The Casuals movement has been deconstructed, mythologised and celebrated perhaps more than any subculure in recent years. Perhaps because its tentacles still reach into modern society, perhaps because the people involved are all gobshites who can talk the hind legs off a rocking horse. Yet whatever the reasons, no matter how much material is produced on the subject, and there has been a ridiculous amount, it never fails to be interesting.
This docuementary, narrated by the Farm’s Peter Hooton and featuring interviews with fellow Saboteur’s Jonny Owen and Ian Hough, follows a traditional format in that it tells the history, but rather than too much speculative conjecture, gets down to brass tacks and speaks to people who were there abut what it meant to them.
What emerges, beyond anything else, is a love affair with clothes. This is, of course, no secret. The movement from Mod to Casual, from sharp suits to trackie tops, is one of the most seismic of modern times and has been well documented. Yet to hear it from individuals paints a much more personal account.
Robert Wade Smith turned up in Germany with seven thousand in cash and returned with 400 pairs of trainers
There’s the Asian guy from Leicester who felt like he belonged clad in Tacchini, the Welsh girl who spotted for the Soul Crew dressed head-to-toe in Burberry, the Mancs and their Fred Perry and, of course, the Scousers and their trainees.
Amongst the Adidas devotees and haircuts, away days and pitched battles, two of the best stories are of how the movement was seen as a business opportunity. Robert Wade Smith turned up in Germany with seven thousand in cash and returned with 400 pairs of trainers and a fledgling business empire, while Johnny Turner set up a booming counterfeit operation that earned him £5k a week and a stretch at her Majesty’s.
Not afraid to delve into the socio-political when required, or to have a laugh at is own expense, Casuals goes beneath the accepted wisdom, steers clear of shouting its mouth off and is, to my mind, all the better for it.
Casuals, an Urban Edge film, is available now on DVD. Follow this link to buy a copy…
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