A guide to tribal Britain

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
IF THE Sixties was the "us" generation, the Seventies the "me" generation, and the Eighties the "sod you" generation, the Nineties must be the "who am I?" generation. Fashion tribes have sprung up from the catwalk, dance and music scenes like vegetables on an allotment, and they've been harvested, tinned and labelled by advertising, PR and the media for our consumption. And we're hungry for them. No band is manufactured by a record company, no new drink is launched on the youth market without copious amounts of market research into which fashion tribe will buy the product. We are all being pigeonholed faster than parcels at a post office and we love it. We pigeonhole each other constantly, and flock to the bars, clubs, shops and restaurants where we will find birds with our own particular feathers. The funny thing is that the cult of the individual has never been so strong. As Calvin Klein says "Just be", but then, he's just catering to Fashion Girl and the Hoxton Bohos. By Cayte Williams

White Van Man

Name: Mark, Dave, Chris, John, Barry, Darren, Trevor.

Age: 25-30.

Wears: White Van Man never tucks his shirts in. His Ben Shermans flow freely over his Versace stonewashed jeans. He loves rip-off Ralph Lauren T-shirts and white Reebok Classics. Although White Van Man loves Michael Bolton, you'll never catch him with a mullet. It's always a short number two hairdo for him.

Habitat: Well-heeled White Van Man lives in a detached new house in a Hertfordshire new town. White Van Man loves Stevenage. He loves fitted carpets, heated towel rails, fitted kitchens with fake wood panelling with names like "Tudor glory".

Hangouts: McDonald's with his kids. Any themed pub. He'll cause havoc on the M25 for a session in Chelsea Football Club's Shed Bar. Hits The Hard Rock Cafe on his birthday. He's never seen out with the wife unless he's shopping in Iceland.

Music: He loves his music like he drives his van - in the middle of the road. Has back catalogues by Jon Bon Jovi, Michael Bolton and Eric Clapton on CD.

Job: Van driver, builder, plumber, delivery man.

Posture: Has "Popeye arm" from constantly leaning out of said white van and shaking his fist at fellow travellers. Luckily, he can often be avoided as his Paco Rabanne aftershave precedes him.

Wheels: White van, Ford Escort, Ford Mondeo.

Idols: Hard men Tony Adams and Vinnie Jones. Cheeky chappy Johnny Vaughan.

Prospects: Ten years inside for GBH.

Wallabees Man

Name: Dan, Jez, Rob, Tim, Jamie, Pete.

Age: 19-26.

Wears: Wallabees Man gets his name from the classic casual shoe from Clarks which looks like a Cornish pasty. Which means that Wallabees Man's face matches his shoes. Wallabees were once the favourite of history teachers but are now cool. Kangol hats pulled right down over his eyes, canvas jackets, Diesel jeans.

Habitat: Originally Wigan but he's migrated south to Brixton, Camberwell and Camden Town. Lives in an all-lads shared house where no one does the washing-up.

Hangouts: Spent the summer festival-hopping. Glastonbury and V98 were the Wallabees Man's finest hours. Loves Dog Star and Mass in Brixton where he drinks real ale if nobody's looking and lager if they are. Likes slouching, rolling his own and looking miserable. Chip shops. Anywhere he doesn't have to take his hat off.

Music: The Verve, Ocean Colour Scene, Oasis, Paul Weller.

Job: Works in customer sales at HMV (he's the miserable one who won't fetch anything by All Saints). A&R man for indie label. Humanities student and Ents officer. Has own band who aren't very good. At all.

Posture: Slouched. He's got a curved spine and jutting chin from trying to see from under Kangol hat.

Wheels: Ford Anglia. Public transport.

Idols: Richard Ashcroft, Liam Gallagher, Bill & Ben the Flowerpot Men.

Prospects: The new face of Old Holborn. Hat model. Hod carrier.

Thrift Girl

Name: Iris, Stella, Rose, Saffron, Daisy, Maisie, Jasmine.

Age: 22-28.

Wears: The entire contents of Portobello Road's second-hand shops in one go. Anything girly and Thirties with a Nineties kick. Petticoats-as- skirts, embroidered cardies, denim jackets, Lurex, floral dresses, Seventies YSL, baseball boots. A mess.

Habitat: Notting Hill, Ladbroke Grove, student halls of residence. Rich Thrift Girl loves to dress down. Poor Thrift Girl commutes between squat and mummy's council flat. "Ironic retro" sense of humour means Bay City Rollers posters on the wall, Ker-Plunk on the sideboard and knitted toilet- roll holders in the loo.

Hangouts: The Cow in Portobello where she drinks bottled lager or port & lemon if she's feeling particularly Pre-war Common. The local greasy spoon.

Music: Anything with a girly name, like The Cardigans and The Pixies. Old Top of the Pops compilation albums. Anything she likes the cover of on a second-hand trawl. Thrift Girl never plays records, she just hoards them in an old suitcase in her living room.

Job: Aristomodel, muse, bohemian heiress, jeweller, art dabbler, drama student.

Posture: Cute and girly. She's perfected that whimsical Stella McCartney pose with head to one side and imploring kitten eyes.

Wheels: 2CV Citroen (which she's painted with pretty flowers) or studied old banger. Scooter. Space Hopper.

Idols: Iris Palmer, Stella McCartney, Sophie Dahl.

Prospects: Marriage to fellow aristo, actress, kleptomania.

Fashion Girl

Name: Angela, Sharon, Kylie, Sarah, Tracy, Victoria.

Age: 18-25.

Wears: Labels, labels, labels. Tight Moschino jeans, D&G vest tops and kitten heels for day, short black D&G dresses, Gucci thigh-split minis and stilettos. Fashion Girl loves accessories and co-ordinates her Gucci shoes, bag, belt and watch to perfection.

Habitat: Essex. Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool suburbs. Saving up for mock-Georgian pad with Mr Right.

Hangouts: Bond Street and Harvey Nichols down South. Flannels, House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols Leeds up North. She loves the Epping Forest Country Club where she drinks Sea Breezes and eyes up footballers. Northern Fashion Girl hangs out at Manchester's Mash bar and The Malmaison hotel or anywhere with a posey name like Peruvia and Prague 5.

Music: House & garage, speed garage if she's feeling adventurous. Anything she can dance to with minimal movement. A handbag is for showing off, not for dancing round.

Job: City girls, beauticians (not hairdressers), rich daddy girls.

Posture: She's a high-maintenance girl with a supermodel pose. Fashion Girl emphasises her pedicured feet with a delicate turn of the ankle, enhances her manicure with an engagement ring. Knows exactly how to get in and out of a Porsche.

Wheels: Renault Clio, boyfriend's Porsche.

Idols: Posh Spice down south, Tara Palmer-Tomkinson up north.

Prospects: Shopping-therapy consultant.

Hoxton Boho

Name: Toby, Damien, Alex, Zoe, Jane, Camilla.

Age: 18-35.

Wears: Combat trousers (would never call them cargo pants - see Middle Youth Woman), hooded tops, Camper trainers, Fake London cashmere tops, Flying Elephant zipper pants, gonky T-shirts made by artist friends.

Habitat: Hoxton Bohos started life in London's East End (they went to The Blue Note in 1996 and have the flyers to prove it) but have since spread out to all four corners of the globe. Now you'll find them in Liago in Sydney, Baboon Bar in Milan and Lot61 in New York. London Hoxton Boho lives in a converted loft in Old Street peppered with designer statements. Inflated fruit bowls, Philippe Starck lemon squeezers and Droog milk-bottle lights compliment all that minimal white space.

Hangouts: The Blue Note (although it's moved to the Angel), 333, Shoreditch Electric Showroom (designed by Hoxton Boho design-hero Seng Watson) in Hoxton and The Bricklayers Arms in Shoreditch. Anywhere in the Village, Manchester. You can't keep a good Hoxton Boho away from a converted warehouse. Design shop previews where they drink gin cocktails.

Job: Product designer, artist, potter, small-time artisan, style magazine publisher.

Music: Break Beat, Big Beat, Hip Hop, Hop Scotch, etc. The Chemical Brothers. Jamiroquai (they only admit this on cocaine).

Posture: Hoxton Bohos permanently look like they're sizing up Art. They fold their arms, cock their heads to one side and throw the occasional glance to make sure somebody is watching. Usually no one is.

Wheels: Skateboard (under the arm only and only on Sundays), number 30 bus. Morris Minors.

Icons: Damien Hirst (boys), Natalie Imbruglia (girls).

Prospects: The head designer at Alessi. A model in a Wallpaper* fashion shoot. Hoxton Bohos want their own show at the Design Museum or at Space in Shoreditch. Sales job at Habitat.

Middle Youth Woman

Name: Rebecca, Liz, Anna, Caroline.

Age: 35-45.

Wears: Anything safe and expensive which from a distance might look vaguely fashionable. Beige Ralph Lauren cargo pants, Calvin Klein trouser suits, Prada handbags. Deck shoes, Hermes trainers. Tse cashmere. Anything from Selfridges second floor.

Habitat: Large family house in Queen's Park, two-bedroom flat in Islington, Georgian Terrace in Bath. Old Compton Street with her gay male friends. Likes to think her taste comes from Wallpaper* when really it's from Red.

Hangouts: Ralph Lauren in Bond Street and Selfridges on a Saturday (especially Gordon's Bar on the first floor). Moro's in Islington, 192 in Notting Hill and The Engineer in Primrose Hill where she drinks chilled white wine and anything with a salad. Dining is the new rock'n'roll.

Job: Something in advertising or has her own PR company. Solicitor, arts administrator, doctor, magazine editor.

Music: Capital Radio A-list when sober. Abba when drunk.

Posture: Rushed. Important. Nervous when around Young Youth.

Wheels: Black BMW, Peugeot 205.

Icons: Sharon Stone, Jemima Goldsmith (before she went all Imran), Patsy Kensit (daywear), Cherie Blair.

Prospects: Early retirement. Life membership of The Sanctuary.

Fashion Man

Name: Christopher, David, Ryan, Michael (Fashion Man never abbreviates his name).

Age: 20-29.

Wears: Prada, Patrick Cox, Paul Smith, Helmut Lang turned-up jeans, tank tops. Northern Fashion Man loves anything from Richard Creme (supplier to Manchester United stars), Brylcreem and Yohji Yamamoto. Southern Fashion Man prefers suits by Copperwheat Blundell, Emporio Armani and Katharine Hamnett.

Habitat: Lives with mum and dad in rich suburbia (see Fashion Girl) or in a male-model mire in Soho. Super-rich Fashion Man has his flat in Primrose Hill. He is pathologically neat. Fashion Man is rather sad.

Hangouts: See Fashion Girl. The Reform Bar opening night in Manchester. Any supermodel haunt like the Met Bar in London.

Job: Model/footballer/whatever. Something in the City. Carphone Warehouse salesman. Shop assistant.

Music: House, speed garage and old soul music, although he'd much rather prop up a trendy hotel bar than drink in a noisy club.

Posture: Self-satisfied and serious yet strangely uncomfortable. A bit of rough in a designer suit.

Wheels: Porsche, black cab.

Icons: Ronan Keating, David Beckham.

Prospects: Ridicule. Shop manager. Player-manager.

Manga Babe

Name: Tina, Junko, Ingrid, Katrina.

Age: Early teens to mid-twenties.

Wears: Part-Japanese schoolgirl, part-North European trash (see Wigmore), part-overcharged Spice Girl, the Manga Babe wears baby clothes with attitude. She loves the cult Japanese label Superlovers (lots of pretty mini-smocks), Hysteric Glamour T-shirts, six-inch platform trainers from Buffalo or Swear. Anything by club label Cyberdog especially ultraviolet reflective skirts and Manga T-shirts. Daniel Poole, Evisu jeans. Manga Babe can't get enough gadgets and usually her two mobile phones (one for international calls), pager, CD Walkman and Sony Playstation all go off at the same time.

Habitat: Lives in colourful brick-wall squat in Camden Town or Soho. Surrounds herself with lots of Manga graffiti, ultraviolet lights, alien motifs and strange kinetic sculptures made by her friends. Or else it's safe suburbia with mum and dad, but she keeps that quiet.

Hangouts: The Fridge on Friday nights and 414 in Brixton, B-Tox in Soho. Hair salons like Peppy's in Camden or Children of Vision in Kensington Market to get her dreads done or just to look decorative. The Tokyo Diner and Wagamama's for sushi and noodles. Bus stops, where she can frighten tourists.

Job: Modelling, fashion designer, art student, computer game designer, shop assistant or hairdresser (see Hangout).

Music: Techno and trance. The electronic tunes from her gadgets.

Posture: Bad Girl from Hell. Assumes eye-to-eye contact at the nearest opportunity. Confident stride. Crushes little children under her Buffalos.

Wheels: Tube, in the hope that her gadgets will stall up the Central Line signalling system even more. Roller skates.

Icons: Anything to do with Manga or computer games. Tomb Raider ball- buster Lara Croft, Tank Girl.

Prospects:Virtual reality. A star in her own computer game. Communion with extra-terrestrials.

Comments