Skinhead
Overview
A skinhead is a member of a subculture
Subculture
In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong.- Definition :...

 that originated among working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 youths in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and then spread to other parts of the world. Named for their close-cropped or shaven heads
Head shaving
Head shaving is the practice of shaving the hair from a person's head. At different times and places people have shaved their heads for very diverse reasons: practical, religious, cultural, or aesthetic—so a shaven head has widely varying connotations depending on the context.-Early...

, the first skinheads were greatly influenced by West Indian (specifically Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n) rude boy
Rude boy
Rude boy, rudeboy, rudie, rudi or rudy are common terms used in Jamaica. In the 1960s it was also used for juvenile delinquents and criminals in Jamaica, and has since been used in other contexts...

s and British mods, in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle. Originally, the skinhead subculture was primarily based on those elements, not politics or race.
Encyclopedia
A skinhead is a member of a subculture
Subculture
In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a group of people with a culture which differentiates them from the larger culture to which they belong.- Definition :...

 that originated among working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 youths in the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and then spread to other parts of the world. Named for their close-cropped or shaven heads
Head shaving
Head shaving is the practice of shaving the hair from a person's head. At different times and places people have shaved their heads for very diverse reasons: practical, religious, cultural, or aesthetic—so a shaven head has widely varying connotations depending on the context.-Early...

, the first skinheads were greatly influenced by West Indian (specifically Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n) rude boy
Rude boy
Rude boy, rudeboy, rudie, rudi or rudy are common terms used in Jamaica. In the 1960s it was also used for juvenile delinquents and criminals in Jamaica, and has since been used in other contexts...

s and British mods, in terms of fashion, music and lifestyle. Originally, the skinhead subculture was primarily based on those elements, not politics or race. Since then, however, attitudes toward race and politics have become factors by which some skinheads align themselves. The political spectrum within the skinhead scene ranges from the far right to the far left, although many skinheads are apolitical
Apolitical
The state or quality of being apolitical can be the apathy and/or the antipathy towards all political affiliations. Being apolitical can also refer to situations in which people take an unbiased position in regard to political matters.-References:...

. Fashion-wise, skinheads range from a clean-cut 1960s mod-influenced style to less-strict punk
Punk subculture
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, and forms of expression, including fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film, which grew out of punk rock.-History:...

- and hardcore
Hardcore punk
Hardcore punk is an underground music genre that originated in the late 1970s, following the mainstream success of punk rock. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A...

-influenced styles.

History

In the late 1950s, despite the United Kingdom's entrenched class system that restricted working class
Working class
Working class is a term used in the social sciences and in ordinary conversation to describe those employed in lower tier jobs , often extending to those in unemployment or otherwise possessing below-average incomes...

 people's opportunities, the post-war economic boom
Boom and bust
A credit boom-bust cycle is an episode characterized by a sustained increase in several economics indicators followed by a sharp and rapid contraction. Commonly the boom is driven by a rapid expansion of credit to the private sector accompanied with rising prices of commodities and stock market index...

 led to an increase in disposable income
Disposable income
Disposable income is total personal income minus personal current taxes. In national accounts definitions, personal income, minus personal current taxes equals disposable personal income...

 among many young people. Some of those youths spent that income on new fashions popularised by American soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

 groups, British R&B
Rhythm and blues
Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated to R&B, is a genre of popular African American music that originated in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a...

 bands, certain movie actors, and Carnaby Street
Carnaby Street
Carnaby Street is a pedestrianised shopping street in London, United Kingdom, located in the Soho district, near Oxford Street and Regent Street. It is home to numerous fashion and lifestyle retailers, including a large number of independent fashion boutiques...

 clothing merchants. These youths became known as mods, a youth subculture noted for its consumerism
Consumerism
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen...

 and devotion to fashion, music and scooters
Scooter (motorcycle)
A scooter is a motorcycle with step-through frame and a platform for the operator's feet. Elements of scooter design have been present in some of the earliest motorcycles, and motorcycles identifiable as scooters have been made from 1914 or earlier...

.

Mods of lesser means made do with practical clothing styles that suited their lifestyle and employment circumstances: work boot
Boot
A boot is a type of footwear but they are not shoes. Most boots mainly cover the foot and the ankle and extend up the leg, sometimes as far as the knee or even the hip. Most boots have a heel that is clearly distinguishable from the rest of the sole, even if the two are made of one piece....

s or army boots
Combat boot
Combat boots are military boots designed to be worn by soldiers during actual combat or combat training as opposed to during parades and other ceremonial duties. Modern combat boots are designed to provide a combination of grip, ankle stability, and foot protection suitable to a rugged environment....

, straight-leg jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

 or Sta-Prest
Sta-Prest
Sta-Prest is a brand of wrinkle-resistant trousers produced by Levi Strauss & Co., beginning in 1964.These products are marketed as wearable straight out of the dryer, with no need for ironing...

 trousers
Trousers
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

, button-down shirts, and braces (called suspenders
Suspenders
Suspenders or braces are fabric or leather straps worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. Straps may be elasticated, either entirely or only at attachment ends and most straps are of woven cloth forming an X or Y shape at the back. Braces are typically attached to trousers with buttons...

 in North America). When possible, these working class mods spent their money on suits and other sharp outfits to wear at dancehalls, where they enjoyed soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

, ska
Ska
Ska |Jamaican]] ) is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, and was the precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues...

, bluebeat and rocksteady
Rocksteady
Rocksteady is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966. A successor to ska and a precursor to reggae, rocksteady was performed by Jamaican vocal harmony groups such as The Gaylads, The Maytals and The Paragons. The term rocksteady comes from a dance style that was mentioned in the Alton...

 music.

Around 1965, a schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 developed between the peacock mods (also known as smooth mods), who were less violent and always wore the latest expensive clothes, and the hard mods (also known as gang
Gang
A gang is a group of people who, through the organization, formation, and establishment of an assemblage, share a common identity. In current usage it typically denotes a criminal organization or else a criminal affiliation. In early usage, the word gang referred to a group of workmen...

 mods
, lemonheads or peanuts ), who were identified by their shorter hair and more working class image. These hard mods became commonly known as skinheads by about 1968. Their short hair may have come about for practical reasons, since long hair can be a liability in industrial jobs and in streetfights. Skinheads may also have cut their hair short in defiance of the more middle class hippie
Hippie
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

 culture.

In addition to retaining many mod influences, early skinheads were very interested in Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

n rude boy
Rude boy
Rude boy, rudeboy, rudie, rudi or rudy are common terms used in Jamaica. In the 1960s it was also used for juvenile delinquents and criminals in Jamaica, and has since been used in other contexts...

 styles and culture, especially the music: ska, rocksteady, and early reggae
Reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

 (before the tempo
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

 slowed down and lyrics became focused on topics like black nationalism
Black nationalism
Black nationalism advocates a racial definition of indigenous national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all African nationalist ideologies are unity, and self-determination or independence from European society...

 and the Rastafari movement
Rastafari movement
The Rastafari movement or Rasta is a new religious movement that arose in the 1930s in Jamaica, which at the time was a country with a predominantly Christian culture where 98% of the people were the black descendants of slaves. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia , as God...

).

Skinhead culture became so popular by 1969 that even the rock band Slade
Slade
Slade are an English rock band from Wolverhampton, who rose to prominence during the glam rock era of the early 1970s. With 17 consecutive Top 20 hits and six number ones, the British Hit Singles & Albums names them as the most successful British group of the 1970s based on sales of singles...

 temporarily adopted the look as a marketing strategy. The subculture gained wider notice because of a series of violent and sexually explicit novels by Richard Allen
James Moffat
James Moffat , was an author who wrote under several pen names.He produced many pulp novels for the United Kingdom publishing house New English Library during the 1970s. Moffat's pen names included Richard Allen, Etienne Aubin and Trudi Maxwell...

, notably Skinhead and Skinhead Escapes. Due to largescale British migration to Perth, Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

, many British youths in that city joined skinhead/sharpies gangs in the late 1960s and developed their own Australian style.

By the early 1970s, the skinhead subculture started to fade from popular culture, and some of the original skins dropped into new categories, such as the suedeheads (defined by the ability to manipulate one's hair with a comb), smoothies (often with shoulder-length hairstyles), and bootboys (with mod-length hair; associated with gangs and football hooliganism
Football hooliganism
Football hooliganism, sometimes referred to by the British media as the English Disease, is unruly and destructive behaviour—such as brawls, vandalism and intimidation—by association football club fans...

). Some fashion trends returned to the mod roots, with brogues
Brogues
The Brogue is a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally characterized by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations and serration along the pieces' visible edges...

, loafers
Loafers
Slip-ons are typically low, lace-less shoes. The style most commonly seen, known as a loafer or Slippers in American culture, has a moccasin construction. First appearing in the mid-1930s from Norway, they began as casual shoes, but have increased in popularity to the point of being worn in America...

, suits, and the slacks
Trousers
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

-and-sweater
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

 look making a comeback.

In the late 1970s, the skinhead subculture was revived to a notable extent after the introduction of punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

. Most of these revivalist skinheads reacted to the commercialism of punk by adopting a look that was in line with the original 1969 skinhead style. This revival included Gary Hodges and Hoxton Tom McCourt
Hoxton Tom McCourt
Hoxton' Tom McCourt is the former bassist and bandleader of punk rock/Oi! band, The 4-Skins. He was one of the most influential members of the skinhead revival of 1977 to 1978, the mod revival of 1978 to 1979 and the Oi! movement from 1979 to 1984.McCourt moved to Hoxton, and was given the...

 (both later of the band the 4-Skins) and Suggs
Suggs (singer)
Graham McPherson , better known as Suggs, is an English singer, actor, former radio DJ, TV personality, and most famous as the frontman of the band Madness.-Early life:...

, later of the band Madness
Madness (band)
In 1979, the band recorded the Lee Thompson composition "The Prince". The song, like the band's name, paid homage to their idol, Prince Buster. The song was released through 2 Tone Records, the label of The Specials founder Jerry Dammers. The song was a surprise hit, peaking in the UK music charts...

. From 1979 onwards, punk-influenced
Punk fashion
Punk fashion is the clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, jewelry, and body modifications of the punk subculture. Punk fashion varies widely, ranging from Vivienne Westwood designs to styles modeled on bands like The Exploited. The distinct social dress of other subcultures and art movements, including...

 skinheads with shorter hair, higher boots and less emphasis on traditional styles grew in numbers and grabbed media attention, mostly due to football hooliganism
Football hooliganism
Football hooliganism, sometimes referred to by the British media as the English Disease, is unruly and destructive behaviour—such as brawls, vandalism and intimidation—by association football club fans...

. There still remained, however, skinheads who preferred the original mod-inspired styles.

Eventually different interpretations of the skinhead subculture expanded beyond Britain and continental Europe. In the United States, certain segments of the hardcore punk
Hardcore punk
Hardcore punk is an underground music genre that originated in the late 1970s, following the mainstream success of punk rock. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A...

 scene embraced skinhead styles and developed their own version of the subculture.

Style

Skinheads are visually identified by their short hair and unique clothing styles. Skinhead fashions have evolved since the formation of the subculture in the 1960s, and certain clothing styles have been more prevalent in specific locations and time periods. There are a few different types of skinheads in terms of style, but many of today's skinheads do not fit into one distinct category. Traditional skinheads, also known as trads or Trojan skinhead
Trojan skinhead
Trojan skinheads are individuals who identify with the original British skinhead subculture of the late 1960s, when ska, rocksteady, reggae and soul music were popular, and there was a heavy emphasis on mod-influenced clothing styles...

s, adopt the style of the original 1960s skinhead subculture. Oi!
Oi!
Oi! is a working class subgenre of punk rock that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The music and its associated subculture had the goal of bringing together punks, skinheads and other working-class youths ....

 skinheads — influenced by the 1970s punk subculture
Punk subculture
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, and forms of expression, including fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film, which grew out of punk rock.-History:...

 — often have shorter hair than 1960s-style skinheads, and tend to wear higher boots, tighter jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

, and clothing styles that are less mod-influenced than their traditionalist counterparts. Tattoo
Tattoo
A tattoo is made by inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. Tattoos on humans are a type of body modification, and tattoos on other animals are most commonly used for identification purposes...

s have been popular in the skinhead subculture since at least the 1970s revival. In 1980s Britain, some skinheads had tattoos on their faces and/or foreheads, although this practice is not as common today. The hardcore skinhead
Hardcore skinhead
Hardcore skinheads are skinheads who mainly associate with hardcore instead of Oi!, ska, soul or other music genres associated with the skinhead subculture....

 style that originated in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 1980s hardcore punk
Hardcore punk
Hardcore punk is an underground music genre that originated in the late 1970s, following the mainstream success of punk rock. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A...

 scene is also less strict than that of the first generation of skinheads.

Hair

Most male skinheads in the 1960s had their hair cropped with a #2 or#3 grade clip guard
Buzz cut
A buzz cut, induction cut or wiffle is a very short haircut.The cut is usually performed using hair clippers without a comb guard. The sides are cut closely and then the top is either shaped or cut to the same short length all over. The cut takes just a few minutes to perform. A buzz cut can...

 (short, but not bald). Starting in the late 1970s, male skinheads typically shaved their heads with a #2 grade ship or shorter. During that period, side partings were sometimes shaved into the hair. Since the 1980s, some skinheads have clipped their hair with no guard, or even shaved it with a razor. Some skinheads sport sideburns
Sideburns
Sideburns or sideboards are patches of facial hair grown on the sides of the face, extending from the hairline to below the ears and worn with an unbearded chin...

 of various styles, usually neatly trimmed, but most skinheads do not have mustaches or beards.

In the 1960s, most female skinheads had mod-style haircuts. During the 1980s skinhead revival, many female skinheads had feathercuts (known as a Chelsea in North America). A feathercut is short on the crown, with fringes
Fringe (hair)
Fringe are a shaped cutting of the front part of the hair so that it is combed forward and hangs or curls over the forehead. A classic fringe is cut fairly straight at or above the eyebrows, but fringes can also be ragged or ruffled, spiked up with hair gel, swept to one side or the other, and...

 at the front, back and sides. Some female skinheads have a shorter punk-style version of the hairstyle; almost entirely shaved, leaving only bangs and fringes at the front.

Clothing and accessories

The following describes many of the clothing items and accessories common among skinheads.

Skinheads have been known to wear long-sleeve or short-sleeve button-up shirts or polo shirts
Tennis shirt
A polo shirt, also known as a golf shirt and tennis shirt, is a T-shaped shirt with a collar, typically a two- or three-button placket, and an optional pocket...

 by brands such as Ben Sherman
Ben Sherman
Ben Sherman is a British based clothing company, designing shirts, suits, shoes, accessories and other items that are, in common with many British brands, now made overseas, largely in the Far East. Their designs sometimes feature the Royal Air Force roundel which is often called the mod target...

, Fred Perry
Fred Perry
Frederick John Perry was a championship-winning English tennis and table tennis player who won 10 Majors including eight Grand Slams and two Pro Slams. Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships between 1934 and 1936 and was World No. 1 four years in a row...

, Brutus
Brutus Jeans
Brutus Jeans is a British clothing company founded in 1966 by brothers Keith and Alan Freedman, who were 18 and 17 years old at the time, respectively....

, Warrior or Jaytex; Lonsdale
Lonsdale (brand)
Lonsdale is a boxing and clothing brand that was founded in London, England in 1960. Ex-boxer Bernard Hart started the brand as a boxing equipment company, but it eventually branched out into clothing as well...

 or Everlast
Everlast (boxing)
Everlast is an American brand active in the design, manufacturing, licensing and marketing of boxing, mixed martial arts and fitness related sporting goods equipment, apparel, footwear, and accessories. Based in Manhattan, Everlast's products are sold across more than 75 countries...

 shirts or sweatshirts; collarless grandad shirts; V-neck sweater
Sweater
A sweater, jumper, pullover, sweatshirt, jersey or guernsey is a garment intended to cover the torso and arms. It is often worn over a shirt, blouse, T-shirt, or other top, but may also be worn alone as a top...

s; sleeveless sweater
Sleeveless sweater
A sweater vest is an item of knitwear that is similar to a sweater, but without sleeves. It is a popular misconception that a sleeveless sweater and a tank top are the same. This error arose from the differences in American and British clothing terminology...

s; cardigan sweaters
Cardigan (sweater)
A cardigan is a type of machine- or hand-knitted sweater that ties, buttons or zips down the front; by contrast, a pullover does not open in front but must be "pulled over" the head to be worn. The cardigan was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British military commander,...

 or T-shirt
T-shirt
A T-shirt is a style of shirt. A T-shirt is buttonless and collarless, with short sleeves and frequently a round neck line....

s (plain or with text or designs related to the skinhead subculture). Some Oi! and hardcore-oriented skinheads wear plain white tank top undershirts, especially in North America. They have also worn fitted blazer
Blazer
A blazer is a type of jacket. The term blazer occasionally is synonymous with boating jacket and sports jacket, two different garments. A blazer resembles a suit coat cut more casually — sometimes with flap-less patch pockets and metal buttons. A blazer's cloth is usually durable , because it is an...

s; Harrington jacket
Harrington jacket
A Harrington jacket is a lightweight waist-length jacket, made of cotton, polyester, wool or suede — usually with traditionally Fraser tartan or check-patterned lining....

s; MA-1
MA-1 bomber jacket
The MA-1 bomber jacket was first developed in the mid 1950s. The MA-1 and its predecessor, the B-15 Flight Jacket, were needed at that time because the emergence of the jet age created new requirements for pilot performance, safety and comfort.- History :Prior to the invention of jet aircraft,...

 type flight jacket
Flight jacket
The flight jacket, or bomber jacket is a garment originally created for pilots, which eventually became part of popular culture and apparel. In the First World War most airplanes did not have an enclosed cockpit, which necessitated a garment that could keep pilots sufficiently warm...

s (especially Alpha
Alpha Industries
Alpha Industries is an American clothing manufacturer founded in 1959 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Initially as a contractor to the United States military, the company grew into an international commercial seller of American military style and fashion apparel...

 brand); denim
Denim
Denim is a rugged cotton twill textile, in which the weft passes under two or more warp threads. This produces the familiar diagonal ribbing identifiable on the reverse of the fabric, which distinguishes denim from cotton duck. Denim has been in American usage since the late 18th century...

 jackets (usually blue, sometimes splattered with bleach); donkey jackets; Crombie
Crombie (brand)
Crombie is a British fashion company, which produces high-end clothing and accessories...

-style overcoats; sheepskin
Sheepskin
Sheepskin is the hide of a sheep, sometimes also called lambskin or lambswool.Sheepskin may also refer to:* Parchment, a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin** Diploma, originally made of sheepskin...

 3/4-length coats; short macs
Mackintosh
The Mackintosh or Macintosh is a form of waterproof raincoat, first sold in 1824, made out of rubberised fabric...

; monkey jackets; parkas
Anorak
An anorak or parka is a type of heavy jacket with a hood, often lined with fur or fake fur, so as to protect the face from a combination of freezing temperatures and wind...

. Traditional skinheads sometimes wear suits, often made out of two-tone tonic fabric (shiny mohair
Mohair
Mohair usually refers to a silk-like fabric or yarn made from the hair of the Angora goat. The word "mohair" was adopted into English before 1570 from the Arabic: mukhayyar, a type of haircloth, literally 'choice', from khayyara, 'he chose'. Mohair fiber is approximately 25-45 microns in...

-like material that changes colour in different light and angles), or in a Prince of Wales or houndstooth
Houndstooth
Houndstooth, houndstooth check or hound's tooth , also known as dogstooth, dogtooth or dog's tooth, is a duotone textile pattern characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, often in black and white, although other colours are used...

 check pattern.

Many skinheads wear Sta-Prest
Sta-Prest
Sta-Prest is a brand of wrinkle-resistant trousers produced by Levi Strauss & Co., beginning in 1964.These products are marketed as wearable straight out of the dryer, with no need for ironing...

 flat-fronted slacks or other dress trousers
Trousers
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

; jeans
Jeans
Jeans are trousers made from denim. Some of the earliest American blue jeans were made by Jacob Davis, Calvin Rogers, and Levi Strauss in 1873. Starting in the 1950s, jeans, originally designed for cowboys, became popular among teenagers. Historic brands include Levi's, Lee, and Wrangler...

 (normally Levi's
Levi Strauss & Co.
Levi Strauss & Co. is a privately held American clothing company known worldwide for its Levi's brand of denim jeans. It was founded in 1853 when Levi Strauss came from Buttenheim, Franconia, to San Francisco, California to open a west coast branch of his brothers' New York dry goods business...

, Lee
Lee (Jeans)
Lee is a brand of denim jeans, first produced in 1889 in Salina, Kansas. The company is owned by VF Corporation, the largest apparel company in the world. Its headquarters is currently in Merriam, Kansas, just outside of Kansas City, Missouri...

 or Wrangler
Wrangler Jeans
Wrangler is a manufacturer of jeans and other clothing items. The brand is owned by the VF Corporation, who also own Lee, JanSport and The North Face, among others. Its headquarters is in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, with production plants in a variety of locations throughout the world...

); or combat trousers (plain or camouflage). Jeans and slacks are worn deliberately short (either hemmed or rolled) to show off boots, or to show off socks when wearing loafers or brogues. Jeans are often blue, with a parallel leg design, hemmed or with clean and thin rolled cuffs (turn-ups), and are sometimes splattered with bleach
Bleach
Bleach refers to a number of chemicals that remove color, whiten, or disinfect, often via oxidation. Common chemical bleaches include household chlorine bleach , lye, oxygen bleach , and bleaching powder...

 to resemble camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 trousers (a style popular among Oi! skinheads).

Female skinheads generally wear the same clothing items as men, with addition of skirts, stockings, or dress suits composed of a ¾-length jacket and matching short skirt. Some skingirls wear fishnet stockings and mini-skirts, a style introduced during the punk-influenced skinhead revival.

Many traditionalist skinheads wear braces (known in North America as suspenders
Suspenders
Suspenders or braces are fabric or leather straps worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. Straps may be elasticated, either entirely or only at attachment ends and most straps are of woven cloth forming an X or Y shape at the back. Braces are typically attached to trousers with buttons...

), in various colours, usually no more than 1" in width, clipped to the trouser waistband. In some areas, braces much wider than that may identify a skinhead as either unfashionable or as a white power skinhead. Traditionally, braces are worn up in an X shape at the back, but some Oi!-oriented skinheads wear their braces hanging down. Patterned braces — often black and white check, or vertical stripes — are sometimes worn by traditional skinheads. In a few cases, the colour of braces (suspenders
Suspenders
Suspenders or braces are fabric or leather straps worn over the shoulders to hold up trousers. Straps may be elasticated, either entirely or only at attachment ends and most straps are of woven cloth forming an X or Y shape at the back. Braces are typically attached to trousers with buttons...

) or flight jackets have been used to signify affiliations. The particular colours chosen have varied regionally, and have had totally different meanings in different areas and time periods. Only skinheads from the same area and time period are likely to interpret the colour significations accurately. The practice of using the colour clothing items to indicate affiliations has become less common, particularly among traditionalist skinheads, who are more likely to choose their colours simply for fashion purposes.

Hats common among skinheads include: Trilby
Trilby
A trilby hat is a type of fedora. The trilby is viewed as the rich man's favored hat; it is commonly called the "brown trilby" in England and is much seen at the horse races. It is described as a "crumpled" fedora...

 hats; pork pie hat
Pork pie hat
A pork pie hat is a type of hat made of felt or straw. It is a type of fedora which has a cylindrical crown and flattish top. This style of crown is called a "telescopic crown", but the hat overall resembles the boater hat. It is short and has an indentation all the way around its top, allowing...

s; flat cap
Flat cap
A flat cap is a rounded men or women's cap with a small stiff brim in front. Cloths used to make the cap include original wool, tweed , and cotton. Less common materials may include leather. Cord flat caps are also worn in various colours. The inside of the cap is usually lined with silk for...

s (Scally caps or driver caps), winter woollen hats
Tuque
A – variously known as a knit hat or stocking cap among other names – is a knitted cap, originally of wool though now often of synthetic fibers, that is designed to provide warmth in winter...

 (without a bobble). Less common have been bowler hat
Bowler hat
The bowler hat, also known as a coke hat, derby , billycock or bombin, is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown originally created in 1849 for the English soldier and politician Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester...

s (mostly among suedeheads and those influenced by the film A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange (film)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

).

Traditionalist skinheads sometimes wear a silk handkerchief in the breast pocket of a Crombie-style overcoat or tonic suit jacket, in some cases fastened with an ornate stud. Some wear pocket flashes instead. These are pieces of silk in contrasting colours, mounted on a piece of cardboard and designed to look like an elaborately folded handkerchief. It was common to choose the colours based on one's favourite football club. Some skinheads wear button badges or sewn-on fabric patches with designs related to affiliations, interests or beliefs. Also popular are woollen or printed rayon scarves in football club colours, worn knotted at the neck, wrist, or hanging from a belt loop at the waist. Silk or faux-silk scarves (especially Tootal brand) with paisley
Paisley (design)
Paisley or Paisley pattern is a droplet-shaped vegetable motif of Indian, Pakistani and Persian origin. The pattern is sometimes called "Persian pickles" by American traditionalists, especially quiltmakers,The Persian Pickle Club, Sandra Dallas. St. Martin's Press,...

 patterns are also sometimes worn.

Some suedeheads carried closed umbrellas with sharpened tips, or a handle with a pull-out blade. This led to the nickname brollie boys.

Footwear

Most skinheads wear boots; originally they wore army surplus or generic workboots, then Dr. Martens
Dr. Martens
Dr. Martens is a traditional British footwear brand, which also makes a range of accessories – shoe care products, clothing, luggage, etc. In addition to Dr. Martens, they are known as Doctor Martens, Doc Martens, Docs or DMs...

 boots and shoes. Skinheads have also been known to wear brogues
Brogues
The Brogue is a style of low-heeled shoe or boot traditionally characterized by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with decorative perforations and serration along the pieces' visible edges...

, loafers
Loafers
Slip-ons are typically low, lace-less shoes. The style most commonly seen, known as a loafer or Slippers in American culture, has a moccasin construction. First appearing in the mid-1930s from Norway, they began as casual shoes, but have increased in popularity to the point of being worn in America...

 or Dr. Martens (or similarly styled) low shoes. During the 1960s, steel-toe boots
Steel-toe boots
A steel-toe boot is a durable boot or shoe that has a protective reinforcement in the toe which protects the foot from falling objects or compression, usually it is combined with a mid sole plate to protect against punctures from below.Although traditionally made of steel, the reinforcement can...

 were called bovver boots. In recent years, other brands of boots, such as Solovair
Solovair
Solovair is a brand of British-made boots and footwear, produced by NPS Shoes Ltd., which was established in 1881. NPS is based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, an area known for its shoe industry...

 and Tredair
Tredair
Tredair is a brand of British-made footwear produced by White & Co., a shoe design company in Northamptonshire. The company, established as a factory from 1890 to 2003 making classic men's footwear, sports footwear, cricketing shoes, utility footwear to government specification during the early...

, have become popular among skinheads, partly because Dr. Martens are no longer made in England. Football-style athletic shoe
Athletic shoe
Athletic shoe is a generic name for the footwear primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise but in recent years has come to be used for casual everyday activities....

s, by brands such as Adidas
Adidas
Adidas AG is a German sports apparel manufacturer and parent company of the Adidas Group, which consists of the Reebok sportswear company, TaylorMade-Adidas golf company , and Rockport...

 or Gola
Gola
Gola may refer to:Groups and tribes:*Gola , in Balochistan, Pakistan*Gola people, a tribal people and language in Liberia*Gola , native to south-east Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Western Uttar Pradesh regions of IndiaPlace names:...

, have become popular with many skinheads. Female or child skinheads generally wear the same footwear as men, with the addition of monkey boots. The traditional brand for monkey boots was Grafters, but nowadays they are also made by Dr. Martens or Solovair.

In the early days of the skinhead subculture, some skinheads chose boot lace colours based on the football team they supported. Later, some skinheads (particularly highly political ones) began to use lace colour to indicate beliefs or affiliations. The particular colours chosen have varied regionally, and have had totally different meanings in different areas and time periods. Only skinheads from the same area and time period are likely to interpret the colour significations accurately. This practice has become less common, particularly among traditionalist skinheads, who are more likely to choose their colours simply for fashion purposes. Suedeheads sometimes wore coloured socks.

Music

The skinhead subculture was originally associated with black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

 genres such as soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

, ska, rocksteady
Rocksteady
Rocksteady is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966. A successor to ska and a precursor to reggae, rocksteady was performed by Jamaican vocal harmony groups such as The Gaylads, The Maytals and The Paragons. The term rocksteady comes from a dance style that was mentioned in the Alton...

 and early reggae
Reggae
Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

. The link between skinheads and Jamaican music led to the development of the skinhead reggae genre, performed by artists such as: Desmond Dekker
Desmond Dekker
Desmond Dekker was a Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae singer-songwriter and musician. Together with his backing group, The Aces , he had one of the first international Jamaican hits with "Israelites". Other hits include "007 " and "It Miek"...

, Derrick Morgan
Derrick Morgan
Derrick Morgan is a musical artist popular in the 1960s and 1970s. He worked with Desmond Dekker, Bob Marley, and Jimmy Cliff in the rhythm and blues and ska genres, and he also performed rocksteady and skinhead reggae.-Biography:In 1957 Morgan entered the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, a talent...

, Laurel Aitken
Laurel Aitken
Lorenzo Aitken , better known as Laurel Aitken, was a singer and one of the originators of Jamaican ska music. He is often referred to as the "Godfather of ska".-Career:...

, Symarip
Symarip
Symarip were a ska and reggae band from the United Kingdom, originating in the late 1960s, when Frank Pitter and Michael Thomas founded the band as The Bees. The band's name was originally spelled Simaryp, which is an approximate reversal of the word 'pyramids'...

 and The Pioneers
The Pioneers (band)
The Pioneers are a Jamaican reggae vocal trio, whose main period of success was in the 1960s. The trio has had different line-ups, and still occasionally performs.-Founding and early years: 1962-1967:...

.

In the early 1970s, some reggae songs began to feature themes of black nationalism
Black nationalism
Black nationalism advocates a racial definition of indigenous national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all African nationalist ideologies are unity, and self-determination or independence from European society...

, which many white skinheads could not relate to. This shift in reggae's lyrical themes created some tension between black and white skinheads, who otherwise got along fairly well. Around this time, some suedeheads (an offshoot of the skinhead subculture) started listening to British glam rock
Glam rock
Glam rock is a style of rock and pop music that developed in the UK in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter...

 bands such as The Sweet
Sweet (band)
Sweet was a British rock band that rose to worldwide fame in the 1970s as one of the most prominent glam rock acts, with the classic line-up of lead vocalist Brian Connolly, bass player Steve Priest, guitarist Andy Scott, and drummer Mick Tucker.Sweet was formed in 1968 and achieved their first...

, Slade
Slade
Slade are an English rock band from Wolverhampton, who rose to prominence during the glam rock era of the early 1970s. With 17 consecutive Top 20 hits and six number ones, the British Hit Singles & Albums names them as the most successful British group of the 1970s based on sales of singles...

 and Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople were a British rock band with strong R&B roots, popular in the glam rock era of the early to mid 1970s. They are popularly known for the song "All the Young Dudes", written for them by David Bowie and appearing on their 1972 album of the same name.-The early years:Mott The Hoople...

.

The most popular music style for late-1970s skinheads was 2 Tone
2 Tone
2 Tone is a music genre created in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s by fusing elements of ska, punk rock, rocksteady, reggae, and New Wave. It was called 2 Tone because most of the bands were signed to 2 Tone Records at some point. Other labels associated with the 2 Tone sound were Stiff...

, which was a fusion of ska, rocksteady, reggae, pop and punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

. The 2 Tone genre was named after 2 Tone Records
2 Tone Records
2 Tone Records was an English record label that mostly released ska and reggae-influenced music with a punk rock and pop music overtone.-History:...

, a Coventry, England record label
Record label
In the music industry, a record label is a brand and a trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Most commonly, a record label is the company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing and promotion,...

 that featured bands such as The Specials
The Specials
The Specials are an English 2 Tone ska revival band formed in 1977 in Coventry, England. Their music combines a "danceable ska and rocksteady beat with punk's energy and attitude", and had a "more focused and informed political and social stance" than other ska groups...

, Madness
Madness (band)
In 1979, the band recorded the Lee Thompson composition "The Prince". The song, like the band's name, paid homage to their idol, Prince Buster. The song was released through 2 Tone Records, the label of The Specials founder Jerry Dammers. The song was a surprise hit, peaking in the UK music charts...

 and The Selecter
The Selecter
The Selecter are a 2 Tone ska revival band from Coventry, England, formed in mid 1979.Like many other bands in the ska revival movement, The Selecter featured a racially diverse line-up. Their lyrics featured themes connected to politics and marijuana, set to strong melodies and a danceable beat...

. Some late-1970s skinheads also liked certain punk rock bands, such as Sham 69
Sham 69
Sham 69 is an English punk band that formed in Hersham in 1976.Although not as commercially successful as many of their contemporaries, albeit with a greater number of chart entries, Sham 69 has been a huge musical and lyrical influence on the Oi! and streetpunk genres. The band allegedly derived...

 and Menace.

Also in the late 1970s, after the first wave of punk rock, many skinheads embraced Oi!
Oi!
Oi! is a working class subgenre of punk rock that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The music and its associated subculture had the goal of bringing together punks, skinheads and other working-class youths ....

, a working class punk subgenre. Musically, Oi! combines standard punk with elements of football chant
Football chant
A football chant or terrace chant, is a song or chant sung at association football matches. They can be historic, dating back to the formation of the club, adaptations of popular songs, or spontaneous reactions to events on the pitch. They are one of the last remaining sources of an oral folk song...

s, pub rock
Pub rock (UK)
Pub rock was a rock music genre that developed in the mid 1970s in the United Kingdom. A back-to-basics movement, pub rock was a reaction against progressive and glam rock. Although short-lived, pub rock was notable for rejecting stadium venues and for returning live rock to the small pubs and...

 and British glam rock. The Oi! scene was partly a response to a sense that many participants in the early punk scene were, in the words of The Business
The Business (band)
The Business are an English Oi!/punk rock band formed in 1979 in Lewisham, South London. Their album Suburban Rebels became influential in the Oi! movement...

 guitarist Steve Kent, "trendy university people using long words, trying to be artistic ... and losing touch". The term Oi! as a musical genre is said to come from the band Cockney Rejects
Cockney Rejects
Cockney Rejects are an English punk rock band that formed in the East End of London in 1978. Their 1980 song "Oi, Oi, Oi" was the inspiration for the name of the Oi! music genre...

 and journalist Garry Bushell
Garry Bushell
Garry Bushell is an English newspaper columnist, rock music journalist, television presenter, author and political activist. Bushell also sings in the Oi! band The Gonads and manages the New York City Oi! band Maninblack. Bushell's recurring themes are comedy, country and class...

, who championed the genre in Sounds magazine
Sounds (magazine)
Sounds was a long-term British music paper, published weekly from 10 October 1970 – 6 April 1991. It was produced by Spotlight Publications , which was set up by Jack Hutton and Peter Wilkinson, who left "Melody Maker" to start their own company...

. Not exclusively a skinhead genre, many Oi! bands included skins, punks
Punk subculture
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, and forms of expression, including fashion, visual art, dance, literature, and film, which grew out of punk rock.-History:...

 and people who fit into neither category (sometimes called herberts). Notable Oi! bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s include Angelic Upstarts
Angelic Upstarts
Angelic Upstarts are an English punk rock/Oi! band formed in South Shields in 1977. The band espoused an anti-fascist and socialist working class philosophy, and have been associated with the skinhead subculture...

, Blitz
Blitz (band)
Blitz was a street punk band from New Mills, Derbyshire, England. They had success in the United Kingdom indie charts in the early 1980s. With both punk and skinhead members, they were enthusiastically championed by Sounds magazine writer Garry Bushell, though guitarist Nidge would later go on to...

, The Business, Last Resort, The Burial
The Burial
The Burial were an Oi! band that incorporated ska, northern soul and folk influences into their music. Formed in 1981 in Yorkshire, England, they released one album, A Day On The Town in 1988, and worked with Bradford‘s anarchist rant-poet Nick Toczek on various projects under the name Britanarchists...

, Combat 84
Combat 84
Combat 84 were an English Oi! band active during the early 1980s. Formed in 1981 in Chelsea, London by skinheads 'Chubby' Chris Henderson and 'Deptford' John Armitage, Combat 84 rose to national prominence after being featured in a controversial 1982 BBC Arena documentary about the skinhead...

 and The 4-Skins
The 4-Skins
The 4-Skins are a working class Oi! punk rock band from the East End of London, England. Originally composed of Gary Hodges , 'Hoxton' Tom McCourt , Steve 'H' Hamer and Gary Hitchcock , they formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1984 – although new line-ups formed in 2007 and 2008...

.

American Oi! began in the 1980s, with bands such as The Press
The Press (band)
The Press were one of the first Oi! bands in the United States. Formed in New York City in 1984, the outspoken anti-fascist band was associated with Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, of which their singer, André Schlesinger, was an early member. Schlesinger also supported the views of the British...

, Iron Cross
Iron Cross (band)
Iron Cross is a hardcore/Oi! band from Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C..They play a rough form of streetpunk, and is the first band in the United States to adopt the skinhead look and the Oi! musical style...

, The Bruisers
The Bruisers
The Bruisers were pioneers of the American streetpunk/oi! movement, formed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1988. The original lineup included: Al Barr , Scotty Davies , Jeff Morris and Rodger Shosa...

 and Anti-Heros
Anti-Heros
Anti-Heros were an American Oi!/street punk band formed in 1984 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. They took a hiatus from 1989–1993, but continued to record and play concerts through the early 2000s. Anti-Heros are one of the first and most popular American Oi! bands. The original lineup...

. American skinheads created a link between their subculture and hardcore punk
Hardcore punk
Hardcore punk is an underground music genre that originated in the late 1970s, following the mainstream success of punk rock. Hardcore is generally faster, thicker, and heavier than earlier punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A...

 music, with bands such as Warzone
Warzone (band)
Warzone was an American hardcore punk band formed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1982. The band helped develop the New York hardcore sound, the hardcore skinhead style and the youth crew subgenre...

, Agnostic Front
Agnostic Front
Agnostic Front is an American hardcore band. The band began playing hardcore similar to their contemporaries, and were thrust to the forefront of the burgeoning New York hardcore scene in the mid-1980s with their widely regarded 1984 classic Victim in Pain before evolving to incorporate thrash...

, and Cro-Mags
Cro-Mags
Cro-Mags are a hardcore punk turned crossover thrash band from New York City. The band, which had a strong cult following, released many records, their first two considered the most influential...

. The Oi! style has also spread to other parts of the world, and remains popular with many skinheads. Many later Oi! bands have combined influences from early American hardcore and 1970s British streetpunk
Street punk
Street punk is a working class-based genre of punk rock which took shape in the early 1980s, partly as a rebellion against the perceived artistic pretensions of the first wave of British punk. Street punk emerged from the Oi! style, performed by bands such as Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts, Cockney...

.

Although many white power skinheads listened to Oi! music, they also developed a separate genre that was more in line with their politics: Rock Against Communism
Rock Against Communism
Rock Against Communism started out as series of white power rock concerts in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s, and is also a name for the subsequent music genre. Despite its name, RAC song lyrics rarely focus on the specific topic of anti-communism...

 (RAC). The most notable RAC band was Skrewdriver
Skrewdriver
Skrewdriver was an English punk rock band formed by Ian Stuart Donaldson in Poulton-le-Fylde in 1976. They later evolved into one of the first neo-Nazi rock bands, playing a leading role in the Rock Against Communism movement and becoming known as the most prominent white power skinhead...

, which started out as a non-political punk band but evolved into a neo-Nazi
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

 band after the first lineup broke up and a new lineup was formed. RAC started out musically similar to Oi! and punk, but has since adopted elements from other genres. White power music that sounds like hardcore is sometimes called hatecore.

Racism, anti-racism and politics

In the late 1960s, some skinheads in the United Kingdom (including black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

 skinheads) had engaged in violence against South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

n immigrants (an act known as Paki bashing in common slang). There had, however, also been anti-racist
Anti-racism
Anti-racism includes beliefs, actions, movements, and policies adopted or developed to oppose racism. In general, anti-racism is intended to promote an egalitarian society in which people do not face discrimination on the basis of their race, however defined...

 and leftist
Left-wing politics
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...

 skinheads since the beginning of the subculture, especially in Scotland and northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

.
These early skinheads were not necessarily part of any political movement, but by the early 1970s, some skinheads aligned themselves with the white nationalist
White nationalism
White nationalism is a political ideology which advocates a racial definition of national identity for white people. White separatism and white supremacism are subgroups within white nationalism. The former seek a separate white nation state, while the latter add ideas from social Darwinism and...

 National Front. As the 1970s progressed, racially-motivated
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 skinhead violence in the United Kingdom became more political, and far right groups such as the National Front and the British Movement
British Movement
The British Movement , later called the British National Socialist Movement , is a British neo-Nazi organisation founded by Colin Jordan in 1968. It grew out of the National Socialist Movement , which was founded in 1962...

 saw a rise in white power skinheads among their ranks. By the late 1970s, the mass media, and subsequently the general public, had largely come to view the skinhead subculture as one that promotes racism and neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism
Neo-Nazism consists of post-World War II social or political movements seeking to revive Nazism or some variant thereof.The term neo-Nazism can also refer to the ideology of these movements....

. The white power and neo-Nazi skinhead subculture eventually spread to North America, Europe and other areas of the world. The mainstream media started using the term skinhead in reports of racist violence (regardless of whether the perpetrator was actually a skinhead); this has played a large role in skewing public perceptions about the subculture. Three notable groups that formed in the 1980s and became associated with white power skinheads are White Aryan Resistance
White Aryan Resistance
White Aryan Resistance is a neo-Nazi white separatist organization founded and led by former Ku Klux Klan leader Tom Metzger. Part of the American far right, it is based in Warsaw, Indiana and is incorporated as a business....

, Blood and Honour
Blood and Honour
Blood & Honour is a neo-Nazi music promotion network and political group founded in 1987 with links to Combat 18 and composed of white power skinheads and other white nationalists....

 and Hammerskins
Hammerskins
The Hammerskins, are a white supremacist group formed in 1988 in Dallas, Texas.The Hammerskins' primary focus is the production and promotion of white power rock music, and many white power bands were affiliated with the group. The Hammerskins were affiliated with the record label 9% Productions...

.

Also during the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, many skinheads and suedeheads in the United Kingdom rejected both the far left and far right. This anti-extremist attitude was musically typified by Oi!
Oi!
Oi! is a working class subgenre of punk rock that originated in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s. The music and its associated subculture had the goal of bringing together punks, skinheads and other working-class youths ....

 bands such as Cockney Rejects
Cockney Rejects
Cockney Rejects are an English punk rock band that formed in the East End of London in 1978. Their 1980 song "Oi, Oi, Oi" was the inspiration for the name of the Oi! music genre...

, The 4-Skins
The 4-Skins
The 4-Skins are a working class Oi! punk rock band from the East End of London, England. Originally composed of Gary Hodges , 'Hoxton' Tom McCourt , Steve 'H' Hamer and Gary Hitchcock , they formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1984 – although new line-ups formed in 2007 and 2008...

, Toy Dolls
Toy Dolls
The Toy Dolls are an English punk rock band formed in 1979. Departing from the angry lyrics and music often associated with punk rock, The Toy Dolls worked within the aesthetics of punk to express a sense of fun, with songs such as "Yul Brynner Was a Skinhead", "My Girlfriend's Dad's a Vicar" and...

, and The Business
The Business (band)
The Business are an English Oi!/punk rock band formed in 1979 in Lewisham, South London. Their album Suburban Rebels became influential in the Oi! movement...

. Two notable groups of skinheads who spoke out against neo-Nazism and political extremism—and in support of traditional skinhead
Trojan skinhead
Trojan skinheads are individuals who identify with the original British skinhead subculture of the late 1960s, when ska, rocksteady, reggae and soul music were popular, and there was a heavy emphasis on mod-influenced clothing styles...

 culture—were the Glasgow Spy Kids in Scotland (who coined the phrase Spirit of 69), and the publishers of the Hard As Nails zine
Zine
A zine is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier....

 in England.
In the United States, anti-racist skinheads countered the neo-Nazi stereotype
Stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

 by forming organisations such as The Minneapolis Baldies, which started in 1986; Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice
Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice
Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice are anti-racist skinheads who oppose neo-Nazis and other political racists, particularly if those racists identify themselves as skinheads....

 (SHARP), which was founded in New York City in 1987 and then spread to other countries; and Anti-Racist Action
Anti-Racist Action
The Anti-Racist Action Network is a decentralized network of anti-fascist and anti-racists in North America. ARA activists organize actions to disrupt neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, and help organize activities against fascist and racist ideologies. ARA groups also oppose sexism,...

 (ARA), which was formed in the late 1980s by members of the Minneapolis Baldies and other activists.
On the far left of the skinhead subculture, redskins and anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 skinheads take a militant anti-fascist
Anti-fascism
Anti-fascism is the opposition to fascist ideologies, groups and individuals, such as that of the resistance movements during World War II. The related term antifa derives from Antifaschismus, which is German for anti-fascism; it refers to individuals and groups on the left of the political...

 and pro-working class stance. In the United Kingdom, two groups with significant numbers of leftist skinhead members were Red Action
Red Action
Red Action is a small British leftist political group formed in 1981. It became known for violently confronting racist and fascist opponents on the streets, and for supporting Anti-Fascist Action...

, which started in 1981, and Anti-Fascist Action
Anti-Fascist Action
Anti-Fascist Action was a militant anti-fascist organization founded by members of Red Action and other left-wing groups in the United Kingdom in 1985....

, which started in 1985. Internationally, the most notable left-wing skinhead organisation is Red and Anarchist Skinheads, which formed in the New York City area in 1993 and then spread to other countries.

In the United States, conservatism has been common in the skinhead scene, with many non-racist skinheads expressing right-wing and anti-communist views, glorifying American military actions and voicing opposition to modern liberalism.

Further reading

  • Daniel, Susie and Peter McGuire et al. The Painthouse: Words from an East End Gang. Penguin Books: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, 1972.
  • Davis, John. Youth and the Condition of Britain: Images of Adolescent Conflict. Athlone Press, NJ. 1990
  • Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Fletcher & Son ltd, 1979.
  • Osgerby, Bill. Youth in Britain since 1945. Blackwell Publishers: Malden, Massachusetts, 1998.
  • Osgerby, Bill. Youth Media London: Routledge, 2004.
  • Pearson,Geoff. “’Paki-Bashing’ in a North East Lancashire Cotton Town: A case study and its history” Working Class Youth Culture. Routledge & Kegan Paul: London. 1976. 50.
  • Neville Staple (2009) Original Rude Boy
    Original Rude Boy
    Original Rude Boy is the autobiography of Neville Staple, vocalist in ska band The Specials. The book was launched in May, 2009 to coincide with the reunion tour of The Specials. It sets out to chart the black British influence on the second wave of ska which originated in Coventry in the late...

    , Aurum Press
    Aurum Press
    Aurum Press is an independent English publishing house located in London. It was founded in 1976. Aurum concentrates on non-fiction titles and publishes approximately 75 new books every year. One of its titles in 2009 will be the biography of Neville Staple, vocalist in The Specials, Fun Boy...

    . ISBN 978-1-84513-480-8

External links

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