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Paninaro (Italian pronunciation: [paniˈnaːro]; feminine: Paninara; plural: Paninari; feminine plural: Paninare) was a youth scene that took its name from a group of youngsters that would meet at the Panino cafè (Panino in Italian means Sandwich) in Milan, Italy in the early 1980s. The group's meeting place later moved to Piazza San Babila, where Burghy, a now-defunct Italian fast food chain, had just opened its first restaurant; it then became a full-fledged subculture, which spread across Milan and other Italian cities. The name of the social group underlines the fact that its members welcomed a consumeristic globalised way of life; the fast-food sandwich is a symbol of this, as opposed to traditional national slow food heritage.
This epithet came to identify wealthy youngsters who distinguished themselves by their designer clothes. Hence the movement became known for its twin obsessions with fashion, contrasting sharply with the politically idealistic and anti-consumerist generations of the 1960s and 1970s.
The Paninaro scene developed in tandem with the consumerism of the 1980s, fostered by the expansion of a less regulated market through Reaganomics and Thatcherism and was eagerly embraced by the children of middle-class and upper-class professionals. It was also more welcoming of an internationally emergent gay subculture, foreshadowing the growing acceptance of gays in the following decades.
The Paninaro was also reinforced by the diffusion in Italy of Berlusconi's television channels, which transmitted messages of consumerism and fostered a creative self-affirmation among youth through the acquisition of status symbols in parallel with other urban creative identities among youth of widely different character, such as punk or new wave. Among TV outlets, Italia 1 was explicitly aimed at a younger target, broadcasting US movies, cartoons, and comedies, which had unparalleled popularity in the 10 through 25 year age range.
The original cornerstones of Paninaro fashion were Timberland boots, Levi's 501 jeans, and the Alpha Industries MA-1 flying jacket, which they called "Bomber". Later, they added Sebago deck shoes or Vans, Burlington socks, Armani jeans, Americanino or Rifle corduroy pants, all hemmed to ankle height, El Charro belts with Texan or western-style big buckles, By American and Best Company sweatshirts, Schott flyer's leather jackets, Moncler down jackets, and brightly colored Invicta rucksacks. Designer Olmes Carretti collaborated with the British sailing brand Henri Lloyd to further develop their iconic "Consort" sailing jacket so favored by the Paninari.
The motorcycle of choice was the Zundapp KS125. In Rome, paninari preferred the Laverda 125, which was powered by a Zundapp engine. Other motorcycle used in later years were the Honda XL600R, Yamaha XT600, Suzuki DR600 and Yamaha Tenere'.
In the early 1980s, there was a number of periodicals dedicated to this trend, the most popular being "Paninaro", then "Preppy," and then "Wild Boys" (from one of Paninaros' favourite songs Duran Duran's "Wild Boys"), filled with theme-comics, advertising, some fashion articles and letters from readers.
In their heyday, Paninari were lampooned in the Italia 1 comedy show Drive-in by Enzo Braschi, who played a character depicting the shallowness of the subculture and its vulnerability to newer trends and fads of the 1980s (New Romantic, Dark-Goth, Rambo-like, and so on).
The Paninaro movement was also diffused in some European countries, inspiring the 1986 cult song "Paninaro" by Pet Shop Boys. Others favorite songs of Paninari were "Wild Boys by Duran Duran, "It's a sin" by Pet Shop Boys, "samurai" by Michael Cretu, "The Edge of Heaven" by Wham!, and "C'mon c'mon" by Bronski Beat.