The New York Times’ Sunday fashion insert doesn’t normally cross paths with Hatewatch. But a headline in the Sunday, Sept. 16, edition caught our attention: “Skinheads are Moshing Their Way Into the Style Mainstream.”
According to the brief magazine article, big-name designers like Dior Homme and Heidi Slimane are bringing skinhead style back to the runway. For a movement now largely known for its racist violence, that’s quite a comeback.
Skinhead researcher and Portland [Ore.] State University professor Randy Blazak says that while he hasn’t seen a pair of Doc Martens boots in over three years, skinhead style as a mainstream fashion fad isn’t anything new. As a matter of fact, racist skinheads are often angered to see their style co-opted, whether by anti-racist skinheads or trend-seeking teenagers. “It undermines their message when that style is diffused to the mainstream,” said Blazak.
The Times also improbably claims — on the basis of what evidence it’s hard to say — that skinhead style has been not only appropriated, but defanged, by European gay men: “Skinheads went underground until gays, who have disarmed much of the movement’s racism, recently began dragging them out of the closet… .”
Blazak says while researching the skinhead movement in England in the 1980s, he accompanied a skinhead into a bar and found himself surrounded by guys with shaved domes, black boots and suspenders. But the pub wasn’t a hangout for racists or ultranationalists; it was a gay bar. Still, that doesn’t mean that gays had “disarmed” the movement’s racism. Says Blazak: “Just because there are gay skinheads doesn’t mean that racist skinheads are going away.”