Subculture in twenty first century

Diana Gile
BA illustration level 4
Critical and contextual studies.

Contemporary design practice





How design is used by subcultures to differentiate themselves from the larger culture to which they belong.

The power of style and its emergence as an increasingly important feature in whole new era, cannot be separated from the evaluation, high technology development and modernity.
That’s why style is also a significant element of power. Style, today, is inseparably woven into the fabric of social, political and economic life it is the product of the broad network of industries.
As the time passes we tend to find an order and sub order for everything that surrounds us. Smaller groups emerges from the larger ones and then authorities controls ?
subdivisions with “proper” information flow and other different forces.

Style is powerful tool, especially in multi cultural country like England and in a working class culture, from where the subcultures emerges.
Every period of time has particular problems that occur in diverse spheres that are meaningful to the population, either is political, religion or any other related. Going through this time human needs different psychological fulfilment that is found in a certain field of interests thus gathering together, expressing feelings shearing believe with the world that is outside. Creating design elements that forms various subcultures. The subculture concept involves abstract construction. A subculture is typological in the sense that it involves selection and…only some of a great range of cultural features are selected, such selection normally being made according to… main distinguishing features of the subculture?. Insofar as the selected and frequently highlighted features are woven? into a patterned construct, ‘subculture’ my be regarded as an ‘ideal type’…( Person 1979)

Design that holds this symbols is invented by the artists to solve problems or stimulate that desire of expressing feelings. Mass production gives various possibilities to buy this feeling of comfort through fashion, music and art industries. Only matter is the will to reach for that, spending time or money and mass media stimulates that will – to consume like never before. And even shopping can be done on line.
The production of captivating images, for the very few, was once limited to the sacred workshops of medieval monasteries; now the production and marketing of style is global, touching the lives and imaginations of nearly everyone.
Glossy fashion images that promises the high expectation to be fulfilled, makes working class people by the idea and at times even go insane in purchasing things, especially on sales.
Design, of one sort or another is affixed to almost every imaginable commodity.
Back in 60’s when many diverse sub cultures started to appear everything was less digitalised, information flow slower and people had to socialise in groups formed outside, in the real world. In digital age technology made communication much easier. today we live in a world where teenagers are more interested in constructing an identity online than going outside demonstrating it for real.
“It’s a lot easier to adopt personas online that cost you absolutely nothing apart from sharing your knowledge and opinion about the good taste to the community.

Communication changes and style with it moves much faster, every individual can look up for things that excites they personality, and form one or more virtual groups, that is why style is so fragmented today, quite often it is hard to define meaning in style of today, because of its bearer, that wears out already created symbols and rituals in a way that it contradicts earlier created culture believes.

Muggleton argues that contemporary subcultural styles can be understood as a symptoms of postmodern hyperindividualism, and the process can be tracked back at least to the 1960s and some of the transformed 60’s spirit still lives today.
The image above of Alberta Ferretti 2015 s/s campaign captures free souls, young and pure, connected with nature in a way reminding of a wild life with the girls hair unlisted in the wind and wet ground in which reflects the morning sun that creates a feeling of sea being just a step away. the presence of water that promises fertility and creativity, while white dresses the symbol of purity and freshness. Three teen age girls that relay on each other just like a sisters, that is a well made symbol for harmonious trinity. Summing all the symbols in one it becomes very pure and sensitive picture. It is a polished version of hippy that longs for romantic peaceful world.
Today hippie seems to bee quite forgotten movement, because of the high industrialisation and networking that surrounds us. Yellow smiley face symbol is used more as a mood character in the messages than the peace sign.
Mobile phones, wifi fast rhythm of life eliminates all the beautiful idea, leaving us only with fashionable clothing and design that every year is reinvented in free flowing flower pattern collections like: Burbery, Roberto Cavalli, Valentino and many others, high society luxury brands, that tend to recreate fashion by season so that consumer longs for more things.
But back then in 60’s hippy values where popularised in the society, here is a suggestion from Whalth Withman in “Leaves of Grass”
This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun, and animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence towards the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men; go freely with the powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and mothers, of families: read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life: re-examine all you have been told at school or church, or in any books, and dismiss whatever insults your soul.
Ginsberg perceives that it becomes necessary to uncover, celebrate, and engage in forms of utopian mysticism, which result in a sense of divine unity and love—the overcoming of illusory ways of being.
Flower child that is another word for hippie and it does makes us understand that this community longs to be in nature, close to earth and true, real being of oneself, breaking out from industrial grey world that human is realising it’s not the key of happiness.
Hippies rebel against its destructive tendencies, refusing to accept that freedom, equality, and democracy must result in racial violence, increased poverty, and dehumanisation in favour of corporate rights.
Steve Jobs the founder of Apple with the modest casual and plain style once was a hippy and with time became a roll model for many other dreamers.
Also hipster is a dreamer but more involved in to materialistic world. It’s ideal type is : smart lifestyle keeper, slow food eater, egocentric, individual and authentic. Going against main stream mass -production and mass consumption in a more rational way than hippy, but still supporting genuine ideas, recycling used materials and fashion clothing, using Apple products and most of the times works in creative industries. Usually is interested in indie artistic creations, produced by small independent often localised companies (e.g., local retailers, art-house theatres, DIY channels such as Web sites and zines, and other small-scale enterprises) that are opposite to mass consumption and pop culture that tends to take over small companies and unite in one mainstream product. Indie practices and tastes can also find expression in other fields of consumption , such as fashion and third -place services ( e.g., clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants).image Glasses, scarves and hats are favourite accessories of hipster that celebrates easy way of living, slowing down and being thoughtful. With time like any other subculture also hipster lost it’s meaning by the consumers that adopts the look without going deeper in understanding the ideas and believes of particular culture .
They catch people’s imagination, get appropriated by mainstream culture then die away: it was ever thus, but now it happens at warp-speed. Punk’s journey from the first sightings of the Ramones and Richard Hell in New York to the front pages of the British tabloids took a couple of years, over which time it changed and developed and mutated. Seapunk’s journey from internet gag to Rihanna using its imagery on took a matter of months.image
See punk started as a joke on Twitter, turned into a Facebook page, then gained a cognition to a point it became real life movementwith a seapunk “look” that involved dyeing your hair turquoise,be particularly interested in Windows 2000 graphics, neon lights, adore dolphins, and waterfalls.”Seapunk is the name of a mid-western club movement created by a group who like to drown warehouse breakbeats in a flood of sub-bass and watery Wu-Tang samples,”

One of seapunk’s authentic models Zombelle, apparently declared the movement dies when pop stars started grasp it.
At the end subcultures evolve with time the basics that holds one subculture together haven’t changed, they are elements of style that group members find appealing, symbols to recognise each other and differentiate from others. Long lasting sub culture with many various subdivisions is punk and one of they believes is: “Being a punk is not what you look like but what you feel like.”

One citrate from Andersen that I think is explaining subject well ” punk isn’t a fashion, a certain style of dress… It is an idea that guides and motivates your life. The punk community that exists, exists to support and realise that idea through music, art fanzines and other expressions of personal creativity. And what is this idea? Think yourself, be yourself, don’t just take what society gives you, create your own rules, live your own life ( Andersen 1985, cited in O’Hara 1995: 22)


Andy Bennett and Keith Kahn – Harris, AFTER SUBCULTURE Critical Studies in Contemporary Youth Culture ( New York, Palgrave Macmillan , 2004).

David Muggleton, INSIDE SUBCULTURE The Postmodern Meaning of Style ( New York, Berg , 2000).

Stuart Ewen, All Consuming Images THE POLYTICS OF STYLE IN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE ( New York, Basic Books, 1988).

James Lull, Culture in the communication age ( London, Routledge, 2001)
Page Count: 30 (02.03.2016)

Page Count: 13 (10.03.2016.) (10.03.2016.)
URL: (20.03.2016.)


Peter Lindbergh for Alberta Ferretti SS 2015

2. Leo Cailliard



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