“You can’t be a Mod and a Rocker. You have to chose sides“. Noel Gallagher
Heavily covered in patches drawing their inspiration from football crews (one might even push as far as hooligan ‘firms’), ‘Mod’ culture (“The What?” for “The Who”), pre-revival skin/suedeheads, boxing clubs, hard rock, military insignia, and all this with a lot of Caten worshipping imagery for good measure. Below are all the angles, on the men’s and women’s version of the jacket.
I might even have found a distant ancestor of the jacket in this photo of a British bootboy in the 1970’s.
When my friend Fernando – the friendliest person, yet the worse dresser I actually know personally – saw it and thought it was horrible, I was delighted, this being a very sure sign of being in the presence of a really cool item (Fernando was the subject of a past-post called “People who dress like **t” which you can view here Dressed like s**t).
My other friend Patrick, who is himself a solid dresser, albeit a non-D2 follower, agrees that it is an amazing piece, like a work of art, but also that it is so outrageously coloured and fanciful that it is hard to pull off. Hence a few days on, while am delighted to own such a beautiful item, I must concede this: I’ll probably never wear it.
Before I discuss the reasons why, let’s rewind back a bit and examine the concept of patches (also named badges, even though the latter is nowadays more commonly used for a pinned ornament) sewn on clothes.
Of course neutral patches were always used to cover up holes in threadbare clothes. The classic “tramp” look is often depicted with a number of patches on various parts of the frock and trousers.
As a decoration, or a sign carrying a message, the use is probably quite ancient, and we could consider the shell, symbol worn by of the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella, an early example.
- Today, many uniforms in the military, the police, the fire department, park rangers and the likes feature patches indicating location and rank.
- For civilians, the use might have its origin in hiking: in the early 20th century, in Europe, hikers would sew badges of the resort towns they had visited on their jackets and bagpacks. The same trend could be observed in the US with the development of national parks.
- In between these two latter categories are the scouts. Hikers in uniform, the movement founded in 1907 in Britain, developed a culture of sewing award patches onto their campfire blankets. Note the strong resemblance with D2 items from the current collection.
- Sport (which in a way is humans’ way of turning warfare into a game) also uses patches as emblems for teams.
Fashion (in the loose sense) which tends to appropriate a lot of elements originally specific to particular professions, ethnic groups, activities…would eventually hop on the band wagon and adopt patches as an ornament.
- Hippies adopted them in the mid-1960s, alongside flowers, ponchos and headbands.
- Mods would also cover their green parkas with a multitude of signs like British flags and band names. Their nemesis the rockers would also sport insignas on their leather jackets.
- Hard rock/heavy metal fans, (and to a lesser extent, punk rockers), would drown the denim or leather of their often sleeveless jackets with patches of their favourite bands. Gangs like the Hells Angels even have specific rituals for their members to acquire the right to wear certain “colours”.
- The latter wave of teddy boys, ska revivalists, politicised skins…also wore flags and emblems on their sleeves or chest.
The S/S17 Dsquared2 collection, drawing heavily from street influences, makes good use of the sewn-on patch: on the aforementioned denim jacket, but also on parkas, on jeans, on baseball caps, on sweatshirts, t-shirts, even on shoes and backpacks.
A few seasons ago, the “racing” collection already featured jackets and jeans with loads of patches. This was spring/summer 2008. I only started to be interested in the brand the following winter, when there were still some piece of the previous collection around. When I saw these patch jackets I was fascinated, and decided to make my own version of it. So I bought a slim fit Levi’s denim jacket, about a dozen patches in a military surplus, and I got Betty and Martha (my alteration centre ladies) to get cracking. As a result I ended up with a pretty cool item that people always complimented me on when worn on a night out (with the odd question regarding the meaning of the symbols, usually whether I was in the foreign legion or that kind of stuff [see annoyances further down]). I gradually removed most patches for it to take the aspects you can see on this picture.
- First of all I have reached an age where you don’t get away with too much flamboyance. The back of the jacket is really emblem and colour overkill. Ok when you’re a teenage rebel. When you teach law in college, as I do, it might just be feeding students with the stuff to laugh behind your back.
- And I also live in Ireland, which is arguably the least fashion oriented country in Western Europe (to get an idea, Dsquared2 is no longer sold anywhere on the island). Anything out of the ordinary and people look at you like you had two heads. Impossible to go out (in a “non denominational” place, i.e. non gay specific) with original clothes without constant comments, questions and people touching your sleeves, collar…What the fuck do they get out of doing that? A male fashionista’s nightmare. This jacket is just like asking for trouble.
- And asking for trouble, quite literally (or to use an appropriate historical reference, “The troubles”): on the right sleeve there is a typical Mod inspired patch consisting in a Union Jack with the DSQS, the Q adorned with an arrow, in the same way as was the D of “MODS” or the O in “Who” in this particular urban tribe’s classic decorations.
Now, in most places, the British Flag bears no particular meaning when appearing on clothes; more or less in the same way as the American flag is often used without implying any political sympathies or support of certain US policies. However, in the Republic of Ireland, the British flag is still a controversial symbol. You can be sure that a drunken idiot will want to pick a fight accusing you of being the reincarnation of Maggie Thatcher or Oliver Cromwell, just because of a trendy jacket. My beautiful, probably unworn forever, “Jackeen jacket”*.
*Jackeen is the derogatory name – derived from the Jack in “Union Jack” – given by people from outside of Dublin to the inhabitants of the Capital of Ireland, for their historical and cultural association with the British empire.
So let’s admire some of the ones who had to guts to bring it out:
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