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History of Skins (Skin and Gear Supply Info)

Skinhead culture emerged by 1969 in Britain out of the styles of white mod and black Jamaican rude boy gangs and as a reaction against hippy values. It was a world of scooter rallies, ska and skinhead reggae, and football matches where there was more action among the spectators than on the field. Some did target South Asians and gays for violence, though apparently not to any greater degree than other kids of the time.

A second wave of skinheads in the late seventies and early eighties came out of the punk scene, although ska retained its skinhead fans. A second wave of ska mixed ska rhythms with punk organization of the scene and yielded such bands as Madness, Selecter, and The Specials. Street punk bands with a skinhead following were labelled Oi by a music writer Gary Bushell, from a Cockney exclamation abundantly used in the songs of the Cockney Rejects, one of the first and best of the bands. According to the record sleeves, oi was a working class reaction against the art students who had overrun the punk scene. Some of the other oi! bands of the time were The Oppressed, The Business, Sham69, Cock Sparrer, Blitz, Last Resort, Condemned84 and Combat84.

Skins were a part of the punk scene in the US at least by the mid-80s. American skin culture came into its own and developed distinct styles around such New York Hardcore (NYHC) bands as Warzone and Agnostic Front, American Oi! bands like Anti-Heros, Iron Cross, Stormwatch, Templars, Dropkick Murphys, Niblick Henbane, and Patriot, and third wave ska catalyzed by MoonSka records in NYC such as Toasters, Pietasters. The Skoidats and Inspecter7 crossed the two.

The association of skins with fascism that shapes how skins are talked about in tabloids and talk shows may be greatly exaggerated but has some historical basis: the British fascist parties recruited aggressively among football hooligans - many of whom were skins - with the help of one of the most popular and charismatic oi bands, Skrewdriver. White nationalist groups, particularly White Aryan Resistance, tried the same in the US, and did have some success in recruiting among North American skinheads, and many of their followers shaved their heads in imitation of skinhead style.

A lot of skinheads fought back against the far right. In the late 80s and early 90s, SHARP (Skin Heads Against Racial Prejudice) and then redskin crews such as RASH (Red and Anarchist Skin Heads) formed which fought off the Nazis, and claimed a distinction between 'traditional skinheads' who were non racist (though no less homophobic than other youth), and Nazi 'boneheads'.

The violence among skinhead factions - some political and some just gangs chasing the adrenalin rush - resulted in clubs refusing to book skinhead bands, so the settings where skinhead culture could be enacted became sparse. But the image of the Nazi skinhead has captured the public imagination, and talk shows are especially eager to put them on display. They have not shown as much interest in the anti-racist skins who are very likely the majority of skinheads today. Nothing can be assumed of any skinhead's politics although the patches on his flight might give some big clues. Contrary to common belief, lace colors do not mean anything in most areas.

Forget everything you have ever heard about skinheads. Skins know who we are and recognize each other, but there is not much agreement as to what exactly separates skin from nonskin. For a lot of us, beer and brotherhood, oi and ska, defending the working class, and standing by your mates are a big part of it. Well, you can't automatically assume a taste for large quantities of beer: there is a growing number of straight-edge skins who avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs. For most of us, racial politics are NOT a part of it, and not all of us think you have to be straight to be skin.

There have been gay skins for as long as there have been skinheads, though an amazing number of Skins like to think that all skinheads are straight and always have been.

Gay skinheads in Europe, especially London, have created a lively culture of their own; though they are primarily sadomasochists who took on a skinhead identity as a replacement for the biker and lumberjack styles of the leathermen.

In America, gay skins are few but are very much part of the regular skin scene, and keep their distance from the disco-based, fashion-oriented gay culture. American skins can safely assume a lot about each others' favorite music but nothing about their sexuality while generally speaking the European gay skinheads make assumptions about a guy's sexual tastes if he appears to be a skinhead but none at all about their music.

Pride and patriotism

A Skinhead's "trademark" is his boots, signifying militancy and uniformity. Some have even referred to Skinheads as an "Army," defending the nation when authorities and officials fail to do the job. White laces, emblematic of the white race, are usually worn, although sometimes red laces are used, to indicate having engaged in combat against the nation's foes or to show solidarity with those who have shed blood in the cause. Skinhead boots are a source of enormous pride and, even, defiance. They symbolize the patriotic, even cocky, temperament born from "boot parties" against Pakis in Britain back in the Seventies. Particularly, boots give Skinheads a unique sense of unity, as they stand as tough as any soldiers and defend as vigilantly as any militiamen. Boots have displayed such a "menacing" look that aliens have been known to flee back across the border, homosexuals slip back into their closets and Negroes fall back in their place upon sight.

Skinhead boots are usually made in London. They are generally steel-toe and high-top, with ten, fourteen or, even, twenty eyes. There is nothing sedentary or sissified about them or the Skinheads who wear them. Some Skinheads report that they feel as thought they are a "one-man army" when they don their boots and show their pride. And, when they are with their friends, they become a whole Skinhead Army, which adds a dynamic to the social-reform scene which neither subversives nor degenerates feel too comforted by. The kind of "military bearing" attached to boots fits in with youth and working men bent upon defending homes, shops and streets against criminals and invaders. In fact, Skinheads relate that since "feminists," minorities, homosexuals and aliens have been shoved in, it has reached the point that a policeman takes his own life in the United States every twenty-two minutes. And those who try to do their job are either brought up on charges of "discrimination" or "profiling" or just back off, entirely. Hence, Skinheads see their own presence and activism as vital to the survival of not only their nation, but their blood and people.


Can be anywhere from 8 to 20 hole. Doctor Martens are by far the most popular skinhead boots around, while Rangers are gaining popularity amongst the gay skin set. Docs come in every colour and pattern you can think of, but skinheads tend to stick with oxblood or black. GET STEELCAPS! Not only do they look best, but you never know when you may need 'em! KEEP THEM POLISHED! Alternate between black and cherry for oxblood. Lace colours can be a big statement, different colours have different meanings around the globe. White was universally known as WHITE POWER
(losing it's meaning?), they look smart, but if your gonna wear 'em, make sure you can back yourself up! (this is where steelcaps come in handy). Choose a colour that you feel comfortable with.


1/4 inch are the most popular but hardest to come by, especially in Britain. Red, white and black are the colours to wear. Also come in check patterns. If your gonna wear them around your bum, PLEASE make sure they don't drag along the floor!


Unless you live in London, finding a decent Fred Perry can be quite a task. Freds come in a variety of colours and styles. Solids, stipes around the collar and arms, and even loud stripe patterns! Fred Perrys have been around for ages, my grandad used to wear them. (diamond geezer my grandad!)
Unfortunately, the days of tasteful Bens are far behind us. Rumoured to have been bought out by RALPH LAUREN (gasp), Ben Shermans now cater more to the polo geezer/Oasis crowd than to skins. Now available in a wide array of bright colours and loud patterns, with the logo (in day-glo) on the pocket. Well made and built to last!
Every skinhead has at least one Lonsdale t-shirt, get one! Band shirts are fine as well (just make sure you REALLY like 'em!)
Wear whatever team it is you support, VERY SEXY! Even if you hate footie!


Wranglers, and, Lee. Faded or with a bit of bleach. Be careful! Bleaching jeans is a one time only process, start out with a little until you like what you see, too much bleach will weaken the fabric and cause holes (and that's not really skinhead now is it?)


Sta-press (just TRY fining a good pair! Let us know if you do!), Dickies (American work clothes), combats (all colours and patterns), and leather trousers (biker or plain)


Flight, bomber, or MA1 whatever you want to call it, it's the most popular skinhead coat there is. You can shop Camden market for a cheap imitation (zip on right), but be smart and invest in an original American one (zip on left)! Excellent for cold weather. Horrible for shows, clubs, and backrooms!

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