From combat boots and mohawks to high-tops and side-swept bangs, Yungblud charts the evolution of a fashion revolution.
by Glenn Alderson
Punk rock as a subculture has mutated drastically since rearing its head in the late 70s. But one thing that has remained constant is its spirit. Yungblud—born Dominic Harrison—has embodied many elements of punk through his music, message, and style, promoting individualism at every turn.
His latest album, Weird!, calls to mind a concept that has always been present in punk rock, in that weird is often in the eye of the beholder. “Punk is the freedom and defiance to be anything you want,” Yungblud says over a Zoom call from London. “People have an idea of what punk looks like and what punk sounds like, but to me, punk is a bigger idea than four twats banging the shit out of their instruments on stage.”
While its ideologies are vast and varied, punk fashion has been quantifiable and documented heavily through the decades. From Vivienne Westwood elevating the UK punk scene through an appropriation of bondage wear in the 70s, to the colourful mohawks of the 80s, the ripped jeans and baggy sweaters of 90s grunge, or the jet-black side-swept emo bangs and tight shirts of the 2000s; punk fashion has been consistently evolving, for better or worse.
In anticipation of his 16-date global digital The Weird Time of Life Tour, we asked Yungblud for his take on what punk looked like then and what the future of punk fashion holds.
The 70s were all about kickback. It was the Sex Pistols; it was The Clash; it was Captain Sensible and the Damned. [It was] a very big revolution, and it’s kind of happening again right now in a different way in terms of intelligence in young people, sexuality, sex, and passion.
I’m obsessed with Vivienne Westwood, like SEX on King’s Road. Everything she did man; the way she mixed bondage and the way she kind of defied, because punk is a kickback to the way young people had been repressed.
Back then it was this idea of expression and what you made it. It wasn’t spike your hair and wear fucking Tripp pants—that was part of it—but it was also, what do you want to look like? What do you want to say? That’s what clothes do for me—they represent what I want to say without even opening me fucking mouth.
Leather Jackets & Safety Pins
To be honest, I don’t wear leather jackets that much. I want to but I don’t know if I look that cool in them. I love leather, but I’m obsessed with safety pins. I don’t leave the house without one on now. I just love the idea of wearing something till it falls apart because I fucking love it and then pinning it together. I love the suits, I love the patches, I love it through your fucking nose. I put a safety pin on everything. I put a safety pin on me fucking sandwiches.
Definitely more colour. Doc Martens, bomber jackets, acid wash jeans. The skinhead movement and everything, with the braces. I have about three pairs of Docs; one pair of Raf Simons and some old clunky black ones that I’ve had for years. I’ve got high ones and I’ve got short ones. I also live in creepers; these creepers [shows them on camera]. These are my favourite, they’re from Underground and they’re fucking great.
I was nine years old. I would just glue it with gel and then me mum allowed me to have red tips in it. I remember my mom took me to London once and it was like, “Oh, we’re going to London, that’s so posh!” And I had me fucking mohawk, Tripp pants, and red hair; and me mum was pregnant as fuck with my sister Isabel. She took us to Harrods. I remember there was this really posh couple, and this lady murmured under her breath, “How can you let your kids dress like that?” And my mom just went off. I was like, “Mom, chill out,” and she was like, “He wants to express himself, you’re gonna get the worst of it! Let them do what they want.”
Itwas legitimately like the jeans got baggier, the walks got lower, you know what I’m saying? Before it was more like armor, like, I’m a fucking punk. In the 90s it got a lot more kind of down and I think that was inspired by post-punk and the Joy Division movement. In the 70s and 80s it was very I’m a punk, I’ve got something to fucking say. And then with bands like Joy Division and The Cure, it became very inward. The walk got lower, the clothes got baggier, the wallets, the chains, the Dickies, the ripped up jeans. The tartan, the mohawks, tattoos, and the self-expression was still there, but everything got lower.
Everyone was getting so dressed up and grunge was punk because it was a kick against the whole I don’t want to get fucking dressed up today, so I’m going to wear the same t-shirt I wore for a week. I’m going to wear the same pants, I’m going to put a cardigan on, and I’m not going to fucking wash my hair.
Nineties pop culture was all about tight tops and everything looking prim and proper, whereas grunge was a kick against it, like, Fuck that shit, I’m just going to wear this and I’m going to spill coffee on it and I’m going to have sweat marks.
Hot Topic! Dude, I love it, man. Sweatbands, massive belt buckles, my haircut became very much like this [pushes hair to side bangs]. I loved it. Also Warped Tour in America, when you could just go and exist and belong somewhere. It’s always been about community as well and kind of leading on from the 80s where it was very glam.
Straightened hair. I must have been about 10 [years old]—we wore school uniforms in the UK, but I remember I was wearing my own clothes one day and my mom straightened my hair for me. I can still remember the smell of the fucking hair straightener.
Safety pins and badges. I’ve literally got one here that says “Blow Me” on it. I’m going to put it on my hat. It’s my favourite thing in the world when you can be out shopping and suddenly you come across this [button] and it’s like 50 cents, but it just makes your whole outfit look insane. It literally says what I want to say, without me even talking.
Vintage Band Shirts
I’ve got so many band tees. I love my Manson band tees. And I’ve got so much archival Vivienne Westwood stuff. I’m obsessed with my Cramps t-shirt. I love vintage band tees, good ones like rare vintage band tees.
I’m seeing a lot of heavily influenced 70s fashion. I think the haircuts and coloured hair is massive. The thing about right now is there’s a mix of everything. Hair from when Kurt Cobain did it with Kool-Aid, everyone is fucking doing that with their hair, and everyone is going to do that next year. It feels very 90s right now but also 70s. I love what Billie Eilish is looking like; I love what Lil Uzi Vert looks like. Again, that is Manson but a step up. What is punk rock fashion going to look like in 2021? Whatever the fuck people want.