You hear the word “Skinhead” and you immediately jump to its association with the neo-Nazi movement, and that’s all fair. But while that may be so during the British subculture’s birthing period of the ’60s, turn of the decades saw its evolution not only in mindset—as the generations turned, as did the ethos and beliefs that scared the subculture—but also in music, art and of course fashion.
Their fashion sensibilities also started seeing adoptions of styles from surrounding subcultures.
While heavy-set leather boots, thumb-catching suspenders and the odd flannel still remain prominent fixtures to your Skinhead look, their fashion sensibilities also started seeing adoptions of styles from surrounding subcultures, such as New Wave and an evolved form of Punk that would intermingle with the already adopted elements from the Mods, Ska, Reggea and Jamaican rude boys of its ’60s and ’70s upbringing. While general hooliganism and the unavoidable power of punk remain embedded in the very fibre of “Skinheadism,” you also had the soft wooly cardigans, the now popular again military bomber jacket, and ankle-bearing pants. A stylish group of rebels if you ask us.
Just look through photographer Gavin Watson who spent his self-proclaimed “niv” (“geek” in American) youth candidly capturing the seemingly nonchalant, yet carefully curated sensibilities of Skinhead fashion during the ’80s. During a period under Thatcher’s reign, the youth of England were running amuck in their own weird and wonderful way, which can be properly appreciated when you actually look at what Watson’s image holds over the preconceived image of what Skinheads are. Check out a few select shots from Watson’s archive throughout, and head here to see more of his work.