Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, May 12, 2012

When Mod hit the mainstream: The Carnaby Street style

Some say that the original Mod movement died somewhere in the mid sixties. Once it hit the popular consciousness, it had lost a lot of its appeal. I tend to agree. When I arrived on the scene as part of the Mod Revival, it was once again an underground movement. I always felt like I was part of an exclusive club.

But at one point in the 60s, the word “Mod” was applied to everything that was new, hip and mainly British. Fashion, art, music and design were hit by the Mod wave.

Here’s an example. I managed to put my hands on a 1967 spring/summer mail-order catalog from the Canadian retailer Simpsons-Sears. The “Carnaby Street style” had reached the American continent and was now sold in major, large surface chain stores. Since I wasn’t born in 1967, it’s hard for me to judge how close it was to the styles seen in a John Stephen window display that year. I can only assume. But from what I can see, it approaches more a caricature than what the “real” British Mod would wear. 

You do find a few Mod conventions that have stood the test of time. First is the Sta-press or Perma-press. To have a pair of trousers that always looks like it has just been ironed is classic Mod wear. 

The Tee Kay 'Mod' trousers

The slim fit hip huggers also kept their appeal. With the leg perfectly tapered, it’s something I would see myself wear. I also like what they call the “military pockets”. I’m considering adding flaps and buttons to my next pair of custom trousers.

"The all new 'Mod' trend... A real revolution!"
Notice how the leg is worn especially short.

Then there’s the ever-present button-down shirt. Paisley patterned garments had reached our shores in ’67 and still seems to be relevant today. Take this blue and rust polka dot shirt for example. I love the high collar and large cuffs with 3 buttons. I could probably do without the epaulettes. If I found it in a vintage shop, I would grab it.

The shoe section also offers a few Mod staples. Have you ever seen a pair of these? In this case, they are called “Sahara” boots.

The Chelsea boot or Beatle boot is still desirable footwear today. At $11,98 a pair, I’ll take 2 please!

A few pages seemed to have missed the mark. Take this Carnaby West page for instance. How hard was it to find a Vespa for a photo shoot in 1967? A motorcycle… I don’t think so. And what is up with that laced up shirt? Plus, I’ve never seen any self-respecting Mod wear what looks like an oversized denim suit. I might be wrong. I did find it amusing that they felt the need to advertise the belt as being “Mod”.

Now, as if the full on denim look and laced up shirt weren’t enough, why not combine the two?

You have to give them credit for pushing the boundaries a bit on this page. I’ll let you be the judge. The tartan short sleeved button down shirt is actually very nice and I own a few Ben Sherman’s that are very similar. 

'Mod' style
There you have it. Mail-order Mod circa 1967.  Shop at Simpsons-Sears and be part of the in-crowd!


  1. Amazing post today, Patrick! Seriously... this is the stuff that is absolutely UP my alley! Those shoes are the style I love. My buddy used to collect '60s Sears catalogs and we used to drool over the items in there. And I think I'm going the trouser pocket route with my next tailoring job as well.

    It bums me out... during my last year in college, I did a huge paper on the Americanization of "mod" in the sixties. It was about 15 pages and dealt with the shift of 'Mod' as a noun to 'Mod' as an adjective (i.e.,' "the world's gone stark raving mod!"), especially by the time it hit American shores. I had articles and photos of various ads (especially Playboy), photos, etc. that showed how silly Mod became in the U.S. back then.

    Unfortunately, the paper was done on a word processor (remember those) and my only copy was left with the professor. It was an 'A' paper though!

    Your post today is the type of post I had originally intended for my blog... before it became a blog of memories.

    1. Glad you like it Carlos. I had a feeling you would dig this one.

      It's funny how I was torn writing it. Some clothes I love while others I felt like it was an assault to the style we hold dear. Looks like we both feel the same way.

      Keep those memories flowing. I enjoy every word! And congrats on that 'A'!

      For those of you who are not yet familiar with Carlos' blog, make sure to bookmark Mod Male.

  2. Great minds think alike:

  3. Ohh wow! J'adore ces Tee-Kays! Merci pour cet article, Patrick.

    À propos, je souhaite me procurer de jolie "desert boot" ce printemps. Quels sont les meilleurs points de vente montréalais à ton avis?

    Ton nom fut mentionné dans Mondo PQ, émission du 13 mai 2012. ehe

    1. Tony Pappas, 1822 Mont Royal est coin Papineau, a toujours été reconnu pour tenir les Clarks Desert Boots. C'est la marque originale et selon moi, la plus désirable. Le prix se situe aux alentours de 120$ la paire.

      J'ai hâte d'aller écouter le dernier épisode de Mondo PQ! Merci pour la mention!