Jamaican ‘rudeboy’ fashion influences the modern Englishman

Rudeboys Seye Adelekan, Gary Powell, and Paul Stanley-McKenzie. Dean Chalkey/Somerset House

We understand it’s only been a day since London Fashion Week ended and you’re already having Tom Ford withdrawals. We have them, too, and we’ve got you covered.

This past summer an exhibition nearly 60 years in the making put the fashionable gents of Jamaican subculture known as ‘Rudeboys’ front and center in an exhibition at Somerset House called “Return of the Rudeboy”. In 1960s Jamaica, “rudeboys” represented rebellious youth angry at unemployment and disenfranchisement (poverty, poor housing, lack of food) happening in Jamaican shantytowns. They were men sharply dressed in pork pie hats, mohair suits, freshly polished brogues, children of the ska music scene who were known for mincing words with law enforcement and disrupting through means of violence.

The Jamaican subculture found a subsequent home in England in the 1970s and 1980s, and, fast-forwarding a few decades, its cool has deepened in modern day England. The rudeboys (and gals) photographer Dean Chalkey’s ‘Return of the Rudeboy’ exhibition–curated by stylist and creative director Harris Eliott–reflect a modern rudeboy whose influence is less about disrupting and more about influencing music, fashion, art, technology and business. The term rudeboy has grown from being a slang term exclusive to one sect, to encompassing a lifestyle that is more inclusive to both men and women. Projecting ones individuality through style and attitude is the cornerstone. Rudeboys today in a sense have taken their style cues from their predecessors of cool, and have become the leading creatives and entrepreneurs.

All Photos by Dean Chalkey/Somerset House

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