Bring back some good or bad memories


May 31, 2017

20 Black and White Portrait Photos of British Skinheads From the 1970s and 1980s

If you are old enough to remember London in the late 1970s and early 1980s, this collection of photographs is a reminder of the latent aggression that defined youth culture in the capital.

On the street, skinheads, who always seemed to travel in packs, were a threatening presence. At gigs, especially during the 2-Tone era, they were disruptive going on violent, often making the dancefloor at shows by the Specials, Madness and the Selecter a place where you had to watch your step even as the music urged you to do otherwise.

Then there was the racism and the fascism, the storming of shows by the Redskins, and the attempted disruption of anti-fascist marches or anti-racist festivals. It was a different country back then: harder, more tribally and politically polarised.

More intriguing, though, are the prettier boys whose soft gazes seem to contradict the very ethos of skinhead culture. An angelic-looking lad has the words "We are the flowers in your dustbin" – a Sex Pistols' lyric – tattooed across his forehead.

The skinhead girls, so often portrayed as simply an addendum to this most ultra-male of all youth cults, also come into their own: the feather cuts, chunky cardigans, polished brogues, bleached denims and braces. Often, for all their posturing, they look cute. One of them could pass for a model in a style shoot about retro youth cults, her elfin beauty only emphasised by her closely cropped hair and utilitarian clothes.



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10