The rise of the Skinhead: Photos document the controversial youth cult

Ian Smith

By the early 1970s, the skinhead subculture started to fade from popular culture, and some of the original skins dropped into new categories, such as the suedeheads (defined by the ability to manipulate one’s hair with a comb),smoothies (often with shoulder-length hairstyles), and bootboys (with mod-length hair; associated with gangs and football hooliganism). Some fashion trends returned to the mod roots, with brogues, loafers, suits, and the slacks-and-sweater look making a comeback.

In the late 1970s, the skinhead subculture was revived to a notable extent after the introduction of punk rock. Most of these revivalist skinheads reacted to the commercialism of punk by adopting a look that was in line with the original 1969 skinhead style. This revival included Gary Hodges and Hoxton Tom McCourt (both later of the band the 4-Skins) and Suggs, later of the band Madness. Around this time, some skinheads became affiliated with far-right groups such as the National Front and the British MovementFrom 1979 onwards, punk-influenced skinheads with shorter hair, higher boots and less emphasis on traditional styles grew in numbers and grabbed media attention, mostly due to football hooliganism. There still remained, however, skinheads who preferred the original mod-inspired styles.

Eventually different interpretations of the skinhead subculture expanded beyond Britain and continental Europe. In the United States, certain segments of the hardcore punk scene embraced skinhead styles and developed their own version of the subculture.

London Skinheads, 1980s (9)

 

London Skinheads, 1980s (10)

 

London Skinheads, 1980s (10)

 

London Skinheads, 1980s (11)

 

London Skinheads, 1980s (12)

 

London Skinheads, 1980s (13)

 

London Skinheads, 1980s (14)