Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mod For Sale

Yes, Mod culture has reached that level again when it's part of the collective consciousness. When advertisers start showing Mods to sell you stuff, you know that the scene is emerging from the shadows of the subculture underworld. Not too long ago, social media went ablaze when a commercial from a UK based insurance company started circulating, depicting a Mod couple. The Mod Male blog wrote a great post about it.

The debate was on. Do we want Mod exposed to the masses? Some make compelling arguments that we shouldn't. Many believe that once advertisers put their hands on a movement, it is doomed to suffer a slow death. I can see why some people feel that way.

At each of the movement's reincarnations, Mod imagery has been used to boost profits. It doesn't take a PHD in Wellerism to understand why. Mod = cool and cool sells. The concept is not new. Since the mid-sixties, when Swinging London took over the world, Mod became a commodity. That's when some of the die-hard Mods simply jumped ship. It had lost its appeal and the cool factor had evaporated. I think that's a valid point.

Non-smoking ad campaign seen in many youth magazines in the 60s.
Things in the 21st century haven't changed much, now that Mod has resurfaced. Clothing, beauty products and fashion accessories are obvious products to be branded with the Mod seal.

The 2013 Mad For Mod campaign for Banana Republic
Avon perfume

This brings me to Parka Avenue's foray into the advertising world. Yes, I have sold my Soul to the corporate gods! Before you crucify me in the town square, let me put you in context. I was asked, a few months back, to be part of an ad campaign for the new MasterCard World credit card. Six different individuals would be depicted, one each week, surrounded by their favorite things. I was going to be the first.

I wasn't chosen because I was going to play a part in a commercial. I am not an actor. In fact, if they wanted to chose a generic model to portray a Mod, they would have chosen a much better looking guy than this old mug. I was picked because they wanted "me". And what they found fascinating is that I am a Mod. What I liked about the concept is that it was to be presented more as a newspaper article / interview than an ad. The title (translated from the French) reads: Patrick Foisy - A real modern "Mod".

Subscribers to the online version of Montreal's daily newspaper La Presse, would also get additional content, like a video of me touring my loft and have access to a list of my favorite addresses in the city. 

I was very protective of my image. I made it very clear that they had to take me as I am. I didn't want it to turn into a corporation's vision of what Mod is. Fortunately, I was surrounded by an extremely professional team. The client, Banque Nationale, was also very supportive. The whole experience was entirely positive. In fact, when you have a team of sixteen talented individuals tending to you, it's hard the keep your ego in check. I felt like a Rock star!

When they said that I was going to work with a stylist, I was hesitant at first. A Mod doesn't need a stylist! A Mod IS a stylist! Do they really think that they're going to tell ME how to dress? They can introduce him to me but it would just be a waste of time and money. Once I got over myself, I met with Jay. What a great team we made! To be honest, I was looking forward to have a different perspective on my wardrobe.

He came out with very pertinent suggestions and I ended up being very grateful he was there. The connection was natural. We are both passionate about clothes. He also made me the best compliment I could hope for: "Pat, you're one of the rare ones I don't need to go shop for. You have everything and you know exactly what you want.You make my job real easy." We finally settled for my Gibson stripped boating blazer, a 60s pin-through club collar shirt with subtle blue stripes and French cuffs, a marine vintage knitted tie, red and blue paisley silk handkerchief, flannel grey trousers and black Loake chelsea boots.

Next was make-up. The make-up artist was also very sweet and wasn't looking to transform me into something I am not. She had been involved in the Burlesque / Rockabilly scene herself so she was already schooled on what Mod was.

No black eye-liner for me.
So there I stood, in the middle of my favorite things. They packed half of my loft into a van but they obviously had to make a selection. My '65 Lambretta TV175 series 3 was going to be centre stage. Everything else had a portable theme to it. Everything you need for the Mod on the go: portable bar, portable turntable, hand held AM radios and plenty of 45s. They even asked if we could use my vintage parking meter to pair it up with the scooter.

Three series of shots were taken. The first was of me casually sitting on my Lammy with my elbow resting on my helmet. The second was the one picked for the ad and the last one was, in my mind, a real contender. I was at the helm of my scooter with an industrial fan blowing in my face. I looked like I was doing 150 km/h! They even had fishing wire going through my tie with a production assistant waving it around at the end of a pole. 

The team discussing the final shot.
I was very happy with the final result. You might not approve of the way the Mod movement is being exposed to the masses but I have absolutely no regrets. You might even think that my choice of wardrobe or the objects represented are not indicative of what a Mod is. Frankly, I don't care. And let's be honest, Mods are relentless consumers. We like the finer things in life. I figured that if a Mod was going to be exhibited in an ad, I would rather it would be from a  real dedicated Mod that lives and breathes it everyday. And that's exactly what you have in front of you. You'll have to give me "credit" for that.


  1. Yours is certainly a MUCH better depiction of MOD stuff than those other new ads.
    70's style platform sandals? Really? Hmmmm...