"Under the Skin"

Text & Model - Anthony Jones

/ Photography Alfredo Contreras

"Under the Skin"

Text & Model - Anthony Jones

/ Photography Alfredo Contreras

"Under the Skin"

Text & Model - Anthony Jones

/ Photography Alfredo Contreras

"Under the Skin"

Text & Model - Anthony Jones

/ Photography Alfredo Contreras

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In many ways fashion is a language. Style and music are the hidden ways in which we choose whether to communicate and identify with one another. Whether you care about these things or not, you communicate a little bit about yourself within minutes of interacting with someone. Parts of our story is given away by the surface level alone, but there is always more to the story.

I know the difference between a “skinhead” and a “bonehead.” Unfortunately for boneheads, they do not seem to know very much about anything at all. A few nights ago I walked right into the path of a very big, white, loud, dog barely restrained by a tall kid and his friend, probably my age, walking through the streets of Capitol Hill, a southern neighborhood in Denver. Before the two of them even had a chance to say anything at all, it was immediately apparent to me I was about to be confronted by two boneheads in the most literal sense possible.

Tall and thin with shaved heads and pink at the sides of their eyes, they were clothed in matching red-satin Alpha Industries bomber jackets. I have the same haircut, I even own the same jacket. Their pale jeans were artfully stitched with patches, and black Dr. Martens threaded with red laces. This is not Shane Meadows’ 2006 film “This is England,” no this is real life and these are two actual racist cliches standing right in front of me, one of them half grinning the other irritated by the sight of me while holding onto his dog.

"The original skinhead was preppy and ivy league with a street edge."

I never got around to stitching any of the patches I have collected from surplus stores and random thrift shops into any of my clothes. I would be envious of the way their patches sat so cleanly on their pants and jackets if not for the fact they all read “White Pride World Wide,” and “White Revolution the Only Solution,” encircled in Celtic crosses and swastikas.

There are no words exchanged between us yet, but their unfortunate sense of style speaks volumes for them at this point. The dog is in my way and as I side-step them the taller one with the smile on his face says “what’s up?” I nod back.

Still grinning, “Hey, who is that on your shirt?” the tall kid is staring at me.

It is a picture of the late actor and producer James Gandolfini along with his name, date of birth, and date of death, it is designed by a company out of London called The Pale Girls. This is where the word bonehead comes into play, he can clearly see all of that from looking at me, but he asks me the question anyways. He is probably new to being a nuisance and does not know how to properly verbally harass someone. I tell him what I have on, he looks at me in search for more.  

His friend who is probably more experienced in the art of hate interjects, “Why you shaking so much?” he is gripping the dog collar.

At this point I keep it moving because I do not feel like making friends. I walk past a van full of the rest of their group drinking and staring out of the open door at me. These people probably have no idea they are boneheads even though we live for the internet where you can learn about anything you want, specifically the style and music they have appropriated for hate.

"In many ways fashion is a language. Style and music are the hidden ways in which we choose whether to communicate and identify with one another."

"In many ways fashion is a language. Style and music are the hidden ways in which we choose whether to communicate and identify with one another."

"In many ways fashion is a language. Style and music are the hidden ways in which we choose whether to communicate and identify with one another."

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For those that do not know, bonehead is an actual term- a really good one- for a racist skinhead. They are usually purposely ignorant of the multicultural origins of the music and style they have chosen to ruin. In the late ‘60s a wave of immigrants from Jamaica, Africa, and other countries, moved to England bringing their culture and style with them. In a time where everyone was all about flower power, flared jeans, and long hair, these black immigrants were sharply dressed in blazers, Harrington jackets, high-water pants, and short hair. Skinhead music was colorful reggae combined with soul music. It was the sound of the working class in London who rejected the trends of an economically stilted society that rejected them first. A natural born friendship was established between black immigrant youth and the white working class of London who were also trying to become adult men and women in a turbulent time.

The original skinhead was preppy and ivy league with a street edge. The oversized suits, dress shoes, boots, polos, and sweaters were just as much of a staple as the bomber jacket and customized leather of ‘80s punk rock. More importantly, the origins of being a skinhead were entirely multicultural. Part of what captivated me about that culture was the diversity in style and the range of music they listened to- from Dead Kennedys and Sham 69, all the way back to Desmond Dekker and Toots and the Maytals. It was always so cool to me growing up as a skateboarder and being a part of a culture that has a similar outcast-like charm, and finding myself seeking that rich variety of culture.

Skinheads have a very striking look, mobbing around the streets of London in the ‘60s, they were known for mischief, but were also easy targets for scapegoating. Even as they became more marketable as artists and their style began to reach the mainstream, they were still looked down upon because of their status as working class people and outcasts. As the times changed and their economic status remained the same, young men with a chip on their shoulder took advantage of this and eventually racist fringe groups were born.

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"At its best, skinhead culture is massively influential in fashion and music and prides itself on inclusivity and standing up for yourself and others."

"At its best, skinhead culture is massively influential in fashion and music and prides itself on inclusivity and standing up for yourself and others."

What started out as a fashion statement that brought the working class together soon became associated with racism and fascism. Groups like the National Front distorted the image of a skinhead into a more conservative military style and the bomber jacket became more popular and synonymous with how most skinheads are perceived today. The National Front recruited young, bullied, white youth who needed someone to vent to and who were frustrated with their place in society. These groups began to unleash their frustration violently on Jews, Blacks, and Pakistani’s of England. White supremacy in the skinhead and punk scene was not exactly running rampant, but it was so heavily propagated by the media to the point where if you were to ask someone what they thought of skinheads in 2017, the first term used would most likely be “racist.”

I mostly feel sorry for people who have chosen to ignore the bright and promising beginnings of what it really meant to be a skinhead. At its best, skinhead culture is massively influential in fashion and music and prides itself on inclusivity and standing up for yourself and others. The music can be heard today in places most people would not be aware of with artists like King Krule, who blend elements of the past three decades of punk, ska, and soul, and the style to match it. However you want to wear it, I think it is important to know the history of any culture you choose to be a part of, you might find there is more to the story than what you originally thought, and further more to a person than what you can see on the surface.

Selected Works

Your Cup of TeaSubmission

Mitch & EmilyFeature

Caleb HahneCollaboration

Style in CubaSubmission

Who Would Wear This?Online Editorial

Under the SkinOnline Editorial

Italian NeorealismOnline Editorial

MoonlitOnline Editorial

Perfect DayOnline Editorial

Belts, Bags, & BricksOnline Editorial

Appropriation or EducationOnline Editorial

La Nouvelle VagueOnline Editorial

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