Strike on Stamford Hill

Town Magazine September 1962 and three young men from Stamford Hill; Mark Feld, Peter Sugar and Mickey Simmons appear in an article called Faces without Shadows. It is the first article about Mods (not that they are named as such in the article itself) to appear in the Media. Across the 6-page article amid the stunning Don McCullen photos they pass judgement on a raft of subjects from politics to scooters but mostly clothes; especially tailored clothes. Mark Feld, of course went on to become 70’s superstar Marc Bolan via proto art-popsters John’s Children. It’s probably one of the reason’s that copies of the magazine now change hands for several hundreds of pounds.

The article is very much geared to where these young Princes see themselves going. Their self-assuredness is absolute. What is not really touched on is their Stamford Hill home which has given them this self-belief. All three were young Jewish boys whose clothes obsessiveness was well served within its tight-knit community and not least by its tailors who were more likely to entertain the ‘eccentricities’ of the young dandies than a more traditional West End tailor. Bedecked in bespoke clothing at 12 and 13 years of age, making them feel head and shoulders above their peers. Their group also contained the likes of Henry Moss, Gerry Goldstein, Barrie Milner and perhaps more famously (Sir) Alan Sugar of TV show The Apprentice and Michael Abraham Levy whose charms have raised tens of millions of pounds for the Labour Party. At an age where they were too young to congregate in pubs (which no doubt they would have considered beneath them) there chief hangout was the Bowling Alley. The first that was opened in the UK.

Britain’s first Bowling Alley was opened to great fanfare with special guest Henry Cooper on hand in 1960 in a converted cinema in Stamford Hill. It quickly became the place to be for the relatively wealthy Jewish youths and the place to show off their latest sartorial finery. It was certainly far cooler than their previous hangout the Amusement Arcade (commonly known as the schtip) and the they would meet up and over American Cola discuss matters both sartorial and recreational. Would they be going to The Downbeat Club in nearby Finsbury Park or further afield up the Seven Sisters Road to the Club Noriek in Tottenham? A Bowling Club craze exploded across the early part of the sixties and was a massive lure for the young.

Hanging out in bowling clubs and often being too young for scooters and thus reliant on pushbikes its probably no coincidence that one of Mods greatest tricks was its appropriation of sports wear as leisure items. The Fred Perry cotton-pique tennis shirt with its three-button placket and split hem was (and remains so) an essential part of the young Modernists wardrobe. It’s laurel wreath logo on the breast was a badge of pride and no other polo shirt would do. Cycling shirts were another item that were seized upon. The bold coloured knitted tops with a zip-up neck offered an instant European élan to the young stylists. They came in a vast array of colours and designs so they could retain that oh so essential sense of individualism.

Sports shoes also became popular – a flick through the ‘bible’ Mods by Richard Barnes shoes as many kids in ‘sneakers’ as desert boots and hush-puppies. Famously Mickey Tenner wore hockey boots with the little studs removed on Ready Steady Go. Boxing boots and cycling shoes also made appearances as kids sought that one item that would make them a Face in the eyes of their peers. Naturally this gets a mention in the ‘Bible’ by the man who should have been credited as its co-author; Johnny Moke. ‘We went to a bowling alley wearing some old plimsolls. We hired a brand-new pair of bowling shoes and afterwards I walked out with mine. That weekend we went to Clacton. It was the weekend of the first trouble. I’d taken off the big number 8 that was stuck on the back was the only guy walking ‘round Clacton with bowling shoes on. When I went to Brighton about six weeks later, half the kids had bowling shoes.’

Johnny Moke went on to be a famous shoe maker, who at one point denounced trainers but at the height of the Mod years he knew that a shoe could be both casual and stylish. The bowling shoe has continued to be a staple part of a Mods wardrobe ever since. No doubt Mark Feld, Peter Sugar and Michael Simmons were also admiring their style in Britain’s first bowling alley, if they weren’t probably getting their shoes hand-made at the time. Truly they were Faces without Shadows.

The SHOES of the MOD Revival Bands Part 1

mod-shoes-banner-shoes-pf-the-mod-revival

With Mods Mayday in Cambridge in a couple of weeks, and leafing through my mate Andy Cunningham’s growing Mod Revival collection, I thought it was time to have a look at the shoes on the feet of so many bands from that time.

mod shoes mods mayday 2013Fancy 3 days of Mod Revival Heaven then click here https://www.facebook.com/events/368036319952403/

I do want to say before we start, that I am not going to do The Jam. They really require several articles to themselves. I am going to include some Two Tone, because despite protests of not being strict Mod, they did influence literally 1000s of us. Also I am not going to go on about the merits of the bands, that’s a book’s worth of text.

So perhaps before any going any further you should go up in the loft and go and get down all that vinyl that has been left up there for too long. I did and I think I may have hurt myself!

The Circles

mod shoes the circles opening tassel loafers and desert boot

So I am going to start with The Circles. Why you ask? Well, they prompted this article. The Circles released 2 great singles at the time, and one later in the 80’s. Opening Up, the bands debut, is a classic. The song is a strong one and is still played on rallies now.

There, on the cover, are all four members, 3 of them in Parkas. Mick Walker is centre ish on the Lambretta. I have met Mick a couple of times and he is a good fella, so I hope he doesn’t mind me asking why the hefty boots? I like desert boots and white jeans. Shading wise it has always worked for me,and  to his left, Tony Howells is also in white jeans and desert boots. These boots look better. Both Keith Allen (in the parka) and Glenn Tranter, in the left of the picture are wearing Tassel Loafers.

I ponder if the white jeans was part of the band look then. I have always thought they stamped their MOD allegiance with this sleeve.

The 2nd single you can see the feet again! This time no parkas, but again stable MOD Revival clothes. On the feet again, Mick has desert boots and can of lager! I have often thought could the photographer not have told them, move the can and do something a little more interesting with the hands! More loafers on the rest of the guys.

mod shoes the-circles-angry-voices-vertigo

The Circle’s songs are all strong and played with gusto. I have seen the band a couple of times since those days and Mick has one of the best voices and one of the few that can do a good Steve Marriott. Certainly at MODS Mayday 99 they were one of the strongest on the day.

In terms of their look, they epitomize to me what I feel is the classic mod revival look, one that was played out all over the country.

The Purple Hearts
The Hearts only have one single where you can see their feet, and it is the classic Jimmy. In terms of dress The Purple Hearts always looked good to me, they were early adaptors of ‘op art’ shirts and their clothes fitted well.

mod shoes the purple hearts jimmy

So Bob Manton, suede lace ups. The picture is black and white so I am assuming the shoes are black or dark brown. I like to think they Hush Puppies. On the right of the picture is Gary Sparks, again good outfit, the striped jumper I would have loved then, the feet though. Guess what those bloody Quadrophenia desert boots!! Why are there so many of them?

My favourite of this image though, Jeff Shadbolt. Jeff always looked great in any pictures I saw of the band. You can’t quite make out what the shoes are in the pic, but shiny and laced up. Along with op art shirt and black top he looks really good, but hold on I have forgot to mention the WHITE, yes WHITE socks. Classic Mod Revival look.

The Purple Hearts hung around into the 80’s. Splitting up and getting back together every now and again. I saw them several times and they always looked great and influenced a lot of us MOD revivalists.

The Merton Parkas, yes the Merton Parkas
The Parkas released a lot of singles, and lots of picture covers.

Cover wise of the single of You Need Wheels, again stamping MOD all over it and on the reverse. The Two SX150 look cool and the band too, only Danny isn’t wearing a tie !

mod shoes the merton parkas you need wheels

But do you know what, I don’t own the single and the pics online are not clear enough. So I can’t comment more, but I do have the next one.

By the time of Put Me In The Picture the band look like they are trying to inject a little fun. Style wise it is out of the window, but on Simon Smith’s feet , Tassel loafers! Neil Hurrell (far right) is in some ok shoes, a bit dad looking, but the hat , spoils a possibly nice outfit, Danny just looks daft! And Mick! He looks likes a 20’s bar owner.

mod shoes the merton parkas put me in the picture

So why am I bothering with this cover at all. Again the Mod Revival look is played out by Simon Smith. Is it important ? Well in context possibly. The song is a good one and as a young mod you are looking for reference points. You can tell the others are a mile out, but Simon is not, certainly his look was attainable. Young mods, me included ,needed something we could achieve with limited budgets. The suits looked great, but where can a 15 year old lad get a suit like them, then have the money to actually buy it?

The Merton Parkas didn’t have a good rep at the time, certainly many thought they were plastic! They did have 4 good songs, and judging by the audience reaction on the MODS Mayday deluxe edition, were very popular live.

I will do some more bands in another blog soon. Mod Revival always gets stick for being retro and not very good. I have always liked and loved some of the records, for every cringe worthy “you need wheels” there is a classic like “my world” or obscure stuff like “opening up” by the Circles.

I know we are meant to be about shoes on here, but here are some tunes you should try and hear, which you may not have heard of.

Think Mod Revival was just The JAM and Secret Affair….? Enjoy!! 

Squire – My Mind Goes Round in Circles | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeEp-u0E830
The Cirlces – Opening Up | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_SFnEKuCC8
Missing Persons – Forever Young | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PAsncd8ba4
The Merton Parkas – Flat 19 | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqJVJ4ykY2c
Sta Prest – School Days | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMORwnrK5GU
The Blades – Hot For You | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GSfHOVmkF8
The Times – Big Painting | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G_vTZZ57dg
Modettes – Satisfy | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke4t1CJIzJ8
The Amber Squad – Can We Go Dancing | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnlvukphous
The Chords – The Way it’s Gotta Be | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsRwl5XK6X4

For those with Spotify here is the above list as a playlist. Mo-dettes songs is “white mice” and couple of the tunes are live recordings. http://open.spotify.com/user/movingupmedia/playlist/6ZgmnMe3aARSqeThU1SKnC

Blimey managed to get through all that and didn’t mention Jam Shoes once!

Two Colour MOD Shoes – Cool or MOD parody?

Two Colour Shoes – Cool or MOD parody?

I thought I would put this piece together to look at why I think some two tone colour shoes (and the ‘Co-respondent’ shoes) look good, and others, well dont !

So, where to start; well I think the first mention in MOD terms, is the Roger Daltrey shoe that he wears in The High Numbers. There may have been others before, but this is the first photographic evidence I can see. As you can see in the pic, the shoe is white on the front and down to the sole. The lace is a derby style with 2 hole eyelets for the lace. The back part of the shoe is black.

I think the style is a play on a pair I have seen Gene Vincent wear, and there are some very similar ones worn by The Shadows. I think I am right in assuming that Pete Meaden choose the outfits, and certainly the one Roger is wearing, is his part of making Roger of the band the ACE face.

The style of the shoe has a slight point to the front and I assume was a fashion shoe at the time. Would love to know where the shoe was brought! And why it has never really been seen since. Was it bespoke ?

As you can tell I like this shoe.

A very cool picture of Brian Jones in Two colour shoes
Jagger in Co-respondent shoe.

The next two tone shoe to enter, is the Regency look that the Stones adapted in I think around 65-66. I recall them in semi gangster look blue striped suits with quite wide lapels.

In terms of MOD I think it is the dandy look that came in the later sixties, as some mods went ‘dandy’ pre hippy look, whilst the rest went Hard Mod / Skinhead.

Classic Carnaby Street from The Troggs

Pete Townsend said that a lot of the groups followed the audience rather than the other way round, so I suspect the look was very Carnaby Street . Bands like The Troggs and The Creation have elements of the sixties look that suits the Two Tone shoe.

The ‘Co-respondent shoe‘ is also known as a ‘Spectator‘, the name referring to its use in sports, you can a pair on Mick Jagger above. Lobb claims to have designed the first ‘spectator’ as a cricket shoe in 1868. The most usual styles are a brogue or a half brogue, in black or brown leather against the white buckskin. The white should not be leather, but often is these days.

I can hear someone at the back saying, surely you are forgetting Mr Marriott?

Steve Marriot wearing two colour shoes

Not forgotten at all and why we see the shoe today. Steve can be seen on the ‘colour me pop’ show wearing a very distinct pair of brown and white , I think, brogue shoes. He also is wearing late 60’s classic rock look, red velvet pants and waistcoat. The look is a mess of colours, but is held together well and shoes add to the effect.

My thoughts on this look, great on Steve, but I don’t know that it has aged well.

Status Quo and numerous others stole the look going into the seventies, and when I see it now, it just reminds me of Rock Covers band in your local pub!

Weller wears this style of two tone brogue well, he normally sets it off with a nice double breasted suit. Another that does that look well is Suggs from Madness.

Classic Mod Revival Jam Shoes

Now the MOD revival had lots of two tone varieties, The Jam shoe, The Jam Stage Shoe sometimes known as Badgers and of course bowling shoes. But let’s go back to Jam Shoes. I swear blind Weller was just ripping the style from the original by Roger Daltrey. He has said on many occasions early Jam tunes were rewrites of Who numbers, so it seems logical to borrow the style as well.

The shoe is still available now, Ikon make one and there are others on the net. The Ikon is pretty close to the Jam shoe, but not quite the same, the white carries around the shoe.

What I have always liked about the shoe, is that it firmly states “I am a MOD“. Now a lot would argue it is not MOD at all, but let’s not get into that. When you were 15, it was the uniform you needed with very clear boundries. Green Parka, Sta Prest , Fred Perry and pair of Jam shoes.

No different to a Skin with his 14 hole Air Wears or a Metal fan’s first leather jacket.

Followed on by the badgers and the bowling shoes, the multi colour shoe epitomized the MOD revival. This though, is where I think this style hasn’t aged well.

You see some lads on rallies in the shoes today. I dont have a problem with it, but some turn their noses up at them. I am not sure we are going to see a revival of red white and blue jam shoes any time soon. But as we all know MOD is built on snobbery!

Endorsed by Neville Staple of The Specials – These are Delicious Junction Rudeboys

There are also some Tassel Loafers in two tone, which some of The Specials wear. Again I think this is a dated look.

So maybe you are starting to think that I just think everything looks dated, well I suppose most of them do, there is a but coming though.

Why do we have going out shoes?

Meaning that we have different shoes for work, the pub and proper going out. So are you going to be wearing a pair of dowdy black shoes or are you going to be wearing ‘look at these, these are my going out shoes’?

When you are deciding what to wear, you want a range of good looking shoes. As you are getting dressed and slipping on your shoes you look in the mirror and think yep these are cool. You walk down the street, thinking these feel great.

When you dance to your favourite soul tune you want to slide across the floor.

I like the subtle two colour mix of these shoes, Oxblood and Black

What I am trying to say is that there are many reasons why we buy and wear shoes, and making a statement is maybe just one of them.

So does a two colour shoe work, yes I think it does, DNA groove do some really cool shoes with a leather and suede combination, so the effect is more subtle.

Not for everyone, but i like these with jeans.

The Bowling shoe looks great with jeans out and about on a sunny afternoon . I have always liked the look the Smart Skins did in the 80’s with Cherry Reds, of mixing a little black polish to go in the cracks to give shade to the boot, make it look older.

The Rudeboy loafer we sell has the Oxblood effect of black and cherry colour combined and looks great. It goes really well with jeans or a suit. Also Delicious Junction sell a two colour brogue, white/black and the very cool, Tan/White.

Is there a conclusion!

Well there are shoes that

  • I dislike and would not wear
  • those I like to look at but not to wear
  • those that just look and feel spot on !

What MOD Shoe are you ?

What MOD shoe are you?

Had the above picture done because I wanted to talk about the strains within the MOD spectrum.

So to my way of thinking it is split up like this;

Suited and booted MOD, Dandy MOD, Indie MOD, Scooter MOD & Hard MOD.

Each of the styles has a different shoe style as well.

The Suited and Booted mod to me, is the classic look. 3 button suit, ticket pocket, nice fabric, tie with tie pin and on the feet smart looking leather shoes. The shoe will have a thin sole and be a two, three at most, laced affair. Sometimes a slip on, and sometimes a different shade. So not always black.

The Dandy Mod, will have exaggerated Chelsea boot look, possibly in white, or maybe a two colour brogue. The look is very regency, and Brian Jones of the Stones pulled it off to a T.

The next one along is the Britpop MOD, taking their cue slightly from 80’s casual, amalgamated with Damien from Blur. This look was everywhere in the 90’s and to a certain extent hasn’t faded. Rare Adidas and Fred Perry. Personally I think it is a “trendy dad” look now. Saying that I love getting new trainers!

The Scooter Mod, is more a throw back to the MOD Revival and defo born agains. This look combines lots of shoe types and mingles in with the scooterist. So sometimes even DM’s are seen. But again classics are worn here, desert boots etc. But also the look has the Jam Shoe and Bowling Shoes. At the bigger scooter rallies you always someone kicking around in Jam Shoes.

And lastly the Hard MOD look. To me this borders Skinhead and Suedehead. Certainly around Peterborough at the moment this look is popular. As you would expect Tassel Loafers and Brogues. And very popular ‘red socks’.

Now I wanted to draw attention to the styles because we call ourselves MOD Shoes. And I think that all the above styles fit in with the very “broad church” that we call MOD. We sell loads of loafers, which started making me think, in terms of numbers of people, are there more MODS of one type than another?

We ran a picture on Facebook recently to gauge reaction, and it was interesting that some thought the shoes were great and awesome, where as others didn’t, one saying they were ‘vile’ and only fit for pimps!  Personally I though they looked great for a dandy MOD look. But the Dandy look is not especially widespread, whereas the Hard MOD look seems more popular, or has a broader reach.

These shoes caused a bit of a reaction on Facebook. Some loved them, some thought they was Vile ! What do you think?
Image from http://www.facebook.com/KittysVintageKitsch

What am I trying to get at here? My main aim is really just trying to think what should we be trying to find for our customers. It is ok for me to think they are smart and never sell a pair, whereas others sell loads!

Personally at the mo, MODSHOES are trying to find a decent weaver shoe and some cord boots, like desert boots. If you have any suggestions please get in contact. 

Agree or disagree? What do you like, and why?

Bowling Shoes

Bowling Shoes
In Richard Barnes MODS book he mentions that he had a friend that walked out with his Bowling Shoes still on after going bowling. The story implies that a chance accident started a MOD fashion, whether it is true or not I can see why the style is liked.

The multi-colour style of the Bowling Shoe works in the MOD environment, slightly flash. The only pair I have had were lovely and soft, but were instantly useless in the rain. Countless people have brought out variations on the theme since the 60s.

Again, they were massive in the MOD revival which I suspect because Melandi and Shellys made it very easy to buy via mail order. Adverts in music mags such as Melody Maker, NME and Sounds mean that outside of London you could access a pair. Again Weller and The Jam can be clearly seen wearing Bowling Shoes on The Snap cover, which is a clear endorsement.

“I just used to go with them to Carnaby Street on Saturdays and it was there where we used to buy our clothes, especially for school. I bought a pair of Jam Bowling Shoes (chisel toe of course) from Shellys and the worst trousers money could buy, just because we thought Paul Weller wore them.”

SUPER CORSA’S WORLD

I seem to recollect that you could get just about any colour combinations. The shoes did deem to be a lot more flat looking and a chisel toe.

The pairs that are available now are pretty good. Mate of mine here in boro wears an ikon pair and they look pretty good.

SHOES WE SELL:

Other Stockists:
There are loads try IKON | Retroshu

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