Could the global recession have sparked off the new trend of fashion featuring national flags? In the UK, our Union Jack flag gained pop-art style status in the 1960s. Then, from the mid-1970s, punks adopted the flag, making it the object of their disaffection towards the prevailing culture and the establishment. Punk-style clothing and accessories have reappeared over the years in various, increasingly commercial, guises. However, only a faithful few have maintained a life long love affair with all things punk.
I spotted punk devotee, Rob, (left), at my local art school. He was wearing the classic punk uniform of bondage trousers and brothel creepers (both pin-striped in this case - see below). I was curious to know what he did with his hair when he went to bed. Did he flatten it down, or cover it up so as not to poke his partner in the eye during the night? Rob matter-of-factly informed me that when he went to bed he simply went to sleep. He wasn’t overly chatty, so I thanked him for allowing me to take his picture and hastily made my retreat.
In the late ‘70s, punks, infamous for promoting anarchist messages in their music and accessorizing their clothing with anti-establishment symbols, were seen as being aggressive types – “keep out of the way of those punks”, your mother might say. It’s rather ironic that, nowadays, far from being seen as a threat, old-style punk rockers are considered to be an established part of our British heritage.
When you look back at video footage of punk rock bands, like the Sex Pistols, the members actually look quite clean-cut young chaps…rather like older schoolboys trying to be a little outré in their dress. Perhaps it’s the influence of glam-rock, but the jumpers in this clip of God Save the Queen look positively camp, compared to the popular impression of punks as snarling, hostile aggressors. Just because they’re making a radical cultural and fashion statement, doesn’t mean that punks are necessarily antagonistic people. Most of them are probably just as peaceful and friendly as Rob.
I’ve also noticed that, although many punks choose extreme hairstyles, clothing and unusual accessories, (like safety-pin piercings), they don’t always look as though they feel entirely at ease with their appearance. Even now, several decades after the arrival of punk, and with totally outrageous designs on catwalks the world over, punks still seem a tad uncomfortable in their own skin. I wonder if it would help punks feel more comfortable and accepted, if they knew we actually regard them as something akin to national treasures?
Anyway, back to trends, and flags…. and ShopCurious, where we’ve got a fabulous vintage Union Jack enamelled ring with faux ruby gem-stones: Perfect if you’re looking for punk-style Valentine gifts, or just feeling slightly overcome with patriotism or nostalgia.