not only do i not recollect the specific date each year, but i also have no idea why its was deemed necessary in the first place. mods and rockers, the empire and the jedi, though i doubt either knew which was which; i know we didn't. and just to mystify this anecdote even further, i can't remember whether i was a mod or a rocker, considering we're talking primary school in the 1960s here.
it was a distinctly british approach to subculture, and in keeping with tradition, was centred mostly around music and mode of dress. given that i have a long history of designer scruff, there would seem ample evidence to suggest i would have identified with the rockers, but as i said, i can't actually remember. adorned in leather jackets, leather boots or perhaps even brothel creepers, rockers, as the name would suggest, were particularly into fifties rock and roll. they also, generally, rode motorbikes by way of transportation, though that may have been more of an affectation than truly based around transportational needs.
mods, on the other hand, were less than impressed with the music of the previous decade, something that may suggest their moniker. all these years i had no idea until sky photographer scott mitchell, pointed out that the word was a shortened version of the word modernist. soul, r'n'b (not the bipty-bip nonsense that passes for r'n'b nowadays), ska and beat music was what would have filled the average mod's ipod if they's been invented at that point. and just to be contradictory, they rode scooters, often with more wing mirrors than a person truly needs.
unsurprisingly, given that human nature was involved, mods didn't like rockers and rockers didn't like mods; it was this very conflict that we little people at primary school were strangely attempting to re-enact. i say strangely, because none of us was old enough to drive let alone own either a lambretta or a triumph bonneville, and our aggression seemed only to consist of chasing each other round the playground for the entire lunchtime break.
as i've said, i haven't the faintest idea why, but i now recall that the date might have been close to that of easter weekend, the timing of a major squabble between the two camps at clacton in 1964.
the modernist culture was also identifiable for its concern with fashion, though i must say i'm mystified as to how ex-army parkas fitted into that notion. however, while little is heard of rockers nowadays, the mod culture has continued, personified in the late seventies and early eighties by paul weller's band the jam. it is no secret that sir bradley wiggins is a great admirer of weller, allegedly recently quoted as saying that playing guitar alongside his hero was a greater moment than winning gold at the olympics.
also associated with the modernist culture by implication and by dress sense is apparel provider fred perry, and we can surely forgive them playing up this association by launching a bradley wiggins range of jackets, jerseys, trousers and polo shirts, remaining very close to their own tradition, yet incorporating salient detailing that might allude to sir bradley's identifiable connection with cycling.
very kindly, fred perry clothing sent me two items from the range, the wearing of which i must suppose, takes me firmly away from my perceived allegiance to the rockers, tenuous though it surely was in the first place.
fred perry, who died in 1995, was a brit who was good at tennis, the last player to win a men's singles grand slam title until andy murray won the us open last year. seemingly reviled by british tennis for having turned professional, he moved to the usa and became a united states citizen in 1938. renowned for having created the first sweatband (?) he devised the fred perry clothing label in the 1950s, though like many a uk business, it is now japanese owned. however, aside from a continuing identification with mod culture even in the 21st century, they make some darned fine apparel, even if sir brad is unlikely ever to be seen wearing it in the giro d'italia anytime soon.
according to the hang tags on both jacket and jersey, fred perry class both as non technical wear, and i can see where they're coming from. the jacket is made from polyester cotton and offers a heft that belies its style, yet one that implies quality the minute you wrest it from its polybag. officially known as the champion tipped track jacket, my medium sized review sample offered both superb length in the green,yellow,black, maroon and blue cuffed sleeves as well as an impressive length in the torso. for those of us used to cycling jackets that barely reach our waists at the front, this was something of a revelation.
you can tell i don't get out much.
my only real disappointment was a total lack of pockets on the front. though i do see where they're going with this, i feel they may have missed a trick by not offering a couple of side pockets on the front of the jacket. the only concession to cargo space is a single zipped affair at bottom right on the rear of the jacket. sadly, this was not large enough to accept my velo club d'ardbeg wallet, though to be fair i have several other jackets similarly constituted. there is bags of room inside without it feeling bulky, and despite its avowed non-technical stance, it was more than practical enough for a few perambulations of the locale aboard a chris king cielo.
but of course, unless in thrall to the nomenclature bandied about by the more bona-fide of cycling apparel purveyors, a jacket implies a stylish means with which to cover one's leisure clothing; in this case an impossibly soft merino knit sweater. this is offered in two distinct patterns: the review sample features a broad maroon chest stripe bordered by two narrower light blue stripes. these do not continue onto the back of the sweater. yet again, the sleeve length is particularly impressive as is the styling, offering a quarter length zip closing a ribbed collar.
very retro, very cycling, very stylish.
surprisingly, at least to me, this garment also offers a small zipped rear pocket in precisely the same location as that of the jacket. unfortunately that would mean if both contained velo club d'ardbeg wallet substitutes, there would be an unseemly and very definitely unmodernist like bulge at lower right. still, that's probably what trouser pockets are for, and since i believe this comes under the heading of styling i think i'm probably being deliberately unfair. worn together, they are not only the epitome of sartorial elegance, but a tad more practical than fred perry would have you believe. though i'd be loathe to wear them on the ride of the falling rain, popping out on the bicycle to visit friends is well within their capabilities.
my late father spent an inordinate part of his life attempting to make his number one son respectable, something i have managed valiantly to avoid for most of my life. however, though i have no intention of checking out ebay for a used but good condition lambretta (have you seen the price of these things?), i cannot deny that i am mightily impressed with the fit, the quality and the style not only of these two particular garments, but the rest of the wiggo range. i can't say they've made any significant inroads to my time-trialling abilities, but at least i look good when i'm going slow.
the merino knit sweater is available either with the chest stripe as reviewed or in a charcoal colour with vertical body stripes. sizes range from xs to xxl and retail price is £125. the champion tipped track jacket is available solely in the colour as reviewed, again in sizes xs to xxl and retails at £95. i'd like to thank scott mitchell for his invaluable assistance with this review.
sunday 13th october 2013