Following the end of the Second World War the musical performers have inspired their young followers in what music they listen to as well as what clothes they wear. There is very much the chicken and the egg question about the relationship, do the top young musical performers followers the latest fashions or do they create them?
The younger generations have always been inspired by those either been heard on the radio or performing in musical movies that were common features that appeared before the Second World War. Performers like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby already had large young followers, but they simply represented clean and successful living being immaculately presented. The arrival of James Dean created an anti-authority culture with his brief acting career. His role in “Rebel Without a Cause” inspired the new generation of rock and roll artists. The image of him dressed in jeans, simple leather jacket, white t shirt with hair slicked back became the uniform of the 1950s younger generations.
From this a host of new rock and roll performers started to dress and from this base the uniform was modified to include colourful shoes and long coats. However, it wasn’t long before the Beatles appeared, and they started out dressing in smart suits yet as their music started to explore other genres their appearance changed. Their short haircuts disappeared, and their clothes started to be influenced by the psychedelic fashion that was certainly in evidence in the late 1960s. Their music certainly reflected this change in attitude as the changes in direction eventually resulted in the breakup of the band.
Other artists were similarly showcasing the psychedelic fashions and the success of Jimmy Hendrix and Marc Bolan were definite artists that could seriously claim to have been setting the fashion. David Bowie would also fit into that category as he used cosmetics to enhance his look even further. As well as having two separately coloured eyes, he regularly wore make up to complete his look.
The next group of glam rockers would certainly fit into the category of following the fashion. Groups like the Bay City Rollers, Sweet and Slade had their young followers parading around in flared trousers and platform shoes but were they really creating something new. Bay City Rollers could claim to have inspire their fans into wearing tartan, but this really was a small change to a fashion that had already previously been created.
Fashion does not always have to be colourful and the three founder members of the “unholy trinity of British heavy metal” Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath are testament to that. All three groups would actively distance itself away from any association with any type of commercialism, yet their appearance created hundreds of thousands of fans dressing in a similar manner, Jeans, leather jackets, boots and long hair may have been the natural look to some, but people would be happy to spend their money on the best make of jeans to create the right look. Cosmetically these heavy rock stars may have shied away from make-up, but they were happy to have body piercings and collect tattoos on various areas of their person.
The fashion industry had grown so close to the famous rock artists of the day that by the end of the 1970s the entrepreneurial activities of two people from the fashion industry kick started the rise in the Punk Rock genre.
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and shop owner Malcolm Manager jointly owned a trendy retail store in the Kings Road. During the early part of the decade it attracted Teddy Boys but as the years passed by and punk rock was starting to emerge the area started to attract the punks. Although originally small in numbers, the pair saw a commercial opportunity and so started to stock outfits that were suitable for the punks. The shop was full of bondage trousers, colourful ripped t-shirts, mohair sweaters and many of its patrons were encouraged to wear safety pins as earrings.
To promote this further they created the Sex Pistols with McLaren acting as manager. The group were the responsible for initiating the punk movement in Britain.