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Heavy metal fashion is the style of dress, body modification, make-up, hairstyle, and so on, taken on by fans of heavy metal, or, as they are often called, metalheads or headbangers. While the style has changed from the 1970s to the 2010s, certain key elements have remained constant, such as black clothes, long hair and leather jackets. In the 1980s, some bands began wearing spandex. Other attire includes denim or leather vests or jackets with band patches and logos, t-shirts with band names, and spiked wristbands.
Body modification is the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or human physical appearance. It is often done for aesthetics, sexual enhancement, rites of passage, religious beliefs, to display group membership or affiliation, in remembrance of lived experience, traditional symbolism such as axis mundi and mythology, to create body art, for shock value, and as self-expression, among other reasons. In its broadest definition it includes plastic surgery, socially acceptable decoration, and religious rites of passage, as well as the modern primitive movement.
Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.
Fans of heavy metal music have created their own subculture which encompasses more than just appreciation of the style of music. Fans affirm their membership in the subculture or scene by attending metal concerts – an activity seen as central to the subculture, buying albums, in some cases growing their hair long, wearing leather jackets and t-shirts with band names and logos and most recently, by contributing to metal publications.
The clothing associated with heavy metal has its roots in the biker,rocker, and leather subcultures. Heavy metal fashion includes elements such as leather jackets; combat boots, studded belts, hi-top basketball shoes (more common with old school thrash metalheads); blue or black jeans, camouflage pants and shorts, and denim jackets or kutte vests, often adorned with badges, pins and patches. As with the bikers, there is a fascination with Germanic imagery, such as the Iron Cross.
An outlaw motorcycle club, is a motorcycle subculture that has its roots in the immediate post-World War II era of North American society. It is generally centered on the use of cruiser motorcycles, particularly Harley-Davidsons and choppers, and a set of ideals that celebrate freedom, nonconformity to mainstream culture, and loyalty to the biker group.
Rockers, leather boys, Ton-up boys, and possibly café racers are members of a biker subculture that originated in the United Kingdom during the 1950s. It was mainly centred on British café racer motorcycles and rock 'n' roll music. By 1965, the term greaser had also been introduced to Great Britain and, since then, the terms greaser and rocker have become synonymous within the British Isles although used differently in North America and elsewhere. Rockers were also derisively known as Coffee Bar Cowboys. Their Japanese counterpart was called the Kaminari-Zoku.
The leather subculture denotes practices and styles of dress organized around sexual activities that involve leather garments, such as leather jackets, vests, boots, chaps, harnesses, or other items. Wearing leather garments is one way that participants in this culture self-consciously distinguish themselves from mainstream sexual cultures. Many people associate leather culture with BDSM practices and its many subcultures. But for others, wearing black leather clothing is an erotic fashion that expresses heightened masculinity or the appropriation of sexual power; love of motorcycles, motorcycle clubs and independence; and/or engagement in sexual kink or leather fetishism.
Distinct aspects of heavy metal fashion can be credited to various bands, but the band that takes the most credit for revolutionizing the look was Judas Priest, primarily with its singer, Rob Halford.Halford wore a leather costume on stage as early as 1978 to coincide with the promotion for the Killing Machine ( Hell Bent for Leather in the USA) album. In a 1998 interview, Halford described the leather subculture as the inspiration for this look. Halford may have been the one to popularize leather but K.K. Downing wanted a look that suited the music they were creating. Downing started wearing studded leather outfits on stage. Soon, the rest of the band followed. An example of this can be seen from live concert recordings from 1978. Downing is the only one on stage appearing with black studded leather jacket.
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. They have sold over 50 million copies of their albums. They are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band has struggled with indifferent record production and lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980, when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel.
Robert John Arthur Halford is an English singer and songwriter. He is best known as the lead vocalist for the Grammy Award-winning heavy metal band Judas Priest. He is famous for his powerful wide-ranging voice and his trademark leather-and-studs image, both of which became iconic in heavy metal. In addition to his work with Judas Priest, he has been involved with several side projects, including Fight, Two, and Halford.
Killing Machine is the fifth studio album by British heavy metal band Judas Priest. With its release in October 1978, the album pushed the band towards a more commercial style; however, it still contained the dark lyrical themes of their previous albums. At about the same time, the band members adopted their now-famous "leather-and-studs" fashion image, inspired by Rob Halford's interest in gay leather culture. It is the band's last studio album to feature drummer Les Binks.
It was not long before other bands appropriated the leather look; Iron Maiden's original singer Paul Di'Anno began wearing leather jackets and studded bracelets,Motörhead innovated with bullet belts, and Saxon introduced spandex. This fashion was particularly popular with followers of the New wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) movement in the early 1980s, and sparked a revival for metal in this era.
Iron Maiden are an English heavy metal band formed in Leyton, East London, in 1975 by bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris. The band's discography has grown to thirty-nine albums, including sixteen studio albums, twelve live albums, four EPs, and seven compilations.
Paul Andrews, better known by his stage name Paul Di'Anno, is a British singer who was the first vocalist to record with heavy metal band Iron Maiden, from 1977 to 1981.
Motörhead were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums and "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitars.
The studded leather look was extended in subsequent variations, to the wearing of combat boots, studded belts and bracelets, bullet belts, spiked gauntlets, etc. The codpiece, however, appears to have been less popular among the general public.
The style and clothing of metal has absorbed elements from influences as diverse as the musical influences from which the genre has borrowed. It is from this linking of different sub-styles of clothing and music influences that one can sometimes determine a person's specific taste in music simply from overall appearance. However, such signs are not hard and fast rulings in the majority of cases. This uncertainty is what makes the first key aspect of the metalheads' identity below so important.
Some of the influences of modern military clothing and the Vietnam War can be seen by the fans and bands of thrash metal, with the members of thrash metal bands of the 1980s like Metallica, Destruction, and Megadeth wearing bullet belts around their waists on stage.(It is likely that the thrash metal bands got the idea of wearing bullet belts from NWOBHM bands such as Motörhead, who have incorporated the bullet belt as part of their aesthetic since their inception, since many thrash metal bands in the 1980s were influenced by Motörhead.) This style is often connected to punk-metal and anti-fashion, as akin to the hardcore punk scene, as the formentioned style reflects similar attitudes. German Heavy Metal band Accept ex lead singer Udo Dirkschneider also contributed to the military clothing by wearing military pants from 1982, being considered as the first Heavy Metal musician to wear them.
The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was an undeclared war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years with direct U.S. involvement ending in 1973 following the Paris Peace Accords, and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975.
Thrash metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music characterized by its overall aggression and often fast tempo. The songs usually use fast percussive beats and low-register guitar riffs, overlaid with shredding-style lead guitar work. The lyrical subject matter often deals with criticisms of The Establishment, and at times shares a disdain for Christian dogma resembling that of their black metal counterparts. The language is typically quite direct and denunciatory, an approach borrowed from hardcore punk.
Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.
Fans of glam metal often have long or very long, teased hair, and are dressed in spandex pants and/or leather jackets. They also may use (though not necessarily) some makeup (lipsticks, eye-shadows, tonal creams, etc.). Bands who play in glam metal genre may have instruments with extravagant colour(s) and attributes, like guitars with pink, violet, dalmatian or pink rose colour(s); microphone stands with (often) a leopard or silk scarf (there may be some different attributes attached to the microphone stand, but mostly only leopard-colour scarfs have been seen); drumkits with some artwork (this kind of drumkit is seen in other metal genres as well, not only in glam metal).
Glam metal is a subgenre of heavy metal, which features pop-influenced hooks and guitar riffs, and borrows from the fashion of 1970s glam rock.
The imagery and values of historic Celtic, Saxon, Viking and Chivalric culture is reflected heavily in metal music, by bands such as Blind Guardian, and has its impact upon the everyday fashion and especially the stagegear of metal artists. The independence, masculinity and honor of the warrior ethos is extremely popular amongst metalheads, as is the rejection of perceived modern-day consumerist and metrosexual culture. Folk metal, Viking metal, black metal and power metal fans often grow long thick hair and beards reminiscent of a stereotypical Viking, Saxon or Celt, and wear Thor's Hammer pendants and other pagan symbols. On stage, in photoshoots, and in music videos, it is very common for bands of these genres such as Turisas and Moonsorrow to wear chain mail, animals skins, warpaint (such as woad) and other Dark Ages themed battle gear.
Corpse paint is another style of black-and-white makeup, used mainly by black metal bands. It is often composed of a white layer covering a person's face with black details on top, often in the shape of crosses or around the eyes. Bands such as Cradle of Filth and Kiss have stated that this has been born as a homage to early silent black-and-white horror movies. Black metal fans also sport goatees, all black outfits, leather jackets (sometimes with black and white band patches sewed on), spikes, jewelry, facial piercings and boots.
Power metal fans and musicians such as Rhapsody of Fire often wear attire reminiscent of the Renaissance and the Middle Ages including tight black or brown leather trousers and wide sleeved, buttonless shirts of various colors. The imagery of bards and minstrels as well as knights is a popular part of power metal fashion.
Some stoner metal bands and fans have incorporated "retro" looks- boot-cut or bell-bottom jeans, headbands, and tie-dye or other colorful shirts inspired by 1960s and 1970s psychedelic rock as well as cannabis culture.
Nu metal fashion includes baggy pants or cargo shorts (borrowing from hip hop culture), spiked hair or dreadlocks, and an abundance of accessories.
Also notable is that the dark business suit now relates to some metal bands, most often Doom, Gothic or Stoner acts. Bands such as Akercocke (although the band is death metal), The Vision Bleak, Lacrimosa, Motionless In White, Fleshgod Apocalypse (although band is death metal), Northern Kings (although the band is symphonic metal) are known for use of formal clothing in music videos and stage performances, sometimes followed by fans.
The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashion, and other forms of expression, visual art, dance, literature and film. It is largely characterised by anti-establishment views and the promotion of individual freedom, and is centred on a loud, aggressive genre of rock music called punk rock. Its adherents are referred to as "punks".
Gothic fashion is a clothing style marked by conspicuously dark, mysterious, antiquated and homogeneous features. It is worn by members of the Goth subculture. A dark, sometimes ghastly fashion and style of dress, typical gothic fashion includes a pale white complexion with dyed black hair, dark lipstick and dark clothing. Both male and female goths can wear dark eyeliner and dark nail polish most especially black. Styles are often borrowed from the punk fashion, Victorians and Elizabethans. Goth fashion is sometimes confused with heavy metal fashion and emo fashion.
Punk fashion is the clothing, hairstyles, cosmetics, jewellery, and body modifications of the punk subculture. Punk fashion varies widely, ranging from Vivienne Westwood designs to styles modeled on bands like The Exploited to the dressed-down look of North American hardcore. The distinct social dress of other subcultures and art movements, including glam rock, skinheads, rude boys, greasers, and mods have influenced punk fashion. Punk fashion has likewise influenced the styles of these groups, as well as those of popular culture. Many punks use clothing as a way of making a statement.
A codpiece is a covering flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of men's trousers, enclosing the genital area. It may be held closed by string ties, buttons, folds, or other methods. It was an important fashion item of European clothing during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the modern era, clothing devices with similar functions as codpieces are worn in some styles of underwear, in the leather subculture, and in performance costumes, such as for rock music and metal musicians. A similar device with rigid construction, an athletic cup, is used as protective underwear for male athletes.
A belt is a flexible band or strap, typically made up of leather or a heavy cloth, and worn around the waist, which is usually of less circumference than the hips underneath, preventing pants from falling. Belts are used to secure or hold up clothing, like trousers or other articles of clothing, in a manner similar to suspenders and garters. Some trousers come with belt loops around the waist, which the belt goes through. Belts can have many uses, but they are often used as a fashionable accessory, with many colours and styles. Objects to carry objects such as coin purses, holsters, scabbards, inrōs, etc. have been attached to belts in lieu of pockets.
A rivethead or rivet head is a person associated with the industrial dance music scene. In stark contrast to the original industrial culture, whose performers and heterogeneous audience were sometimes referred to as "industrialists", the rivethead scene is a coherent youth culture closely linked to a discernible fashion style. The scene and its dress code emerged in the late 1980s on the basis of electro-industrial, EBM, and industrial rock music. The associated dress style draws on military fashion and punk aesthetics with hints of fetish wear, mainly inspired by the scene's musical protagonists.
Leggings refer to several types of leg coverings. Modern usage from the 1960s has come to refer to elastic close-fitting garments worn over the legs typically by women, such as leg warmers or tights. Usage from the 18th century refers to men's wear, usually made of cloth or leather that is wrapped around the leg down to the ankle. In the 19th century, leggings usually referred to infants' leg clothing that were matched with a jacket, as well as leg-wrappings made of leather or wool and worn by soldiers and trappers. Leggings prominently returned to women's fashion in the 1960s, drawing from the form-fitting clothing of dancers. With the widespread adoption of the synthetic fibre Lycra and the rise in popularity of aerobics, leggings came to further prominence in the 1970s and '80s, and eventually made their way into streetwear. Leggings are a part of the late 2010s athleisure fashion trend of wearing activewear outside sporting activities and in casual settings, which became a contentious social norm in the United States.
Denim and Leather is the fourth studio album by English heavy metal band Saxon released in 1981. The album was certified Gold status in the U.K. This was the last album with the classic line up of Saxon, as drummer Pete Gill would leave the band due to a hand injury, later joining Motörhead; this was also seen as the last of their triptych of classic albums.
1980s fashion placed heavy emphasis on expensive clothes and fashion accessories. Apparel tended to be very bright and vivid in appearance. Women expressed an image of wealth and success through shiny costume jewelry, such as large faux-gold earrings, pearl necklaces, and clothing covered with sequins and diamonds. Punk fashion began as a reaction against both the hippie movement of the past decades and the materialist values of the current decade. The first half of the decade was relatively tame in comparison to the second half, which is when the iconic 1980s color scheme had come into popularity.
2000s fashion is often described as being a global mash up, where trends saw the fusion of previous vintage styles, global and ethnic clothing, as well as the fashions of numerous music-based subcultures. Hip-hop fashion generally was the most popular among young people of both sexes, followed by the retro inspired indie look later in the decade.
Fashion in the 1970s was about individuality. In the early 1970s, Vogue proclaimed "There are no rules in the fashion game now" due to overproduction flooding the market with cheap synthetic clothing. Common items included mini skirts, bell-bottoms popularized by hippies, vintage clothing from the 1950s and earlier, and the androgynous glam rock and disco styles that introduced platform shoes, bright colors, glitter, and satin.
A cut-off, battle jacket, battle vest or kutte in heavy metal subcultures, is a type of vest or jacket which originated in the biker subculture and later found popularity in punk and various heavy metal subcultures. Biker, metal and punk subcultures differ in how the garment is prepared, what decorations are applied, and how this is done.
Slim-fit pants or skinny jeans have a snug fit through the legs and end in a small leg opening that can be anywhere from 9" to 20" in circumference, depending on size. Other names for this style include drainpipes, stovepipes, tight pants, cigarette pants, skinny jeans, pencil pants, skinny pants, gas pipes, and skinnies. Skinny jeans taper completely at the bottom of the leg, whereas drainpipe jeans are skinny but then the lower leg is straight instead of tapering and so they are often slightly baggier at the bottom of the leg than skinny jeans. In some styles, zippers are needed at the bottom of the leg to facilitate pulling them over the feet. Stretch denim, with anywhere from 2% to 4% spandex, may be used to allow jeans to have a super-slim fit. Skinny jeans come in a variety of colors and styles.
Clothing fetishism or garment fetishism is a sexual fetish that revolves around a fixation upon a particular article or type of clothing, a particular fashion or uniform, or a person dressed in such a style.
Ray Brown is an Australian tailor and clothing designer. He has designed custom clothing for numerous celebrity rock musicians, and operates his own brand for stage wear, It's a Ray!.
A leather jacket is a jacket-length coat that is usually worn on top of other apparel or item of clothing, and made from the tanned hide of various animals. The leather material is typically dyed black, or various shades of brown, but a wide range of colors is possible. Leather jackets can be designed for many purposes, and specific styles have been associated with subcultures such as greasers, rednecks, cowboys, motorcyclists, military aviators, mobsters, police, secret agents, and music subcultures, who have worn the garment for protective or fashionable reasons, and occasionally to create a potentially intimidating appearance. National Leather Jacket day occurs every June 14th since the Hell's Angels proposed the idea in 1975.
The 2010s have been defined by hipster fashion, athleisure, a revival of austerity-era period pieces and alternative fashions, swag inspired outfits, unisex early 1990s style elements influenced by grunge and skater fashions. The later years of the decade witnessed the growing importance in the western world of social media influencers paid to promote fast fashion brands on Pinterest and Instagram.
Biker metal is a fusion genre that combines elements of punk rock, heavy metal, rock and roll and blues, that was pioneered in the late-1970s to early-1980s in England and the United States, by Motörhead, Plasmatics, Anti-Nowhere League and Girlschool.