Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Brilliance Of Ben Sherman

I watched the movie Quadrophenia again a few nights ago. The music that inspired Franc Roddam’s film is just as emotionally charged as the day it was written. When I was growing up in the sixties the Mods and Rockers, rival British teen gangs, were all the go. The annual Easter bash involved the Rockers coming into the seaside towns of Margate and Brighton on their motor bikes, all leather and cowboy boots, to have a punch-up with the Mods. Mods rode zippy motor scooters and were spiffed up in pencil-thin trousers and fitted shirts. Mods v Rockers was a major event on any teenager’s calendar. It was also the time around the time Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry were hammering out My Generation. This album was written by Townsend for the Mods and became The Who’s anthem. It was also the time that the Ben Sherman bullseye logo made its first appearance.

I bought my first parka from Ben Sherman in the middle of that decade. Along with Fred Perry, Ben Sherman was obligatory gear for any self-respecting Mod. And now Ben’s back again with a signature Ben Sherman store on London’s Carnaby Street and another on Spring Street in New York’s SoHo. Both are going gangbusters. The SoHo store is particularly neat with Union Jack armchairs and great British Mod and Punk music blaring. The store has tons of vintage Ben Sherman men’s wear, and a smaller selection for women. All the classic designs are there featuring the bullseye, the Union Jack and finished off with the famous individualized buttons. On one visit I brought a blue blazer with Union Jack lining to go with a red, white and blue check shirt. I’ve now added a couple of classic sweaters that are identical to ones I wore forty years ago (except they are two sizes bigger!).

How good was Quadrophenia? It’s worth watching just to see Sting make his debut as The Ace Face - King of the Mods.