Ben Sherman Shirt
Slim fitting shirt with button down collar & an inch wide pleat down the back with tab. Popular with the shaven head, braces and Dr. Marten brigade. It all started by a man called Arthur Sugarman who formed the company in Brighton in the 1960s.
The shirts were always popular, and by the time the 1970s arrived, the Ben Sherman range was very big with the skinheads, and the later mod revival. The look was sharp smart and detailed and when you look back on it, their clothing sense had great fashion taste. Ben Sherman shirts were on sale everywhere, and I think my very first shirt came from Brentford Nylons, which of course we will always associate with the commercials and the macho voice over of Alan Freeman.
In the 1970s the shirts were normally simple plain designs and colours, and always had buttons. They looked smart, and they were very close fitting, and being a teenager you did not have to worry too much about the stomach, so the shirt fitted nicely. It would have to travel a bit further now to get into the trousers!
Ben Sherman shirts were popular with the girls too. The skinhead fashion was similar for both sexes who wore the same shirts, shoes and jackets. It had to be Ben Sherman or at a pinch a Brutus Shirt which was a lot cheaper and just about acceptable to the critical fashionistas of the day. It was all very detailed conscious. The buttons on the Ben Sherman had four holes, the Brutus only two. The Ben Sherman was the real deal. The Brutus the not quite good enough copy.
You would wear your Ben Sherman shirt with a pair of tonic (two-tone) trousers or a tonic skirt if you were a girl. Boys generally wore Dr Marten Boots and girls flat shoes with tassels called loafers or maybe a pair of royals – similar but with no tassels. Girls’ hair was styled in a feather cut. The boys their heads shaved and the closer the shave the “harder” the look.
Today, Ben Sherman is still a great selling brand, with a shop in Saville Row in London. In a way the iconic Ben Sherman shirt was adopted by the skinhead in the same way as in later decades, Burberry was taken up by football hooligans and so called chavs.
In the 1970 s Ben Sherman was a perfectly respectable brand that became emblematic with “bovver boys” as the press dubbed the skinhead fashion.