The (Hebdige, 1979).[1] [2] We can understand the

The punk subculture emerged in the United Kingdom and
the United States in the mid-1970s. From the 1970s to today we can see how the
punk movement has evolved, from the underground raw roots to today’s commercial
punk that we see in fashion shows, music and the arts. It is interesting to
look back at the origin of punk, its influencers be it musicians, artists or
working-class youths seeking a form of individuality with the aim to provoke
its audience. We will explore these influences, the movement, the culture and
the style throughout the text.

As suggested by Marxism; The punks can be described
as the individual, deviant rulers in society, the post-war youth subculture
style as a symbolic form of resistance. They define the working-class
activities as deviant and in doing so they control them. Although Marx did not
write about deviant behaviours, he wrote about alienation amongst the ordinary
working- class people from society which can cause conflict resulting in
deviant behaviour. (Karl Marx, 1900) (Trueman, 2015) (Hebdige, 1979).1  2

We can understand the working-class youths are no
doubt rebellious, refusing to conform to the norm, instead going beyond the
grain of the mainstream culture. The Evolution of the Punk movement created not
only a style, but an attitude to which working-class youths were deviant. Mike
Brake describes how subcultures evolve in response to social issues that groups
experience collectively, therefore identifying how individuals draw on collective
identities to define themselves. (Brake, 1985).3

Dick Hebdige, writes about the
subcultures of the punk era throughout the United Kingdom in his book,
subculture ‘the meaning of style’. Punk style was taken by the fashion industry
and sold on a commercial level globally. This evolution represents capitalism
reacting to the savage working – class youth movement, counteracting the punk
subculture. (Hebdige, 1979)4

For Hebdige, Music is only one part of
the stylistic ensemble of Punk, the most important part being the aesthetic or
how the group display the codes of the ‘Punk look’.

The punk era inspired many genres which
we can see still exist in today’s modern society.  Subcultures give new generations a place of
belonging to non-conform and embody a uniqueness.

What motivates people to dress in this manner, the
root I believe is the rebellious need for resistance, to provoke, agitate and
rebel against the ‘norm’.

How can we identify a punk? the group visibly
display codes of punk style; lots of leather, denim, fishnet tights, S&M
symbols, chains, a DIY ripped t-shirt held together by safety pins with a display
of offensive wording painted onto the garment to make a statement. Punks
transformed their hair style, most notably in men’s hair by going beyond the
regular styles, the punk look was anti-system, extravagant hairstyle that
democratised hair for men in the 70’s for the first time. Similarly, to the
clothing they too created DIY hair styles using water and sugar to invent the
‘punk look’. Although this style may look easily ‘thrown together without much
thought given to creation of the outfit, it was quite a time-consuming process.
Through their clothing the group communicate that codes are to be used and
abused, resisting the mainstream culture.

As Hebdige describes the analysis of punk
creations, he believes the style was first developed among art-school
avant-garde, rather than emanating from the dance halls and housing estates of
England. (Hebdige, 1979) (Bennett, 2000)5

The origin of Punk subculture in New York began in
the 1970s, the Punk subculture created in the underground movement, typically
began with working class youths seeking an identity of self-expression. Punk originated
as a reaction against conformity and capitalism, influenced by sex, music and
art.

In music, Punk could be easily identified as a
movement youths were eager to be a part of, it gave them a sense of belonging.
Musicians such a Debbie Harry, The Ramones, Talking Heads and the Sex Pistols
all embodied the Punk rock style and attitude creating icons of the time.
Places such as CBGB and the Bowery are known around the globe as the birthplace
of punk music.

The Blondies’ Debbie Harry is famous for her Punk
style with her platinum Blonde Hair (hence, how fitting ‘Blondie’) she was an
icon, the first women in the punk music scene as lead singer of the band, Harry
was at the forefront of the pop culture in New York. Her voice, haunting and
raw, captured the angst and youth of punk rock.

Derek Ridger’s describes the Punk Era in New York; “Punk
was very exciting. The music was loud and fast. The clubs were small, dark and
sweaty and the punks themselves dangerous – or at least that was the impression
they wanted to give”. (Vogue, 2017) (Larouci, 2017)

Debbie Harry by Derek Ridgers, (1977) London

 

Harry was recognised for her fearless, unapologetic
attitude which transpired into her DIY style and music talent. It’s not only
the attitude of Harry but her upbringing and life before the Blondies’ that
embodies the working-class identity of a struggling artist in North America.
The realism of her previous life; growing up as an adopted child, being broke,
free- living and rebellious embodied the Punk identity.
She was often seen wearing unusual styles for example; an oversized t-shirt
worn as a dress with boots, a men’s tailored suit with a ripped shirt, from
biker leathers to skinny leggings she maintained an edgy punk style on stage.
In the 70’s, the denim market blew up and Harry could be seen wearing denim on
denim, or flared jeans teamed with her signature biker jacket and lashings of
black eye liner, she was the epitome of seventies punk. As the Punk era
exploded, Blondie became globally successful and Harry was the star of the
seventies, leading the way for the broken youths.

Debbie
Harry, by Derek Ridgers, (1977) London

 

Where did Punk Originate? From my research finding’s
it is believed Punk first began in America but some sources question the origin
as America and the UK interpreted the style movement with a different attitude.
Whilst England wasn’t the birthplace of punk it definitely had a huge influence
to inspire what we see even today, most notably in London. The movement had a profound
influence in England, truly visible in today’s society throughout the streets
of London and its creative classes.

The music scene was full of rage and rebellion, the
working class in England were seen to be adapting to the punk aesthetic as the country
was fraught with an economic depression. British punk was mainly inspired by
the events in New York, bands such as The Ramones became icons to the British
Punks, who were seeking a new identity. In 1976, the first Punk rock band to
make it onto the British stage were the Sex Pistols. The invasion of punk rock
era was feared by the general public, as punk rock bands were subversive. The
Clash followed the Sex Pistols onto the Punk rock stage, creating a DIY punk
independent scene throughout England. The famous Kings road and clubs such as
the Roxy were the hub of the 70’s punk scene in London. Vivienne Westwood and
Malcolm McLaren had a boutique on the Kings Road called SEX, selling and
exhibiting punk creations with a fetish, S/M inspiration.

(Ridgers, 2006) Derek Ridgers Capturing Punk Rock
London first hand in 1977

 

We can see a contrast in both British Punk vs American
Punk, British punk was somewhat more aggressive and dangerous than the punk movement
in New York, which was less controversial. Perhaps it was the timing and the
economic situation of the country, the lack of authority with more freedom to
be subversive, disrupt the law.

According to (Hebdige, 1979)6
Subcultures are objects of authentic expression only as long as they remain
undiscovered by the market. For Hebdige, the point at which subculture style is
incorporated into the market it is simultaneously stripped of its cultural
message and becomes a meaningless object of mass consumption. (Bennett, 2000).7

We can argue, is punk is the same now as it was in
the 70’s, does it have the same meaning and is the movement alive? I believe
the movement has evolved to a great extent, in terms of fashion as Hebdige believes,
the commercial mass consumption of punk means the loss of its value &
authenticity. Many fashion brands that have been influenced by the ‘punk look’.
Some examples of designers that have incorporated the look through the years;
Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent & Vivienne Westwood.

The revived ‘Punk Look’ seen at Saint
Laurent Fall / Winter 2015 – 2016

 

Vivienne Westwood, the iconic designer who could be
seen as ‘the mother of British punk’ is largely responsible for bringing modern
punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.

Fashion shows incorporated the ‘punk look’ with
ripped jeans, mini-skirts with torn tights and heavy chain accessories,
head-to-toe leather with extravagant hairstyles, creating a moody &
rebellious collection. 

Vivienne Westwood, DIY – Destroy T-Shirt,
Provoking People with PUNK,

Emblazoned with a bold red Nazi
swastika, an inverted image of Christ on the cross, the word “DESTROY,” and Sex
Pistols lyrics, this anarchic 1977 shirt epitomised Westwood and partner Malcolm McLaren’s trailblazing
brand of punk politics. (Dazed digital, 2015)

Today, the punk movement is no longer underground, the
culture is very different in comparison to the 70’s, the economy has developed,
media has reached a global platform and the fashion world is constantly
evolving. Although, we see punk interpreted through fashion collections and
catwalk shows since the 70’s.

Punk led the way for creation, the new wave of the
70’s to today has influenced singers such as Lady Gaga from her music to the
way she expresses herself fearlessly through fashion, she is brave, rebellious and
unique with an unapologetic passion for artistic expression.

Lady Gaga, January 2011

 

Throughout the years fashion designers have shown style
influenced by the punk era, it was an extremely important subculture that has made
an impact in fashion since the beginning. As a style Punk is about chaos,
anarchy and rebellion, the aesthetic of violence was intrinsic to the clothes,
which were often customized with destructing the garments by ripping jeans,
shirts with accessorising studs, spikes, zippers, safety pins, and razor
blades. They created an armour or shield like uniform opposite from the
‘ordinary’, resisting the worlds politics and rules.

In 2013; we famously saw the Metropolitan museum of
New York hold the Spring Costume Exhibition, ‘PUNK: Chaos to Couture’.
Celebrities wore recreations of the Punk pieces from the 70’s, some wore
recycled DIY pieces from the 70’s and others hand made to measure haute couture
outfits. Punk rock has given a new way of thinking to designers, beauty doesn’t
need to be perfect, a DIY destructed garment can bring the ‘punk attitude but
also be beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miley Cyrus’ in Marc Jacobs at the 2013
Met Gala

 

 

 

Madonna in Riccardo Tisci at the 2013 Met Gala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can argue the importance of punk
culture and which movement was more powerful, fashion or music? Or perhaps one
would not exist without the other, as
described by Malcolm McLaren “Fashion was much more important than the
music. Punk was the sound of fashion.” (Anon., 2007).8
It is almost impossible to look at collections today and not identify a ‘punk
style symbol’, existing in almost every fashion house. We see at the French fashion
house, Balmain’ style of heavy metal embellished, studded jackets, partnered with
leather trousers and baggy t-shirts, it’s the modern Punk! We can also see Saint
Laurent inspired by Punk style, collections mostly black in colour, with lots
of chains, leather, embellishment and a ‘worn or dishevelled’ punk style. The
brands today are also very in tune with the music scene of our generation,
similar to that of the 70’s Music & Fashion, of complementing each industry.

In conclusion, the Punk era was highly influential
to the fashion industry even more so than the music industry, punk fashion lives
on today through designers and anyone who wants to wear the style symbols. There
will always be something to rebel against.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

Anon., 2007. The Telegraph. Online
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3668263/Malcolm-McLaren-Punk-it-made-my-day.html
Accessed 2018.
Bennett, A.,
2000. Popular Music and Youth Culture, Music identity and place. First
ed. London: Palgrave .
Brake, M.,
1985. Comparative youth culture : the sociology of youth cultures and
youth subcultures in America, Britain, and Canada. 1st edition ed.
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Hebdige, D.,
1979. Subculture the meaning of style. First ed. New York: Taylor
& Francis Ltd.
Larouci, S.,
2017. When the punk changed fashion and music. Vogue Italia, 1(1), p.
152.
Muggleton,
D., 2002. Inside Subculture: The Postmodern Meaning of Style (Dress, Body,
Culture). 1st edition ed. London : Bloomsbury.
Ridgers, D.,
2006. Derek Ridgers on forty years of punk fashion Interview (9 June
2006).
Trueman, C.
N., 2015. The History Learning Site. Online
Available at: https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/sociology/crime-and-deviance/marxism-and-crime/

Accessed 10 January 2018.
 

 

Works Cited
Anon., 2007. The Telegraph. Online
Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3668263/Malcolm-McLaren-Punk-it-made-my-day.html
Accessed 2018.
Bennett, A.,
2000. Popular Music and Youth Culture, Music identity and place. First
ed. London: Palgrave .
Brake, M.,
1985. Comparative youth culture : the sociology of youth cultures and youth
subcultures in America, Britain, and Canada. 1st edition ed. London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Hebdige, D.,
1979. Subculture the meaning of style. First ed. New York: Taylor &
Francis Ltd.
Larouci, S.,
2017. When the punk changed fashion and music. Vogue Italia, 1(1), p.
152.
Muggleton,
D., 2002. Inside Subculture: The Postmodern Meaning of Style (Dress, Body,
Culture). 1st edition ed. London : Bloomsbury.
Ridgers, D.,
2006. Derek Ridgers on forty years of punk fashion Interview (9 June
2006).
Trueman, C.
N., 2015. The History Learning Site. Online
Available at: https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/sociology/crime-and-deviance/marxism-and-crime/

Accessed 10 January 2018.
 

Images

 

Derek Ridgers, Dazed &
Confused, 2006

http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/31463/1/derek-ridgers-on-forty-years-of-punk-fashion

 

Lady Gaga, 2011

What Do Lady Gaga’s Recent Outfits Tell Us About Her New Album?

 

Saint Laurent Fall / Winter
2015 – 2016

http://en.vogue.fr/fashion/fashion-shopping/diaporama/fall-winter-2015-2016-runway-trend-punk-spirit/22150#le-defile-saint-laurent-automne-hiver-2015-2016_image1

 

Vivienne Westwood, Destroy T-Shirt,
1977

http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/24335/1/vivienne-westwood-s-top-ten-political-moments

 

Madonna in Riccardo Tisci at
the 2013 Met Gala, Getty Images

https://www.wmagazine.com/gallery/madonna-met-gala-red-carpet/all

 

Miley Cyrus’ in Marc Jacobs
at the 2013 Met Gala

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2013/05/07/met-gala-2013-anne-hathaway-miley-cyrus-embrace-punk/?utm_term=.b023de26ee25

 

 

 

 

1 Trueman 2015, Marxism and
Crime, online article

2 Hebdige 1979, Subculture
and the meaning of style P10, 11, 15, 80

3 Brake 1985, Comparative
Youth Culture

4 Hebdige 1979, Subculture and
the meaning of style

5 Andy Bennett, 2000, popular
music and youth culture, music identity and place

6 Hebdige 1979, Subculture and
the meaning of style

7 Andy Bennett, 2000, popular
music and youth culture, music identity and place

8 The Telegraph article,
Malcolm McLaren Interview by Telegraph, Punk it made my day, 2007.