Cool Stuff

Unafraid of novelty and experimentation, some of Mary Quants most popular designs (other than the mighty Mini-Skirt) were colourful patterned tights, white plastic lace-up (Go-Go) boots, plastic raincoats and of course the Hot Pant.

Categorized as ‘short shorts’, they commonly have an inseam length of 2 inches (50 mm) or less. These are a short, tight garment, usually made of cotton, nylon, or some other ‘fun’ material. They are meant to emphasize the buttocks and the legs.

Introduced and credited to Quant in the mid, pop art drenched, swinging sixties, these ultra-groovy micro trousers graced shapely thighs from home town London through to acid soaked Los Angeles and remained popular right up until the early seventies, famously fashioned by cut-off denim clad Daisy Duke in the The Dukes Of Hazzard. 

'Hot Pants (She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants)' is a lyric famously popularised by soul Legend James Brown.  Recorded and released in 1971, the song is an ode to the captivating power of the tiny pants, which band members first saw on their 1970 European tour. In fact the song was recorded and released several months earlier by the fantastically named Gene Summers And The Platinum Fog. 
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Origins of the humble Desert Boot date from the Second World War. British Eighth Army Officers, stationed in Egypt, took to wearing “crepe-soled rough suede boots,” in their off-duty hours. The officers had discovered that these tidy boots were hard-wearing, light weight and very comfortable.

Made and sold in the old bazaars in Cairo, the straightforward design of these boots, partly inspired by Indian chupple sandals and the Dutch Voortrekker boot, captured the imagination of Nathan Clark, of the Clarks Shoes family, when he encountered them whilst on military service in Burma. 

On returning to Somerset, England in 1949, Clark and pattern-cutter Bill Tuxhill set about to recreate the classically clean, two-eyelet construction, formed on a round-toe last.  
Early models were initially only popular in Italy and France, until the 1950 American debut at the Chicago Shoe Fair, coinciding with a UK release. 

In the following years, Desert Boots became fashionable within beatnik culture, (Bob Dylan wore them). The ‘crepe sole squeak’ and ‘duffel coat shuffle’ a familiar sound on folk scene dance floors. 

Famously adopted by sixties mods, who fashioned Desert Boots as part of both smart and casual clothing outfits, they look book with both mohair suit and blue Levis alike.

In 1967 when Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Shackleton, returned from Aden wearing a pair of locally made desert boots, heads were turned.  On his next visit, he took with him orders from several Government ministers for duplicate pairs. 

But it isn’t just politicians who like them (Ken Clarke), in it’s 60 year history the Clarks Desert Boot has sold more than 12 million pairs worldwide; a success which no doubt has something to do with the pedigree endorsement by noteworthy names such as George Harrison, Steve Marriott, Steve McQueen and Phil Daniels.
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Fun to watch and fun to do, groovy in vibe and beatnik in spirit, these charmingly awkward dancers did the Jerk, Swim, Frug, Watusi, Twist and the Pony. Wearing short fringed, tasseled dresses, mini-skirts, bikinis or other scanty clothing, often with their hair left long, for maximum shaking effect, in glass cages or on raised platforms, setting the tone, increasing the energy, working the dance floor. They were the go-go girls.

The term came from the Whiskey A Go-Go, which was one of the first night clubs to feature this phenomenon. It all started in Paris, France, at the first Whiskey A Go-Go (a gogo is French for “in abundance”.)  One of the founders of the American Whiskey A Go-Go, Elmer Valentine, was attending the Cannes Film Festival and went to visit the original Whiskey. He was impressed.

Valentine stayed faithful to the French theme when he opened on the Sunset Strip in 1964. Dancing platforms and cages were installed (enough room for two to three girls) above the stage and crowd. There were 12 dancers to begin with, making $150 a week, for about four hours a night.

The club went on to become a chain: there were two clubs in New York City, and others in Chicago, Atlanta, and San Francisco. Go-Go dancing went further to become an international sensation; by early '65, practically every new club was a go-go one. The dancers, mostly college students, waitresses, young mothers or aspiring actresses had their heyday between 1964-68.

Go-Go Boots were an offshoot, often worn by the dancers and were created by Andre Courreges especially for the purpose. The standard boot was white and low-heeled, rising a bit above the ankles. They could also be knee-high as famously fashioned by Nacy Sinatra
Several factors contributed to go-go dancing's demise, the advent of the hippies, the women's liberation movement and the criminal elements introduction of ‘Go-Go bars’, an offshoot of the dance clubs. These were often seedier with girls often topless or fully nude. Many were actually strip joints and some were fronts for prostitution. The innocent ‘cookie-Goldie Hawn’ era of the swinging sixties go-go girl was over.
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Before the 1960s, the miniskirt was mostly fashioned by ancient Greek’s, Roman Centurions and stripper Josephine Baker, who made one from string and bananas.
In 1965, in a trendy Kings Road boutique,  bob-haired designer Mary Quant finalised several years of research, experimentation and needlework, culminating in the creation of a radically short and decade defining garment. Men loved it, some ladies also. She christened it the Mini-Skirt after her favourite car. 
Owing to Quant's position in the heart of fashionable ‘swinging sixties’ London, the miniskirt was able to spread beyond a simple street fashion into a major international trend. The style came into prominence when model Jean Shrimpton wore a short white shift dress at Derby Day in Australia, where it caused a sensation.  Shrimpton, famous squeeze of famous photographer David Bailey, falsely claimed that the brevity of the skirt was due mainly to having insufficient material.
One unfortunate bi-product of the miniskirt was the impracticality of wearing stockings at the same time. Pantyhose or ‘tights’ were the resulting fashion accessory.
By the mid-nineteen seventies the mini had developed in sobriety and hem-length to the maxi-dress. Men hated it, some ladies also.
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The simple target t-shirt, we’ve all had one at some time or another, so who started this fashion and why?
Admittedly the peacock nature of a mod demands a certain ‘look at me’ dress sense; a target certainly ticks that box perfectly. And the mod-pop-art effect of the simple design is undeniable.
The first person seen sporting a target seems to have been Keith Moon during The Who’s Carnaby Street wardrobe phase, medals, graphic shirts and Union Jack jackets but who’s idea was it?
Peter Meaden, was a manager of the proto-Who-High Numbers. Seen by many as the true mod philosopher poet of the 1960s, his idea's set the standard for the concept of ‘youth-culture as art as commodity’. He became a major influence on Pete Townsend in his formative years, writing the lyrics for the bands first single and is thought to have been the influence for the Jimmy character in Quadrephenia. It was Meaden that first dressed the band as mods.
Meaden was fascinated with World War II aircraft, his childhood years bringing close proximity to Spitfires and Hurricanes.  A simple influence, an elegant equation, RAF roundel = pop art = mod.
The Who’s influence, via Paul Weller, the film of Quadrepohenia and The Kids Are Alright, to the late seventies mod revival was overwhelming and potent. Every aspect of  their sound and fashion studied and cloned. The target T-shirt, easily identifiable and easy to replicate, became the insignia of mod in the same way that Mickey Mouse symbolizes Disney. 
Who created the target T-shirt ? Pete Meaden that's who.
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The Syrena Sport

This beautifully designed sports car was fast, elegant, cool and Polish but was tragically suppressed and denied manufacture.
On 1st May 1960 the Syrena Sport was unveiled to an astonished public. Photos were taken which, unsurprisingly, began to filter through to the West. 'The Syrena Sport was voted the most beautiful car from behind the iron curtain'.
However the communist government at the time ruled that the Syrena Sport was too extravagant and imperialistic and needed to be hidden from the public. The only prototype was locked away for more than ten years and its designers went into hiding.
In the early seventies the car was rediscovered, renewed speculation and excitement surrounded the car. However, yet again, the government hated the car and dispatched a specially commissioned team to destroy it.
For more information (and referenced from) the Poland Here blog.
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If You Want To Get Ahead Get A Hat

Stingy is in - and it has nothing to do with the economy. The stingy brim fedora, the narrower-brimmed brother of the hat made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra and various indie-crack musicians, has been regaining popularity for the last few years, especially among balding mods and fans of Merc clothing but there is some confusion about what these hats are actually called.
A pork pie hat is made of felt or straw, the crown is short and has an indentation all the way around, instead of the pinch crown typically seen on fedoras and homburgs. The pork pie hat originated in the mid 19th century. Originally referring to a type of woman’s hat, it gets its name from its resemblance to a pork pie. The pork pie is the hat worn by Gene Hackman’s character Jimmy ‘Popeye Doyle in the 1971 film 'The French Connection'. 

Pork pie hats are often associated with 1950’s jazz, blues musicians.
Charles Mingus wrote an elegy for jazz saxophonist Lester Young called ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’.

However, the short brimmed trilby fashioned by musicians on Two-Tone Records and Jimmy’s mate in Quadrophenia wasn’t a pork pie hat, it was a stingy brim trilby.

The mod-revival saw thousands of young misinformed stingy brimmed wearing kids convinced that they were wearing pork pie hats. These are the hats worn by Chas Smash and sold today in modernist Carnaby Street boutiques. The stingy brim hat was first popularized by the 1960s rude boy subculture, which traveled to the UK and influenced the mod and skinhead subcultures. 

Two hats, two names, easy. 
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'Skate Sharp' by Richard Searle (Double Breasted magazine June 2010)


Guy Joseph
The aesthetic of a skateboard is as important to a Skateboarding Mod as the style of their shirt collar or cut of their trouser. Elegance of line, nostalgic ride and classic shape, individuality of skateboard defines a Skateboarding Mod’s image. 
 
Jump aside! Skateboards are the new Lambrettas.
 
The fickle tribalism of punk, two tone and mod revivalism coincided with the later days of the seventies skateboard craze. As many self-conscious teenagers swapped their Benjy-Boards for bondage trousers or Pacers for parkas, considering them incompatible with youth culture cool, a few feather headed skateboarders kept true to two causes and skated by day whilst attending Jam gigs by night. Thus was born the skateboarding mod. 

 

Mod on retro-board

Despite sharing a close association with the anti-establishment mood often associated with the skate subculture, these initial skateboarding modernists never infiltrated the music or fashion worlds as successfully as their scruffier contemporaries: skate punks and indie-kid skaters. A hole in the knee of ones bespoke mohair never looks book. This small scene, as a result, faded into folklore, lost but for the odd obscure pub quiz question or the half- remembered beer stained reminiscence of middle-aged polo shirt enthusiasts.

The recent, vibrant and much hyped, Skateboarding Mod revival is the culmination of two positive reactions. Firstly, an eye for sixties styling by professional skateboarders such as Flip Skateboard’s own Geoff Rowley, whose taste in imagery has influenced his own line of skateboard decks and wheels. Targets, scooters and swinging Carnaby graphics adorn his product range and are objects of desire in their own right. A fresh batch of clean-cut skaters, moved by Rowley’s direction, is dressing accordingly. 

 

Romain
Secondly, a wave of the original 79 skaters paying premium prices for the perfect recreation of their childhood ride (ebay auctions in Kryptonics wheels, Alva decks and ACS trucks achieving top quid bids). 

Once a skateboarding mod always a Skateboarding Mod.

Small pockets of these retro skaters plus the new converts are congregating into exclusive Skateboarding clubs, akin to the scooterist scene of yore.
 
Brian ‘mind my trucks’ Hall of ‘The Blackheath Pandas’, a regular mid-week chapter of Skateboarding Mods, says ‘We prefer two styles of board, the old seventies skateboards or fast and stable longboards for cruse-ability, a nod towards the scooter. And of course the sharp image is the same on or off a board. No hoodies.’



Blackheath Pandas
Despite the Pandas dress code, indie skaters aren’t completely shunned. The music can unite.
Chris Driveby (Skateboarding Mods Facebook group): ‘Some indie-skater bands wouldn’t sound out of place in the sixties. Arctic Monkeys etc., angular guitars and lyrics based on life in the suburbs, sound familiar?’ 


Skate-rophenia - It’s a way of life.
 
Ed Piller, record producer and Powerflex Fives fan: ‘Skateboarding Mods hunt for the appropriate ‘stylish’ components like vinyl hunters seek specific labels, it’s gotta be accurate, it has to look right.’
And what about ruining your suit? Panda Guy Joseph considers the matter: ‘Don’t fall off.’

 
You heard him: ‘Suit up and skate.’

Double Breasted magazine June 2010.
Double Breasted Modzine 

Skateboarding Mods. 
Skateboarding Mods


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Skateboarding Mods T Shirts and other garments  here.
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