Football Casuals: A Short History

British youth culture has led the world for decades, from Teddy Boys to Mods to Hippies to Skins to Suedeheads to Punks…….to the Football Casuals.

In essence, the Football Casuals scene in the UK began in the late 70’s but exploded in the 80’s, essentially in England and Scotland initially, amongst football gangs who suddenly started going to games dressing with as much care as they would only previously done for a big night out!

Style and looking good was essential and the emphasis on fashion and labels was paramount. This was the smartest British youth had looked since the Mod phenomenon of the early-mid 60’s when followers of football and bands like The Small Faces, The Who and The Kinks and black music record labels like Tamla Motown, Stax, O’keh and Atlantic, began to wear expensive, individually made Italian suits, John Smedley cardigans and desert boots amongst other clobber.

80's Football Casuals

Football Casuals 70's & 80's Britain

Fast forward through the Skins and Suedheads and their Ben Sherman’s, Levi Sta Prest, Harrington’s, Crombie’s and DM’s of the late 60’s to mid 70’s, and we arrive in Britain in the late 70’s and early 80’s with the country in a bit of a mess, to put it mildly with mass unemployment and strikes and political unrest galore. 

Many observers claim that the Football Casuals scene arrived as an almost an unofficial protest against the squalor and greyness of much of UK life at that time.

Suddenly thousands of young lads, teens to late twenties, were wearing labels mainly unheard of amongst the masses previously. Lacoste, Ellesse, Sergio Tacchini, Lois, Fiorucci, Pringle, Marc O’Polo, Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith and Aquascutum and many others were expensive to buy but suddenly began to be sold in huge numbers as retailers rubbed their hands in glee at these expensive lines selling by the truckload. 

The Football Casuals scene… 

Manchester, Leeds and London also staked claims to starting things off, as did Scottish lads from Aberdeen and Hibs, for example.

Football Casuals scene footwear & music

Just as important to the Football Casual was the footwear to accompany this designer clobber and initially top of the tree were various Adidas trainer editions such as Forest Hills, Samba’s and Stan Smith for starters, and the likes of Bjorn Borg Diadora and Puma Argentina and States. Shoes by Church and Gucci were big sellers too.

Stan Smith trainers favourites of Football Casuals

The music scene was interlinked with the growth of the Football Casuals phenomenon, and throughout the 80’s and 90’s bands like The Farm, the Happy Mondays, Oasis, Joy Division, The Jam and Paul Weller the solo artist, The Specials and a host of Ska bands, plus USA Hip Hop artists such as Tupac, Public Enemy and Ice Cube were huge, and the Acid House movement with its associated drugs/rave scene when huge gigs would occur at unsolicited venues was another part of a new world at the time.

Origins of the Football Casuals scene

Who started the Casual scene has always been up for debate. 

Liverpool fans recall going abroad for European matches in the late 70’s and early 80’s and buying, and in some cases, robbing designer clothes and trainer shops on the continent and bringing masses of gear home with them, lads often then selling some stuff on for astronomical prices depending on their rarity. 

The Football Casuals scene to this day contains a lot of fanatics who will pay hundreds of pounds for items of clothing or trainers that others don’t have. Manchester, Leeds and London also staked claims to starting things off, as did Scottish lads from Aberdeen and Hibs, for example.

2020 Football Casual scene

That is all irrelevant in the general scheme of things as here we are in 2020 and the Football Casual scene is still massive, both here in the UK and all over Europe, with a new wave of interest and also many who were around when it all first started still going strong and who still enjoy looking out for both old skool and new designer Casuals brands.

Which leads on nicely to the fantastic range of brilliant, top-quality clothing merchandise now adding to the continually burgeoning Casuals scene from Fritidsklader……..

Article by Tom Lynn

Casual Clobber

For Football Fans

Recommended Casuals reading:

Football, Fighting and Fashion – Phil Thornton

Northern Monkeys -Dressing and Messing At The Match by The Lads Who Were There – William Routledge.

A Casual Look – A Photo diary of Football Fans 1980’s – Lorne Brown

Featured image attribution: 

“stan smith green 5” flickr photo by Idhren shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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