While fashion sense and not wanting to be the same as everybody else will always remain at the heart of mod culture, it would be fair to say that other aspects have been an influence on the style and development of what is seen as mod culture. The term mod is almost used as a by-word on staying up to date and being in the latest fashion, which is certainly some of the story and culture of being a mod, but it is far from being all of it.
While the fine-style and good cut of clothing is one of the most important factors in the choices a mod makes, there have been many instances where functionality has been the important element in introducing something to mod culture.
With public transport stopping early, there needed to be a way to get home late at night after clubs and coffee bars closed up for the night. Walking home wasn’t always a safe idea and the idea of walking for hours was an unappealing idea. This meant that mods needed to find a vehicle that would allow them to travel safely late at night, but also be within their budget. Nowadays the scooter is seen as one of the most important icons of mod culture, but when the culture was just starting out, there were options available before the scooter found itself to be the number one choice for a variety of different reasons.
Price is always a factor
The price of a scooter was a strong factor in why it quickly became the vehicle of choice. While many mods would think nothing of ploughing all of their disposable income into their lifestyle, there were still a lot of choices to be made. Music, clothes, entertainment and even drugs all had to be factored into the calculations of how money would be spent so anything which provided a good transport solution, but ensure that there was money left for other elements was going to be a great option. In this respect, the scooter was an obvious choice being available for a more affordable price than a car or motorbike.
The financial benefits of buying a scooter were soon added to by their convenience. In comparison to bikes, scooters were a far cleaner vehicle. Grease stains were a common complaint for many bikers and in some ways necessitated the wearing of leathers. Very quickly the whole culture of the youth groups started to become tied up in their vehicles and the clothes that would go well with their vehicles.
Rockers on motor bikes would inevitably get messy so the use of black leather would ensure that grease was never too much of a problem. This was not as prevalent for mods, but while the vehicle itself was not a problem with regards to clothes getting dirty, there was little protection provided by the scooter itself.
Stay clean and look good
In many ways, this is why the use of a parka became synonymous with mod culture. When driving a scooter, splashes from puddles, dirt and rain could all mess up the best clothes so wearing a long parka was a convenient and functional way to keep a mod’s main attire clean while driving. Very quickly, the parka became strongly associated with the mod movement, but its initial introduction was linked to the convenience it brought drivers and passengers.
A lot is made of the use of amphetamines in mod culture and many people have focused on the fact that taking drugs can be viewed as an act of rebellion, or as a way to alter the current reality. In reality, the use of amphetamines was so prevalent because it allowed mods to stay awake and have more time for fun.
With the working week impacting on the lives of so many people, there was a need to squeeze as much fun out of the weekend as possible. Time spent sleeping on a Friday night into a Saturday morning or a Saturday into Sunday was time lost from the pursuit of breaking away from the monotony of the working week. Using amphetamines provided people with the impetus and drive to stay up for much longer, providing them with the chance to dance and socialise for a lot longer. It also helped to ensure that drivers were more awake when driving late at night.
Even though there were less drugs to choose from during the initial mod era, the benefits and functionality of amphetamines made them the obvious choice.
Given that mod culture managed to impact on every aspect of a person’s life, it makes sense that many of the elements were initially chosen to make life easier, or to make life better. Fashion may always be a major factor for mods but functionality has played a big part too.