During the early to mid-1960s, as mod grew and spread throughout the UK, certain elements of the mod scene became engaged in well-publicised clashes with members of a rival subculture: rockers. The mods and rockers conflict led sociologist Stanley Cohen to use the term "moral panic" in his study about the two youth subcultures,[page needed] which examined media coverage of the mod and rocker riots in the 1960s.
As mod became more cosmopolitan during the "Swinging London" period, some working class "street mods" splintered off, forming other groups such as what eventually became known as skinheads. There was a mod revival in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s, which attempted to replicate the "scooter" period look and styles of the early to mid-1960s. It was followed by a similar mod revival in North America in the early 1980s, particularly in southern California.
Paul Jobling and David Crowley argued that the definition of mod can be difficult to pin down, because throughout the subculture's original era, it was "prone to continuous reinvention." They claimed that since the mod scene was so pluralist, the word mod was an umbrella term that covered several distinct sub-scenes. Terry Rawlings argued that mods are difficult to define because the subculture started out as a "mysterious semi-secret world", which the Who's manager Peter Meaden summarised as "clean living under difficult circumstances."
George Melly wrote that mods were initially a small group of clothes-focused English working class young men insisting on clothes and shoes tailored to their style, who emerged during the modern jazz boom of the late 1950s. Early mods watched French and Italian art films and read Italian magazines to look for style ideas. They usually held semi-skilled manual jobs or low grade white-collar positions such as a clerk, messenger or office boy. According to Dick Hebdige, mods created a parody of the consumer society that they lived in.
As the mod subculture grew in London during the early-to-mid-1960s, tensions could arise between the mods, often riding highly decorated motor scooters, and their main rivals, the rockers, a British subculture who favoured rockabilly, early rock'n'roll, motorcycles and leather jackets, and considered the mods effeminate, because of their interest in fashion. Violent clashes could ensue between the two groups. This period was later immortalised by songwriter Pete Townshend, in the Who's 1973 concept album, Quadrophenia.
As psychedelic rock and the hippie subculture grew more popular in the United Kingdom, much of mod, for a time, seemed intertwined with those movements. However, after 1968 it dissipated, as tastes began to favor a less style-conscious, denim and tie-dyed look, along with a decreased interest in nightlife. Bands such as the Who and Small Faces began to change and, by the end of the decade, moved away from mod. Additionally, the original mods of the early 1960s were coming to the age of marriage and child-rearing, which meant many of them no longer had the time or money for their youthful pastimes of club-going, record-shopping, and buying clothes.
Some street-oriented mods, usually of lesser means, sometimes referred to as hard mods, remained active well into the late 1960s, but tended to become increasingly detached from the Swinging London scene and the burgeoning hippie movement. By 1967, they considered most of the people in the Swinging London scene to be "soft mods" or "peacock mods", as styles, there, became increasingly extravagant, often featuring highly ruffled, brocaded, or laced fabrics in Day-Glo colours.
Many of the hard mods lived in the same economically depressed areas of South London as West Indian immigrants, so these mods favoured a different kind of attire, that emulated the rude boy look of Trilby hats and too-short trousers. These "aspiring 'white negros'" listened to Jamaican ska and mingled with black rude boys at West Indian nightclubs like Ram Jam, A-Train and Sloopy's. Hebdige claimed that the hard mods were drawn to black culture and ska music in part because the educated, middle-class hippie movement's drug-orientated and intellectual music did not have any relevance for them. He argued that the hard mods were attracted to ska because it was a secret, underground, non-commercialised music that was disseminated through informal channels such as house parties and clubs.
Mods and ex-mods were also part of the early northern soul scene, a subculture based on obscure 1960s and 1970s American soul records. Some mods evolved into, or merged with, subcultures such as individualists, stylists, and scooterboys.
Dick Hebdige argued that when trying to understand 1960s mod culture, one has to try and "penetrate and decipher the mythology of the mods". Terry Rawlings argued that the mod scene developed when British teenagers began to reject the "dull, timid, old-fashioned, and uninspired" British culture around them, with its repressed and class-obsessed mentality and its "naffness". Mods rejected the "faulty pap" of 1950s pop music and sappy love songs. They aimed at being "cool, neat, sharp, hip, and smart" by embracing "all things sexy and streamlined", especially when they were new, exciting, controversial or modern. Hebdige claimed that the mod subculture came about as part of the participants' desire to understand the "mysterious complexity of the metropolis" and to get close to black culture of the Jamaican rude boy, because mods felt that black culture "ruled the night hours" and that it had more streetwise "savoir faire". Shari Benstock and Suzanne Ferriss argued that at the "core of the British Mod rebellion was a blatant fetishising of the American consumer culture" that had "eroded the moral fiber of England." In doing so, the mods "mocked the class system that had gotten their fathers nowhere" and created a "rebellion based on consuming pleasures".
The influence of British newspapers on creating the public perception of mods as having a leisure-filled club-going lifestyle can be seen in a 1964 article in the Sunday Times. The paper interviewed a 17-year-old mod who went out clubbing seven nights a week and spent Saturday afternoons shopping for clothes and records. However, few British teens and young adults would have had the time and money to spend this much time going to nightclubs. Paul Jobling and David Crowley argued that most young mods worked 9 to 5 at semi-skilled jobs, which meant that they had much less leisure time and only a modest income to spend during their time off.
Paul Jobling and David Crowley called the mod subculture a "fashion-obsessed and hedonistic cult of the hyper-cool" young adults who lived in metropolitan London or the new towns of the south. Due to the increasing affluence of post-war Britain, the youths of the early 1960s were one of the first generations that did not have to contribute their money from after-school jobs to the family finances. As mod teens and young adults began using their disposable income to buy stylish clothes, the first youth-targeted boutique clothing stores opened in London in the Carnaby Street and King's Road districts. The streets' names became symbols of, one magazine later stated, "an endless frieze of mini-skirted, booted, fair-haired angular angels". Newspaper accounts from the mid-1960s focussed on the mod obsession with clothes, often detailing the prices of the expensive suits worn by young mods, and seeking out extreme cases such as a young mod who claimed that he would "go without food to buy clothes".
Jobling and Crowley argued that for working class mods, the subculture's focus on fashion and music was a release from the "humdrum of daily existence" at their jobs. Jobling and Crowley noted that while the subculture had strong elements of consumerism and shopping, mods were not passive consumers; instead they were very self-conscious and critical, customising "existing styles, symbols and artefacts" such as the Union flag and the Royal Air Force roundel, and putting them on their jackets in a pop art-style, and putting their personal signatures on their style. Mods adopted new Italian and French styles in part as a reaction to the rural and small-town rockers, with their 1950s-style leather motorcycle clothes and American greaser look.
Male mods adopted a smooth, sophisticated look that included tailor-made suits with narrow lapels (sometimes made of mohair), thin ties, button-down collar shirts, wool or cashmere jumpers (crewneck or V-neck), Chelsea or Beatle boots, loafers, Clarks desert boots, bowling shoes, and hairstyles that imitated the look of French Nouvelle Vague film actors. A big part of the Mod look was borrowed from the Ivy League collegiate style from the United States. A few male mods went against gender norms by using eye shadow, eye-pencil or even lipstick. Mods chose scooters over motorbikes partly because they were a symbol of Italian style and because their body panels concealed moving parts and made them less likely to stain clothes with oil or road dust. Many mods wore ex-military parkas while driving scooters in order to keep their clothes clean.
The early mods listened to the "sophisticated smoother modern jazz" of musicians such as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dave Brubeck and the Modern Jazz Quartet, as well as the American rhythm and blues (R&B) of artists such as Bo Diddley and Muddy Waters. The music scene of the Mods was a mix of modern jazz, R&B, psychedelic rock and soul. Terry Rawlings wrote that mods became "dedicated to R&B and their own dances." Black American servicemen, stationed in Britain during the early part of the Cold War, brought over R&B and soul records that were unavailable in Britain, and they often sold these to young people in London. Starting around 1960, mods embraced the off-beat, Jamaican ska music of artists such as the Skatalites, Owen Gray, Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster on record labels such as Melodisc, Starlite and Bluebeat. 59ce067264