Casual (subculture)

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This article is about the hooligan subculture. For the style of clothing, see Casual. For the football club, see Casuals F.C.. For the band, see The Casuals.

The casual subculture is a subsection of association football culture that is typified by football hooliganism and the wearing of expensive designer clothing[1][2][3][4][5] (known as "clobber"). The subculture originated in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s when many hooligans started wearing designer clothing labels and expensive sportswear in order to avoid the attention of police and to intimidate rivals. They did not wear club colours, so it was allegedly easier to infiltrate rival groups and to enter pubs. Some casuals have worn clothing items similar to those worn by mods. Casuals have been portrayed in films and television programmes such as ID, The Firm and The Football Factory.


1970s and 1980s[edit]

The early casual clothing style was a descendant of the mid-1970s soulboys, who were black and white fans of soul and funk music. South East London and Angel, London were two particularly strong areas for this. The early London casual look included Fiorucci jeans; Adidas, Gola or Puma trainers; Lacoste polo shirts; Gabicci jumpers/cardigans; lambswool jumpers; tracksuit tops; and wedge or plain, short side-parted haircuts.[citation needed] David Bowie used this look for his 1977 Low album cover.[6]

The style and subculture had no name at first, and was merely considered a smart look. It evolved and grew in the early 1980s into a huge subculture characterised by expensive sportswear brands such as Fila, Tacchini and Diadora, reaching its zenith around 1982 or 1983, from whereon the look changed to designer brands such as Armani.

The designer clothing and fashion aspect of the casual subculture began in the mid-to-late 1970s. Although most football fans associate the onset of casual clothing with hooligans from Liverpool it was already well under way elsewhere. There are two well-documented precursors to what eventually became a nationwide subculture. One precursor, according to Nicky Allt, was the trend of Liverpool youths starting to dress differently than other football fans — in Peter Storm jackets, straight-leg jeans and Adidas trainers.[7] Liverpool F.C. fans were the first British football fans to wear continental European fashions, which they picked up while following their teams at matches in Europe. Liverpool fans returned to England with expensive Italian and French designer sportswear.[8]

The other precursor, according to Colin Blaney, was a subculture known as Perry Boys, which originated in the mid-1970s as a precursor to the casuals. The Perry Boys subculture consisted of Manchester football hooligans styling their hair into a flick and wearing sportswear, Fred Perry shirts and Dunlop Green Flash trainers.[9]

1990s and 2000s[edit]

In the mid-1990s, the casual subculture experienced a revival, but emphasis on style had changed slightly. Labels like Fred Perry, Stone Island, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Ellesse and Armani were absorbed. Many football fans adopted the casual look as a kind of uniform, identifying them as different from the ordinary club supporters. In the late 1990s, many football supporters began to move away from the casual look as police attention was becoming drawn to the brands and styles of the fashion. Several designer labels withdrew certain designs from the market after they became associated with casuals.[citation needed]

Casual fashion experienced an increase in popularity in the 2000s, with British music acts such as The Streets and The Mitchell Brothers sporting casual outfits in their music videos. Although some casuals have continued to wear Stone Island clothing in the 2000s, many have detached the compass badge so as to be less obvious. Many casuals have adopted a more subtle and underground look, avoiding mainstream clothing brands for independent clothing labels.[citation needed]

Casuals United, also known as UK Casuals United,[10] is a British anti-Islamic protest group that formed in 2009.[11] It is closely affiliated with the English Defence League,[12] a far right[13][14][15][16][17] street protest movement which opposes what it sees as the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in England.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Barry Didcock (8 May 2005). "Casuals: The Lost Tribe of Britain: They dressed, andf still dress, cool and fought". The Sunday Herald. 
  2. ^ Steve Redhead (Autumn 2004). "Hit and Tell: a Review Essay on the Soccer Hooligan Memoir". Soccer and Society 5 (3): 392–403. doi:10.1080/1466097042000279625. 
  3. ^ Juliet Ash, Lee Wright (chapter author: Deborah Lloyd) (1988). "Assemblage and subculture: the Casuals and their clothing". In Routledge. Components of dress: design, manufacturing, and image-making in the fashion industry (illustrated ed.). pp. 100–106. ISBN 0-415-00647-3. 
  4. ^ James Hamilton (8 May 2005). "Pundit says: 'learn to love the casuals'". The Sunday Herald 2005-05-08. 
  5. ^ Ken Gelder (chapter author: Phil Cohen) (2005). "Subcultural conflict". In Routledge. The Subcultures Reader. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-415-34416-6. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Allt, Nicholas (2004). The Boys From The Mersey (first ed.). MILO. pp. 39–54. ISBN 1 903854 39 3. 
  8. ^ "bbc-british style genius". 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  9. ^ Blaney, Colin (2014). Undesirables. John Blake. p. 7. ISBN 978-1782198970. 
  10. ^ "'Overstretched' police advise Luton Town FC to reschedule match to avoid protest against Islamic extremists". Mail Online. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  11. ^ Casuals United set for Bank Holiday return to Birmingham after violent riots, Sunday Mercury, 16 August 2009
  12. ^ Jenkins, Russell (13 August 2009). "Former Football Hooligans Regroup in Far-right Casuals United". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  13. ^ Preventing violent extremism: sixth report of session 2009–10
  14. ^ Allen, Chris (2010). "Fear and Loathing: the Political Discourse in Relation to Muslims and Islam in the British Contemporary Setting". Politics and Religion 4: 221–236. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
  15. ^ Garland, Jon; Treadwell, James (2010). "'No Surrender to the Taliban': Football Hooliganism,Islamophobia and the Rise of the English Defence League". Papers from the British Criminology Conference 10: 19–35. Retrieved 8 June 2011. 
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