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Sam Knee

The Bag I'm In


Released: 6th November 2015

The Bag I'm In, Underground Music and Fashion in Britain 1960-1990. SIGNED Hardback book, 324 pages, full colour printing. Foreword by Bobby Gillespie.

With his previous book, 'A Scene In Between', Sam Knee identified an under-documented moment in time that coincided with his own youth. Slightly too young for punk and post-punk but a major fan of Orange Juice and The Smiths, The Pastels and Jesus & Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3, his idea was of a mainly visual commentary with equal emphasis on the groups and the people who went to see them in a period he established as being between 1980 and 1988, ‘the ghastly advent of baggy’. At first a humble blog assembled from relevant newspaper cuttings interspersed with his own hyper-enthusiasms, he started to accumulate more original materials which he wisely kept back for the book, making it a bit of a surprise on publication, and more of a hit than anyone other than Sam imagined.

His new book, 'The Bag I’m In (Underground Music And Fashion In Britain 1960-1990)’, covers a much longer period which I wondered how he would handle without the kind of first-hand experiences which had shaped its predecessor. He handles it with the same unerring eye for detail as before, experiencing earlier scenes in the first place through family and friends (brilliant photos of both of his parents), and by establishing a sense of trust from contributors that he would be able to throw the right kind of light on things. Taking in everything from Leatherboys / Rockers, CND Beatniks, Mods, Hard Mods, Bowie Kids, Northern Soul, Punk, Second Wave Punk, Postcard, Smithsmania, and in the end, even Baggy, it’s an incredible document of recent micro-societies and the fleeting moment of belonging.

Youth subculture in 20th Century Britain is a unique phenomenon. Throughout the decades, young people sought to define themselves sartorially, reflecting their identity in terms of regionalism, class and crucially, musical taste, through their clothes. This book is a comprehensive survey of over 36 underground 'tribes' that roamed the streets of the UK from the '60s to the '90s. From Mod to Skinhead and Rocker to Riot Grrrl by way of Goth, the look of each movement is captured in meticulously researched, previously unseen archive photography. Explanatory texts in Sam Knee's evocative tone provide context, and an illustration section at the back breaks down each look element by element. This is a key resource for fashion enthusiasts, musos and cultural historians, as well as a powerful, graphic document of Britain's fashion evolution through the ages.