Terrace and football casuals clothing are integral parts of British culture. Whether you’re here to take a walk down memory lane, deepen your knowledge or simply after some inspiration, our guide is the perfect place to get just what you need.
The UK is famous for being host to a variety of subcultures such as Mods, Punks, Goths, Skinheads, New Romantics, Grime and Ravers – you name it. But today we are here to explore how football fanatics have made their mark in the rich DNA of British subculture. So let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Pubs, football stadiums, an uncountable number of pints and most importantly, your mates. These are essential components that make up terrace culture, but how did it all start?
Terrace culture gets its name from the natural habitat of Casuals: the football terrace. A quintessential feature of Britain’s cultural heritage, UK football lifestyle and clothing also managed to cross borders and found its way across the pond. Riding the wave of success, UK Grime has more recently adopted the look and has found it’s way to the US, reinforcing terrace casual’s legions of followers.
Now we know where football casuals and terrace clothing came from, we can familiarise ourselves with the key elements of clothing. What do you actually need to wear? From this, we can also discover how they became so popular in mainstream men’s fashion.
Terrace wear is a major example of how social environments, habits and past-times directly influence the way people dress. A terrace casual’s clothing was and still is an important means through which football fans can express their identity. It’s what makes them who they are and it’s made visible through their sartorial choices – sometimes even via bucket hats.
Two-piece tracksuits have been demonised as a centrepiece of the so-called “chav starter-pack”, which resulted in a ban from men’s wardrobes. Nevertheless, they seem to have risen from the ashes lately, with the likes of more premium fashion houses turning their hand to full tracksuits.
Casuals had and still have an innate, excellent sneaker game. It’s not a coincidence that classic trainers like Adidas Sambas and especially Stan Smiths and Spezials are now icons of the whole terrace casual era. You can find them on everyone’s feet these days – even the preppiest of people. You can thank the Casuals for contributing to keeping their fame alive.
Terrace clothing has evolved over time and so did its representatives. Phil Thornton’s book Casuals: Football, Fighting & Fashion helped in identifying football Casuals as a fundamental group in British subculture. Prior to this, casuals were never really regarded as a subculture, as they were very much part of a normcore culture (this being football), as opposed to the anti-establishment punks and mods that came before them.
Also, terrace casuals never purposely tried to make a fashion statement, unlike the punks, which also meant that they were a bit neglected in subcultural studies. Before we take a look at modern Casuals, let’s get into a time machine and go back to when it all started: the late 70s and 80s.
80s Casuals Classics
Hailing all the way from Manchester and Liverpool, Casuals now populate the European continent at large. Where there’s a football team, there are Casuals. Terrace Casual clothing is a true melting-pot of subcultures. Thanks to the mobility of diehard football fans determined enough to follow their teams and accompany them to their away games, terrace clothing has been exposed to and influenced by different European trends.
Back in the day, brands like Sergio Tacchini, Fila and adidas Originals were a favourite amongst the Casuals, after they were brought back from away days. The logo on your chest was almost a bag of honour, so there was a big sense of rivalry and one-up-manship amongst terrace casuals, and it wasn’t unusual for coveted items to literally be stolen off your back during post-match scuffles.
Britpop heroes Noel and Liam Gallagher are the perfect fusion of the iconic Mancunian Mod and Casual styling. They are the undiscussed poster boys of Cool Britannia. With their scruffy hair, khaki parkas and collection of Fred Perry polos, they’ve changed the face of Britain’s music and fashion landscape, feeding terrace clothing to the masses.
Thanks to the incorporation of classic Casual elements, they are responsible for carrying terrace wear all the way through the 90s. Also, their family feud and infamous rivalry with Blur can give any animosity amongst football clubs a run for their money. Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you. That, being a beer bottle.
For generations, footballers have been providing men all around the world with some enviable fashion style to aspire to. But football fashion is only glamours when special events occur. On a more day to day basis, football elements have permeated streetwear and football casual clothing has made its way through the hearts and wardrobes of men, beyond football fandoms.
As a matter of fact, football fashion isn’t simply limited to the technical and functional aspects of the sport. It’s directed and aimed at football fans and what they would wear when watching matches.
Terrace wear is often associated with working class football fans and influenced by hooligans. Casuals developed their own style tribes within the subculture such as Manchester’s Perry Boys – the name given because of their predilection for Fred Perry polos. Classic Casual clobber includes padded jackets with panels and Lacoste polos, but this also varied from the style of the Casuals down South. This only fuelled the rivalry between Northern and Southern football teams, as fans would be completely torn apart for appearing even slightly behind in the style stakes.
Football scores weren’t the only cause of rivalries. Fans of opposite clubs would strive to keep their football casual attire up to date. They meant business. Let’s take a closer look at what makes a Casuals’ uniform and what brands they use to nail football clothing.
Go-to brands for modern Casuals include Burberry, Aquascutum and Italian brand CP Company which also happens to own another staple brand for Casuals, Stone-Island. Brands like Weekend Offender put a current spin on the retro pieces keeping terrace wear alive and in sync with present-day streetwear. Have you been wondering why Urban Outfitters is plastered with Fila clothing? A revival of terrace wear is partly responsible for that.
CP Company’s trademark is putting goggles on the hood of their coats and Harrington jackets. Now their famous goggle lenses can also be found on beanie hats and on the side of jacket sleeves as an ornament.
Stone-Island’s unmistakable compass logo has almost become the unofficial flag of the football Casuals. Their high-performance jackets and overshirts are vital for surviving the rainy and windy British football terraces. Because of this, they became a staple piece of terrace wear and an integral part of Casuals’ clobber.
As football casual clothing has made its way through the US, Stone-Island jackets can be equally seen being worn by the members of Leicester’s very own rock band, Kasabian.
Palace x Umbro
This collaboration from 2012 is a great example of a cultural and fashion dialogue between skate and football clothing. Since then, other brands such as HUF, Nike, Supreme and Adidas have expanded their ranges to appeal to an increasingly evolving fanbase.
Parkas and Rain Jackets
Navy and olive parkas with fur along the hood are the hallmark of terrace wear. Lightweight rain jackets are the spring counterparts to winter parkas. Whatever weather, cold or warm, the Casuals are urban chameleons.
UK indie productions can often be regarded as a visual guide to football clothing. Films such as Green Street Hooligans (2005), The Firm (2009) and Football Factory (2004) offer a pretty good overview of British football culture and everything that comes with it – the good and the bad. I’m sure most of you know exactly what I’m talking about. In case you haven’t seen them yet, you should definitely check them out.
Football is a great sport – it has the power to create such a strong sense of camaraderie and union between its fans. But its incredible capacity to bring football fans together is a double-edged sword.
As much as supporters are unconditionally devoted to their favourite team, the chances for intense rivalries are always around the corner. As a consequence, they sometimes manifest themselves in violent episodes. This also impacted the way they dressed.
In the 90s, hooligans started to think about their wardrobe more strategically. In order to go unnoticed by the police, hardcore football fans started wearing designer clothing. That way they could disguise club colours, allowing them to sneak their way into the enemy lines of rival clubs. As a result, they had the chance to cause havoc and walk away from the wreckage relatively undisturbed.
As a brand born on tennis courts, Fred Perry has been successfully incorporated into the wardrobes of football hooligans since the very beginning and it doesn’t seem to have any intention of leaving. The iconic polo shirts are a must-have for the Casual’s – pair with some jeans and retro trainers and you’ll have an everyday terrace look.
Terrace Clothing and Football Casuals
- Beanies, study jackets and overshirts are a staple part of football outerwear. You can layer them up to meet the colder weather.
- For footwear, go for some Stan Smiths for a classic look. There are plenty of other trainers that will look just as good, including monochrome and coloured options.
- Sports shirts offer a practical and stylised look for football casuals. These are always best styled for a casual attire.
- Staple brands: Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Lacoste, Fred Perry and Stone-Island are the go-to brands to complete this look.
On That Note
We can finally say that these are the only things capable of uniting rival football fanatics (for at least five minutes): an eye for sneakers, the love of parkas, retro T-shirts and European sports brands and last but not least, Fred Perry. With their wardrobes being the one thing they could potentially respect and even admire about each other, without Casuals we wouldn’t be experiencing a very much enjoyable and hopefully durable resurgence of terrace wear. If you feel like giving a hooligan spin to your wardrobe, why not start off with treating yourselves to a brand new pair of classic sneakers?
Feature image from Pinterest