By 1979 the first stage of punk in the United Kingdom was coming to an end. Its commercial status became assured, from advertisements in music papers such as NME and Sounds advertising punk clothing, badges, and T-shirts to the record companies' desires to promote a gentler, more public-friendly "new wave" and to the release of various compilations that promised to tell the whole punk story. However, punk itself as both a music and a style attempted to change in order to avoid its co-option/commercialization by hardcore bands such as The Exploited and political bands such as Crass. In terms of dress, there was a re-engagement with the motorcycle jacket, the use of Dr. Martin work-wear boots, and the introduction of a wide variety of commercial rainbow hair colorants, along with the ubiquitous Mohawk haircut, which, along with a penchant for black, crossed over into both Goth and the New Romantic movements of the early 1980s. It is this look that for many years characterized, and as such became the iconic image of, punk.

As a direct result of the energy of punk and the diffusion of a whole series of offshoots from punk with fanzines such as Punk in the United States and Sniffin' Glue in Britain, it became clear that there was a market for hard-edged youth journalism, which dealt specifically with an urban street scene. Punk fostered the emergence in 1980 of street-style magazines such as The Face, iD, and Blitz. Yet, as a consequence of these magazines trying to locate and expose scenes bubbling up from the streets, it became increasingly difficult for "subcultural" movements to resist commercialization through exposure. And it is this that is perhaps punk's greatest legacy to youth cultural style. While it would be inaccurate to suggest that youth cultures prior to punk were left to get on without the prying eyes of parents and large commercial operations intent on supplying, if not co-opting, youth culture toward their own ends, it is clear that punk stood at the crossroads of a contemporary "lifestyle" aesthetic. That youth culture in the early 2000s is so heavily mediated and prey to the intense gaze of commercial pressures is perhaps one of the less-appreciated consequences of punk as an historical event.

From the sounds of Seattle and grunge, through to a swathe of bands in 2004 that look more like The Ramones than The Ramones, punk has endured. For the fashion industry, its stylistic conceptualization as both "bricolage" and "rebellion" makes it the perfect vehicle to reappro-priate the old in the spirit of the new, which gives rise to the interpretation of punk as a seasonal look on a cyclical basis. As such, its legacy is assured within both its musical and stylistic qualities. Yet whether its politics of change or its celebration of the bored and nihilistic attitude of teenagers can ever be faithfully played out again is another question.

See also Fashion and Identity; Subcultures; Teenage Fashions; T-Shirt.


Anscombe, Isabelle. Not Another Punk Book. London: Aurum Press, 1978.

Colegrave, Stephen, and Chris Sullivan. Punk. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2001.

Coon, Caroline. 1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion. London: Orbach and Chambers Ltd, 1977.

Hebdige, Dick. Subculture: The Meaning of Style. London: Methuen, 1979.

Heylin, Clinton. From the Velvets to the Voidoids: A Pre-Punk History for a Post-Punk World. New York: Penguin USA, 1993.

Laing, David, and Milton Keynes. One Chord Wonders: Power and Meaning in Punk Rock. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1985.

Makos, Christopher. White Trash. London: Stonehill Publishing, 1977.

McNeil, Legs and Gillian McCain. Please Kill Me: The Uncen-sored Oral History of Punk. New York: Penguin USA, 1996.

Perry, Mark. Sniffin' Glue: The Essential Punk Accessory. London: Sanctuary Publishing, 2000.

Sabin, Roger, ed. Punk Rock: So What? London and New York: Routledge, 1999.

Savage, Jon. England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock. London: Faber, 1991.

Frank Cartledge

PURIM COSTUME. See Halloween Costume.

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