Mod fashion started in the 60s. A small group of young men and a few girls started to look to French and Italian cool, combined with American Ivy League style to create a uniquely British youth fashion. These early Modernists listened to Modern Jazz, rejecting the prevailing fashion for 'Trad' jazz, as typified by Aker Bilk. They also liked American Negro Blues music. The fashion caught on and the Modernists became the Mods.
Since then Mod has played a part in British fashion. Several revivals have kept the look in the public eye. The first of which started in the late 70s following hard on the heals of Punk. Bands such as The Jam provided the music and 60s Carnaby Street provided the fashion inspiration.
Mod returned in the 90s and has been with us ever since.
Mod fashion brands
Brands which played a part in the early days of Mod fashion are still going strong. Many original Mod style garments can still be bought. There is also a constantly changing fashion scene building on the original look of the Mods, Skinheads and Punks.
Ben Sherman supplied shirts to John Stephen's famous store in Carnaby Street and launched his own store 'Millions of Shirts' in Brighton. The Ben Sherman button down, a British version of the classic Ivy League shirt, became the staple of the Mod movement in the sixties and the 1979 Mod revival. Ben Sherman shirts were also an essential part in the Skinhead movement which followed Mod in the late 60s.
The Fred Perry shirt was the original tennis shirt that the Mods adopted in the 60s. It was smart and looked good under a suit, as well as with a pair of Levis. Fred Perry shirts were designed for sportswear, but also kept you cool on the dance floor.
The original Harrington jacket was made by British firm, Baracuta, and is still available today. The Harrington is a short jacket, finishing at the waist. The Harrington was named after Rodney Harrington, a character in the popular US soap, Peyton Place. All things American were considered cool by the Mods of the 60s. Steve McQueen also added to the kudos of the Harrington when he appeared on the cover of Life Magazine in 1963 wearing one. British Mods took to wearing the Harrington from the mid sixties, as it offered a more casual look than the tailored Mod suit.
Read more: Baracuta G9 Harrington
Footwear was just as important to Mod fashion in the sixties as any other detail of fashion. Mods in the sixties wore Chelsea boots, Cuban heel boots, chisel toes (Winklepickers with the point squared off), Wing Tips (or brogues) or loafers. Denson was a favourite brand selling fashion shoes for men in the 60s.
For more informal wear, running shoes were popular with jeans and there was a fashion for bowling shoes.
Clarks Desert boots were available all over the country and their simple modern style appealed to the Mods of the sixties.
Clarks Desert Boots
The simple modern style of Clarks Desert Boots appealed to the Mods in the sixties. The Desert Boot became an essential part of the Mod wardrobe. It could be worn casually with Levis or with a suit.
Read more: Clarks Desert Boots
The Bass Weejun was the original Ivy League loafer. G H Bass developed it from a Norwegian design in the 30s. In 50s America Ivy League style was synonymous with cool. When the Ivy Shop opened in London in the mid 60s, it became a hit with British Mods as well. Read more Bass Weejun.
More on fashion:
Your comments on Mod fashion
"mod so cool. we are the mods" adex turner
"its classic , its cool and its me"steve turner
"Im only 16 and have become mad about the mods because of Quadrophenia." nick smith
"I am a mod aged 14 and have been since I was 12. I don't know how I became a mod as my dad is a greaser." James Gladdish
" I'm a mod, my dad was a mod, my grandad was a mod and i thought i'd carry it on also i LOVE quadrophenia and have seen it live, We Are The Mods" Sam B
"SOO SXY LOL" emma 03/05/2010
"Im a mod and im 14, none of my family are mods, all of my classmates think they have style, Mods are the only ones with style!
WE ARE THE MODS!!!" Darryl W 04/05/2010
"never seena bigger bunch of losers in my entire life. Mods have style? err not really being a mod is generic as hell. May aswell wear a suit if you want to look stylish morons." seriously? 10/06/2010
"remember tonic mohair suits for boys and girl mods? navy blue plastic macs, check shirts, Hush Puppies kick pleat skirts, Parkas?
They were the days and they were the fashion
I am so glad that i was part of it." charlotte 06/07/2010
"Do we care for the opinion of the guy two up from me? No, we're Mod and we rise above it.
X" Sam I 16/07/2010
"I'm proud to say I'm a mod! :) I'm only 16 but hey, come one, 60's mods definitely have the style. I love mods." Kera M 25/07/2010
"Im a Mod at 15 YEARS OLD, and i have never done anything better and i think its the best way to live. Keep The Faith." Jordan Naylor 20/08/2010
"mod fer it! mods forever" michael gibson 23/08/2010
"woooooooooooow exactly" Nagi 26/08/2010
"wwwwwooooowwwww that is very nice from the 50s." courtney 28/09/2010
"i remember the 70s revival as if it was yesterday,riding my 180 rally about with me parka and levi,s,des boots ect.GREEN ARMY." dietmar van nostril boy 02/10/2010
"dont forget the music either," dietmar van nostril boy 02/10/2010
"Mods rule! Get all the early reggae and rocksteady you can, listen to Mr Symarip and Derrick Harriot, mod isn't the Kinks and the Who - it's Jamaica, boys and girls!" Michael Hugh Anderson 10/10/2010
"im a mod aged 13. my friends take the piss when i wear my parka out, but i dont give a shit! there needs to be a mod revival!" ross 30/10/2010
"the glory boys...." dietmar van nostril boy 30/10/2010
"whos up for joinin a mod revival group for people bellow 18 contact me on facebook. im in the southampton area the closer to there the better but even if not dont hesitate to join! the idea is to keep every1 in touch and organise goin to rallys like the isle of white. then ur have people to go up with and that." Ross Howard 05/11/2010
"Hi, my name is steven, i've been a mod since i was 11 and i love everything about it, however i am now starting to feel more like a greaser, i do not want to convert but my body is forcing me towards greaser-ness, please help me!" Modman241 29/11/2010
"im 17 and have been a mod for aslong as i can remember. my dad and uncles are mods my grandads a mod and so on.
This is a nice bit of information, but i do need to correct the part where it says about ben sherman due to ben sherman being a major part of a skinheads wardrobe and not a mods. this is as the mods prefferd mod fitting (slim fit) american imported shirts for a decent ivy league look and alot of mods wouldnt wear heavyly produced shirts at the time they liked to all be different from eachother to try and set a new trend. ( this mainly applies for the origional 60's mods). although in the mod revivals due to alot of mods turning into skin heads the revived mods then fasioned the ben sherman shirts into their wardrobe what give the ben sherman its mod name.
for any young mod or any mod for that matter i would recomend a book called - the Soul stylists
six decades of modernism-from mods to casuals
its a good read on how the mods started and how fashions evolved from music and our black counterparts aswell as the americans and shows how people made the move from mods to skinheads to casuals
ohh and i love hearing that im not the only young mod out there- lets start a revival!!!!
WE ARE THE MODS!!!" Max hill 05/01/2011
"well you missed the pacamac - blue only and a must c:a 1962 - Marks & Spencer v-neck pullovers. The perennial steel comb in the hip pocket without which one could not appear in public. The weegians (derived from Luigi and inferred an Italian origin - spurious of course) came from Saxone and were a copy of the original loafer created by Barkers! The brogues which became fashionable a little later came also from Saxone - the real ones were far too expensive! I'm on my third pair now (aged 62). The bowling shoes had to be stolen from the bowling alley - Stamford Hill of course! "Knited" ties made from gym braid! I had loads and loads - a yard cost next to nothing. The current Baracuta G-9 has an odd double-ended zip which belongs in a long jacket, not a windcheater (correct denomination). By the time Peyton Place came around thet weren't worn any more. Oh and Ben Sherman made wondeful linen shirts but went into liquidation in the 60's so I really never understood where the modern Ben Sherman shirts came from. And the original Fred Perry shirts were 100% cotton and lost favour when they changed to a polycotton blend - LaCoste is still 100% cotton! I seem to remember brightly coloured socks but there I could be wrong." adrian stern 11/01/2011
"OK, did any of you in the early 60's wear, blue/green tartan narrow trousers with a half inch turnup. or, realy high collar tab shirts in polka dot, or chelsea boots which you had the heels 'stacked' up with extra leather (done at a 'repair' shop) to look like cubans. Did you shop at Harry Fentons. Did you wear navy blue blazers with contrasting trousers, and a neat pocket hanky n tie set. did you ever wear a rather ordinary sports jacet with very long side vents. Later did you ever wear Cordroy 'levi styled' short button up jackets. Did you ever buy Brutus jeans as Levi's were just a tad too dear. Now you might not agree with this one but did you ever wear Baseball boots, and or white pumps/plimpsoles (like school p.e. shoes). Were you into wearing coloured socks when you wore jeans (not with suits), like either red, ice blue, white, or even striped ones. As a mod in the 60's I wore all this stuff and more like a blue/grey boating blazer, blue hipster trousers, grey all wool long sleeved polo type jumper. And all the crew neck jumpers, tabs, button downs, etc. I had 4 suits, all mohair, 2 bottle green and 2 gold. One of each colour had side vents the other had a centre vent. I didn't have all these clothes at the same time of course (had the 4 suits at the same time though), as the business was to sell some clothes to your friends that weren't quite so 'in' and then buy new. When i first started I was the one buying second hand off the top mods so when times changed for me it was my turn to sell on to other people.
I was/am working class. Was never rich, worked hard and long hours for my dough. I made the best of a bad situation having to live on my own. The only time I got to be with me mates and have fun was late evenings (after work) and weekends. Yes we took pills, we had to, we had to stay awake all weekend from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. That was 'our' time, nobody told us what to do on the weekends. We had worked hard all week, our money was ours, we spent it the way we wanted to. Bear in mind I lived in a bed sitter, had to buy my own grub, do my own washing, cooking, cleaning. So, yes the weekends were for pure fun. But, oh Monday mornings were painful. Going back to work on a 'comedown'. Feeling like crashed out man. But it was all worth it !!!" Johny-B-Mod 15/01/2011
"fab" email@example.com 22/01/2011
"MODS!" Shidee 29/01/2011
"i am looking for a pair of como shoes worn by mods in the 60s-70s" john galloway 02/02/2011
"ahhhh my brother wears this sort of thing" naomi 11/02/2011
"...rock n roll...it will never die!!!.." sandie 01/03/2011
"there fashion was weird back then" armani 18/03/2011
"how do you be a mod at 14? I am 31 and even people older than me have no clue what a mod is. Someone once thought that I was in the ministry of defense! I am pretty much alone on my fashion tastes here im lincoln UK. I get called gay a lot here when people know full well I am straight. Mods are unheard of here and you rarely see one. People in lincoln are chavs or students. It is hard to live here. Women here prefer ugly, badly dressed men. I find mod-type clothing to be over priced. It defeats the ethos of the mods, "Clean living in difficult circumstances". So really a GENUINE mod like myself is skint and cannot afford 95 quid for a pair of bowling shoes or 200 quid for a parker and 4 grand to buy, tax and insure a lambretta. So the mods who have all the gear must be rich and no GENUINE mod is even slightly well-off.
NicktheFace" NicktheFace 27/05/2011
"Easier to define what a mod was: most will recognise the cloths, the style, the attitude (being smart and on the ball). But as soon as you take this from the context, being one of many, it taking over your whole social life, going to the different clubs - in London in the 60s there were even clubs at lunch time, as well as the all night clubs that were totally alien at the time. So the style and the action were given meaning by the social relations taking place within this framework.
As Nick points out, it is really tough to be a "face" without having like minded people around. These days you can get that meaning, there are plenty of mods out there but they're a little more physically isolated... but you do well to keep the spirit alive! You have to keep believing.
Tom Wolfe (1968) captures the mid day club scene well in 'Noonday underground' an essay in the book 'The Pump House Gang'" Andy 14/07/2011
"Soy una mod girl, desde siempre he pensado que es raro no haver nacido en los 60's XD. Me encanta Quadrophenia, y la movida Mod. VIVA LOS MODS!!!!" Anna 16/07/2011
"It's 2011, I'm 14, I'm a mod, It's still here :)" Ruairi Bond 08/10/2011
"I am now in my 50s and still love the Mod style, which is back with a bang. We regularly get customers from 16 to 60 turning up on scooters and bringing us Northern Soul compilations.
www.indimenswear.co.uk" Alan 30/10/2011
"To dress with Sophistication & style is my goal,thats what being a Mod means to me.When i walk down the street in my trilby,paisley tootal scarf,boating blazer & badger shoes at the weekend,i know i look hip as hell & if some dodgy chav gives me a disaproving look,then i just think..your in a hoody,crap faded jeans & white trainers & your judging me?,the irony!.." Mick 'the mod' 17/11/2011
"im 18 and a mod, none of my parents are mods, i became it cos the music and style and drugs, the scene is getting bigger in london around camden and convent garden and brighton, altough in convent garden they're posers, its more psychedelic now though, it pisses me off to see ppl who were once mod just because everyone was doing it telling ppl who are mod now and actully breaking the mould of shitty music and hoodies, the revival is happening again, and this time is more psych, and its happening for a reason, in reaction to the mainstream justine beibers and dizee rascals turning mainstream and teachers and the Daily Mail putting the youth down now as much as they did in the 60s, dont try and understand old timers because you cant because you put us down, talking about MY generation, not yours." k 28/04/2012
"I'm 15 and a Mod, rather lonely though,as I am the only one in the area. Can't wait until my next birthday, I'll be getting a scooter to restore, I may even have finished by the time I'm old enough to get my license! Providing I don't run out of money first of course..." Maggie 24/05/2012
"Johm Galloway:- Como shoes now obsolete were made by Saxones, although other versions could be bought. They cost about 69 shillings.6 pence in old money, they were black or ox blood. Low on the instep, 2 button holes either side for laces, like the doc martin shoe, but Loakes do an expensive 4/5 button hole version. They were low like barges and had a broad welt and the all round stitching was all important. Worn mainly by Liverpool Mods circa 1968-1970 with 1" turn up trousers. Some Mancs would wear them, but they tended to prefer no turn ups and brogues. Nothing was as early as most Mods claim, if you listen to some they were around before Elvis! The early Mods differed from the later more lumpen mods, and were quick to move on, but that was the essence of the 60's, you couldnt stay a Mod, because the whole scene was about constant change. The stuck in the mud variety or skinheads never quite got that. Thats why in the outlying places like Doncaster and Burnley, the change resistant variety lived on, but no offence to them, things moved very qickly in the big cities, music changing to the more adventurous rock sounds, ie Beatles, Stones, Who, Cream and American sounds" richard the third 30/08/2012
"im now 15 and have been into the mod scene since i was about 9 and i love it being individual and having my own mind on what to wear and what music to listen to and i will forever be a mod and carry it on to another generation :)" callum "mod" addy 10/10/2012
"Hi. Am looking for ox blood comos shoes as worn in the late sixties early seventies can anybody please help me?" Peter b 27/10/2013
"Third generation. Young enough to remember watching scooters and the first wave in the mid 60s. Style and class are the attraction and the individualism that goes with it. combine MOD with 2tone and bluebeat and you have everything. Just bought a purple tonic suit today: side vents, three buttons and its the dogs wotsits.Its cold enough to wear my parka and the Delicious Junction ox - blood loafers go wicked with that and my Levis / Fred Perry chinos or my Harrington jacket . Brilliant kit. There is no individualism today. Its pap American crap. Its great to see teenagers getting into the scene....WE ARE THE MODS! WE ARE THE MODS! WE ARE, WE ARE, WE ARE THE MODS!" Jimmy Cooper 07/11/2013
"Wow, great to hear so many teenagers coming out and saying they are mods. I'm from Birmingham and left school in 1986, all of my mates brothers above us at school were Mods, so we got into it that way. Everybody went to the Outrigger, which became the Ship ashore later on; getting your Cloths from Oasis market, hanging around Summer Row, and second City Records at the back of Central Library, alas thats gone as well now.
I have great memories of those years, I still collect loads of Music /records, and I do still go to Northern nighters once in a while. The dress sense is still there, I dont look like a Mod as such these days but its always been an approach hasn't it, just love smart casual full stop...oh and Harringtons...I'll never stop wearing Harringtons..
Malcolm Collins 06/06/2014" Malcolm Collins 10/06/2014
"Can you tell me where to get a navy nylon mac with flap at the back that mods wore
Thank you xx" DotvJames 27/08/2018
Retrowow Established 2002
Vintage, retro & social history: articles and collectors' guides