12.03.2020

THE MOD APPROACH

Unpacking the trend + how to wear it

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Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Images: Getty

The deluge of what designers send down the runway or what the uber-stylish wear isn’t what some could ever see themselves in, even on their most confident days. So fashion’s more adventurous trends tend to be dismissed as ridiculous or impractical quite quickly – especially when it comes to menswear. Although seemingly laughable at first, if you take a more critical look, trends cue you to the zeitgeist… spoken about for years to come. Whether most leave you scratching your head or more eager than ever to try out, here’s everything you need to know about Mod: what it is and how to wear it.

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WHAT’S MOD?

Clothing has frequently been the creative vehicle to push the boundaries of culture and challenge the status quo or The Man. Take for example the hippie era or 90s grunge. In the same spirit, but of a different time, was British Mod subculture that laid some groundwork for rebellious youth and a new style of dressing. The term “Mod” is derived from “modernist”, used to describe ideas and ways related to modern art, and Mods were generally the baby boomers of a wealthy post-war Britain. With money to burn, they chose to spend it in the best jazz clubs and on the finest Italian slim-fit suits. To them, dressing was about more than just looking polished; it was about pulling away from the way their parents lived. It’s important to note that although fine tailoring was a definitive part of their style, suits weren’t always practical, so a more casual look was born. This is where the now-iconic khaki parka, long-sleeved polo shirt and tailored trousers or jeans combo came to the fore. The Mods were a departure from the rock and roll Teddy Boys of the 50s. Influenced by US culture, Teddy Boys were the epitome of cool with their motorbikes and greased quiffs. Mods, on the other hand, wanted to move away from this aesthetic and looked to Europe for inspiration. By 1963, Mods were no longer a cult group, but a bonafide subculture. Come the 70s, they either let go of their jazz records or moved towards the skinhead culture. Some of the famous names who heavily influenced Mod? The Beatles, Liam Gallagher, Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Paul Weller...

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WHY NOW?

Whenever a generation finds itself in disarray with current fashion and subcultures that they can’t relate to, they tend to revert back to that suave Mod look. In 1978, punk had lost its edge and The Jam’s Mod-smothered All Mod Cons gave young people a reason to fall in love with the style and music of the movement all over again. Mod, like most subcultures, was a reaction to what came before. For Mods, it was a response to the US-inspired rock-and-roll Teddy Boy of the 50s. After World War II, London youths had found themselves in a drab moment of conformity and restriction. Many subcultures were born around this time and what separated the Mods was affluence and education. Fast forward to 2020 when hypebeasts and casual clothing have saturated our social media feeds and digital shopping carts, another sartorial pendulum swing is bound to happen. If we look to the international Spring/Summer 2020 runways of Dior Homme or Raf Simons, what was offered was accessible tailoring in jackets, smart boots and a return of the formal trouser. The season could be remembered as the official end of streetwear dominance, despite Virgil Abloh bemoaning its end. Contemporary fashion exists as a reaction to current taste. As soon as a certain style reaches its life cycle and an aesthetic has peaked, the fashion leaders are already in the full swing of something new. So what would be the antithesis of streetwear? The revival of the suit and a dandier approach to getting dressed, of course.

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TAKE IT HOME

The parka and trench coat were two major items in a Mod’s wardrobe. Polo shirts and jeans were additionally essential to their look. There’s an emphasis on colour and pattern, so bolder is better in the print department. Not up your alley? Opt for muted burgundy, navy or black. Or block colours and simple stripes. Well-tailored is the name of the game and mismatched suits aren’t on the cards. Fancy trying a double-breasted blazer or super-polished loafers? Smart leather jackets, perhaps? Now’s the time to finish off your look with some old-school Britpop flare, mate.