Britain has a whole plethora of iconic eras from the Tudors to the Teddy Boys, but it’s modern history which has been the most inspirational when it comes to fashion. Sub cultures have been the source of many memorable trends over the past 60 years or so, with the Mods and Rockers of the 60s and 70s through to the Skinheads of the 80s – we remember them all and still taste inspiration from them. But unlike these other sub cultures, the Casual movement wasn’t created by the fashion industry or by the latest music scene, but by the upfront, straight talking football supporters of England.
Another group of like-minded youths built a whole new culture on the basis of one sport. It picked up from where the Skinheads started off on the football terraces of Liverpool, Manchester and London, but they dropped the clunky Dr Marten boots and replaced them with expensive European trainers. Like all sub-cultures there was an element of negativity associated with it, but beyond the hooliganism Casuals were just young lads who were really into their clothes. It wasn’t just the clothes, hair which before then had been closely cropped for a more ‘masculine’ look, was grown out and styled into some memorable mushroom cuts. If we forget the hair, the Casual movement was groundbreaking. It moved so quickly that one week a brand would be the hottest thing out there, and the next it would have fallen off the face of the earth – thankfully we’re far less cut-throat nowadays and don’t dismiss a good thing so quickly.
Before the days of sports luxe trends and designer collaborations, sportswear was just sportswear. The Casuals pioneered the concept which moved it from the tracks and pitches, to the height of fashion and into everyday-wear. Although the movement came from the fan culture built around the success of the touring English football clubs, it was other sports which contributed the big brand names: golf (Lyle & Scott), tennis (Fila) and sailing (Henri Lloyd). Certain clubs wore particular labels, for example Arsenal favoured Fila whilst West Ham’s allegiance was with Pringle. You stayed loyal to your team. This was the true glory days of the trainer, a perfect piece to finish off the Casual’s dressed-down look. This was where our need for the latest ‘it’ trainer came from, projecting certain styles to the iconic statuses they now own (eg. Stan Smith).
Part of being a Casual was about standing out but staying up-to-date with this fast-moving trend. After some time sportswear dropped out and was replaced by the complete opposite; formal wear. The track suits and trainers were replaced with shirts and blazers – as were the brands with the likes of Stone Island, Burberry, Armani and Ralph Lauren coming in. It was these international labels that provided the expensive and often more adventurous styles that were wanted. Another prime example of how quickly this sub-culture was to dismiss another ‘fad’ and how unaffected they were by magazines, celebrities and popular culture. They just wore what they wanted, what they felt was right for their team. Men’s shirts and polos were buttoned up to the neck, something which would have been deemed geeky, but became a trend in itself and one we still follow today.
The true Casual scene remained fairly undiscovered until the mighty hand of commercialism got a hold of it, by which point the true believers had moved on to bigger and better things. This sub-culture may have died out at the end of the nineties but an element of it remains. The terrace look is iconic just like Mods and Teddy Boys, it’s ultimately always going to be ‘in’ – it’s timeless. The brands favoured back then still exist and they continue to produce their signature polos, jackets and trainers. So if you’re like us and still have a fine appreciation for it, take a look at what this season offers from a selection of the biggest brands of the Casual movement. Long may this groundbreaking and truly modern style thrive.