I’m 55. I sometimes think that I’m part of the first generation of men who haven’t had to grow up, or at least not from an aesthetic perspective.
When I was taking my first penny loafer-shod footsteps into exploring fashion in the late 1970s, in my early teens, things were a lot more tribal than they are today. I was a second generation mod. Sharp clothes, Italian styling with a British twist, a US Army gas cape parka, and a playlist that comprised of British rhythm and blues and American soul ringing in my ears.
I wasn’t a punk, I wasn’t a skinhead, or a new romantic, and I certainly wasn’t a rocker. I was a mod, and I belonged.
All of that seems very trivial now, but it was fun, and it’s fascinating how the clothes and music choices we made as teenagers still stay with us. Walk down any high street in any city or small town, and you can see men of my age or a few years older, still influenced by the tribe they belonged to 40 to 50 years previously.
From the perspective of a documentary photographer it makes for a fascinating study, and I have spent the last few years capturing images of these characters across Wales and the south west of England. My eldest son is now 21, and wears clothes that would easily fit in my wardrobe. That’s certainly not something that I could have said of my father when I was his age. What I think will be interesting in the future is how today’s youth street fashions, which to my eyes seem far more homogenous, translate into middle-aged style statements.
For now though, punk’s not dead, it’s just taking statins and walking with a stick.