The Development of Youth Subculture From Britain to Berlin
When subculture firstly appeared in Britain it was clear people were not just belonging to a group by their way of dressing. It was more about, how Barker would say a whole way of life’’ (2012). Several aspects in the late 70’s and 80’s lead to an entire development and movement of these. The establishment of youth subculture was the first time in fashion history and society, that different group of aesthetic and lifestyle ideas could exist at the same time. It was the beginning of splitting society into individuals. That process, has been continued in multiple varieties by various impacts such as politics and music etc. ever since. The impact of British youth subculture in the entire fashion and lifestyle industry, how it is linked and the reason why other subcultures developed out of it, is very significant. Especially how cities like Berlin could establish their own aesthetic and culture throw the materials of other subcultures and fashion.
The term subculture first appeared in Great Britain when the Teddy Boys established themselves as working class in the 40’s and 50’s. This subculture was defined by adapating the style of upper class Saville Row look and boys dressing protestingly in suits (see Fig. 3) to showed off with their aristocracy looks worn by working class people. The answer of the upper class was, that they started dressing differently. Its quite visible that the issues of differentiation between classes didn’t only affect the social status, it also influenced the way people used to dress and how they started to dress differently, in that case. A few decades later the Teds, as the first and only subculture, were released by new ones such as Punks and skinheads (see Fig. 1 and 2). The new working class was defined by the rebelious behaviour, lifestyle and way of clothing and became a symbol of crisis and joblesness in British society. Lads were that type of moronic men that didn’t take school that serious, and were likely against the system rather than going with it. Their intentions was, putting more effort into their pusuit of the pleasurre of leisure and sexuality’’ (Barker, 2012). The entire post war period was influenced by mens fashion in terms of pracitcality and utility and parents dressed their kids with their former clothes. This process is exactly how the class differentiation became an issue in society. Politics have always influences the behavior of people. In this example causing trouble, like skinsheads did, or working class people dressing like the upper class show that many wanted to change their social look and status and especially be separate themselves from other groups. This argument states that visiual reputation of people became very present and many groups did not want to settle for what they were born into. Unhappiness and achieving more than former generations did lead to an imbalance of well paid job and unemployment all over the country.
However the rise of unemployment during early1980’s had to look for new markets. The more affluent 25-45 age group became the new target for the fashion industry (Bennet,2005).
As the technological advance influences the offer and possibilities for working class youth to get fashionable clothes it also had a new strategy to offer clothes for specific occasions connected with youth subculture. Another culture, invented by youth, is called raving. Music and the pleasure of dancing became more and more a relevant to what people want to do in their leisure The clothing retailer Joe Bloggs had a huge success in selling clothes people used to wear for raves specifically. That particular way of clothing for dancing or going out still maintains in techno clubs or open air techno events. Raves were held in illegally in industrial spaces (most techno club inspirations today) or open fields (see Fig. 4). End 1980ies were also supported by the drug ecstasy and endless rhythmic pattern’’ (Evans 1997). The Summer of Love 1988 is a very good example for bringing a huge amount of diverse identities together, where dancing and having pleasure is the absolute priority and no negative or aggressive moods are desired. Mc Robbie (1994, p.406) identifies rave as a ‘’shut up and dance ‘’ aesthetic. It has also become a place where people could leave their worries and every day life behind and enjoying the moment of loving each other. But the attraction of illegality, and it doesn’t matter what your wearing or coming from probably has made it to an exiting place to be as well. Evans explains, why raving is identifiable as subculture, in a simple way: Raves brought together individuals with very different affiliations, different politics and different fashions (1997, p.179)’’. Compared to Lads, Punks or Teddy Boys raving culture still exists today how it was established, while other subcultures are kind of mixed with many different other identities now. This subculture is very important and momentous, based on how different identities and people come together and basically became a subculture themselves.
The British rave movement apparently had even more impact in terms of what raving and techno music stands for nowadays. In the late 90’s east Berlins population was basically facing the same struggles than British joblessness and working class crisis with its difference to the west. Many people could only rely on cultural capital, as the economic capital was very weak. Politics still had a huge impact in Germany that time, as everything had to be rethought in terms of East and West Berlin coming together. Considering the financial power was also visible in the way Berliner dressed in these times and what they had to prior in their lives. The priority, which was chosen by the most, was pleasure and sexuality, such as Lads (Barker, 2012)in British youth subculture as they were driven the same way. Going out become sort of another capital good for East Berlin located population. Supported by that the founding of Ostgut(a Techno music brand founded in Berlin) lead to an literal Techno invasion. The label is very well known for bringing out the most successful techno DJ’s which are residents in the most famous clubs in Berlin, Berghain (see Fig. 5), Tresor and Kit-Kat. But these nightclubs are not just standing for endless joy and deep Techno music, they also stand for having any freedom in clubs these clubs. Therefore are no mirrors installed and photo camera and smartphones are banned, at probably the most prestige Club in Berlin Berghain. The idea behind that is avoiding any judgement of you or others and being totally able to let yourself going the way you want. Bringing a specific kind of individuals together was not just a side effect, this was also the beginning of a new subculture era without evening knowing created by the makers (see Fig. 6) in 2004. Going out in general or entire weekends became a lifestyle and an outstanding meaning to Berliners and the tourists. It is not just the Berlin underground music scene, which inspires and celebrates them as an individual culture today. Even some designers like Hedi Slimane were inspired by the surrounding of darkness and heroin chic, teenage looking boys (see Fig. 7) in the nightlife of Berlin. His entire aesthetic at Dior Homme while he functioned as a Creative Director, was shaped by the youth subculture in the German Capital. When he took models directly from the streets on the runway of Paris shows, he created a new era of models, from muscular to skinny, drugged and feminine. His clothes were mostly quite formal and simple such as working class clothes in the 80’s. Considering Hedi Slimanes use of references, which established in the late 90’s in Berlin, he also points out differentiation issues between working and upper class (Fig. 8-10). Ever since subcultures were not just a different way of dressing or identity, it also influenced Fashion and became relevant.
Not just Designers and street wear brands were looking into this scene with a huge interest, it was also the techno admiring crowd that were attracted to visit or even move to Berlin from all over the world. The impact of acceptance and tolerance, no matter what ideal or style you are into, was massive in terms of how people started to dress for the weekends. Lifestyle, clubbing, is the main focus of most people life, it became also quite visual the last couple of years. Black as main ‘’colour’’ still maintains, but it is more about the entire look that is represented. Going out is the most important thing to Berghain regulars, so it has to be visible in clothes, hairstyles, make-up, accessories and tattoos as well. In the words of Bennet, body modification’’ is taking place more and more. In addition, to weak economic capital, it is normal that outfits are self-made just for going out and sometimes once. Tattoos (see Fig. 11), safety pins, metal lavatory chains (see Fig. 12), dyed hair are accessories and mixed with second hand clothes are part of the ,,body modification’’ (Bennet 2005). The construction of themselves is sort of a statement of identity and highlights the individuality but also the belonging to a group at the same time. Self-made looks and being unique therefore is kind of the opposite to the youth subculture in London. Where you see trends establishing in areas like Shoreditch, young people are spending huge amounts of money for the next designer sneaker drop. However British youth culture such as punks and Goth found their way back to society and got even more relevant by the Berlin crowd mixed with trending ugly street wear items such as 90’s daddy sneaker. The nightlife scene of Berlins underground music became very strong and representing so it doesn’t seem to be a ,,play of attention… to be read transparently’’ (Barker, 2012, p. 456) anymore, it more became a mainstream culture of raving including excessive joy (in any sexual way possible) mainly at weekends in a remote heating plant, called Berghain. The look of clubbing influenced the every day way of clothing as well, identities do not make any difference between day or night in their choice of what to wear anymore. It is clear a trend has been established and Berlins underground scene is proof for that.
As trends are becoming less and less by season, dressing as an individual, to belong to a particular group, becomes more and more important. Especially in the Berlin everyone as enjoys being free and an individual in terms of dressing and belonging to an independent group created exactly that specific way of embellishing, which is recognized nowadays as the Berlin style of going out. Probably it is especially the German capital that has all the acceptability for leaving the average and urban western German mass behind. Therefore the materials of fashion are being used to create an identity, which in this case is nowadays recognized as a Berlin way of dressing up for the night. Although it is not just used in terms of clothes it comes as an entire look or body modification (Bennett, 2005) as including hairstyle, make up and tattoos. The all black look in extreme Goth, punk or sportswear, mixed with each other or kept as its own, developed such a strong character in fashion and techno scenes the last decade, so it became kind of a trend all around the world the last couple of years. Berlins youth is not just a good example for bringing identities together and shape a new subculture out of that. Regarding the question if ‘’Dressing can… be seen as a practice of constructing identity through the materials of fashion’’ (Twigger Holroyd, 2017, p.52) they particularly use these materials, dressing, to express themselves as individuals and groups.
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