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Hardcore Punk Fashion Influence: Learn about Punk Fashion

There are several styles of dress within the hardcore scene, and styles have changed since the genre started as hardcore punk in the late 1970s.

What is fashionable in one branch of the hardcore scene may be frowned upon in another.

Personal comfort and the ability to mosh are highly influential in this style. For this reason, jewelry, spikes, chains and spiky hair are highly uncommon and discouraged in hardcore fashion. Plain working class dress and short hair (with the exception of dreadlocks) are usually associated with hardcore punk.

Mute colors and minimal adornment are usually common. Elements of hardcore clothing include baggy jeans or work pants, athletic wear, cargo or military shorts, khakis or cargo pants, band T-shirts, plain T-shirts, muscle shirts, and band hoodies.

Common sneakers include classic Adidas Originals, Converse, New Balance, Nike, Pony, Puma, Saucony and Vans. Boots are also somewhat common, especially Dr. Martens.

Hardcore skinheads, sometimes known as "American punk skinheads," are characterized by some of the same items as British skinhead fashion, but hardcore skinhead dress is considerably less strict than traditional skinhead or oi! skinhead style.

Hardcore punk music is generally faster, heavier, and more abrasive than regular punk rock. The origin of the term "hardcore punk" is uncertain. The Vancouver-based band D.O.A. may have helped to popularize the term with the title of their 1981 album, Hardcore '81. Hardcore historian Steven Blush said that the term "hardcore" is also a reference to the sense of being "fed up" with the existing punk and new wave music.  Blush also states that the term refers to "an extreme: the absolute most Punk."

While traditional hardcore has never experienced mainstream commercial success, some of its early pioneers have garnered appreciation over time. Black Flag's Damaged, Minutemen's Double Nickels on the Dime and Hüsker Dü's New Day Rising were included in Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003 and Dead Kennedys have seen one of their albums reach gold status over a period of 25 years.  In 2011, Rolling Stone writer David Fricke placed Greg Ginn of Black Flag 99th place in his 100 Greatest Guitarists list.

Many North American hardcore punk fans adopted a dressed-down style of T-shirts, jeans, combat boots or sneakers and crewcut-style haircuts. Women in the hardcore scene typically wore army pants, band T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts.  The clothing style was a reflection of hardcore ideology, which included dissatisfaction with suburban America and the hypocrisy of American culture. It was essentially deconstruction of American fashion staples — ripped jeans, holey T-shirts, torn stockings for women, and work boots.  The style of the 1980s hardcore scene contrasted with the more provocative fashion styles of late 1970s punk rockers (elaborate hairdos, torn clothes, patches, safety pins, studs, spikes, etc.).

Henry Rollins stated that for him, getting dressed up meant putting on a black shirt and some dark pants; Rollins viewed an interest in fashion as being a distraction.

Learn more about various punk fashion styles from the main page of this section.

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