by Phoenix Atkinson
Picture this: you’re in a pub with your mates, staring intently at the TV’s showing your team just as they score. The entire room goes wild. Pints are semi-spilt across tables. Yelling and hugging your best mates are in order.
Okay, you might not live this life. You might not like pubs. You might not watch football. You might support an awful team - but you can definitely dress like it. This is where the phenomenon that is ‘Blokecore’ comes in. The uniform is absurdly simple: comfy but practical jeans, beaten up trainers (Adidas is preferable), and the centrepiece of the outfit: an old football shirt.
For some, Blokecore is absolutely fascinating. The look harkens back to a British era still reeling from Gazza’s tears, when the Gallagher brothers were on every channel, and when Match Of The Day wasn’t the political buzzword that it has recently become.
Looking deeper than that, it’s possible that Blokecore is the new way to express love of stereotypically ‘boyish’ interests while affirming a tongue in cheek self-awareness. Toxic masculinity is something we’re taking notice of this time around, and there are societal memories of hooliganism and the impact of an economically deprived environment on society.
Blokecore naturally originates from football casual fashion, which originated in the 1980s as a reaction to crackdowns on football hooliganism and was defined by expensive clothing and an avoidance of team colours used to deflect the attention of police.
Football hooliganism is a well researched phenomenon, but the general consensus is that it is often seen as a working class reaction to life under the Thatcherite government. The football pitch became a sanctuary for bottled up rage to come out.
On the 15th of April 1989, the Hillsborough disaster occurred, where 97 people died during an FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest due to overcrowding and a lack of crowd control by the South Yorkshire Police. However, this wasn’t what was reported during investigations. Several tabloids shifted the blame on the supporters, including the infamous ‘The Truth’ front page of The Sun, which resulted in the publication being widely boycotted to this day.
Culturally, football had developed an awful reputation throughout the 1980s, which then switched as we reached the 1990’s and there was a new World Cup on the horizon. The games weren’t spectacular, but the impact, especially in the UK, was.
It was the closest England had gotten since 1966. The team included massive personalities such as Terry Butcher, Gary Lineker, and Paul Gascoigne. Butcher, for example, famously managed to cut his head wide open during qualifiers, get bandaged up, and keep playing with his shirt covered in blood.
Although there was no big win for England, once the players came home, there was an unbridled sense of optimism. Football was back!
This is where the typical Blokecore aesthetic begins. The video for ‘World In Motion’? So Blokecore. In 1996, Three Lions came out. Ultimate Blokecore.
Football tops with jeans became the uniform for a match day, and it still is now.
Blokecore seems like a way of channelling the optimism of a good win into daily life and, as a post-pandemic world, the idea of feeling comfortable and happy in your clothes is certainly nothing new.
Naturally, since the Lionesses won the Euros and the Finalissima, and with breakthroughs for LGBTQ players and fans such as TRUK having the first ever all transmasc side playing, this style is becoming a sanctuary for people who are stereotypically ignored in football culture to express a love of it.
However, there is the question of ‘class cosplay’, for lack of a better term. Being working class isn’t a costume to put on and take off once it becomes unfashionable. This doesn’t mean that non-working class people can’t enjoy football, but what it does mean is that the affectation of working class stereotypes is an ongoing problem in culture and fashion, and this is a problem that football has had to contend with.
You can’t separate Blokecore from these roots, including the tragedies.