On your way to the ground with your mates on a Saturday afternoon, with your Adidas Hamburgs on your feet and your CP Company jacket that cost a month’s wages on your back, did you ever stop to consider how it all started? When did the flat cap and raincoat give way to the Casuals Clobber of today? One look at some of the clobber and you’d be forgiven for questioning the fact that football and fashion have shared something of a respectful bond since the 1950s.
The rise of the Teddy Boys back then ignited a fashion-led sub culture for one of Britain’s most treasured sports that was picked up by the Mods of the 1960s, the skinheads of multiple decades and, lest we forget, the Mod revivalists of the late 70s.
A quick scan of a football terrace on any given Saturday will quickly reveal lads wearing Stone Island, CP Company and the unmistakeable stripes of adidas to name but a few of the ‘casual brands’, as they have become known. However, ask those guys what they know about the origins of their get up and you’re likely to be met with a blank face and something along the lines of ‘It just looks tidy mate’.
Casuals and terrace clothing can be traced back to the late 1970s and the Perry Boys, following Liverpool’s forays into European football. Fans of the Merseyside club returned from the 1977 European Cup quarter final against French side St Etienne wearing expensive French and Italian sportswear which was more Designer than Sunday League.
It wasn’t long before fans of other clubs caught on and the race to find Sergio Tacchini polo shirts, Fila Track Tops, unusual Adidas and Diadora trainers, Fred Perry and Lacoste polo shirts, Lois jumbo cords and Peter Werth long sleeve polo shirts was well and truly on, with later brands such as Stone Island and CP Company from legendary designer Massimo Osti rising to the fore. To this day, such brands are still associated with Liverpool supporters, with recent additions such as Weekend Offender, 80s Casuals, Nicholas Deakins and quite a few more joining the ranks and becoming more desirable as terrace clothing at football clubs all over the UK.
Somewhat amusingly, the birth of the Casual coincided with the police force’s skinhead obsession. Come Saturday, they’d be scouring the ground looking for Dr. Martens boot-wearing guys sporting shaved heads. The increasing number of guys inexplicably showing off expensive designer gear seemingly went unnoticed. Certainly, it may be one of the principal reasons that the Casual has survived to this day.
Many believe the Casual subculture reached something of a peak in the late 80s when 80’s Casuals Clothing brands such as Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Ellesse, Kappa and Ben Sherman entered the fray. Terrace clothing was utterly dominant, not just at football grounds, but in pubs, clubs and any social gathering, where young lads headed with their expensive designer wear proudly on display.
Whether the Casual subculture represents a movement, uniform or is simply a form of British expressionism, its popularity shows no sign of diminishing any time soon. And yet, strangely, it is the retro Casuals brands which are in greatest demand once again. Adidas Originals, Diadora, Peter Werth, Lois, Gabicci, Kappa, Gola, Farah, Ellesse, Fila; all are sought after and worn by the present-day Football Casuals once again, with a modern-day nod back to the heady days of the 1970s and 1980,s and the rise of the original Terrace Casuals