We’re all guilty of living in the past, but the point when you developed a fashion awareness seems to leave an indelible mark on the psyche that means regressive revisits are an inevitability. That’s what seems to have put us in this retro rut where we just keep going back to the point where we’re rocking olde world railmaster attire. We’ll be in Dickensian garms before long. Beyond sports footwear experiences as a young ‘un, it was Def Jam patches on MA-1s, Suicidal Tendencies caps, Vision Streetwear and some regrettable lurid grails in the clothing stakes that really set me off. Then a Stüssy preoccupation and the rumours of Troops costing £150 followed by unwarranted racism allegations that effectively put that brand to sleep. The rudeboys round my way were the true style masters who really activated my preoccupation with apparel and footwear.

We’d had the piss-trickle of shit Le Shark, bad Hi-Tec Micropacer knockoffs and pastel trousers that casual culture instigated (the Italian Paninaro crowd played their part there too), but the terrace-inspired gear hit harder with a generation above me. I was transfixed by the ragga-inspired pinroll, Burlington, vast Chipies (or for us Bedford dwellers, Chipie copies from the market) and Chevignon (or as before, a knockoff with an appropriately Euro name) and the footwear oneupmanship. This rudeboy look never really seems to get the reverence it deserves beyond smirking “Do you remember?” forum threads, or regrets over hefty purchases that were immediately robbed or out-of-favour. I think it’s one of young Britain’s (alright., it’s a London thing) greatest looks. The parallels with so-called casual culture —the cost, the dole money, the rivalries and the swagger are there, but while it might not have sustained like a Massimo Osti masterpiece, at the time it seemed more youthful rather than teens dressing beyond their years. Rather than damage in an organized tear-up, the fear here was getting jacked on the shop doorstep after handing over colossal amounts of amassed coin.

Being a towny, by the time we got any trends, they were long gone in London. As a 13-year-old you could only gaze helplessly at ‘The Face’ and ‘Sky’ and see what you were set to get the arse-end of after it was onto the next one in the big city. Only kids as school with shotta bothers or guilty absentee fathers came close to keeping up, and that was sporadic. They’d be wearing the same Filas and puffa jackets for a few months too as a result and the awe would wear off. but still—and this is certainly the case on the trainer front—this was a peak. We never really moved on, and the ’94 Jordan reissues paved the way for us to churn out variations on a theme to the present day.

In the ensuing years we reverted to suede basketball shoes that harked back to 1968 and rocked check shirts, but boundaries blurred and subcultures seemed to merge. I’ve not seen a youth style as defined as the rudeboy look of 1990/91 emerge again. The worst casualty was oneupmanship, where wearing the same or even similar gear was frowned upon, and oddball choices would either win respect or crash and burn. But at least you tried.

Kevin Sampson’s piece on casual gear from ‘The Face’s August 1983 issue marked a turning point in the culture’s documentation (and the ensuing letters pages for articles on the topic were always hilarious), but ‘Ruder Than the Rest’ from the March 1991 issue, a Chipie-centric 14-page article written by John Godfrey, Derick Procope and Kark Templer, with some excellent location photography by Nigel Shafran was incredibly enlightening. Each postcode prided itself on their progressive style. Hammersmith kids dissed the South Londoners for tucking rather than pinrolling. Nobody was telling where they got their Vikings from. We were informed that, “If you’re into rap, if you’ve got a hi-top haircut and live in Harlesden, you’re known as a pussy.” By the time the article went to print, all-involved had almost certainly moved on in terms of lusted labels.

It makes me nostalgic for something in which I was never involved—something I merely admired from afar. I still feel it warrants more documentation.

27 thoughts on “RUDEBOYS”

  1. This is one of my favourite magazine features of all-time. At that time Chipie jeans, Chevignon jackets, Naf-Naf rucksacks and various Nikes consumed most of my paper-round earnings.

    Upon leaving Chipie on Langley Court, you’d slip your purchase into an M+S carrier bag immediately, unless you were willing to have it snatched.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. Great read once again mate.

    We pretty much stocked every one of those labels that are listed in that article at Moda in Cambridge. The amount of Chipie, Chevignon, Soviet, Aviatic, Avirex, El Charro etc we used to shift was amazing. I’m sure i’ve still got a few bits at home somewhere.

  3. Used to sleep with this by my bedside the ‘Bart Simpson’ issue I think. I had cousins used to mess with Medusa and them… tuff Kensal Rise/Stonebridge kids who would stare you down off the bus, start a fight and never have a scuff on their Vikings or a pin-roll out of place.

    We bought, snatched and borrowed Chipie & Chevingnon, even Naf Naf but the Tag Hauer watches put us right back in our tax brackets. The only REAL UK equivalent to the stateside Lo-Life steez. Nice post mate.

  4. A nice post well done – it gives me the warm glow of nostalgia. I can’t claim many of the fashion movements – casuals, mods etc but for me this era was just as important, and I was part of it.

  5. good read, man, and it takes me back.pinrolled c17’s from taki casuals in tooting, going to black barbers and being the only white boy, and the constant threat of street robbery.memories…

  6. too poor and indifferent for the whole rude look – with maybe the exception of a suedette shouldered black puffa from Bourn market…but i do recall boys in champion footwear and the longest argyle socks ever – looked like urban lord fauntleroys roaming St Neots

    sweet post G

  7. Just watching Sopranos Season 6 Ep 3. Made me think of this post…

    Paulie is packing, preparing to go on the run with Tony Soprano, he opens his wardrobe to reveal at least half a dozen pristine white slip on Vikings. Owwwwwh, Marone! Who knew Paulie Walnuts was involved in this thing of ours. Takes all sorts really.

  8. Big post!

    memories of Bally suedes, chipie roll ups and chev puffers..and not forgetting the bandana round the neck!

    Proper ruffneck swagger.


  9. Melancholy…

    I really walked with those clothes.. back then i’d kill for a chipie jeans and some air max 90.


    Even now i still wear likewise clothes.. evisu and am90.. listening to old skool uk hip hop..

    and 36 years old..


    nice post.. Respect!!!!

  10. that rudeboy look crept as far north as glasgow with lots a troops travelling down to pick up the newest garms……. vikings from 4star… chipie from langley court… mash…. all o them spots chipie and chevignon cedixsept c17s argyles pintucks .demon boyz… landahn posse..the rudeboys like who are these cunts? I know a few glasgows heads whose paths crossed with medusa (the boy rockin the togs unlimited bubble in the photo).. I think he was about to show someone the business end of a lucozade bottle and ended up talking away to all the glasgow crew. The rudeboys circled but no need to hide the purchases when in london……………. the accents done the trick ha ha. happy fuckin days …………..still rockin torsions and argyles…….damn I miss all the nice gears………….

    1. Fuck…that must have been an amazing showdown of Scots against rudies. Argyles and Torsions never date. I think it was the last GREAT look…

    1. First wave was ahead of my time Terry — too forward thinking for me back then. The baggy Chipie trousers and the Paris Chevignon Trading Post store (when it had all the workwear) between 1990-1992 was my first experience with those brands…

      1. He’s right you know Terry, but been a little older I’m guessing I was in them things 1988-89.

  11. I’m working on a project documenting this very same thing! Used to love wearing my Chipie Chinos with my Burlington socks and Nike SC’s. This brings back so many good memories from my teenage years. If any of you guys have any photographs of you wearing this type of gear I’d love to use it as part of the project! Please get in touch

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