The term 'crusties' can refer to two distinct, but not entirely separate, subcultural groups. Particularly in North America, but to some extent worldwide, the term is used to refer to crust punks. In the UK especially, particularly in the 1990s, the term was used to refer to people who are members of a subculture related to the New Age travellers movement. To the surprise of many media commentators, the UK politician Jacob Rees-Mogg, although openly critical of the squatting movement, voiced support for contemporary travellers and crust punks in a 2015 interview, even describing himself as "[being once] a self-identifying crusty".
Crusties are distinctive for their unkempt appearance. They are associated with anti-capitalism, road protests, squatting, raves and begging. Typical dress styles involve dreadlocks, piercings, tattoos and dirty clothing, which are generally second-hand or army surplus. Similar to anarcho-punk, most clothing is black in colour. Earth colours are also common. Denim jackets, hooded sweatshirts with sewn-on patches, vests covered in studs, spikes, and band patches are characteristic elements of the crust punk style of dress.
Crusties have also been described as being typically unemployed youth with no permanent home. Some are an urban version of the New Age Traveller and so may have relatively settled long-term homes.
- Jones, Liz, "I hate these Crusties", The Daily Mail, 5 April 2009
- Hetherington, K: New Age Travellers, page 9. Cassell. 2000
- Hetherington, K. New Age Travellers, page 9. Cassell. 2000
- Cambridge Dictionary, "Definition of Crusty, noun"
- Kevin Stewart-Panko, "I Saw Disfear Three Times in Three Days", Decibel, no. 46, August 2008, p. 22.
- Glasper 2009, 287