The History of Mods & Skinheads

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In the late 1950s in Post-War Britain, life for the average teenager was somewhat bleak. The rationed mind-set of the WWII generation was still a part of the social consciousness by the mid 50s, and the economy was slow to bounce back from the ravages of the war. Unlike America at the time, few people in Britain had the freedom for social pursuits or the lifestyle of leisure,(a phenomenon enjoyed mainly in the United States), and, especially if you were "working-class", your choices were much narrower. The first Mods, were not technically called Mods, but they were the first to carry-on in a manner that would later befit the ideals of the Mods in Britain. They weren't regents, but did come from middle-class new money; they were the young adult sons of largely Jewish garment manufacturers, (which explains their affinity for, and obsession with clothing.) Many of these stylists had relatives in the U.S. or would visit America frequently to bring back the latest merchandise, which, most importantly were Modern-Jazz or Be-Bop records by artists of the time such as Dave Brubeck, or Miles Davis. At that time, few people in Britain had been exposed to this new form of Jazz. In accordance with the cliché that gay men make for good dressers, so too was the case with this early group of mods. A large percentage of these young men were finding out that they were homosexuals and were likewise frequenting gay haunts around town. Carnaby Street in London was a small avenue where odd clothing shops existed to cater to the needs of those who worked in theatre, and for the flamboyantly gay dresser. However, this group was not flamboyant, and, probably, due to the nature of British society at the time, and the prestigious affiliations held by their families, they were largely closeted homosexuals. Fashion-wise, they were more the progenitors of Beau Brummel than Lord Byron, whereby every subtle detail of the outfit was accounted for, but not in the sense that it

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