Now that Maxim’s print edition has gone to the big media launch-with-free booze in the sky, I thought it was about time I put up my last job for them, a dangerously comprehensive A-Z of what has become known (for better or worse) as “casual”. This, as you’ll be able to tell by the title is Part 1. Excitingly, Part 2 will make an appearance in the next few days. Who’d have thought that the sartorial whims of a few Scouse yobs in the late 1970s would provide me with a way of furthering my narrow view of male fashion 30 years later?
The trainers produced by the German sports shoe firm are perhaps the only constant in the story of this movement. The first shoe to really make it as a terrace staple was the Adidas Samba, a black trainer with a cream-coloured sole. After that, the likes of the Stan Smith, Trimm-Trab (German for “keep fit”), LA Trainer, Jeans (a denim shoe) and Forest Hills all made it to the top of the unofficial Adidas trainer tree. According to Dave Hewitson’s The Liverpool Boys Are In Town, between 1979 and 1981, the city of Liverpool accounted for 30% of all Adidas sales in the UK. Other notable Adidas classics include the ST2 padded anorak, the Ivan Lendl argyle tracksuit top and A15 tracksuit bottoms.
See also: mythical “Adidas Centre” in Paris that Scousers spent days looking for at the 1981 European Cup final. It didn’t actually exist.
Haeadwear was a big part of casual and none more so than the bobble hat – though the actual bobble itself was often removed, transforming the item into a “ski hat”. Most popular were ones that displayed the wearer’s club on one side with either Celtic or Rangers on the other, depending on his religious persuasion. In the 1988 film The Firm, young West Ham fan Yusef is angrily castigated by another member of the crew for wearing a half-West Ham/half-Celtic bobble hat. “What have we got to do wiv Celtic?”
Though London took to the scene a couple of years after Scousers and Mancunians, by 1980 every team in the capital had a firm of well-dressed “chaps”. Londoners displayed a fondness for pastel colours and Bond St brands like Burberry, Gucci and Aquascutum, as well as the labels more associated with the scene such as Fila, Sergio Tacchini and Lacoste. They also wore an awful lot of gold “tom”*.
*tom = tomfoolery = jewellery
Deerstalkers et al
Country casual met football casual with the approximation of the hunting look by fans in the early 1980s. If it wasn’t Barbour waxed coats then it was geography teacher-style tweed jackets, leather patches and all. Some even went the whole hog, buying fearsome-looking dogs (“rotties” and “staffs” usually) to go hunting for rats with. The deerstalker hat sealed the look of refined menace.
The meeting point for London clubs leaving town and north-westerners arriving for matches in the capital, midday on Saturdays was not a place for the faint-hearted. Awaydays writer Kevin Sampson: “It was scary. You’d think it’d be like something out of Green Street when we alighted, but all I remember is people being really quiet, wondering when it was going to kick off. Apart from mobs of Cockneys looking for you, there’d be ‘spotters’ from places like Stoke and Coventry waiting around to see what we were wearing.”
One of the unintended consequences of this explosion of creativity was the growth in fanzines that charted the everyday experiences of casuals and the world they lived. Most notable were Liverpool’s The End and London’s super-smart Boys Own. These fanzines were the inspiration for the sort of men’s magazine we’ve spent the last two decades reading.
If football was the game that the casuals watched, tennis was the sport that dictated how they dressed. Nothing signified tennis’s association with the European super-rich than the gold stripes on the ultra-lightweight Adidas Forest Hills and the kangaroo skin Diadora Borg Elite trainers.
Seminal ITV documentary from 1985 on West Ham’s legendary ICF, which showed a group of mulleted Irons fans wandering around London looking for bother with rival firms – notably Chelsea and Man Utd. Most memorable for an interview with a casual in a Lacoste cardigan, in which he said: “You go other people’s grounds, you run ’em, it’s just enjoyment all the time. You’ve gone to their manor, done what you’ve wanted to do and they won’t do it you lot when they come down here.”
England games became unofficial AGMs for the country’s nutters following trouble at the 1980 European Championships in Italy. While the London teams would usually drop their differences to fight Johnny Foreigner, both Man Utd and Liverpool fans were more interested in screwing Alpine jewellers than teaming up with “Ingerlund”. Followers of both clubs are now largely absent from the England fan base.
A shop that was built on the slavish enthusiasm of young lads to the latest sportswear, JD is now the leading trainer retailer in the country, while their Size? shops are
Kickers and Kios
While trainers were the staple of the scally, some shoes made it as matchday attire. Most popular were those made by Kickers and Kios, who produced ungainly European numbers with thick soles and rounded toes. Worn with cagoules and slim-fit jeans they enabled a group of casuals on the prowl to look like a bunch of French exchange students. Until they started lobbing chairs through the windows of pubs, that is.
Liverpool in Europe
It’s been said before, but Liverpool’s domination of the continent was responsible for more luxury brands coming to the UK than the opening of the Trafford Centre. They may have come from the cold, wet banks of the Mersey, but their appropriation of the look of Europe’s super-rich opened up England to velcro trainers (the Adidas Tom Okker Comfort), up-market tennis-wear (“Australian” brand trackies) and dodgy Italian zip-up roll-necks (Kappa). There are shopkeepers in places like Switzerland and Bavaria who still rue the day they decided to display their rare Adidas trainers in pairs.
Mancs and Scousers
Up until the mid-’60s there was never a great deal of trouble between Merseyside and Manchester. By the late 1970s the games between Liverpool* and Man Utd resembled a particularly bloody war zone. There’s also been controversy over who started the whole casual thing, with Mancunians saying that casual was just a continuation of their home-grown “Perry boys” style of the mid-’70s. Needless to say, this is dismissed by Liverpudlians.
* On these occasions it was common for Liverpool and Everton scallies to team up against the common enemy