Why even bother being a suedehead? It’s sure to be a question asked of anyone who decides to mark themselves with this distinction. By most accounts the cult only existed for a couple of months and then disappeared, London youths moving onto the next thing. Sure it was revived by Hoxton Tom of 4-Skins fame during the late 70’s. But even then you don’t hear about a massive suedehead revival the same way skinheads and mods popped up after the advent of Oi and release of Quadrophenia respectively. So why bother?
It’s about looking smarter than the rest. Crombies, sta-prest, loafers and button downs as every day wear. 3 button Prince of Wales check suits, with a 10″ center vent and six buttons on the cuff. Pair of smooths polished so bright you could blind someone if they aren’t careful. Navy blazers with your football clubs crest sewn on the breast pocket. Hair grown out ever so slightly, just long enough so that a steel comb comes in handy. Because you want to be a cut above the rest, you ain’t satisfied to be just part of the crowd.
Ben Sherman’s been sold down the river, never to return to it’s former glory. But you still relish getting that perfect Oxford button down, from back when they understood. Mikkel Rude and Brutus are doing the job now. Brooks Brothers if you’re flush. You know they make the best button down money can buy. Same with sta prest. Maybe it’s cause they’ve been around for so long. When mods and skinheads were first sussing out a style and American Ivy League was the influence.
Music? The sweet sounds of soul and the heavy bass beat of reggae. Throw in some sickly sweet rocksteady tracks and you’ve got it made. Early sounds of glam if you’re feeling a bit, shall we say, rambunctious. Searching out rare records with the same precision a paleontologist carries out their work. Every source has to be unearthed, no corner left unchecked. Labels like Collins Down Beat, Unity and Amalgamated are worth their weight in gold. Any time you land a big tune, hunting down a deal, the feeling is utter euphoria. It isn’t just music. It never has been, it never will be. It’s music. And it’s everything.
Joe Gibbs, Sonia Pottinger and especially Bunny Lee should have shrines dedicated to them in your eyes. You may already have one. You knew you were in deep when you moved past collecting groups and labels and into specific producers output. But you know what you like, can’t understand the missing dedication from all others. One day they’ll get it, hopefully.
Your attitude hasn’t changed much since you were a skinhead. Probably because your attitude never changed when you became a skinhead. You were never going to take shit off anyone, and that will never change. Perhaps you think a bit more about your actions but at the end of the day you ain’t afraid to put your foot down. But you’d rather have a laugh and talk about the latest Blue Cat single you just scored than plant a pint glass in some mugs face for being a bit too loud nowadays.
And at the end of the day what does it all come down too? Quality. Pure and simple, plain as can be: quality. Quality clobber and tunes. You’ve spent more time obsessing over the roll on a collar than you’d like to tell anyone that doesn’t get it. Marvelled at the razor sharp crease you just pressed into your sta-prest. Had to throw on your new suit as soon as it arrived, after inspecting the workmanship that went into the garment. Because you understand quality and it’s importance. Anyone can buy mass produced, cheap crap. You only want the best.
So why bother being a suedehead? If you even have to ask, you’ll never get it.