With every subculture comes the entwinement of music, culture, politics and fashion. Like all great subcultures of our time, punk is no different. Emerging in the 70s, punk was the epitome of non-conformity and challenged the mainstream culture. Because of subcultures anti-establishment views, many differentiated themselves from others which was mainly done by fashion. While punk has evolved massively from its origins, the ideas still remain the same at heart.
One of the first inklings of punk was in 1958 with the release of the song Love Me by The Phantom. While it’s not like what we know and love today, the unhinged vocals and chaotic energy was a stark contrast to other popular musicians of the time like, Elvis Presley. Other notable artists include Link Wray with his instrumental song ‘Rumble’. Although there were no lyrics, the song was banned on the radio due to aggressive sound as it was thought to disturb the public peace.
Along with other songs, these paved the way for other great artists like The Who, The Sex Pistols, Buzzcocks, and Joy Division and many more who helped shape the unique sound of the genre. One of the bands who have been named of the defending bands to shape punk was The Stooges. With their distorted instruments, vocals and temperament mixed in with stage diving and erratic behaviour, they had all the key elements that would shape punk that we know and love today.
Culture and Ideology
Many considered punk ideology to have anarchist and left-wing views, however, punk ideology covers the entirety of the political spectrum. Predominantly concerned with anti-establishment, many of their views were focused on collectivism, anti-authoritarianism with a DIY flare (which gives many sustainability points in our view). Like everything in the world, differentiating views are common. While a majority of punk held left-wing views, right was also prevalent too, with that came the neo-Nazi punks which held problematic and hateful views on minorities. This sometimes would overshadow the subculture’s true ideas at heart and cause tension within society.
While punk fashion overall had the same vibe of anti-materialism and consumerism, the fashion varied form the U.S. and the UK. American punks went for an unkempt look, taking inspiration from the Ramones with leather jackets, band t-shirts and jeans.
The British scene was heavily influenced by Mod and Skinhead culture. Punk fashion rejected the loose bell-bottoms and the boho hippy flower child looks of the 60s. In 1974, Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood opened up their shop SEX. Located on Kings Road, London, it was one of the most iconic shops that helped define the fashion for the British punk scene. With controversial tees that often had sociopolitical slogans and meaning, Vivienne Westwood’s designs helped bring to life the true ideologies of the subculture.
Throughout the years, the subculture’s fashion has evolved into many sub-genres that have taken elements from different eras. Psychobilly drew inspiration from Betty Page and the 50s, Horror punk combined elements of goth into a darker version of the subculture and skate punk, well… that one is self-explanatory.
There’s our little history lesson on punk, we hope you learnt something! Let us know in the comments what was your favourite part or least!