Welcome back to the latest newsletter, where we consider the enduring connection between Squire and the the striped ‘boating’ blazer!
Last weeks newsletter recap of the last six months featured a photo of Anthony on stage in Long Beach, California, wearing one of the iconic jackets that became associated with the bands emerging visual image. This has prompted another reflection of how Squire became associated with that look and the history behind it.
Squire arrived on the London scene in 1979, and the photo of the launch of the single ‘Get Ready To Go’ shows the band wearing matching Harrington jackets and Levi Sta-Prest trousers, surrounded by a crowd of post punk indie bands! The Harringtons were bright red, and borrowed from a boutique, appropriately named Harringtons, situated at 12 Jeffries Passage, Guildford.
The owner of Harringtons was an original 1960s mod, and was excited to hear we were a ‘mod band’ and shared many stories of mid 60's fashions and trends - and stocked many of the original labels! So Squire borrowed matching outfits from the shop and arrived for the ‘Get Ready To Go’ launch photoshoot in London, not only with an established repertoire of neo mod songs, but also with a defined visual mod identity!
The jackets were enthusiastically worn for the occasion of the record launch and although matching ensembles allowed the band to be noticed and stand out in the crowd of bands signed to and assembled for the Rok Records launch, it was also realised the idea of matching outfits suggested by ‘Mr Harrington’ was a bit too reminiscent of early 1960s band imagery, and didn’t sit with a post punk contemporary dynamic. However, it was a vital first step in everyone accepting the importance of a strong identity to stand out in the crowd, not only from the mod connotation, but also to appear as visually exciting on stage and separate from the audience. It was the moment everyone understood we couldn’t just let playing mod music define the bands concept, we were a mod band and should look as cool as f***! Indeed, the coolest kids in town!
Johnsons Outfitters was situated at the World End of Kings Road and in Kensington Market. Known for more ‘Rock and Roll’ aesthetic, Lloyd Johnson was a fashion designer who's aesthetic was 'stage wear for the street'. His designs were keenly bought by music performers and you may have seen many examples on record sleeves!
He was also commissioned to supply designs for the upcoming film Quadrophenia and this had inspired him to create his own-label 1960s style clothing collections that revisited his mod past.
This included a striped jacket based on the material previously used in a drape coat, and reworked into a 1960s jacket style, later worn by Paul Weller amongst others.
Unfortunately, Johnsons was an exclusive and expensive emporium, and the two styles of striped jacket available, red or blue, were already recognisable. So an extended search was undertaken to find material to create a bespoke striped jacket that would be unique. The material was eventually tracked down in Berwick Street, Soho, in close proximity to Shaftesbury Avenue, and Londons theatres. The bolts of cloth had remained in storage since the 1960s, and the wholesaler exclaimed they were only bought by the costume department for the musical ‘Half A Sixpence’, so surprised of the interest!
The red white and blue stripe fitted the bill perfectly and seemed an obvious choice and faintly familiar.
It was later discovered that the same bolt of cloth had been used to make Brian Jones suit, worn for the cover of HighTide and Green Grass, and a symbol of his dandyesque image as the Stones emerged into their era of sartorial splendor.
We also bought a black purple and yellow/white stripe variant, and Kevin also had a jacket made from material sourced from the same Soho cloth shop.
The Squire ‘look’ became an indelible image for the band. It allowed us to be recognised on stage even if not announced! One particular overheard moment from the crowd on the way back to the dressing room - “who was that just on, they were great - I don’t know but they had striped jackets so it must be Squire!" proved the importance of identity in an already overcrowding scene.
The look was carried by the iconic Arista record promo photo, and later press shots, and fashion features!
The band continued to wear other mod apparel such as button down shirts, and Sta-prest, bought from a shop specialising in ‘1960s deadstock in The Cut, behind London’s Waterloo Station. The shop also had deadstock Wescoteers, similar to Sta-Prest.
This look is immortalised in the song ‘Noonday Underground’ - "We have got to be the coolest kids in town, White socks, Loafers, Sta-Prest and button downs!"
The bands re-emergence on stage for the 1999 London Mods Mayday provided the perfect opportunity to reference the original image with a reversed striped jacket, this time an original 1960s white jacket with red and blue stripes.
More recent concerts have often gestured to the original style with a dark burgundy with green and blue stripe Madras jacket, a subtle reference to the original style, which along with the Rickenbacker guitar provides important visual symbolism and connection to the bands enduring mod credentials!
We've put together a playlist of Squire favourites that reference "White socks, loafers, sta-prest & button downs!" and shopping on the Kings Road!
Look out for a special announcement next week!!
Best Wishes from Squire