We are, we are, we are the mods.

Discussion in 'Suits' started by reetpleat, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    As an aficionado of vintage clothing and vintage youth sub culture, I like to think I know quite a bit about the mods, compared to your average guy. But I must admit, I know very little about the actual suits of the mods. I know they were working class youth, and they favored cutting edge Italian style. I know they had their suits custom tailored if they could. I know they were fairly slim cut, and I know they were often purchased from tailors on Carnaby Street. I know the face mods changed their style frequently so as to keep ahead of the followers who copied their style. I also know that I could be wrong about any and all of this. So, whoever knows, fill me in, and whoever has pics of real mod suits or slacks or whatever, please do post.
     
  2. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    This book, 'Mods' by Richard Barnes is really good as a reference on the fashions and hairstyles of the period.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mods-Richard-Barnes/dp/0859651738

    It it filled with photographs showing the Mod scene, especially in the early days. It describes a wide variety of suit styles: vents varied widely, with fashions changing by the week; trousers were sometimes worn with a slight flare, some had stepped cuffs or a small vent on the outside seam. I'm sure that there were some hard-care mods who briefly wore trousers with buttons on the seam (like sleeve buttons). There was a early period where 'bum freezer' jackets were worn and also a brief period of wearing the traditional 'city gent' look. Then as the scene changed in the latter period, there was a move towards narrow double-breasted regency inspired suits. Shirt collars also varied widely: rounded collars, long pointed button downs, tab collars.

    The 'Mods' book also describes how colourful leisure where slipped into the mainstream via the Mods, who found continental casual clothing that was previously mainly worn by homosexuals.

    Of the two original London Mods that I have known, one was a North London Jewish lad who was in the early hardcore mod scene and worked in a clothes shop. The other was from South London, a bit younger and from a rougher scene: he later became a skinhead and told amazing tales (like the time he went to see the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park in about 1968/69 - i asked him if they were any good - he couldn't recall the band since, as he recalled "We only went there to beat up hippies.")
     
  3. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    Further to the above, I found this: http://www.modculture.co.uk/stamford-hill-mods-the-genesis-of-marc-bolan/

    It relates to an exhibition about the early mod scene in London's Stamford Hill area, in particular Marc Feld (later Marc Bolan of T-Rex fame). In the photos on the link, Bolan is wearing a leather waistcoat under a very traditionally cut English style hacking jacket. His jacket is nothing like the traditional Mod image of the very high button stance, very narrow lapel style of mod jacket. Instead, it is all about very smart, very traditional styling combined with the modern twist of the leather waistcoat. He is just 15 years old in the main picture.
     
  4. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    Many people have an image of the later years of "mod" english fashion, such as paisley shirts under a suit or frills or ruffles and such. As cool as that is, it is not the original mod attire.
     
  5. Dixon Cannon

    Dixon Cannon My Mail is Forwarded Here

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  6. reetpleat

    reetpleat Call Me a Cab

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    Great pics. Thanks. Funny, what you call a traditional hacking jacket is exactly what I would think of as mod. I know the teddy boys copied edwardian, traditional upper class style, but didn't the mods also to a point. I kind of thought they were either wearing the latest Italian style, or very traditional fine tailoring in traditional upper clas styles, with minor details that might be recognizable to other mods. Maybe I am wrong about that.
     
  7. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    The most common mod suits were a three button with a high button stance, usually cut tight to the body, rather than the hacking jacket style. As a rule (apart from the brief and very elitist flirtation with city gent styles) mod wasn't about British style, it was about a continental image, with elements of Ivy League styles thrown in. They were trying to break away from their parents and earlier generations. So the heavy weight wools were out, instead replaced by light weight mohair and tonic suits (which were much more comfortable for dancing in sweaty basement nightclubs). Bowling shoes were popular because the soles were light and slick - again they were ideal for dancing.

    Your comment about how people perceive mod as being paisley shirts and ruffled shirts under a suit interested me. I assume that is because by the time the British mods reached the USA, their image had changed (and was adopted by American bands *). That's the whole 'swinging sixties' look that was parodied in the Austin Powers films. Whilst I hated the parody of that style, I rather like the original look. My music tastes really centre around that mid to late sixties freakbeat/garage/psych-pop sound, and back in the 1980s I sort of adopted elements of that look (home-made polka dot shirts, striped morning suit trousers etc). I couldn't do it thesedays since it's a look that relies on being worn on a young man. I'm a bit old and big for it nowadays.

    * on the point about American bands copying the British image: I find it amusing that by the mid sixties the British look had mutated to the Regency look (high button stance, double breasted jackets - often with the rising Regency collar). In the USA this seemed to mutate into something else, with bands like Paul Rever & The Raiders wearing outfis from the time of the revolutionary war. But the one band that makes me laugh is an obscure outift called 'The Scarlet Henchmen'. Around 1965-66 - just as everyone else was reacting to the 'mod' styles of the British Invasion - they adopted a British look that involved wearing cardigans, cravats and smoking pipes. They also did a song called 'Crystal Palace': in the song the crystal palace is some mystical psychedlic location - rather than the reality of being a massive glass structure in South London - or my local football team.
     
  8. MikeBravo

    MikeBravo One Too Many

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    I would venture to suggest that the worlds first taste of the mod culture was through the bands The Who and The Kinks, who by the time they left the UK wore that style of clothes

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  9. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

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    Mod culture is something that has rarely been captured in any book. This is simply because it thrived on being unknown. Very few photographs exist, for example, of the clubs frequented by the Mods, because most Mods would avoid a camera like the plague!

    Let me explain. There were two versions of the Mods. The first ones were Londoners, mainly Jewish kids, who would meet up at places like the Scene Club, at Ham Yard in Soho. Their dress started with slightly outrageous things such as cloaks, but soon morphed into an anti-fashion look of casual sweaters, loafers, and nylon macs etc. This would have been between 1962 and 1964. This scene was then grabbed by the emerging Carnaby Street movement, and marketed as a High Street look. At that point, most of the original kids moved on, and London mods became largely connected with Football supporting gangs, who, by the end of the 60's, had become the Skinheads.

    The Small Faces & the Who were NOT Mods. They were simply groups that dressed in the Carnaby Street version of Mod fashion, in order to cash in on that scene. And the clothes seen on the Kinks and the Who in the previous post are a million miles from Mod. That is simply Carnaby Street stuff from around 1966.

    The second Mod movement was the one that took place in the rest of the UK - inspired by the original London Jews, but separate from it. I am talking 1964-1970. I became part of that scene in 1965. In terms of clothes, we also took the casual gear such as loafers, sweaters and macs as a starting point, and also adopted the sharp mohair suits, which were inspired by clothes worn by US performers such as Curtis Mayfield, and his group, the Impressions. By now, Mods were not just about clothes - it was a lifestyle. Clothes, records, dancing, and All-night music clubs were the essentials.

    The latter aspect is one of the reasons for the relative rarity of photographs. In order to dance all night, Amphetamine based pills, and quite a few of them. were an intregral part of most nights, and the wide-eyed look they gave you was easily spotted by the local Drug Squad, so looking into a camera was something you simply did not do.

    Also, to be a working class kid wearing fine mohair suits, silk ties and hankies, and polished Tricker shoes or riding boots, when most kids at the time were long haired and quite scruffy, was simply inaccessible to folks in the street.

    Levi Jeans began to appear in the UK in around 1963, but were not readily available throughout the country until around 1965/66. I bought my first pair in 1965, but had to travel quite a distance to get them, as the shops in my nearest city had never heard of them. Pretty soon, Levis (and soon after, Lee Riders) became part of Mod clothing. Jean jackets in various cloths became popular too.

    There was also an interest in leather and suede, and full-length (down to within 6 inches of the ground) leather coats became a must-have for many Mods. Again, this seems to have rarely been photographed!

    Here is a pic, taken in the cellar of one of the best clubs, the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. Poor quality, I'm afraid, but as I said, there was a good reason why not many of these exist. This is around 1967. The guy in the foreground in wearing a vintage A2 leather (we could buy them very cheaply via mail-order back then), faded Levis, and black leather driving gloves.

    Innocuous enough to not draw attention from "ordinary folk", but stylish enough to be recognized by another Mod. THAT is what the scene was about. And it worked. Most people walking past us had no idea that the scene even existed.

    [​IMG]

    By 1970, most of the clubs frequented by the Mods had gone. Inevitable, really, considering the illegality of the drugs being used. And so the Mods disappeared.

    If you want to read about the real Mod culture, rather than the one Carnaby Street sold to the media, I can recommend the book "Central 1179" by Rylatt & Scott. This tells the whole story of the rise of RnB music, and the Mod scene that supported it, in the UK.:D;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  10. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    Thta's fascinating stuff, Majormajor. It reinforces the idea that 'mod' was a wide and very varied movement. I can remember when some people throught the Beatles were mod - then the image of mod became that of Phil Daniels in Qudrophenia. Now, swathes of the younger population will think of Bradley Wiggins when they think of mod (although his image seems to come out of the mid-sixties regency revival - filtered through the spirit of Paul Weller - raher than out of the original modernist styles).

    Your reference to the Twisted Wheel was interesting. Wasn't that one of the major players in the rise of Northern Soul? There's a sort of unbroken thread from the mods, right through to recent fashions: mods>skinheads>the seventies scooter clubs>Northern Soul>the mod revival>casuals etc. Right up to now when you still see plenty of short haired, middle aged men, with expensive jeans and harrington jackets - usually going to football. It's the mod/casual/skinhead axis.

    Your point about long leather coats was also interesting: they portrayed this in the film of Quadrophenia, I think two characters appear in long leather coats.

    I suppose it is similar to punk: the original punk look was far different to cartoonish studded leather jacket and mohican look of the later punks. When you look back at the first punks they were wearing old skinny sixties suits, winklepickers, shirts and ties. I can still remember the first time I saw a punk: she was wearing a man's shirt, skinny black tie, stilletos and fishnet stockings (no skirt or trousers). She looked great.

    I know this is off the timescale of Fedora Lounge fashions etc, but it's still fascinating. Do you have any more pictures from the clubs etc? i'd like to see them.
     
  11. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

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    Well, very much yes. And very much no!!

    As I said, we kept ourselves under the radar in the 60's, and I guess we did it too well, because even so-called "experts" manage to leave us out of history.

    Yes, the Twisted Wheel played a pivotal role in establishing a following in the UK for black american RnB and Jamaican Ska music. And just about all the classic "Northern" records were first aired at the Wheel.

    However, the name "Northern" has become associated with the mid 70's and younger era, typified by Wigan Casino and folks in silly baggy trousers. And the Wheel, and the Mods, were both a million miles from that scene:D;)
     
  12. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    What I meant was the idea that 'the wheel' was one of the places that brought rare black American records to a wider audience and kept that music alive. So, whilst it was not part of the Northern Soul scene, i would think of it as one of the things that paved the way for the later growth of that scene.

    I had a look at the book you mentioned: it looks like a fascinating slice of social history. That always has to be a good thing.

    Out of interest (and back on the main theme of this thread) what were the chosen suit styles for you and your mates in that period? Did you follow suit styles from the south, or did you have your very own fashionale features?
     
  13. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

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    Three button, short narrow lapels, very fitted, usually with side vents (12inches), or a very long centre pleat. All the usual "extras" - ticket pockets, six button cuffs (with working button holes) pick-stitching around the lapels, longer slanted pocket flaps, special linings. Oh, and three piece.

    Back in those days, the best place (in a typical Northern city) was Burton's Tailors, who had a MTM service, and you could pay weekly! They preferred to churn out standard fitting suits, but we pushed the envelope, and they had to produce just what we wanted. After 3 or 4 fittings and alterations on each suit, they can't have made so much money.

    Or maybe they did, because they certainly increased their range of lightweight fine mohair suitings.

    In 1967, the movie "Bonnie & Clyde" came out, which led to us getting some tweed suits, too:D
     
  14. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    Very interesting that you went for three piece suits. I never really thought three-piece suits were popular in the sixties.

    What about shirts and ties? What were the most popular shirt collars (style, length etc) and ties (fabric, square ends vs pointed etc).

    Also interesting about moving into tweeds in the late sixties - they must have been a bit warm for dancing!
     
  15. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

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    Suit jacket & Waistcoat, along with a pair of freshly ironed Jeans was often seen.

    Or the suit trousers with a Levi Jacket.....

    Shirts - Cue @ Austin Reed took some beating. They did some excellent high-collared button down shirts - fitted, with a reverse pleat down the back and double button cuffs. A beautiful garment in a great range of materials - quite a few checks. The Ben Shermans that popped up later were a pale imitation.

    Ties were always Regimental. Folks would sometimes ask us what regiment it was - usually didn't know, because we bought them for the colours and patterns!

    Blazers (again MTM) were popular, and some would sport Regimental badges on the top pocket.

    Silk hankies in the top pocket - everyone had their own way of arranging them.

    Trickers shoes - often brogues. And short Riding boots - usually brown (worn under the trouser, of course).

    And often fine leather driving gloves, to match the colour of your shoes.....

    Most guys had a Levi denim shirt as well, for the more casual times. ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
  16. alsendk

    alsendk A-List Customer

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    a very interesting read TWO TYPES and MAJOR MAJOR
    What are the prime time for The mod era in UK?
    I lived-and worked for IBM in London from 77 to 78
    and at that time the punk movement were at its peak I believe.
    I saw the Sexpistols, the Buzzcocks, the Clash, the Damned, Ian Dury & Blockheads, Sham69, and a lot of other groups at that time
    A true wonder I was not being fired from my job, I was out almost every night, listening to live music at places like Hammersmith Odeon, Marquee at Wardour st. The Dingwalls, the Rainbow Finsbury Park etc.

    But all these groups were punk groups

    Can you name some typical mod groups ? I think the Who was in least one of them...in the beginning of their career
     
  17. majormajor

    majormajor One Too Many

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    The whole Mod scene lasted from 1962 until around 1970.

    Mod groups? - none really. As I said earlier, there were groups who pretended to be Mods, like the Small Faces and the Who. But that was more about their management telling them to do that, and the clothes were more Carnaby Street than Mod. And both soon moved on. Interestingly, the "mod revival" people now call those two groups Mod groups. Just shows how history gets mangled.

    The music of the original Mods was black RnB. So stuff on Motown, Stax, Atlantic, Ric Tic, along with the myriad of obscure labels from Detroit, New York, Chicago,Philadelphia, Memphis, New Orleans etc etc.....

    So this is what a Mod group looked like:

    [​IMG]

    We not only grooved to the music - we dressed like 'em (and they don't look anything like the Who, do they?);)
     
  18. Capesofwrath

    Capesofwrath Practically Family

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    My memories of the Mod scene was that it was all over by 1964/65 and had split into modyobs who had started shaving their temples and were into fighting and were evolving into skinheads, and the emerging alternative scene. A certain type of Mod had always been involved in a crossover with the coffee bar beat and folk scene, and Bob Dylan was very popular. I remember having his first LP when no one in the mainstream in the UK seemed to know who he was.

    Most people seem to associate Mods with the later revivals but 80% of the people I hung around with around 1963 wore parkas over Fred Perry and later Ben Sherman shirts and rode or aspired to scooters. Tweed three piece suits, co-respondents shoes, and the twenties look did become fashionable in the mid sixties but they didn't have much to do with mods by then. Though some mod girls did wear flapper dresses earlier than that and the influence was already there.
     
  19. esteban68

    esteban68 Call Me a Cab

    All of what MM says is pretty spot on, my father in law was a London mod in the sixties after long chats with him over the last 26 years or I have picked up on alot of what he wore, very much skinny suits longish collar shirts skinny ties etc, he has a photo or two somewhere with his Lambretta and all of his Kinks, Bo Diddley records et al...the later mod revival in the late 70's to late 80's was more skinny jeans , Fred Perry polo shirts two tone shoes and 'mod' parkas.
    Funny to think my ultra conservative father in law used to pop 'blues' etc and cause mayhem on occassion( though not nearly as was invented by the press of the time! moral panics and folk devils methinks) bizarre but he finished up as regional head of a very prestigious insurance company, apparently when his parents moved up here in the wild in hospitable 'North' he had to beat the girls off with a 'mucky' stick by all accounts.
     
  20. alsendk

    alsendk A-List Customer

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    very interesting and informative info here.
    When 19, in 69, I was visiting a british girlfriend in Whitehaven Cumbria for a month, and I still remember clearly the two times I was beaten down by some local skinheads from the neighbor city Workington. Big long green coats, military boots, absolutely ball headed and vicious. It was the crowd of girls that each time saved my life :O)
    I guess that mods were not into fighting to the same extend as Skinheads, and perhaps I didn`t even saw any mods in Whitehaven,

    In 69 I was still listening to the Hollies, Kinks, and Brian Auger & Julie driscoll, ...and exerpts from a teenage opera by Keith West....and the Doors, and jazz
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013

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