How Britpop still rules the men’s fashion world
It’s been 20 years since Oasis played their legendary Knebworth gigs. Over 250,000 people watched the two concerts that defined an era and cemented the dominance of Britpop on the decade.
We’ve taken a look back to the days where the only rivalry that mattered was Blur vs Oasis, when parka jackets reigned supreme and the Mod influence took control of the ‘yoof’ once again.
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For over two decades Britpop has made an impenetrable mark on the world of men’s fashion. Fusing together elements of 60’s fashion with the unmistakable cool swagger of the 90s, a generation was created that will definitely (maybe) live forever.
Britpop wasn’t just about the music, it was a movement that brought about a wave of renewed patriotism. We were proud, we were cocky and we bloody loved being British! Menswear reflected this with a resurgence of interest in heritage brands such as Paul Smith and Fred Perry. We wanted to look like our idols and fashion brands started listening, fulfilling the demand for polo shirts, Harrington jackets and our beloved trackie tops. You couldn’t head to a gig wearing a shirt and tie, you needed to get in the crowd and sing your heart out.
As we look back at the impact of Britpop on men’s fashion, it’s easy to see that it wasn’t a passing trend. Britpop will never have a ‘revival’ because it’s always there, ingrained in our wardrobe and in our culture.
The key aspect of Britpop is that it didn’t push forward in terms of musical progression, it took a step back to the days where bands like The Who, The Kinks and The Beatles reigned supreme. The simplicity in its style inspired a generation of new music icons to pick up guitars, learn the requisite three chords and pay tribute to their heroes. For a movement strongly associated with working class culture, it’s no surprise that fashion took its influence from there too. Doc Marten work boots were the footwear of choice and 70s style cords and tight jeans found themselves back in the limelight. A Fred Perry shirt with an Adidas trackie top over it was the uniform of choice for a night at the pub or in the local gig venue.
Fast forward to 2016 and casual menswear still follows this trend, heritage brands still come out on top when it comes to finding wardrobe essentials and the brands themselves have recognised the need for nostalgia and staying true to the sub cultures that embraced them.
The Harrington jacket is another Britpop favourite that has carried through to modern day fashion. A favourite with Blur frontman Damon Albarn, the iconic tartan lining became a status symbol, the epitome of smart casual for the generation. Of course for the winter months, there was only one choice for outerwear – the parka. Another Britpop must have taken from the Mods, the parka was (and still is) the coat of choice for those looking to unleash their inner Gallagher. One thing that combines all of these items is the simplicity, the fashion was focused on function rather than style, these were clothes designed to see you through the seasons, whether you’re in a beer garden or traipsing through the mud at Glasto. Which leads us to one of the the biggest Britpop culture shifts…
Another thing that Britpop really kickstarted was a new love and demand for live music. The Knebworth gigs were one of the biggest things to hit the music industry for years and over two and a half million people applied for tickets for the two shows. Although festivals had already been established as part of British music culture, it was the reignited love for seeing live music that happened in the 90s.
Fast forward to today’s festivals and we’re still seeing a continuation of those two gigs. A sea of parka jackets and Doc Martens flock to events across the country to witness their guitar heroes playing to the masses. Next time you’re at Leeds, Reading or even Glasto – take a look at the new bands emerging on stage, you can hear the echos of Britpop in their songs and see it in their token parkas.
Of the brands that are still embracing the demand for Britpop inspired fashion, there’s one name that stands above them as a testament to the era’s success. Pretty Green was founded by Liam Gallagher in 2009, out of a desire to create a lifestyle brand that ‘unites people through a love of music and fashion’. The collections are simple, classic clothing with a modern twist, just like the 90s took the Mod style from the 60s. It’s safe to say that the appeal of this British alt-rock movement will never die. How many times have you been stood in a nightclub hoping that the DJ will play ‘Champagne Supernova’ as the last song before you head out into the night? It’s a style of music that defined a generation, influencing how we dressed, where we went and the attitude towards life in general. Keep rocking the parkas and keep your Fred Perry shirts looking fresh, but maybe leave that ill advised Kangol bucket hat in the cupboard – some things are meant to stay in the 90s.