1960s Fashion Subcultures
Modified, homemade and secondhand clothing was an expression of individuality during the 1960s. Britain was known for the strength of its youth cults like the mods and the rockers.
The mods, an abbreviation for 'Modernists', prided themselves on their sophisticated outlook. They were interested in American soul and R 'n B music as well stylish clothing, especially Italian tailoring. They paid great attention to their appearance, favouring mohair suits in streamlined shapes. In mod culture the trendsetters known as 'faces' invented the styles copied by other youngsters.
However, there were few shops selling attractive clothing for ordinary young people. Aspiring designers like Mary Quant and John Stephen had to set up their own business to make and sell the clothes they wanted to wear. It was smart, minimal mod dress which originally inspired the look they marketed. Combined with bright colours, these clothes set the agenda for the pop styles worn by youth.
France had its own 'stylistes' like Emmanuelle Khanh and Sonia Rykiel producing ready-to-wear clothing. In the US, Betsey Johnson ran the hip New York boutique Paraphernalia. The inventive designer Rudi Gernreich introduced the West Coast to vinyl clothing and the 'monokini', a topless bathing suit.
Another important Californian contribution came from the hippy movement, which introduced an 'alternative' lifestyle and politics. The hippy look was associated with colourful antique and ethnic clothing. The idea was to mix and match items from different eras and cultures. Admirers of the style wore their hair long, went barefoot or garbed in sandals and sometimes painted their faces and bodies.