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Made of Stone and Style - The Fashion of Madchester

From chemically infused flares to the high octane atmosphere of punters off their heads, Madchester was a unique music and youth movement. Consisting of unpretentious musicians coming together to create something that’s arguably unrepeatable. Manchester and Northwest England have a rich history of dance music and clubs dating back to the 60’s, when Northern Soul was established. Nightclubs of that time 20 years prior to Madchester were possibly the first DJ based culture in the UK.


Making Northern Soul an obvious predecessor to the Baggy scene. Replacing the previous staples of suspenders, Levi 501’s and doc martens with less restrictive clothing fit to dance in. Whether you heard “Fools Gold” in an episode of “This is England ‘90 Or, like me , you came home one night to find your dad still up, watching a rerun of Top of the pops ‘90 on BBC4, with a subtle tear of nostalgia strolling down his cheek. Anyone who’s ever dipped into the Baggy scene would surely kill to get a bus of friends down to the Hacienda, witnessing bands like the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays in their heyday. And it's not just for the music. Amongst the blissed out baggy-ness of the scene, like most subcultures Madchester had quite the look. Whether it’s Ian Brown’s dreamy bone structure or paint splattered bucket hats, like many music movements there was a uniform. Ian Brown was once asked, “How do you feel when you see someone walking out of your gigs?” To which he responded with, “ It depends what they look like, if they're dressed well then I’m a bit disappointed, if they're a clown I’m not bothered.”

Putting aside his vexed opinions that have fans separated,(“NO TRACKS NO MASKS NO VAX”)you can't deny Ian Brown's notable fashion sense, as well as his archetypal stance can frequently be sighted on many stages.And it’s not just other musicians who are clearly influenced by Brown’s image.It’s also normies like Gary down the road who still thinks he’s 21, alongside his Fred Perry clad son.It goes to show that Madchester was about the attitude just as much as the music, and more importantly was a scene many could identify with.The Stone Roses debut still stands today as one of the Uk’s most articulate working class motifs. Putting aside his vexed opinions that have fans separated,(“NO TRACKS NO MASKS NO VAX”)you can't deny Ian Brown's notable fashion sense, as well as his archetypal stance can frequently be sighted on many stages.And it’s not just other musicians who are clearly influenced by Brown’s image.It’s also normies like Gary down the road who still thinks he’s 21, alongside his Fred Perry clad son.It goes to show that Madchester was about the attitude just as much as the music, and more importantly was a scene many could identify with.The Stone Roses debut still stands today as one of the Uk’s most articulate working class motifs. To aid the attitude and fuel it beyond words, Manchester clothing label Joe Bloggs played a key role in the scene. The iconic 32 inch-wide flares are instantly synonymous with Madchester were a staple. Thinking of loose jeans and emblazoned t-shirts can only lead to an image of cramped baggy youngsters attending Spike Island, as well as pools of people filling their eyes in stinging clouds of acid.Joe Bloggs is not the only notable fashion staple of baggy-ness, many fans of the scene took inspiration from football casuals by wearing Fred Perry polos. Besides clothing, many male fans also cut their hair into page boys mod trims and bowl cuts, sitting comfortably below their kangol bucket hats.Today, indie kids on platforms like tik tok revel in Madchester fashion.Feeling nostalgia for a time that they never knew, filming their style evolution over the years under iconic baggy sounds. Their Topshop leggings and Adidas superstars morphing into loose denim and Adidas Gazelles. Much like music, fashion brings people together. It means that from a mile away you can instantly make a connection with someone on the basis of what they wear.Which really sounds quite shallow, but something remains special about feeling a part of something. The sense of community means that no one is a stranger. Although nowadays a lot of connectivity comes from the internet, the abundance of people who still express themselves through style shows that subculture,Madchester or not, can’t die. Despite the comparisons made between the 60’s and Manchester music in the 80’s, Madchester was very much its own scene.It helped to cement Manchester as one of the key music cities in the uk, if not the most culturally influential in terms of music and fashion.Joe Bloggs sadly went into administration in 2018, but had much longer gevity than Madchester itself. The scene was obscured by the mid-90’s, when Britpop came into musical power with bands like Oasis and Blur.It can be argued that Madchester walked so Britpop could run, and the collapse of key label Factory records in 1992 meant the end of the scene. But it’s cultural impact and the cesspool of bands inspired by Baggy will linger on as long as music fans are alive. From indie landfill bands of instagram who pout in their gazelles, to current bands in the charts (not that many people care about the top 40) Like Inhaler and The Blossoms who have cited the scene as inspiration, means that there will always be another group of wannabe wee Browns and Ryder’s who feel inspired enough to pick up a guitar or pen themselves.


BY Margot Macleod

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