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Don’t ask me how, but a couple of months ago I was in London and a friend of mine, music video director Kinga Burza, took me to English party girl Peaches Geldoff’s 19th birthday at a Soho club called Punk.
Inside, I had the opportunity to clink six quid Red Stripes with the likes of singer Lily Allen, band members from the Klaxons and the Horrors, supermodel Agyness Deyn and the tour manager of Bloc Party.
However, it was the ‘unknowns’, the younger ‘cool kids’ who drew my fuller attention. At home, I like to play a little game called ‘Spot the Trilby, Scarf and Thongs’ because it’s such an omnipresent look with the smart set here. At this London bash, I was hard pressed to even name some of the clothing items people were draped in, let alone pigeon hole their ‘look.’
Dudes were floating by sporting glitter eye shadow, lightning bolts sketched on their cheeks, mesh singlets and jodhpurs it was amusing and electrifying but made me feel like a constipated accountant in my jeans and Converse .
What was most exciting was that the young guys seemed to not give a crap what people thought they’d not only shed the bleak uniforms of their more unimaginative countrymen the Adidas striped runners, jeans and football jerseys, but had also spurned the cool kid staple of skinny black jeans.
Uniforms are fascinating things, they identify our social group and give us confidence we’re in rather than out which is why I find it interesting when ‘rebels’ try so hard to look different from everyone else, yet are indistinguishable from their friends.
Skater boys with their sleeves of tattoos, flat brimmed baseball caps and low slung poop catcher jeans are my favourite at the moment, their ‘uniform’ specifications as rigorous as anything you’d see at a naval academy.
Ksubi kids with their hoodies, Wayfarer sunglasses and neon tees are also amusing, ably illustrating the adage that “when people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”
American philosopher Eric Hoffer said that “nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.”
Nowadays, it seems the “conformity” is to look “different” and it’s accompanied by what musician John Mayer described as “a level of self consciousness so high in my generation, that it’s actually toxic.”
“This is about the girl in her bedroom who poses in front of the camera she’s awkwardly holding in her outstretched hand,” wrote Mayer on his tour blog recently.
“She’ll take a hundred photos until coming up with one she’s happy with, which inevitably looks nothing like her, and after she’s done poring over images of herself, will post one on her myspace page and then write something like “I don’t give a fck what you think about me.”
In some ways, uniforms are the padding we put between ourselves and the world, terrified we’re not good enough as is, we add the right shirt, hair cut and bad boy ‘tude but often become a construct and wonder why “no one knows the real me.”
I’m sure the cool kids I saw in London agonized over their look just as much as the myspace girl Mayer mentions. I’m sure they had piles of discard clothes in their bedroom and were vetting their friend’s ‘looks’ as thoroughly as a drill sergeant on a parade ground.
However, it’s sweet to think there is a new generation that actually doesn’t give a fck what you and I think about them.
As you can see from the number of comments last week, moderation was a bit hit and miss because I’m in the Whitsundays shooting some more little travel segments for Fairfax Digital. That will continue this week, as we’re still on the road. Sorry for the inconvenience.
However, check out the first of the videos my colleague Damo and I did for Queensland Tourism last month.
If you’re planning a little trip up north, you may also want to take look at this new intermittent blog I’ll be doing about our (paid) adventures in the Sunshine state.
If you’d like to email me with a topic suggestion or just vent, try here. I now have too many unanswered emails to catch up on, so I’m instituting a no reply policy (unless you’re hot). In advance, I thank you for your email.
At Gothfest last year it was wonderful to see the gothlings in their practice goth wear trying out and watching what everyone else was wearing. They all look similar because they are still discovering the outlets for costumery and accessories.
The older goths are also an interesting bunch. Some are reduced to wearing only black clothes, others bring out the old faithful velvet, satin and lace frock, bodices and corsets. Some are adept at sewing or know someone who does and get their own creations made.
The most wonderful thing is seeing someone who doesn’t fit in with the crowd doing their own thing and looking the way that they want to. Like the stray goths I saw in Parramatta Mall, the cyber girl I saw walking down Botany Rd in Mascot this morning and the little girl in a pink tutu with her goth mum walking down King St in Newtown.
They are all a great deal better than the uniform that was once prevalent in parts of Sydney of the blue chambray shirt, white t shirt underneath the shirt, Levi 501s and RM Williams. It made me so happy to turn up in a bodice and leather skirt to a venue populated with those people and be different.
Back in the actual 80s all the guys I knew either wore tight black jeans, converse, Mass Appeal / Black Flag / Suicidal tendencies T shirts and long hair or tight black jeans, winklepickers, black Birthday Party T shirts, tuxedo jackets and big hair, eye liner optional.
The former were more interested in how they looked on their board the later more interested in watching out for rowers, so they didn’t get the shit beaten out of them.
We used to spend hours getting ‘ready’ for a night at Patches or Spagos, mostly organising the drugs so we didn’t notice how stupid we looked.
Best sartorial drinking hole now is Gaslight, those kids are awesome. A complete lack of arse is one of the many things they have in common with my old mates.
My my we have been keeping trendy company! London is a great place for those who like to dress as individuals because no one looks at you anyway in case you’re a nutter. I loved living there before moving to the counties.