Teddy Boys and Modern Youth

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©Ted Polhemus/PYMCA

The cultural feedback that has ensued from Teddy Boy culture is really seeing a resurgence within current trends, and at PYMCA we love to notice the way culture recycles and appropriates.

The Teddy Boys were an underestimated, powerful youth movement erupted out of a society forever changed by the throws of WW2. With a newly acquired sense of freedom alongside the beginnings of an importantly intimate cultural relationship with the United States of America, the British modern working-class youth began to dress in a way that mimicked the simple regal cuts of Edwardian fashion combined with the bluesy taint of American bolo ties and straight cut trousers.

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©Janette Beckman/PYMCA

British Working Class teenage Teddy Boys began to emerge from some of the poorer parts of Britain such as a bleak Elephant and Castle in South London and later from the dilapidated mining towns of the north. Such sincere and recognisable style began to pave the way for the beginning of a teenage identity in Britain, not only marking the beginning of stylised youth groups, but the beginning of the teenager as a concept.

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©Janette Beckman/PYMCA

Prior to WW2, children were expected to immediately spring into adulthood, and could it be a  combination of a post-war jaded state alongside a progressive attitude to societal values that ignited a new phase, uniquely rebellious in style, to the life of a Western youth?

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Simon Buckle/PYMCA

The Teddy Boy staple, the ‘crepe sole’ paired with a thin legged trouser, has been recycled time and time again into the ensuing Rockabilly culture, later in the 1970s with the Punks, had a brief stint with 90s Grunge, and now enjoys an explosively popular resurgence amongst an Indie/Soft Grunge/Seapunk crowd of the 2010s.

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©2013 UNDERGROUND

Its not only the creeper that manages to perpetually resurge with its timeless style, the very notion of wearing an adult’s suit at such a young age has a sense of rebellion in itself. Teddy Boys often wore suits that were clearly oversized, with largely over-padded shoulders and waistlines that crept up to the chest. This stance paved the way for Rockabilly, Punk and Psychobilly tribes in times to come.

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©Mr Hartnett/PYMCA

The Teddy Boys represent not only a style choice, but an important tectonic shift in the world of self expression and youth. Without their boldness of thought or their relentless self assurance, the birth of the teenager may never have never manifested into the coagulating mass of creativity and self expression that it remains today.

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© Cry Baby, 1990

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