Casual subculture

21 02 2010

The casual subculture is a subsection of association football culture that is typified by football hooliganism and the wearing of expensive European designer clothing.The subculture originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s when many hooligans started wearing designer labels and expensive sportswear in order to avoid the attention of police. They didn’t wear club colours, so it was easier to infiltrate rival groups and to enter pubs.

Some genres that were popular among casuals in the late 1970s were Oi!, mod revival and ska. By the 1980s, casuals’ music tastes were eclectic, with some enjoying pop groups such as Wham!, ABC, The Human League, Spandau Ballet and Adam and the Ants. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many casuals were part of the Madchester and rave scenes, and in the 1990s, many were fans of Britpop. There was a strong crossover with rave culture, with many ravers wearing football casual brands but distanced from football hooliganism. Madchester bands sometimes wore casual clothing on stage and in publicity photographs, as did Britpop acts such as Blur in their video for “Parklife”. Since then, the most popular genre among casuals has been indie rock.

British football support has had a strong fashion-led subculture element since the rise of the Teddy Boys in the mid 1950s, and the origins of the casual culture can be seen in the mod subculture of the early 1960s. Groups of youths who supported football clubs began to bring their fashions onto the football terraces, and certain clubs began to be known for their mod following (e.g. Chelsea F.C. and West Ham United). This continued with the mod spinoff subculture, the skinheads, in the late 1960s.

With the late 1970s mod revival, the casual subculture began to grow and change after Liverpool F.C. fans introduced the rest of England to European fashions that they acquired while following Liverpool at their 1977 European Cup quarter final against the French side St Etienne. Liverpool fans, who travelled all around Europe in the late 1970s supporting their team, began arriving in England wearing expensive Italian and French designer clothes, which were looted from stores. At the time, many police forces were still on the lookout for skinhead fans wearing Dr. Martens boots, and didn’t pay attention to fans in expensive designer clothing. Liverpool fans would bring back to England many labels that had not been seen in the country before. Soon, other fans were clamouring for these rare items of clothing such as Lacoste shirts and Adidas trainers which are still accociated with Liverpool supporters today.

Clothing labels associated with casuals in the 1980s include: Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Fruit of the Loom, Fila, Stone Island, Fiorucci, Pepe, Benetton, Sergio Tacchini, Ralph Lauren, Henri Lloyd, Lyle & Scott, Adidas, CP Company, Ben Sherman, Fred Perry, Lacoste, Kappa, Pringle, Burberry and Slazenger. Fashion trends frequently changed, and the casual subculture reached its peak in the late 1980s. With the arrival of the acid house, rave and Madchester scenes, the violence in the casual subculture faded to some extent.

In the mid-1990s, the casual subculture experienced a massive revival, but emphasis on style had changed slightly. Many football fans adopted the casual look as a kind of uniform, identifying them as different from the ordinary club supporters. Brands such as Stone Island, Aquascutum, Burberry and CP Company were seen at nearly every club, as well as classic favourites such as Lacoste, Paul & Shark and Pharabouth. In the late 1990s, many football supporters began to move away from the brands that were considered the casual uniform, because of the police attention that the casual styles attracted; several designer labels also withdrew designs from sale after they became common casual uniforms.

Although some casuals have continued to wear Stone Island clothing in the 2000s, many have detached the compass badge so as to be less obvious. However, with the two buttons still attached, those in the know are still able to recognise other casuals. In the late 90s it was said that some police forces had tried unsuccessfully to link Stone Island’s compass logo with the neo-Nazi version of the Celtic cross. Because of this, new clothing labels began to gain popularity amongst casuals. As with any designer clothing a high amount of cheap counterfeit goods can also been seen. Prada,Façonnable, Hugo Boss, Fake London Genius, One True Saxon, Maharishi, Mandarina Duck, 6876, and Dupe have begun gaining widespread popularity. Casual fashion has experienced an increase in popularity in the 2000s, with British music acts such as The Streets and The Mitchell Brothers sporting casual outfits in their music videos. Casual culture has been highlighted by films and television programmes such as IDThe FirmThe Football Factory and Green Street.

In the 2000s, clothing labels associated with casuals have included: Stone Island, Adidas Originals, Lyle & Scott, Fred Perry, Armani, Henry Lloyd, Lambretta, Ralph Lauren and Lacoste. However towards the end of the decade many Casuals have adopted a more subtle and underground looking ditching now popular and mainstream brands for independent clothing labels such as Albam, YMC, APC, Folk, Nudie Jeans, Edwin, Garbstore, Engineered Garments, Wood Wood and Superga. However major brands such as Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and CP Company are still popular.