The Skinhead subculture is one of the most underrepresented, misunderstood and mythic subcultures to date. It’s not all burly white men, with shaved heads and strong opinions and it’s certainly not a term to throw around at anyone who shaves their header shorter than a #2 clip guard. Skinhead is a subculture that was built amongst so much diverse culture – particularly immigrant culture, Jamaican and Punk music, and poor working conditions. For many people it’s simply too raw to get a grasp of, but don’t worry, here’s a great place to start.
The Music started in Jamaica
Jamaican Rude boys, who immigrated to England, introduced the sound that would become the inspirational for many modern Skinhead genres. Classic genres associated with the subculture – Ska, soul, rock-steady and reggae – became genres like Oi!
Out of the Punk scene came a new skinhead fronted genre called Oi! It began as a mix of Punk rock music and the British Skinhead sound, often incorporating football chants, and musicians opting for more political military inspired outfits. Later it was influenced by hardcore and British street punk sounds.
Mod Fashion + Poor Working Conditions created the Look
The skinhead subculture – particularly its style – started in conjunction with the Mod movement. The working class mods also known as hard mods wore high doc martens, jeans, collared shirts, braces and shaved heads that were utilitarian for use as durable work-wear for factory jobs and labour but doubled as their own subcultural style. Due to conflict between smooth mods (higher class mods) and the hard mods, many working class members broke off from the Mod scene and developed what we know of as the first Skinheads.
The Modern Skinhead
Modern skinheads have evolved far past their origins as working class mods. There are many factions of skinheads to date all with their own secretive rules and many groups that are more like gangs than subcultural groups. A great example of this is the popular film and TV series This is England that does a great job depicting the conflict between apolitical skinheads and racist skinheads.
Today you might find your average skinhead at an Oi! Concert, skinhead night or at your closest Punk show. So, what do you think? Are you a fan of skinhead culture? Or are you a skinhead yourself?