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:

Saint Laurent Saint Laurent Saint Laurent a sauvage Belstaff ada & nik a sauvage Belstaff ada & nik

Further Lookbook Inspiration

zara editions aw13 zara aw12 Calliope aw14 allsaints ss13 h&m aw14 the koopels aw12 topman ss14 house of fraser aw14 customellow aw14 reiss aw14 allsaints august 2014 new look aw14

Key Pieces
  • Asos Leather Biker Jacket
  • Allsaints Griffin Leather Biker Jacket
  • Reclaimed Vintage Leather Biker Jacket
  • Topman Black Borg Collar Biker Jacket
  • Topman Selected Homme Greaser Black Leather Biker Jacket
  • Sandro Slim-fit Leather Biker Jacket
  • French Connection Sabah Leather Biker Jacket
  • Belstaff Kendal Leather Biker Jacket 206319
  • He By Mango Leather Biker Jacket
  • Uk 50pcs Metal Cone Screwback Spikes Stud Punk Bracelet Leather Bag Cloth Shoe
  • Anarchy Punks Not Dead Sew On Woven Patch
  • The Exploited Rock Punk Patch
  • 88g – 100 Metal Cone Screwback Spike Stud Goth Punk Bag Leather Craft Diy 7x10mm
  • Punk Badge Collection
  • The Stranglers Punk Pin Button Badge Set

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:

Junya Watanabe Junya Watanabe lou dalton Alexander Wang Belstaff a sauvage Alexander Wang Belstaff a 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

he by mango blacksmith aw14 allsaints 2013 the kooples aw14 the kooples aw14 the kooples aw14 scotch & soda aw14 amsterdams blauw allsaints aw12 scotch & soda aw13 amsterdams blauw bellfield aw14 debenhams hammond & co aw14 drykorn aw14

Key Pieces
  • Dr Martens – Pascal Mens – Smokethorn
  • Dr Martens Mens Black Boanil Brush Leather Arthur Boots
  • Allsaints District Boot
  • Topman Tmd Hi Boot Black Leather Hi-leg Military-look Lace Boot
  • New Look Military Boots
  • Grenson Joseph Grain Boots In Black
  • Oliver Spencer Leather Boots
  • Belstaff Barrington Pebble-grain Leather Lace-up Boots
  • Dr. 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:

Saint Laurent Casely-Hayford Junya Watanabe

Further Lookbook Inspiration

asos aw13 the kooples sport aw14 the kooples sport aw13 ami aw13 M.Grifoni denim aw13 allsaints august 2014 drykorn aw14 boohoo man aw14

Key Pieces
  • Reclaimed Vintage Sleeveless Check Shirt In Longline
  • Vintage Renewal Overdyed Plaid Flannel Shirt
  • River Island T-shirt In Tartan Check
  • Comme Des Garcons Checked Slim-fit Trousers
  • Mcq Alexander Mcqueen Check Cotton Shirt
  • Topman Red And Black Check Longer Length Longsleeve T-shirt
  • River Island Red Check Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Saint Laurent Tartan Woven-wool Scarf
  • River Island Red Tartan Braces

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:

junya watanabe lanvin

Further Hairstyle Inspiration

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…