"UNDER THE SKIN"

Written & Modeled by Anthony Jones / Photography by Alfredo Contreras / Editor - Anna Becker

In many ways fashion is a language.  Style and music are the hidden ways in which we communicate and identify or don't identify with each other.  Whether you care about these things or not, you communicate a little bit about yourself within minutes of interacting with someone.  Some of our story is already told for us based on what you can see on a surface level, but there is always more to the story.

 I know the difference between a “skinhead” and a “bonehead.”  Unfortunately for boneheads, they don’t 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.  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.  Pale jeans artfully stitched with patches and black doc Martens with red laces.  This isn’t Shane Meadows 2006 film “This is England,” no this is real life and these are two actual racist cliche’s standing right in front of me, one of them half grinning the other irritated by the sight of me while holding onto his dog.

 

"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."

 

I never got around to stitching any of the patches I’ve collected from surplus stores and random thrift shops into any of my clothes.  I’d be envious of the way their patches sat so cleanly on their pants and jackets if not for the fact that 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 whats up and I nod back.

 “Hey who is that on your shirt?” he says looking at me.  It’s a picture of the late James Gandolfini along with his name, date of birth, and date of death, it’s designed by a company out of London called “The Pale Girls.”  This is where the word bonehead comes into play as he can clearly see all of that from looking at me but he’s asked me the question anyway.  He’s probably new to being a nuisance and doesn't know how to properly verbally harass someone.  I tell him what I got on, and he looks at me almost like he wants to find out more about me.

  His friend who is probably more experienced in the art of hate interjects.

 “Why you shaking so much?” he says gripping the dog collar.  At this point I keep it moving because I don’t feel like making friends.  I walk past a van full of the rest of their group drinking and staring out the open door at me.  These people probably have no idea that they are boneheads even though we live in the internet where you can learn about anything you want, specifically the style and music they have appropriated for hate.

 

 

                    

 

"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."

 

 For those that don't 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’ve chosen to ruin.  In the late 60’s 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, long hair and what you might typically associate with the 60s, these black immigrants were smartly dressed in blazers, Harrington jackets, high-water pants, and short hair.  Skinhead music was colorful reggae and 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 working class whites of London who bonded while trying to become adult men and women in a turbulent time.  The look of the original skinhead was preppy and ivy league with a street edge.  The oversized suits, the dress shoes, boots, polo’s, 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 Kennedy’s 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 skateboarder being a part of a culture that has a similarly outcast charm and finding myself seeking that specific kind of variety.

 

"What started out as a fashion statement which brought the working class together to take pride in themselves and grow up with became associated with racism and fascism."

 

 

 

 

Skinheads have a very striking look, mobbing around the streets of London in the 60s they were known for “mischief” but they 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 didn’t, young men with a chip on their shoulder took advantage of this and eventually racist fringe groups were born.  What started out as a fashion statement which brought the working class together to take pride in themselves and grow up with became associated with racism and fascism.  Groups like the National Front distorted the image of a skinhead into an almost 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 and unleashed that frustration violently on jews, blacks, and Pakistani’s of England.  White supremacy in the skinhead and punk scene wasn’t exactly running rampant, but it was so heavily propagated by the media to the point that if you were to ask someone what they thought of skinheads in 2017, most likely the first term used would be racist.  It really is a sad story that’s been corrected as best as it can as the culture thrives in smaller prevalence than it had peaking in the 80’s.

 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 it’s 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 wouldn’t 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’s important to know the history of any culture you choose to be a part of, you might find that 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.

More Newsstand

In many ways fashion is a language.  Style and music are the hidden ways in which we communicate and identify or don't identify with each other.  Whether you care about these things or not, you communicate a little bit about yourself within minutes of interacting with someone.  Some of our story is already told for us based on what you can see on a surface level, but there is always more to the story.

 I know the difference between a “skinhead” and a “bonehead.”  Unfortunately for boneheads, they don’t 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.  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.  Pale jeans artfully stitched with patches and black doc Martens with red laces.  This isn’t Shane Meadows 2006 film “This is England,” no this is real life and these are two actual racist cliche’s standing right in front of me, one of them half grinning the other irritated by the sight of me while holding onto his dog.

"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."

I never got around to stitching any of the patches I’ve collected from surplus stores and random thrift shops into any of my clothes.  I’d be envious of the way their patches sat so cleanly on their pants and jackets if not for the fact that 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 whats up and I nod back.

 “Hey who is that on your shirt?” he says looking at me.  It’s a picture of the late James Gandolfini along with his name, date of birth, and date of death, it’s designed by a company out of London called “The Pale Girls.”  This is where the word bonehead comes into play as he can clearly see all of that from looking at me but he’s asked me the question anyway.  He’s probably new to being a nuisance and doesn't know how to properly verbally harass someone.  I tell him what I got on, and he looks at me almost like he wants to find out more about me.

  His friend who is probably more experienced in the art of hate interjects.

 “Why you shaking so much?” he says gripping the dog collar.  At this point I keep it moving because I don’t feel like making friends.  I walk past a van full of the rest of their group drinking and staring out the open door at me.  These people probably have no idea that they are boneheads even though we live in the internet where you can learn about anything you want, specifically the style and music they have appropriated for hate.

 

"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."

 

 For those that don't 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’ve chosen to ruin.  In the late 60’s 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, long hair and what you might typically associate with the 60s, these black immigrants were smartly dressed in blazers, Harrington jackets, high-water pants, and short hair.  Skinhead music was colorful reggae and 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 working class whites of London who bonded while trying to become adult men and women in a turbulent time.  The look of the original skinhead was preppy and ivy league with a street edge.  The oversized suits, the dress shoes, boots, polo’s, 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 Kennedy’s 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 skateboarder being a part of a culture that has a similarly outcast charm and finding myself seeking that specific kind of variety.

 

"What started out as a fashion statement which brought the working class together to take pride in themselves and grow up with became associated with racism and fascism."

 Skinheads have a very striking look, mobbing around the streets of London in the 60s they were known for “mischief” but they 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 didn’t, young men with a chip on their shoulder took advantage of this and eventually racist fringe groups were born.  What started out as a fashion statement which brought the working class together to take pride in themselves and grow up with became associated with racism and fascism.  Groups like the National Front distorted the image of a skinhead into an almost 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 and unleashed that frustration violently on jews, blacks, and Pakistani’s of England.  White supremacy in the skinhead and punk scene wasn’t exactly running rampant, but it was so heavily propagated by the media to the point that if you were to ask someone what they thought of skinheads in 2017, most likely the first term used would be racist.  It really is a sad story that’s been corrected as best as it can as the culture thrives in smaller prevalence than it had peaking in the 80’s.

 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 it’s 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 wouldn’t 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’s important to know the history of any culture you choose to be a part of, you might find that 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.