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Essential Journal

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In the Style Archives

As Ben Sherman’s latest collection looks set to draw on the style and spirit of British youth club culture, we consider the enduring appeal and lasting impact of the UK’s standout subcultural movements 

words by Elliot RAMSEY

Throughout history, each generation has had its own youth culture movements, fostered through a need to diverge from or rebel against the status quo. Often acting as catalysts for creativity and hotbeds of unhindered self-expression, these movements promoted individuality and significantly influenced the dominant styles and attitudes of the day.

A myriad of subcultures existed throughout the 20th century, manifesting themselves through clothing, accessories, hairstyles and even demeanour. In many ways, belonging to a subcultural movement granted youths access to a certain social capital, allowing them to develop a distinct identity, situate themselves within a cultural framework and build a sense of community with their peers. The beauty of style is its timelessness, its ability to be inherited by new generations and to influence sartorial trends long after its initial popularity has waned. Style has the ability to impact on the ways in which we live today, bridging intergenerational gaps, connecting people, reigniting subcultural energy and celebrating legacy. As an important facet of British cultural history, youth subculture has allowed people to carve out a place for themselves in the world. It’s not just about the clothes we put on or the way we style ourselves, it’s about finding a sense of community or kinship, feeling a part of something greater, exploring our commonalities and our differences, and celebrating the diversity of great British style. EJ