Derek Ridgers’ unique collection of skinhead photos dates from the first significant revival of a phenomenon that originated in 1960s London and then spread around the world. The original skinheads had adopted a look that reflected the style of Jamaican rude boys and the fashion-conscious British mods. What Derek Ridgers’ pictures capture is the second wave of skinheads who had been galvanized by the early spirit of punk to react against the androgynous style of the New Romantics now that punk had disappeared into the mainstream.
Ironically in 1979 Ridgers had been in the process of documenting the emergent New Romantics scene in London’s Soho when a group of skinheads invited him to photograph them instead. It was the start ofa five-year project in which he would photograph this generation of skinheads both in the capital and at various coastal towns. The result is Skinheads 1979-1984, an extraordinary portfolio of images documenting a calculated look that symbolised a range of youthful social attitudes – not all of them benign – during the early Thatcher years. ✪