An old friend sent me this BBC Series British Style Genius (from 2009) a week or so ago and I've been devouring every episode since. It is fascinating. It's an incredibly well produced, showcasing the most concise documentary on (any) fashion history that I've ever seen. I even love the title sequence design. Some of my favourite segments and episodes are below.
The bit about the 60s Mod movement was of particular interest to me. I was hanging out in high school with a group of kids that revived this whole look/lifestyle in California during the late 80s. I also knew 20-something year old guys in Vancouver into the early 90s that (quite seriously) subscribed to the same look and lifestyle. It all centered around 60s, slim-fitting Mod suits, skinny black ties and creepers. One of my closest friends in high school, Barry, would wear Fred Perry shirts, skinny dress pants or jeans and dress shoes to school everyday. He also had the signature vintage Vespa scooter which I rode with him to school everyday. We listened to a lot of ska, Brit pop and punk. It influenced the way that I dressed then, too. I wore a lot of vintage and homemade 60s miniskirts (some tartan) with preppy sweaters, pointy patent flats — and yes, black TURTLENECKS (that's when the turtleneck love began!). Back then, I wasn't as aware of the whole history of the Mods. I didn't question it, I just enjoyed dressing up in the particular style. I still don't really know why the Mod look was revived then. It's interesting how it was (re)done the same way – but in suburban southern California. Perhaps it was a west coast thing. Does anyone know? We did feel that we stood apart from the popular fashion in high school back then (which at my school was comprised of Hyper Color cropped Tshirts, MC Hammer pants and lots of neon). I wish I had photos to share. So I loved seeing the way this documentary series illustrates and gives context to where/how it all began. It all makes sense to me now!
One conclusion I drew from having watched the series in it's entirety: I believe that the days of such influential and distictive fashion "movements" growing from the streets is gone for the most part. The globalization of fashion trends is likely to blame. There is still a lot of street fashion that influence the styles that end up on the runway, but they don't end up evolving from movements with fiercely loyal followings (not unlike gangs) in quite the same way that it did back in the 60s. It was a time when younger generation made their clothes. New styles were created and evolved more organically on the streets. They weren't simply following what they saw on tv, music, magazines or celebrities (many of whom receive many of their clothes for free from fashion designers). I feel as though retailers like American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are the ones dictating the way young people dress these days. Hoards of young 'hipsters' are merely dressing in uniforms-of-the-minute as dictated by these retailers. That doesn't define edgy to me. I don't believe there is as much actual origination or innovation on the street nowadays — at least not as much as there was between the 60s-80s (and not in north America). So much of what's out there now tends to be an appropriation or remix of everything that has been done before — primarily from the 80s.
If you didn't see this series the first time around and can get a hold of it, I HIGHLY recommend doing so. It's amazing and not to be missed.