Early Punk Fashion

Punk fashion is one of the styles of streetwear that got it’s start in the 1970s. The style has evolved over many years of refinement and change, and is quite different from what it was originally, yet it still retains some of it’s roots. Originally, punk fashion was supposed to be aggressive, confrontational, and shocking. It was the style of rebels, and this was an ideal that has prevailed through punk’s history.

Early punk clothing was designed by Vivienne Westwood, and Malcolm McLaren, and was also inspired by such punk icons as the Ramones, Richard Hell, and the Bromley Contingent. Offensive imagery was important in early punk clothing, with images and phrases placed on clothing that was designed to catch eyes and scare people. Anarchy symbols, fake blood, and inverted crucifixes could be found on clothes in stores like SEX, and early punk clothing store. Often times, punk clothing was intentionally torn, a trend that continues into today, and covered in patches. Another early style was wearing leather rocker jackets and special blazers, patched and customized by the individual. Blazers are still a large part of the punk scene. The inclusion of blazers and the dress shirts that were also common shows that the punk scene was something that was, in it’s essence, a counter culture movement, and these clothes show that.


When it came to foot wear, people wore motorcycle boots, Chuck Taylor All-Stars, and other kinds of boots. Pants were often tight, and often leather, though tight jeans were very common aspects of punk apparel. Hair styles were messy intentionally, and styles like liberty spikes and mohawks were very common. Unfortunately, symbols found on early punk clothing were often racist, such as iron crosses or swastikas, this, however, changed in the mid 70s with Rock Against Racism, a campaign to eliminate racism among the rock and punk cultures. Luckily, the campaign succeeded, and to this day, punk culture is decidedly anti-facist, and anti racist, often containing things like crossed out swastikas in modern punk outfits.

Among women, early punk style could include ripped fishnet stockings, leather, and a large amount of facial piercings, something that men also sported. Also, punks who were women often sported feminine clothing mixed with masculine items, such as tutus and blazers or boots. There were also a large percentage of vegetarian and vegan punks, who did not wear fur and leather due to animal rights reasons. Punk clothing also saw the use of items like safety pins and tape to hold together clothing that had been torn and ripped on purpose, and even saw items like garbage bags being used as clothing.

All of these things moved towards the idea that punks were not normal, and they did not want to be. Also, none of these fashion items would have stuck around if not for the punk culture being supported by the vibrant music scene which fed it originally. Today, punk has changed a lot, but is also very similar, in many ways, to the punk designs of the 70s.