Life & Culture

This Book is Your Definitive Guide to Subcultural Style

The 20th century saw an explosion of teenage subcultures in Britain and overseas– Roger Burton’s new book Rebel Threads documents their style

  • TextTed Stansfield

Roger Burton is one of the greatest experts on subcultural style around. The costume designer, stylist and former Mod began collecting clothes in the 60s, and started Contemporary Wardrobes – a specialist hire company supplying vintage street fashion, couture items and accessories to the worlds of fashion, TV and film – in the 70s. Now, Burton has distilled his almost unparalleled knowledge of fashion into a book titled Rebel Threads. Here, alongside an exclusive preview seen in the gallery below, he introduces this publication.

“When I started Contemporary Wardrobes, I was always being asked what would have been worn in certain periods. I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t a book that actually laid it all out. Though there were books about some periods, there wasn’t one that touched on the rebellious side of youth culture, which was my specialty. So I thought, I need to start writing something about it.

I want Rebel Threads to be a reference book, not just a nice picture book. I want it to be a useful tool for students of fashion, film wardrobe people, fashion stylists so that they can actually see how these outfits were originally put together. I tried to make it as accurate as possible, and also tell the stories behind why kids dressed like that, and why there was a reaction from one group to another. It covers the ten main movements as it were from the zoot suit riots in America right through to punk, and I linked each movement to films of that period.”

Buy a copy of Rebel Threads here and its accompanying exhibition is at the Horse Hospital, London, until November 4.