and graffiti culture. The lad uniform was said to have been originally made up of designer clothes to show what you had stolen and enhance your street credibility. An alternative reading of their uniform could also be understood in terms of the “trickle down theory” discussed by George Simmel in 1904, Which theorised that consumer products come into the market at a price that only the wealthy can afford to purchase. Then as time progresses other companies create their own replicas of these products and lower classes purchase them. This is in a sense exactly what the lad Aesthetic is doing especially if its origins did in fact come from the wearing of stolen goods. However, the modern Australian lad is taking the trickle down theory to the extreme sporting a look made up entirely of easy to read labels and brands all over their clothes. They want the public to know exactly where all these clothes came from and how much they cost.
Whatever the true intentions of the lad uniform are underneath it all, it is now simply a way for people from this sub culture to form their identity and a sense of belonging. Regardless of the negative connotations associated with their look.
i-D,. 2015. ‘Lad Culture Is Back In Fashion, So Wear Your Heart On Your Sleeve And Your Passion On Your Feet | Read | I-D’.
Sassatelli, Roberta. 2007. Consumer Culture. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Urban Dictionary,. 2015. ‘Lad’.