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|September 20th, 2007, 07:30 AM||#11|
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Bootle / Notting Hill
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How Liverpool Fans Changed Fashion Forever
Liverpool supporters are famous for creating the best flags and songs in football but did you know they were responsible for kick-starting a multi-billion pound men’s clothing industry? Let author Dave Hewitson explain.
There's been a lot of reminiscing of late and a fifth European Cup triumph brought back thoughts of glory days gone by. Twenty-one years is a long time but for those of us old enough to remember, visions of Brucie's wobbly legs and Barney's penalty will forever be etched in our minds.
Another personal highlight of that week was a visit to a small town on the outskirts of Rome. The reason for said visit was to acquire the latest Sergio Tacchini tracksuit which you couldn't buy in Liverpool; blue with red piping. God was in the detail. Now a new film, 'The Business' captures that look. Cockney geezers running around in Tacchini and Fila evoke fond memories of days gone by for me and many fellow football fans but don't be taken in by the South London accents. This look had a decidedly home grown flavour back in the late Seventies and early Eighties, as it was here on the streets of Liverpool that it first emerged.
As the reds conquered Europe, bringing home the biggest of trophies, the fans conquered the continent, bringing home the best of sportswear. Those were the days my friend.
Eighties casuals: tracksuits, tennis shorts, wedge haircuts and Adidas trainers. In the mid-Eighties, teenagers across the length and breadth of the country had bought into the look. Every club in the land was sporting a firm of casual dressed fans but where and when did it all begin? And, more importantly, who was ultimately responsible for starting a youth cult that - despite going unnoticed by the nation's media for years – ended up spawning a multi-billion pound sportswear industry that dominates high streets all over the world?
The answer to all three questions can be found here on Merseyside. Let's rewind to the summer of '77. Liverpool FC had just captured the first of their five European Cups and the crowd on that glorious occasion partied the night away in their flared jeans and shirts with fly away collars, scarves hanging from the wrist.
By the time the new season was upon us, a select few were taking a razor blade to the collar to create a granddad shirt [no collar] or were raiding their arl fella's wardrobe for '60s small collared shirts. The scarf had been discarded and narrow jeans or cords were worn but most important of all, Adidas Samba trainers were adorning many feet. The Samba was the most expensive style from an all-black range, which included Bamba, Mamba, Kick and V.I.P.
Those great pictures of Liverpool's first European Cup triumph in Rome were to be the last time we would see flag waving, scarf wearing and flared jeans all in the same place and upon the same person.
Developments over the next six months were hasty and by 1978 it was noticeable that this wasn't just a passing fad.
Within months Samba was the must have trainer, coupled with a pair of straight jeans, preferably Lois. To top off the look, a new effeminate hairstyle was taking shape. The wedge was short on one side but having a long fringe to the other. The cut would become synonymous with the early Casuals but the actual roots of the hairstyle can be found on the cover of David Bowie's 'Low' album, which featured a picture of the idol himself sporting a wedge-style cut. On Merseyside, Bowie and Roxy Music were held in high esteem, being played in all the under-18's discos. The kids copied the hairstyle but this would be the only direct influence any music would have on the culture.
The collective name 'Casuals' did not appear for a few years (The Face magazine in 1983 to be precise) so here on Merseyside this new breed of trendsetters where called straights, squares or smoothies. The scene however went totally undocumented nationally for approximately five years which maybe had something to do with it being northern based and unattached to any musical scene. While the daily newspapers concentrated on hooliganism, there were no such things as men's magazines to spread the word.
As one European Cup rolled into another, 1978 would see things on the clothing front advance apace. The staple diet of straight or drainpipe (drainies) jeans with Adidas trainers was gathering momentum. The make of jean changed by the month. Lois followed by Inega, Jesus, F.U.'s, Second Image, Fiorucci, Ritzy, Ciao, Flemings… the list was endless but the one defining factor was you had to have them before anyone else.
Footwear was to become obsessive; Pod, College, Kio's and Kickers all had their day between the '78 and '81 European triumphs. In the space of these three years it became essential to liberate Europe of the new and expensive Adidas trainers that were unavailable at home.
The season that accumulated in a trip to Gaye Paree had started off in less flamboyant fashion with a pre-season tour that took in Germany. It was on this trip that a new trainer, unseen in Britain, caught straying eyes.
The Adidas Comfort Strapover brought back from this trip would have kids on Merseyside asking, 'Where d'ya get yer trainees from?' Suddenly having that elusive piece of footwear before anyone else meant a Transalpino trip abroad. Transalpino, for those too young to remember, being a cheap student [under 26] rail ticket. The ticket had the destination written rather than printed on it so it was possible to purchase a cheap ticket to Le Havre or Ostend and then rub it out, replacing it with the wherever you wished to go. The Transalpino Rub-out became famous during these days.
The Strapover became the must have shoe of the winter. After a year of searching high and low for Adidas Forest Hills, Stan Smith and the Diadora Borg Elite, the stage had been set. The continent became a great source of inspiration and everyone looked forward to the next European Cup draw.
In April '81 Liverpool emerged from the hat to face Bayern Munich of Germany, home of Adidas, in the semi-finals. It was a dream come true for the new Adidas aficionados. See Liverpool through to another final and collect a brand spanking new pair of Adidas. The Grand Prix, Grand Slam and Trimm-Trab were all considered too expensive, by Adidas, for the U.K. market, but as the fans returned home laden with new Trabs, the kids on Merseyside would be screaming out for them. These lads with expensive taste in footwear were starting a style that was about to explode across the country. On visiting away grounds the home supporters could only envy them. Not only did they support the best team in Europe but they were the best dressed. Forget your Italian Paninari scooter boys [Versace, Armani], the look being created by these lads had a global effect on the sportswear industry. The look defined a generation and was the last great revolution in men's clothing. In 1982, Wade Smith in Liverpool became the first retail outlet in Europe to sell just designer sportswear. Importing the latest trainers, he had expectations of selling 26,000 in the first year but in fact sold 110,000! The store was copied up and down the land.
During the summer months of 1976 to 1980, Bjorn Borg swept aside all before him to conquer Wimbledon. Decked out in his Fila Settanta tracksuit top, Fila shorts and his Diadora Borg Elite Trainers, his style would have a profound effect on many. Trips to the continent now involved picking up a piece of tennis wear.
1980 had seen many a keen-eyed scouser tuning into TV coverage of Wimbledon, not necessarily for the tennis but mainly to cast an eye on the names being sported by the likes ofBorg, Jimmy Conners and John McEnroe. Come the end of the summer names such as Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Cerruti 1881 and even Nike (which wasn't a household name as yet) were implanted into the minds of many a design hungry scouser.
By the summer of 1982, Liverpool city centre was beset with teenagers walking around like the tennis stars of the day with Fila Settanta and Terrinda tracksuits, polo shirts, shorts and even designer socks. In fact as most tennis stars wore Italian makes, labels such as Sergio Tacchini with its Dallas tracksuit, Ellesse, Cerruti 1881 and Australian L'Alpina became massive. These styles would take us through the early '80s.
Even early exits in the two seasons prior to Rome '84 did not slow down this burgeoning culture. Summer holidays to Italy, working [sic] weeks away in Germany, visits to concerts and even a trek to Aston Villa's Euro win in '82 [three scousers in the team] ensured the goods kept arriving to these shores.
The death knell of the '80s Casual was to be the 1988 Summer of Love, but that's another story for another time. In the meantime, whenever you next lace up that pristine pair of trainers you've just purchased, take a few seconds to reflect on glory days gone by and wonder to yourself that if it hadn't have been for us scousers, who knows what you'd be wearing now. Those were the days indeed.
Bjorn Borg: Kop Legend
Many a keen-eyed scouser would tune into TV coverage of Wimbledon, not necessarily for the tennis but mainly to cast an eye on the names being sported by the likes of Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. By the summer of 1982, Liverpool city centre was beset with teenagers walking around like the tennis stars of the day.
20 Casual Classics
The End magazine.
Diadora Borg Elite.
Fila BJ tracksuit.
Lyle & Scott jumper.
Adidas Forest Hills.
Peter Storm cagoule.
Puma G Vilas.
Benetton rugby shirt.
Sergio Tacchini Dallas tracksuit.
Adidas Grand Slam.
Lacoste tennis shirt.
David Bowie and the Wedge
To top off the look, a new effeminate hairstyle was taking shape. The wedge was short on one side but having a long fringe to the other. The cut would become synonymous with the early Casuals but the actual roots of the hairstyle can be found on the cover of David Bowie's 'Low' album.
Casuals in the Cinema
A new film, 'The Business' captures the look. Cockney geezers running around in Tacchini and Fila evoke fond memories of days gone by for me and many fellow football fans but don't be taken in by the South London accents - it was here on the streets of Liverpool that it first emerged.
Dave Hewitson is the author of 'THE LIVERPOOL BOYS ARE IN TOWN 1978/82: Where d'ya get yer trainees from?' which covers the rise of the culture in more detail.
Last edited by Portobello Red; October 23rd, 2008 at 01:54 PM.
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