The first recorded Mod reference featured in the novel Absolute Beginners written by Colin MacInnes. The book was written and set in London, 1958 and provides a fantastic insight in to the world of the early Mods.

The Mods were the baby boomers of an affluent post-war Britain; they had the money to spend and chose to spend it in the best Jazz clubs and on the finest Italian slim-fit suits. The term Modernist derives from Modern Jazz – the music of choice for the early mod. The new brands of music and clothing available was representative of a changing Britain, influenced by post was immigration, particularly from the Caribbean.

The way that Mods dressed was about more than just looking smart. They wanted to distance themselves from the way that their parents lived, this was symbolised by the way they chose to dress. They were (and still are) certain connotations attached to being a mod; a mod’s clothing is often a uniform for their societal beliefs. By becoming a mod that’s exactly what you are, regardless of race or social class.

In the late 50s Teddy Boys were the iconic subculture. It looked to America for its influence; Teddy Boys wore boot lace ties, long jackets and black creepers, listened to Rock & Roll, rode motorbikes and had greased quiffs. Mods wanted to move away from this look and looked to Europe for inspiration. Mods wore Italian look, slim-fit suits, drove Vespa and Lambretta scooters.
Mods vs. Rockers was born.

By 1963 Mods were no longer a cult group from Soho, it was a nationwide subculture. Mods met in all night cafés and danced in Jazz clubs – where the Mod style evolved further. Although slim fitting suits looked the part, they weren’t always practical.

A more casual look was created that didn’t require a tie – the iconic Parka Jacket was worn with a long sleeved Polo shirt and tailored Trousers or Jeans. Early Mods didn’t like wearing logos on their clothes as they thought that off-the-peg clothes represented an off-the-peg lifestyle which they were trying to move away from, so they chose not to wear Polo shirts that donned a logo.
All of this and the Mods’ attention to detail and eye for classic design meant that John Smedley became a favourite among the subculture. A relationship that has lasted the 60 year history.

During the early 1970’s Mod culture’s popularity dwindled, due to the Hippie movement.

In the late 70’s there was a growing feeling amongst teenage Britain that they’d had enough of floral shirts and peace signs and the paperclip for earring Punk movement didn’t resonate with them either.

However in 1977 Mod culture was brought back to the British youth. A young 19 year old from Woking called Paul Weller put on a slim-fit suit and decided to sing and strum Mod back on to the radio and back in to the wardrobes of British youth.

In the City was released by The Jam on 20th May 1977, reaching number 20 in the charts. Which, in true mod tradition, wasn’t popular enough to make it mainstream, but was important enough to be noticed.

This was the soundtrack to the Mod revival and The Jam (particularly Paul Weller) were the new Mod icons; unsurprisingly John Smedley’s became the shirt of choice for the second wave of Mods. In 1979, The Who’s Film label released Quadrophenia, which capitalised on the reinstated popularity of Mod culture in Britain, elevating it to,the most influential subculture in Britain, again.

Whenever a generation finds itself in disarray with the current fashions and subcultures that they cannot relate to, they revert back to that classic, suave Mod look.

The most popular subcultures that have followed the Mods have come as a direct influence of it – for example:
Northern Soul | Soulboy | Skinheads | (Football) Casuals | Rave

In the 1990’s the Mod scene crashed back in to the public eye, yet again. This time with the eruption of Noel Gallagher’s Rickenbacker and Liam Gallagher’s town crier-esque vocals.

Purist Mods would argue that the Britpop style was not classic enough to be considered truly Mod; they would consider it to be an evolution of the Football Casual scene, which itself derives from Mod. Although the Britpop icons; the Gallagher brothers and Damon Albarn & co didn’t adopt a textbook look lifted straight from Carnaby Street their bravado attitude and flair was distinctly mod.

Oasis were the most important and relevant British band since The Beatles, using the way they dressed and carried themselves as a way to connect with their fans. A new Modernist army uniformed in Parkas and long sideburns was born.
Although both Oasis and Blur can’t be distinctly pigeonholed as Mod; both were clearly influenced by Mod culture and crafted their own take on it; Phil Daniels from Quadrophenia even made a cameo appearance in Blur’s Parklife video.

Today the influence of Mod can be seen right through the world of fashion. If you were to walk down any high street in Britain you are almost guaranteed to see items of clothing that were introduced by the Mod revolution.

Long sleeved polo shirts (such as Bradwell, Cotswold, Dorset, Finchley and Tyburn), Parkas, Harrington Jackets, Desert Boots and Chelsea Boots are all staple pieces of our wardrobes.

Today the mantel is carried by faces like:
Martin Freeman
Miles Kane
Jamie Bell
Bradley Wiggins

I don't wanna be the same as everybody else. That's why I became a Mod, see? I mean you gotta be somebody, ain't ya?
– Jimmy Cooper
Quadrophenia