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.


British football support has had a strong fashion-led subculture element since the rise of the Teddy Boys in the mid-1950s. This continued with the mods of the early 1960s, the skinheads of the late 1960s, and the mod revivalists of the late 1970s. The early casual look was a direct descendant of the mid 1970s soulboy scene[citation needed]. The casual look first emerged in 1977[citation needed]. Straight jeans, trainers, polo shirts, and tracksuit tops were staples of the trend. The early London casual look included items like straight Fiorucci jeans; Adidas, Gola or Puma trainers; Lacoste polo shirts; Gabicci jumper and cardigans; lambswool jumpers; tracksuit tops and a 'wedge' or plain, short, side parting haircut. While at first it was not identified as a distinct subculture, it evolved and moved on, emerging post-1980 as a well-known movement[citation needed]. The style was characterized by expensive sportswear such as Fila, Tacchini, and Diadora. Reaching its zenith around 1982-83, designer elements were added to the look. Names like Giorgio Armani became extremely coveted - the knitwear was so desirable that Cecil Gee, one of the first stockists, had them chained together to prevent theft[citation needed].

1970s to 1980s[edit]

The clothing and fashion aspect of the casual subculture began in the late 1970s. Although most football fans associate the onset of casual clothing with hooligans from Liverpool, there are two well documented precursors to what eventually became a nationwide trend. Liverpudlian author Nicky Allt writes about how the Liverpool youths first started dressing differently than others, with Peter Storm jackets, straight leg jeans and Adidas trainers.[6] Manchester United hooligan Colin Blaney wrote that a subculture known as Perry boys came into existence in the mid-1970s, acting as the precursor to the casuals. It consisted of Mancunian football hooligans styling their hair into a flick and wearing sportswear and Dunlop Green Flash trainers.[7]

Liverpool Football Club fans were the first British football fans to wear continental European fashions, picked up while following their teams at European games. Liverpool fans returned to England with expensive Italian and French designer sportswear.[8] At the time, many police forces were still on the lookout for skinhead fans wearing Dr. Martens boots, and paid little attention to fans in expensive designer clothing.[citation needed]

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.

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.

Casuals United, also known as UK Casuals United,[9] is a British anti-Islamic protest group that formed in 2009.[10] It is closely affiliated with the English Defence League,[11] a far right[12][13][14][15][16] street protest movement which opposes what it sees as the spread of Islamism, Sharia law and Islamic extremism in England.[17][18]

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. ^ Allt, Nicholas (2004). The Boys From The Mersey (first ed.). MILO. pp. 39–54. ISBN 1 903854 39 3. 
  7. ^ Blaney, Colin (2014). Undesirables. John Blake. p. 7. ISBN 978-1782198970. 
  8. ^ "bbc-british style genius". 2013-08-19. Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  9. ^ "'Overstretched' police advise Luton Town FC to reschedule match to avoid protest against Islamic extremists". Mail Online. 2 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  10. ^ Casuals United set for Bank Holiday return to Birmingham after violent riots, Sunday Mercury, 16 August 2009
  11. ^ Jenkins, Russell (13 August 2009). "Former Football Hooligans Regroup in Far-right Casuals United". The Times (London). Retrieved 2009-09-23. 
  12. ^ Preventing violent extremism: sixth report of session 2009–10
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ 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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