A Decade of This is England
Tanked up on E's and Special Brew, losing it to The 'Roses in your sick stained brothel creepers and baggy flannel shirt you step outside for a cig, tinny in hand, and revel in the Acid House explosion that is the 1990s whilst Ian chimes away in the background. The 90s saw out the Harrington clad, Doc Marten stomping second wave skinheads and saw in a bunch of teenagers with Gallagher-esque bowl cuts looking like they'd ransacked their dad's wardrobes. The fashion unconscious were fashionable and a bucket hat was the new definition of cool. Or should we say IS; as Shane Meadows pulls a blinder and brings Madchester back to life in This is England 90, oversized everything finds a new lease of life.
As one of these second wave skinheads, Shane wanted to create a frank portrayal of the scene as he had experienced it; welcome to run down Sheffield council flats and Madchester raves in dingy town halls. All in all, Meadows wants us to remember that the 80s and 90s were for the most part, just a bit crap. This is England has been as much a story following the lives of Shaun and co. as it has a documentary tracking the many and changing faces of British subculture and the ways they dressed.
Mass unemployment, a thriving national front and Maggie and the Tories (almost sounds like the support act for an Oasis gig don't they, can you imagine?!) squeezing the life out of the working classes see in a new decade for the gang. It's grim up North and don't we know it. True to form, Meadows doesn't create any illusions; the styles are mixed. It's not like it's now 1990 and suddenly everyone's throwing away last year's braces and splashing out on acid wash dungarees. Everyone's skint and the remnants of Harrington's and neon leggings are mixed up with Stone Roses tee's and knackered Chuck Taylors.
Lol (coolest dinner lady… probably ever!), the ultimate veteran Skinhead still knows how to wear the shit out of a Fred Perry and Milky stays true to his Mod roots and dons his tonic trousers. Let's face it, Woody lets the side down a bit; he's shunned his once trademark braces and docs, his second skin, and has invested heavily in a collection of grey trackies. Shaun, Kelly, Gadge, Trev and Harvey absolutely epitomise the 90s and embrace classic ravers garb in acid wash, flannel shirts and bucket hats.
Aside from the barnets, style throughout the 80s as seen in the film and two series pretty much stays the same. The Mod's stick to their tonic suits and Ben Sherman's, the Skinhead's their braces and doc's and the New Wave Punk's go to town with the tartan, polka dot taffeta and backcombed hair in a Siouxsie Sioux meets charity shop affair. Shane lays down the law for kosher and wannabee Skinhead's alike; 1. If you haven't worn out the number 1 attachment on your razor and gone for the shave-everything-but-your-fringe 'do then you're not a real Skinhead. 2. If you don't own at least one pair of DM's then what are you even doing?! (Unless you're donning the old fishnets, white socks and loafers get up. That seems to pass the test.) Meanwhile in Shane Meadow's 80s land the wrong side of 35, mum's everywhere are working that classic tight set perm and Deidre Barlow specs combo (you know the ones!). Through all their ups and downs, and let's face it there are a lot of downs, the clan seem to manage to weather it all decked out in an impressive set of threads.
Time to dig out those old Adidas Samba's or better still raid the rails of our site and stores for more flannel and acid wash than you could shake a dead cat at. And while you're at it start practising your best Bez moves cos the 90s aren't done with us yet. In the words of immortalised 90s legend Ian Brown 'Let the good times roll again'!!