Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
Subject: skinhead
Culture: Anglo-American
Setting: America, Britain


* Dobratz/Shanks-Meile 1997 p63
"When one hears the name skinheads, one may think of young men with shaved heads and swastikas engaging in violence.  ... [N]ot all skinheads are racist and ... in fact those who are not are actually more numerous.  Skinhead organizations that are vehemently opposed to racism are called 'Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice' (SHARP).  The skinheads began in Great Britain in the 1960s and developed in the United States during the 1980s."  [references omitted]

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Valentine 1995 p170-171
"Skinheads first appeared in the late 1960s in Great Britain.  [CONTRA Moore 1993 p4]  At first the trend appeared to be nothing more than youthful rebellion, part of which was directed against the Mods and hippie types of this era.  The Mods were affluent, stylishly dressed youngsters that dominated the British rock-and-roll scene, and the hippies were permissive, submissive nonconfomists.  The young skinheads considered themselves working-class citizenry and resented the Mods and the hairy, raggedy hippies who seemed to have unlimited funds with which to frolic across Western Europe seeking excitement.
    "[...] During the 1980s, as the skinhead ranks increased dramatically, hordes of immigrants were arriving daily.  Pakistanis, West Indians, East Indians, Asians and others disembarked and immediately started taking advantage of welfare and other benefits, including low-cost housing and medical care, that was paid for by British taxpayers.  At this time, when unemployment was a grave concern, immigrants that were willing to work were accepting wages far lower than what the native-born would.  This contributed to the loathing the skinheads held for the immigrants, which quickly developed into raw hatred.
    "[...] As other Western European countries struggled with the problem of rampant immigration during this time, the skinhead movement was moving across borders and oceans.  In the United States, especially on the West Coast, skinheads attacked Asians and other nonwhites and desecrated Jewish cemeteries and synagogues.  The U.S. and British skinheads, bound together by a common language and purpose, maintained close communication through newsletter, direct mail, and travel."

* Moore 1993 p4
"The skinheads evolved in America during the 1980s [CONTRA Valentine 1995 p170-171] from first being viewed as another counter-cultural component somehow connected to the punk music scene, to being recognized as a separate group outliving the reformulation or virtual death of that scene and developing a specifically political agenda drawing skinheads closer to right wing hate movements in the United States, England, and Europe.  This transformation was accompanied by a growth throughout the decade in the number of skinheads but far more markedly in skinhead commission of hate crimes -- bias crimes motivated by a spirit or ideology of hostility against victims because of their race, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation.  By the end of the 1980s they achieved a reputation as the most violent extremist group in the country."


* Dobratz/Shanks-Meile 1997 p63
"...[S]kinhead' refers to a traditional British working-class delinquent subculture that is predominantly drawn from the semiskilled and unskilled manual working class.  In the late 1960s, a skinhead style developed that celebrated traditional working-class values and was concerned about the economic and social issues facing the working-class community (e.g., dead-end jobs, lack of housing, poor education).  Big boots, a certain style of jeans, and short cropped haircuts were often means of identification of a skinhead.  ... [T]he hair style may have been a reaction to that of the longhaired, more middle-class hippies.  ... '[S]hort hair was a rejection of elitist acid rock, Carnaby Street fashion, and exotic drugs such as marijuana, hashish and LSD.'"  [references omitted]

Valentine 1995 p171
"The skinheads were quick to develop their own identity: close-cropped hair, clean-shaven faces, tight jeans, button-down short-sleeve shirts, bomber jackets, narrow suspenders, and the most important accouterment [SIC], the high-topped, steel-toed, commando-style boots."

* Dobratz/Shanks-Meile 1997 p64
"Although in Great Britain skinheads were tied closely to working-class culture, that linkage is not as strong in the United States; there are numerous middle-class skinheads.  The shaved head image does not always characterize skinheads.  ADL's worldwide survey of skinheads suggested that some skinheads are intentionally letting their hair grow long and changing their clothes styles, making it more difficult for them to be observed by law enforcement.  In Hamm's survey of 36 people, only 32 percent of those he labeled 'terrorists' shaved their heads, whereas more than half of the nonterrorists did."  [references omitted]

​* Surfers soulies skinheads & skaters 1996 (describing late 1980s UK skinheads)
"From 1978 punk style fused with skinhead to create a scruffier 'bonehead' look.  Bleached orange tab Levi's were worn because of their narrow cut and skin-tight fit, negating the need for braces, which became purely decorative and were worn hanging down.  Bootlaces were colour coded and slogan t-shirts were worn to flaunt political or football team affiliations."


* Valentine 1995 p171
"Baseball bats and steel-toed jackboots were their favorite weapons.  These lethal boots were inevitably outlawed, but a substitute was soon found: Doc Martens.  These boots were comfortable, sturdy, high-topped, could be shined to a high gloss, and had as many as 20 eyelets."