IS THIS THE MODERN WAY?
Perry Neech is a 21st Century Mod
by Maria Raposo
Every generation since the Sixties has revived and reused elements of Mod culture, popularized in the mainstream by musicians such as The Who and Paul Weller and influencing fashion designers from Marc Jacobs to John Varvatos.
Well-dressed 23-year-old Perry Neech – a musician and occasional model – is part of a growing group of young people dedicated to keeping Mod culture alive. Perry is the closest you can get to a modern day Mod - we talked to him about mod style, asking is he a standard bearer for a forgotten ideology or just a modern day dandy?
KOD: How did you become interested in Mod culture?
Perry Neech: I got into ‘Mod’ in my late teens as an alternative branch of the Indie scene that was around at the time. I play music myself so that interested me. But I was drawn to the fashion more than the music. I’m really into the specifics of tailoring.
KOD: How did you find others who were into the same thing?
Perry Neech: It was through a few friends of mine who were into the Soul music scene. At Soul nights, I found others who were into similar things to me. A couple of us worked at the clothes shop Pretty Green and played in similar bands.
KOD: So how much of your money goes on Mod things?
Perry Neech: If there’s any money coming in, I’ve usually already spent it on clothes! I get my trousers tailor-made but bespoke suits are definitely out of budget.
KOD: Why do you think Mod is still attractive to young people?
Perry Neech: To me it looks great, even the casual wear looks smart. It’s really important to take pride in your appearance. In a way, it’s not too different from the guys who are into tanning; they’re looking after themselves too. I don’t think my clothes are drastically different from other men’s. Other men wear trousers, I wear trousers – it’s just the way they are worn.
KOD: How important is it to keep things traditional? Is there a fear of not doing it right?
Perry Neech: You’ve got to take it and make it your own and that’s exactly what they [the original Mods] were doing. In a way, we are doing things right because we’re not going by the book, word for word, following rules – the original Mods weren’t doing that either.
KOD: How do you think Mod is portrayed in the mainstream?
Perry Neech: I think the way ‘Mod’ is used as a label in the mainstream is a load of rubbish. They’re looking at it from an outsiders’ point of view - they expect Mods now to be wearing three-button tonic suits and big parka jackets but that is not the case at all.
KOD: So what makes a proper Mod?
Perry Neech: I don’t really call anyone a Mod or say ‘that’s really Mod’ in all seriousness. I find that whole Mod label pretty funny to be honest. We all laugh about the way ‘Mod’ is used in such a cliquey way. We’re all just people who enjoying dressing smart, that’s it really.
KOD: So you don’t consider yourself to be a ‘Mod’?
Perry Neech: If it was back in the Sixties then, maybe, I could be called a Mod, but now the term is used so widely for lots of different things. I just like to dress smart, plain and simple as that.
KOD: Do you agree that it’s a mainly British phenomenon? Why has it not had the international reach of, say, punk?
Perry Neech: That’s a good question. It’s funny because lots of the stuff we wear was originally American. Like Harrington jackets worn by Steve McQueen and Troy Donehue; the Ivy League look of loafers, check, blazers - that’s an American thing that’s become British. I’d like to think it’s the way we wear it: high up, high buttoned, very smart and people would consider that to be British… quite up-tight in a sense.
KOD: How concerned are you with the political and social climate of its roots? It was all about being creative and innovative with clothes in a climate of austerity and scarcity…
Perry Neech: I think it’s about taking pride in things. Personally I have nothing to do with politics. But there was a better sense of community back then. So that is something we would like to try and keep.
KOD: So what is it like being a 21st Century devotee to Mod culture?
Perry Neech: The whole Mod thing is personal opinion. That’s it. You take something and you make it personal, it’s your decision how long your trousers are. But you still get grief now; I still get hassle from people in London.
Everyone today is wearing tracksuit bottoms, not pairs of trousers. Each to their own, but I just don’t think it’s very smart. Even at work, people are coming in and they look so scruffy. It’s not my place to say anything to them, they’re allowed to wear whatever they want, but I just don’t understand it. You’re going to work, why would you not want to look smart? And maybe it’s quite old fashioned to think that.
Photography by Daniel Pires.