It really annoys me when someone says this as it isn’t at all true. Skinheads are members or the Skinhead Subculture. A subculture that has a broad history, it’s own musical influences and styles, fashion and fashion influences and enjoy aspects of the skinhead lifestyle. These aspects will be briefly explained below.
I always thought Skinhead’s were racist?
Originally the Skinhead subculture was actually influences mainly by Jamaican Rude boys and held no common trait of racism at all. In the late 1960’s some Skinheads begun engaging in violence against immigrants, this became the way some Skinhead’s align themselves and group themselves. Yet, Skinheads are still people. Everyone of them have varying opinions and to lump all members of the subculture together with a section that brought this bad name for all Skinheads to be racist is ridiculous.
What about gay/lesbian/bi people, don’t they hate them?
This is along the same lines as my response to racism stereotypes. It’s explained greatly in this documentary called Skinhead OUT! which you can watch both part one and part two on youtube. There is no one mindset that applies to all of the Skinhead community. I must say again: they are people, each with their own opinions, morals and ideals.
Not all Skinhead’s are Caucasian, there were and still are coloured skinheads. This is another stereotype that runs along the lines of all skinheads are racists.
A Brief History
It all started in the late 1950’s when the United Kingdoms economy boom meant some had extra money in their pockets. This developed the mods whom were known by their devotion to scooters, music, fashion and consumerism. Those mods of a lesser income of the working class went for a practical style including work boots, straight legged jeans, buttoned down shirts and braces. After controversy between the smooth mods (The more expensive mod) and the hard mods (working class) which around 1968 became more commonly called Skinheads. Skinhead’s kept some of the mod influences with an emphasis on Jamaican Rude Boy style and culture.
The Skinhead Subculture was originally associated with soul, reggae, rock-steady and ska but once those genre’s started directing themselves towards black nationalism themes, which most white skinhead’s couldn’t relate too, the music was transformed. In the 1970’s 2Tone was one of the most popular genre’s of the Skinhead Subculture which included the Jamaican influences combined with Punk Rock. After the first wave of punk rock some Skinhead’s embraced Oi!, Punk’s working class sub-genre, which combined football chants, punk rock and glam rock.
Why do Skinhead’s shave their head’s?
Traditional skinhead’s commonly shaved their head’s as they were workers and it was more suitable or practical. Another reason would be in defiance of the hippie culture for some. There’s also, of course, they may merely have liked the style.
Skinhead’s all look the same!
Just in case you didn’t sense my sarcasm, sarcasm intended. Of course Skinhead fashion is typically branded by their shaved heads, but not always, the styles have changed quite a bit through the years. It’s much easier to separate them into sections, though of course this doesn’t at all limit the variation.
Trojan Skinheads (Traditional Skinheads)
These, of course, follow the typical style of the 1960’s with braces, flight jackets, button down shirts, polo shirts, cardigans, denim jackets, v-necks, straight legged jeans, work boots and such, with head shaved at a #2 or #3 grade clip guard (The same as my undercut).
Oi! Skinheads are influenced by 1970’s Punk, often with shorter hair (typically #2 grade or shorter), higher boots, tighter jeans and tattoo’s. Mods were much less influential than traditional Skinheads.
This style is much less strict including leather/army jackets, wife beaters, looser jeans (sometimes torn), hoodies, bandanna’s and chain belts. Hair was short, sometimes even shaved with no guard or a razor.
White Power Skinhead (Neo-Nazi Skinhead)
Army pants, T-shirts, higher boots and shave their heads are either grade #0 or with a razor. They wear badges, chains and rings, also common are tattoos, featuring white power slogans or Nazi symbols.
For more information on the Skinhead Subculture you may want to check out this documentary on you-tube called Skinhead Attitude that was made in 2003. Skinheads are also represented in popular movie This Is England.
**I claim no photography in this article as mine.**