Punk: A Style & Attitude

Subcultures rarely, if ever, remain subcultures. Despite starting out as the anti-norm, they invariably fracture into ever diminishing cliques and eventually disappear in a kind of cultural homoeopathy, slowly reabsorbed into mainstream society.

The punk movement, which drew upon the Beatniks of the 1960s while rejecting the hippie ideologies of the same decade, was no different in many respects. It splintered into new wave, pop punk, hardcore punk, no wave, street punk and various others. However, one defining element of the movement did not disappear quietly: non-conformity.

What has an anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment and pro-freedom movement defined by aggressive garage rock and youthful rebellion got to do with fashion, you ask? Well, quite a lot as it happens. The spirit of punk lives on in our wardrobes because the desire to be viewed differently, challenge perceptions and be free to experiment is fashion at its very core, although this is easy to forget in today’s mega-corporate world.

Some designers have built their entire brands around the tenets of punk culture and style, most notably Dame Vivienne Westwood and the late Alexander McQueen, while others continue to riff on punk aesthetics – this year we have seen plenty of references on the runways.

We can say with some certainty, and no little relief, that the mohican hairstyle stiffened with egg whites won’t be making a return any time soon, but there are many other elements of the punk look that filtered into AW14 and SS15 collections.

We’ve picked out what we think are some of the most interesting and relevant aspects of the aesthetic, which would add a discordant and rebellious touch to any guy’s wardrobe…

The Biker Jacket

The biker jacket has been ‘owned’ by virtually every subculture that has ever existed, which is tantamount to its great design. It’s hard not to look good in a leather biker – it’s flattering, cropped cut screams masculinity and effortless cool.

The greaser culture of the 1950s and 1960s was arguably when the biker jacket earned notoriety, largely thanks to Marlon Brando and his Schott Perfecto that he wore in The Wild One (1953). That jacket would actually find itself banned from many sales outlets in the UK and the USA due to its rebellious connotations.

Naturally, it then became the blueprint for the punk movement, where it was invariably individualised with badges and patches. For Saint Laurent’s AW14 collection, Hedi Slimane took a trip down punk lane, showing biker jackets replete with studs, contrast lapels and animal print chest panels that were accompanied by stove-pipe jeans or leather pants.

In London, Adrien Sauvage’s leather biker jackets came in textured black or beige, with the collection even including a sleeveless version, while Ada + Nik pushed boundaries in true punk fashion with a leather biker jacket containing a hidden pocket for e-cigarettes.

But perhaps our favourite looks were found in Belstaff’s SS15 collection, shown at Milan Fashion Week earlier this year. Of course, we’ve come to expect exquisite motorcycle jackets from this most quintessential of British brands, but this time round they infused the leather with badges and studs in a nod to youth punk culture:

Men's Leather Biker Jackets On the AW14/SS15 Menswear Runways

Saint LaurentSaint LaurentSaint Laurenta sauvageBelstaffada & nika sauvageBelstaffada & nik
Further Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Leather Biker Jackets Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

zara editions aw13zara aw12Calliope aw14allsaints ss13h&m aw14the koopels aw12topman ss14house of fraser aw14customellow aw14reiss aw14allsaints august 2014new look aw14
Key Pieces
  • Asos Leather Biker JacketAsos Leather Biker Jacket
  • Allsaints Griffin Leather Biker JacketAllsaints Griffin Leather Biker Jacket
  • Reclaimed Vintage Leather Biker JacketReclaimed Vintage Leather Biker Jacket
  • Topman Black Borg Collar Biker JacketTopman Black Borg Collar Biker Jacket
  • Topman Selected Homme Greaser Black Leather Biker JacketTopman Selected Homme Greaser Black Leather Biker Jacket
  • Sandro Slim-fit Leather Biker JacketSandro Slim-fit Leather Biker Jacket
  • French Connection Sabah Leather Biker JacketFrench Connection Sabah Leather Biker Jacket
  • Belstaff Kendal Leather Biker Jacket 206319Belstaff Kendal Leather Biker Jacket 206319
  • He By Mango Leather Biker JacketHe By Mango Leather Biker Jacket
  • Uk 50pcs Metal Cone Screwback Spikes Stud Punk Bracelet Leather Bag Cloth ShoeUk 50pcs Metal Cone Screwback Spikes Stud Punk Bracelet Leather Bag Cloth Shoe
  • Anarchy Punks Not Dead Sew On Woven PatchAnarchy Punks Not Dead Sew On Woven Patch
  • The Exploited Rock Punk PatchThe Exploited Rock Punk Patch
  • 88g – 100 Metal Cone Screwback Spike Stud Goth Punk Bag Leather Craft Diy 7x10mm88g - 100 Metal Cone Screwback Spike Stud Goth Punk Bag Leather Craft Diy 7x10mm
  • Punk Badge CollectionPunk Badge Collection
  • The Stranglers Punk Pin Button Badge SetThe Stranglers Punk Pin Button Badge Set
Boots

Dainty footwear has been well and truly trodden over in recent seasons by an ever-increasing trend for strong, high, military-style boots like the Dr. Martens favoured by punks in the 1970s.

They were stomping down the runway at Lou Dalton’s AW14 show, uniformly black against a predominantly pastel collection, like two ‘up yours!’ signs for your feet.

At Belstaff, they were shin-high and ready for a road trip; A.Sauvage included boots that were buffed up to a high shine and worn with beautifully cut cropped black trousers; while Alexander Wang’s industrial futurist aesthetic came complete with loafer boats, unlaced for added recalcitrance.

Yet perhaps the closest reference to punk was seen at Junya Watanbe, where bright red and navy boots were combined with cropped patchwork legwear:

Men's Punk-Inspired Boots On The AW14 Menswear Runways

Junya WatanabeJunya Watanabelou daltonAlexander WangBelstaffa sauvageAlexander WangBelstaffa sauvage

What’s interesting is that for at least the past few years, designers have been pushing the cropped trouser – but besides a minority of fashion-forward individuals, it’s a look that hasn’t translated into public language.

That might just change if boots can march their way into our collective wardrobes, as the two look great together. We see no reason why not.

Further Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Punk-Inspired Boots Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

he by mango blacksmith aw14allsaints 2013the kooples aw14the kooples aw14the kooples aw14scotch & soda aw14 amsterdams blauwallsaints aw12scotch & soda aw13 amsterdams blauwbellfield aw14debenhams hammond & co aw14drykorn aw14
Key Pieces
  • Dr Martens – Pascal Mens – SmokethornDr Martens - Pascal Mens - Smokethorn
  • Dr Martens Mens Black Boanil Brush Leather Arthur BootsDr Martens Mens Black Boanil Brush Leather Arthur Boots
  • Allsaints District BootAllsaints District Boot
  • Topman Tmd Hi Boot Black Leather Hi-leg Military-look Lace BootTopman Tmd Hi Boot Black Leather Hi-leg Military-look Lace Boot
  • New Look Military BootsNew Look Military Boots
  • Grenson Joseph Grain Boots In BlackGrenson Joseph Grain Boots In Black
  • Oliver Spencer Leather BootsOliver Spencer Leather Boots
  • Belstaff Barrington Pebble-grain Leather Lace-up BootsBelstaff Barrington Pebble-grain Leather Lace-up Boots
  • Dr. Martens 8 Eyelet Lace Up Boot Cherry RedDr. Martens 8 Eyelet Lace Up Boot Cherry Red
The Punk Check

Personally, when I think of Vivienne Westwood, the first thing that comes to mind is that signature red and black punk check pattern. This has been picked up by a number of designers recently.

It’s a very effective way to introduce a punk attitude, but difficult to pull off in a contemporary way. The father-son duo at Casely-Hayford, who often refer to English subcultures for inspiration, were extremely bold with their use of the check for AW14, applying it to a lounge suit and trouser separates that were designed to make a statement.

At Junya Watanabe, meanwhile, the DIY element of punk style was brought to cropped trousers made up of patchwork fabrics and check patterns, with punk-inspired hairstyles to boot. The check also found its way onto socks, which is a subtle but effective touch and an easy way to incorporate a punk attitude into your everyday look without going overboard.

Elsewhere, Saint Laurent used the iconic red check to subvert a shawl lapel dinner jacket – it would take a confident and brave man to turn up to a formal event in that, but that’s what punk calls for, after all:

The Black and Red Punk-Inspired Check On The AW14 Menswear Runways

Saint LaurentCasely-HayfordJunya Watanabe
Further Lookbook Inspiration

Black and Red Punk-Inspired Check Clothing - Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

asos aw13the kooples sport aw14the kooples sport aw13ami aw13M.Grifoni denim aw13allsaints august 2014drykorn aw14boohoo man aw14
Key Pieces
  • Reclaimed Vintage Sleeveless Check Shirt In LonglineReclaimed Vintage Sleeveless Check Shirt In Longline
  • Vintage Renewal Overdyed Plaid Flannel ShirtVintage Renewal Overdyed Plaid Flannel Shirt
  • River Island T-shirt In Tartan CheckRiver Island T-shirt In Tartan Check
  • Comme Des Garcons Checked Slim-fit TrousersComme Des Garcons Checked Slim-fit Trousers
  • Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Check Cotton ShirtMcq Alexander Mcqueen Check Cotton Shirt
  • Topman Red And Black Check Longer Length Longsleeve T-shirtTopman Red And Black Check Longer Length Longsleeve T-shirt
  • River Island Red Check Short Sleeve ShirtRiver Island Red Check Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Saint Laurent Tartan Woven-wool ScarfSaint Laurent Tartan Woven-wool Scarf
  • River Island Red Tartan BracesRiver Island Red Tartan Braces
Hairstyles

Of all the punk motifs, hairstyles prove one’s commitment to the genre. Clothing can be switched quickly enough, but you’re stuck with a green mohican!

Punk hairstyles were an abbreviated message of individuality and rebellion; a coiffed protest full of impact. All manner of impactful and asymmetrical cuts ventured down Junya Watanabe’s AW14 runway, showcasing the punk palette of red and purple to great effect.

At Lanvin, hairstyles were the bridge between punks and skinheads with hair clippered tight and high through the back and sides and finished on the top with severe fringes or long, sharp sweeps of hair.

It’s not a look that’s going to see you rapidly accelerate up the corporate ladder, but then it stands for everything that corporate isn’t. That, in a nutshell, was – and still is – the raison d’etre of punk:

Men's Punk-Inspired Hairstyles On The AW14 Menswear Runways

junya watanabelanvin
Further Hairstyle Inspiration

Men's Punk-Inspired Hairstyles

Final Word

It’s clear to see that punk style continues to influence designers and our wardrobes to this day. Yet it’s important to remember that punk is a mindset – an attitude and way of life – that can’t be reproduced simply by mimicking the aesthetic.

Instead, use the four key aspects identified above to infuse your own look with a subtle sense of rebellion while giving it a much-needed edge.

But what do you think – are you a fan of the trend and the key pieces/hairstyles showcased today? Are there any other elements we missed?

Let us know in the comments section below…