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Research assistance

Hello fellow Mods, I am here to ask for your help with my research. My name is Angus Forrester and I am a third year Journalism student at Cardiff University. I have decided to base my final dissertation on a long-term passion of mine, Mod Culture. My dissertation aims to investigate the purpose that subculture serves within society today, using Mods as a representation of subculture. For example, what principles are there still rooted within mod culture? Does being a ‘Mod’ simply serve a stylistic purpose within contemporary society? 

In order to inform my research, I need to gain an insight into your (The Mod Community) opinions and experiences. Your contribution is much appreciated and will help me to gain a further understanding of a subject that we all share a mutual passion for. I am interested in all your own personal experiences, so please feel free to share these, as it will be a great help to me. All contributions are welcome, the more the better. It would be great to get some discussions going! 

If you have time, here are my questions I would be grateful if you answered. 


When was it and what was it that fist attracted you towards Mod Culture? 
What did it mean to you then? 

What does it mean to you now? 
In what ways does being a Mod serve as a stylistic purpose? 

Do you think Mods are portrayed accurately in the Media? 

Thank you very much, 

Gus 

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  • Hi Gus,
    I identified with mods in the mid sixties and it was the clothes that really caught my imagination as well as the music. When you are 14 or 15 you want to be like those older (16 -19) kids riding scooters. It's hard to describe how drab Britain was then but Ready Steady Go even in black and white was a window on a different world which I pressed my nose against every Friday and I wanted to be part of it. I had to come up to Carnaby Street with my mates to buy anything fashionable and I think it was the sense of being different that I liked.

    Over the years family and work have been the main focus but I have always tried to dress smartly although some of it might not have got past the mod fashion police. Now I have the time and a bit of spare cash I can try and rekindle those interests I started with as a teenager. I'm not that bothered with all the tosh that is written about mods. Stick a target on it, it's mod! To me it is an attitude of looking sharp, obsessing over those tiny details on the collars, cuffs, buttons and the rest. It is also when you see someone else who clearly has the same attitude you know you are part of that culture. What it does not mean is that we all have to wear a uniform of approved items. It's like the old thing about the elephant, really hard to describe properly but you know it when you see it.

    • Afternoon Rob, thats a fascinating insight into how you were introduced to the culture. The emergence of Mods must have been incredibly appealing back then, and it has evidently not lost its appeal over time. It's interesting to observe that the attitude of looking sharp, even though like you said work and family have been your main focus, has stayed with you and influenced how you dress, etc up until now. Im sure this is the case for many others as well, which suggests that 'Mods' as a subculture is very powerful and meaningful to a lot of people. You also mention seeing other people from the same culture, what would you say is more important between getting recognition from other Mods or being recognised as a Mod?

      Cheers for sharing your experiences!

  • Mod came out in the 60s as a forward thinking style and ideology for young British to subscribe to (hence its etymology, from 'modernist'). It takes traditional British sartorial elegance and applies it to a different set of cultural expectations, mainly centred around music, fashion and clubbing. I think the traditional Mod, as it was back in the 60s, has definitely evolved since then, with music and fashion all moving in different directions, but it created a blueprint for British youth culture which i don't think has changed much since. You can still see it today in the iconic brands such as Fred Perry and Ben Sherman, the sharp tailoring and buttoned up polo shirts, or the dominance of club culture in weekend socialising, all of which still seem to hold a firm grasp on most of British youth, but it seems that the musical output is where it has changed and deviated over the years. In modern figures like Bradley Wiggins and Miles Kane there is still the very traditional style of Mod, alongside their reverence for rock n roll and black dance music, but this is no longer set as the dominant style for the youth of today.

    Perhaps in its original conception Mod was about rebellion, subverting expectations of how one should act in society, but this is no longer such a radical statement, and as a result I don't feel that rebellion is a central aspect of being a Mod in this day and age. Rather, it is now perhaps a condemnation of some of the directions which fashion and music have taken since then, and a nostalgic homage to the original movement which catalysed the formation of modern British culture. Maybe on some level this is a rebellion against the 'rebellion' of today, against the 'post-Mod' which it has since become.

  • I'd like to introduce another question if anyone is willing to provide an opinion on it. 

    Recently, Personalities such as Bradley Wiggins, have brought the subculture into the public eye. Is this sort of attention welcome from a mod persepective? Why/why not?

    • Easy Geezers!

      Angus, as a young mod I personally look up to contemporary personalities such as Wiggo and Miles Kane as inspiration.

      The interesting thing about Bradley in particular is the way his profession is not music, or fashion, but sport, and this means that his status as a mod is one of aesthetics. We only know he is a mod because he dresses like a mod, and in interviews claims he listens to 60s music and buys fred perry, and has the classic mod cut, nice!

      Wiggo has definitely brought the mod subculture (and I firmly believe in this term as a definition) back into the spotlight. I think also that last years olympics and overall sense of increased patriotism in England has a lot to do in the increase of interest in mod culture, which is undeniably British...

      From my perspective it is nice to see aesthetically authentic mods thriving in the public eye, and also the increased popularity (both domestically and internationally) of high end casual brands such as Fred Perry and Paul Smith.

      The mod aesthetic is very much in fashion at the moment, and I'm sure many people believe this takes away credibility from the subculture. I'm happy with this for the simple reasons that the brands, as well as the bands that I love will strive with increased demand!

      Hope this is helpful,

      Alex the Mod

    • Cheers Alex, that certainly is very helpful. That's a good point regarding Bradley's sporting profession as opposed to traditional notions of music and fashion within the Mod culture. This is a good example that highlights how contemporary Mod culture is transcending into the world of sport and other aspects of society. I also like your point touching on the notion of the British-ness of Mod culture and how that related to the Olympics, that is an avenue of thought i had not previously explored. 

      Thanks for your interest!

    • Lads, while I would love to give 'Wiggo' credence for his popularisation of the Mod fashion, I'd say that what we are going to end up with is a group of 'plastic mods' in it for the fashion and the hunneys, and not taking it seriously enough.

      Mod is a way of life, not just a way of dressing. It involves things other than wearing a tonic suit or having a certain haircut. It epitomises the classic English manner of rebellion, and the scooter itself symbolises escapism and reckless abandon: a disregard for conformity and the established societal norm. Wiggo himself can be seen as furthering the anticonformist nature of the subculture, but does not represent the rebellion that is key to becoming a true Mod. That said, I would congratulate him and Miles Kane on their fine, fine haircuts and suits, and tell them to keep up the good work as long as we don't end up with a load of Shoreditch knobheads canoodling around with their parents' borrowed Northern Soul records for the arbitrary 6 month period before it stops being 'cool'.

    • Hi Jimmy, that's a very contrasting argument you have raised. It's interesting to observe these different perspectives on events from different people. Being a mod, to you, is evidently a lot more to do than just fashion, referring back to original notions of what it is to be a mod. In your opinion, are these notions still apparent within Mod culture then?

      Much appreciated 

    • I would say they remain intact now, but probably won't continue to do so as the movement gathers momentum and supporters in the wake of Wiggins and Kane. Perhaps I'm wrong, but to me Mod is more than just the clothes and the music, it's an attitude and a way of life.

  • HI Angus

    Strictly speaking I am not a Mod. I am an original modernist which as far as I am concerned refers to those becoming a fan of modern jazz back in the late fifties and sixties,when I and people with my enthusiasm were called Modernists. No doubt you will learn of this in your studies.

    Academically I would refer you to Rose Hill Can't Explain. She has undertaken much research on perceptions of what Mod is and there are contact details on her website.

    Because I knew little about the history of Mods, I strongly recommend that you read as many Articles as you can on this site and read back through as many threads as you can. You will soon conclude that there are many and varied differences and experiences recorded by Mods. It seems to me that time and place are important factors governing those experiences and opinions. It is impossible to become bored with the subject,so I am sure you will enjoy your studies.

    I have also found that by and large, most MG members posting are friendly and helpful, so I think you already have a wealth of sources at your finger tips.

    Good Luck with your studies.

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