Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Loose fit? The impact of the Manchester music scene on youth fashion 1986 to 1996

    Atkin, Susan (2016) Loose fit? The impact of the Manchester music scene on youth fashion 1986 to 1996. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

    Download (11MB) | Preview


    This thesis questions the stereotype of the loose fitting silhouette of the Mancunian music scene from 1986 to 1996, exploring the links between the city’s music scene and local youth fashion. It establishes the important contribution of fashion to culture in the music scene and the distinct local “looks” that resulted. The thesis explores the literature of subculture and identity, enriched by the concepts of bricolage and local fashion. The contributory influence of the Manchester music scene is investigated in its public and private sites of creation and consumption. Combining cultural studies, dress history and fashion theory, the research is based on oral evidence in the form of active interviews, supported by analysis of contemporary images. Interviewees were pre-identified for their role in Mancunian fashion and music. These revealed previously unidentified aspects of Mancunian dress, which inform a discussion of the nature and context of local fashion in the period. Salient findings included the eloquence with which men can talk about clothes, and the sources and methods of the quest for authenticity through “looks”. The thesis repositions subculture, in the light of the shift toward more mutable groupings, and affiliations that can change with site. These formed a multi-faceted movement that was able to embrace both mainstream culture and its subversions. The contribution to knowledge centres on: (1) the importance of authenticity in subcultural movements; (2) identification of the several looks co-existing under the banner of Madchester; (3) establishing that these looks were understood differently from inside the movement because experiences shared by participants depended on tacit understandings rather than purely visual judgements; and, (4) the concept of fashion in motion to describe the interrelationship of garment and wearer in movement and its connection with identity. This led to (5) the addition of “attitude” to Brake’s practical aspects of subcultural style. Attitude is the outward expression of the inward state produced by dress upon the body, sometimes visually sensed (as swagger on the Madchester scene) but also encompassing less tangible projections.

    Impact and Reach


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics for this dataset are available via IRStats2.

    Actions (login required)

    View Item View Item