Is Fashion the reason for sub-cultural violence or would the violence be prevalent regardless of the fashion? Any history buff could laugh as they recount the great war between the Mods and the Rockers. According to Jon Savage (2014) “On the Whitsun weekend of the 16-18 May 1964, the youth of Britain went mad. If you believed the newspapers, that is, who went with screaming headlines like ‘Battle of Brighton’, and ‘Wild Ones ‘Beat Up’ Margate’ . Editorials fulminated with predictions of national collapse, referring to the youths as ‘those vermin’ and ‘mutated locusts wreaking untold havoc on the land’.” An estimated 1,000 youths were involved in the Brighton disturbances.

But what does this have to do with fashion? Well lets look at each sub cultures individually.

Mods emerged in the late 1950s, but peaked in the 1960s with youth of working-class families tired of the discriminatory class system in Britain, and trying to escape factory life. Essentially in Lamens terms, the mods took what were key images of the British working class character: White collar shirts, large women’s hair, the metropolitan scooter and twisted them on their heads, adopting the images for their own as an irony. waging war against the normal and the banal.

Rockers, leather boys, Ton-up boys, and possibly café racers are members of a biker subculture that originated in the United Kingdom during the 1950s. It was mainly centred on British café racer motorcycles and rock ‘n’ roll music. Their fashion sense adopted the motorcycle style of leather jackets and boots.

The media at the time, and during any time, tends to blame the fashions, the trends and the following. According to fashionology mag: “A simple fashion trend can change a teenager’s attitude in many ways. A positive effect of fashion is when teens feel more socially acceptable and confident in their approach due to the way they look. Even though clothes are powerless on their own, they represent symbols that have strong influence.  Fashion can also help teenagers identify their personalities by finding groups of other teens who share the same taste. On the other hand, there are negatives to fashion, such as when teenagers go to extreme lengths to attract attention with their clothes.” this in itself can insinuate the need to fit in with groups, the pack mentality and desire to impress those around you can cause social issues within groups that follow a similar fashion.

The fashion, however, is simply a catalyst for groups to find something in common. At any time, during any period, fashion follows trends in conjunction with the current social issues. It would be wrong to think the fashion subculture is to blame for the possible violence that can arise from these groups, it is simply a reaction to issues the subculture is railing against.


By Charlotte Kippax

Savage, Jon (2014) Mod V. Rockers: Two Tribes go to war,

Gonzalez, Karen (2015) What is Mod Subculture?

Stuart, John, Rockers! Kings of the Road (Plexus Publishing, 1996)

Tolentino, Laura (2014) The Influence of Fashion on teenagers.