British skinheads: Portraits of a controversial subculture




Image: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

The skinhead subculture first emerged in London in the mid-1960s, when a split developed among “mod” music fans.

While more affluent mods could afford the fashionable clothes, scooters and amphetamines that typified the subculture, working-class mods had to make due with with more functional attire


These “hard mods” often lived in the same poor neighborhoods as Caribbean immigrants, exposing them to the fashions and sounds of soul, ska and reggae

Finding more interest in black culture and music than the effete mod subculture, the hard mods adopted a uniform of work boots, short jeans or pants, simple shirts, suspenders and close-cropped hair. (Long hair was a liability in factory work and street fights.) They soon began referring to themselves as “skinheads.”

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