Traces 1

One main interest in all this ‘stuff’ is in tracing and charting how looks, attitudes and music coalesce around specific scenes, burn brightly then fade away to be replaced by the next thing. The point of interest is how some elements re-appear, adopted once more by subsequent generations and scenes:-

A cotton jacket popularised in 1965 on a weekly US TV series re-emerges (in bright red) on the back of shaved headed youth on the streets of late 70’s Britain.

A tassled loafer (itself a variant on a previous theme) emerges in the late 50’s only to re-emerge as a stark graphic image for a film and soundtrack album in 1981.

I recently saw a picture of these shoes, pretty much exactly the same as a pair I purchased in Birmingham in the early 1980‘s:

Looking at them they appear to be a strange choice of footwear for a young teenager, to be walking the streets and estates of a Midlands town in.

Richard Barnes classic book Mods! is sometimes thought of as simply a great picture book (indeed it is a pretty much unrivaled collection of images of a specific era) but the text is pretty damn fine too. As good as history lesson in the origins in the world of Mod as you’ll find, it had the right credentials – Barnes was the art school friend and flatmate of Pete Townshend, hanging with the band during the exact period The Who were discovering the world of Mod via Pete Meaden. The book was published in 1979 by Townshend’s company Eel Pie.

Leafing through the book I came across this, in the bottom corner of page 15:

Johnny Moke gives an insight as to how a fashion craze could begin. “We went to a bowling alley wearing some old plimsoles. We hired a brand new pair of bowling shoes and afterwards I walked out in mine. That weekend we went to Clacton. It was the weekend of the first trouble. I’d taken off the big number 8 that was stuck on the back and was the only guy walking around Clacton with bowling shoes on. When I went to Brighton about six weeks later, half the kids had bowling shoes.”

So, in 1981 I was wearing a pair of red, white and blue striped bowling shoes because in 1963 a Mod from London nicked a pair from his local bowling alley.



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