Punk fashion generally consists of specific hairstyles, jewelry, makeup, clothes, or body modifications. Even though it is a fashion type, punk fashion can never be discussed without a reference to its relationship with the music industry. Everyone knows about classic rock music and the punk fashion these artists glorified.
History of the Punk Rock Subculture
The punk rock subculture was a movement that first appeared in the mid-1970s. The punk subculture was a combination of punk rock music and punk fashion. However, punk music was initially produced by Americans, but the punk attitude and fashion were the inventions of the British people.
In the beginning, it was somewhat a by-product of the hippie movements of the 1960s and their idealism. Later, it became more like a continuation of the political upheavals of the 60s.
In the early days of the punk subculture, the bands of the times took the responsibility of representing the punk culture and fashion. The first-ever band that displayed distinctive punk music and fashion was the English band named “The Clash.”
Punk Fashion in the 70s and 80s
1970s Punk Fashion
The 1970s was the beginning of punk subculture and fashion, and punk fashion in those days was considered anti-materialistic. Generally, punk fashion was about short unkempt hair, simple yet dirty clothes, and leather jackets. It was more about wearing second-hand, cheap, and basic colored clothes instead of buying expensive and vibrant colored clothes.
While the template was almost the same among the American and British punks, the British punk fashion also included patches, blood, shirts covered with slogans, and controversial images that were not very common among the Americans. Other accessories that some of the punks wore during the 70s included fishnet stockings, spiked jewelry, safety pins, silver bracelets, and eyeliner (by both men and women).
Punks usually used everyday items for their fashion aesthetics; for example, they would hold purposely ripped clothes with tape or safety pins. Bin liners were worn as dresses, and razor blades became jewelry for punks. The shoes in punk fashion were mostly brothel creepers, military shoes, and motorcycle boots, and the hairstyles were deliberately left messy and colored with bright unnatural colors.
1980s Punk Fashion
During the 80s, some new styles were introduced in the punk subculture. The typical punk fashion we see today was originated in the United Kingdom during the 80s. This was the decade when punk subculture went into its UK28, Oi! and street punk renaissance. During the same era, American punk fashion was also exemplified by the bands such as Minor Threat and Black Flag. Even though punk fashion had some new things in it, the 70s’ punk fashion elements never completely vanished.
In the 1980s, common footwear fashion included combat boots, Marten boots, and motorcycle boots. Bleach splattered dirty jeans, bullet belts, heavy chains, and studded bands were common among the punks during the 80s. The hairstyles changed in the 80s, and most punks were seen with spikes, shaved heads, or Mohawk hairstyles. These people would either bleach the ends of the long spikes or color them in bright colors. The 1980s’ punk fashion trends were more extreme than the 70s.
Different Styles of the Punk Subculture
The punk subculture has different subgroups, i.e., various substyle groups of punks. Although these subgroups have different styles, there is still some crossover present among them.
Following are the most famous styles of punk fashion:
Anarcho-punk is the punk subgroup whose fashion revolves around black and military-style clothing. This style was first introduced by the English band called “Crass.” The style is named Anarcho-punk because of the enormous use of anarchist symbols, clothing items, and slogans. Mohawk and liberty spike hairstyles are common among this subgroup.
Anarcho-punk fashion mostly includes spiked or studded bands, T-shirts, tight trousers, and boots. The hairstyling products usually used by punks of this subgroup come from the manufacturers who do not test them on animals. Leather is avoided because of the major vegan beliefs; instead, leather-like material is often used by this punk subgroup.
Cowpunk is another subgroup of punk subculture. Fans of this subgroup often base their style on the “Poor Boys” of Southern United States. They are often seen wearing wife-beaters, Perfecto motorcycle jackets, overalls, work boots, trucker hats, and acid-washed jeans. However, the common hairstyles among the fans include crew cut, psychobilly-style Mohawk, and short quiff.
3. Celtic Punk
Celtic punk style is more of a combination of hardcore, Oi!, street punk, and traditional Irish or Scottish clothing. Common wearables among this subgroup include sneakers, boots, grandfather shirts, kilts, jeans, hoodies, work trousers, donkey-jackets, black leather jackets, T-shirts, flat caps, Tam O’Shanter caps, tuques, and Trilby hats.
Lastly, unlike other punk styles, fans of Celtic punk keep their hair relatively short.
4. Dark Cabaret & Gypsy Punk
Dark cabaret and Gypsy punk fans usually imitate the 1920s music hall costumes and burlesque performers, often known as “Once fashionable trash” by many modern critics. Female fans of this style often combine fetish clothing and dress clothing, such as wearing fishnet stockings with tailcoats or top hats.
On the other hand, male fans wear vintage Bowler hats, tweed cloth vests, and battered fedoras. Dark cabaret & gypsy punk fans often wear heavy boots, drainpipe trousers, and white makeup.
5. Hardcore Punk
The hardcore punk style itself has several different dressing styles, and it is also one of the punk styles that started in the 1970s. It may be the most interesting subgroup of the punk subculture, as there are so many variations. For example, if one thing is considered fashionable in one branch, the other branch of hardcore punk will dislike that same thing.
It is more of a casual and working-class type of punk fashion. Short hair and plain working-class dresses are considered a part of the hardcore punk style. Hardcore skinheads are also known as “American punk skinheads,” but the dressing style of hardcore skinheads is less strict than other skinhead styles such as Oi! skinhead style and traditional skinhead.
6. Deathrock and Horror Punk
Goth fashion and horror punk are almost the same. The predominant color in this punk style is black, while fishnet stockings and corsets are commonly worn in this style. The T-shirts, patches, and jewelry are often full of horror and occult images.
The initials D and R are usually the part of crossbones logos accompanied by the initials of the place a punk belongs to. Moreover, common hairstyles among horror punk fans include deathhawk style, angled bangs, and devilock style.
Some other Punk Fashion Subgroups
Punk fashion is diverse, and the other subgroups include Skate punk, Ska punk, Street punk, and Oi!, Dance-punk, Crust punk, Garage punk, Glam punk, Psychobilly punk, and Pop punk.
Just like any other fashion trend, punk fashion also changed throughout the years. Punk fashion had been a combination of several other fashion elements. However, piercings, silver jewelry, and spiked bands have always been common among punk subcultures, while black color has always been the favorite color of punks. A punk motto says, “Punk is not dead,” and it can’t be more accurate, as punk fashion never stopped trending.