A (BRIEF) TIMELINE OF PUNK STYLE
1974 – The heyday of NYC punk, with bands like Television, Blondie, the Ramones and the Dictators playing CBGB.
1975 – Malcolm McLaren, who had been managing the New York Dolls toward the end of their career, appropriates Television co-founder Richard Hell’s style—ripped T-shirts, safety pins, found objects—and applies it to his new band, the Sex Pistols. Mohair sweaters, muslin shirts and bondage pants come to define the general public’s concept of “punk” style.
1975 – Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren open their Sex shop on Kings Road in London, selling deliberately offensive T-shirts that read “Tits” and “Rape.”
1976 – Sex is renamed Seditionaries. Keeps selling deliberately offensive T-shirts.
1977 – According to Sniffin’ Glue magazine, punk died January 25, 1977–the day the Clash signed to CBS records for £100,000. Punks across the world mourn by slicking their hair back Joe Strummer-style.
At the same time, X-Ray Spexand Captain Sensible of the Damned champion a Day-Glo pink and green style, with their glasses and garbage bag outfits.
1977 – A second wave of bands emerges from the punk scene; some bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Damned would form the genesis of goth, with dramatic makeup and vampiric style. Others, like the Exploited (hello, mohawks), Crass, and Black Flag (hello, shorts on stage), would spawn hardcore.
Mid-80s – Punk died, once again—or maybe it just splinted into a thousand pieces. Hardcore un-style, post punkers in Ben Sherman, Throbbing Gristle in who-knows-what.
1991 – Punk is dead, long live punk! The Year Punk Broke, a documentary by Sonic Youth featuring Nirvana, Babes In Toyland and Dinosaur Jr. is released. Cue DIY T-shirts, jeans and Converse sneakers for dudes. For girls, it was babydoll dresses with Docs, plastic barrettes, and…
1991 – Riot grrrl! Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Huggy Bear, and just about the entire roster of K Records and Kill Rock Stars spearhead one of the most punk movements (in music and girl fashion) since the Slits and X-Ray Spex.
1995 – Wait! Let’s rewind here… so punk isn’t dead, after all? The Vans Warped Tour kicks off its first year; liberty spikes, middle fingers, circle pits, and Swingin’ Utters are sighted. But then again, so is Sublime.
1996 – The Sex Pistols reformed for their 20th anniversary tour. Punk’s… aw, never mind—there were still kids in mohawks and leather asking for change on St. Mark’s Place.
1998 – Bad Religion play Warped Tour. Kids make fun of the old guys in the crowd with mohawks.
2000 and on – It’s the 21st century, guys, and while the future over-promised (jetpacks) and under-delivered (no jetpacks), punk is more concept than ever before. You bucked your school’s dress code by wearing black socks? Punk. You tagged the IRS building with an anarchy sign? Punk. You hate this timeline? Super-punk!