Edwardians, or “Teddy Boys” as they became known, are an English youth subculture that created a distinctive style by wearing clothes inspired by the Edwardian period that the tailors of Savile Row attempted to reintroduce after world war two. The term “Teddy Boy” came about as a result of a newspaper headline that shortened Edward to Teddy and subsequently to Teddy Boy. Below are a series of Teddy Boy photos from photographer Ben Watts that I find particularly interesting. The Teddy Boy subculture is a very unique phenomenon, similar in idea to the “rock and roll” revolution in America in the 1950s.
A few months ago an ACL reader sent me a link to the incredible site Photographers Limited Editions, where these images originate. If money was no object, this would be one of my first destinations.
All photos by Ben Watts.
Comments on “Edward, Ed, Ted, Teddy, Teddy Boy”
scary but cool
As a “Septic” here in London for the past 5 years I can testify to the Teddy Boy look both being pretty dern cool, and making sense in a “cool collar (as in retro, stylish blue collar)” kind of way.
If there were a matrix of “iconic looks” it would fall somewhere between Rock-a-Billy and early 1990’s-John Waters-Fells Point-ish-ness.
Its a look that, regrettably, hasnt caught on very strongly with the younger generation. Myself included. Its REALLY hard to pull off unless yer the real thing.
How about Showaddywaddy?
These photographs are terrific. I love Teddy-Boy style – anarchy in a three-piece suit.
Peep the excellent BBC mini-series “British Style Genius” for some great interviews with early Teds â€” the “Street Style” episode.
This is great. There is such a fantastic contrast between the person and the clothing, that makes it so cool.
I have an original print of that last photograph – won it at a silent auction last year. Nice to see others in the series. Very, very cool…
super into this. sketchy dudes in great suits, best look.
and you wouldn’t want to mess with a Teddy Boy. Great style, ‘ard as nails.
Love this sub-culture and thier language is just as interesting. My brother in law, Ian, did the Teddy Boy thing in England at one point but these guys are the real deal. It’s one of the things I like about the director Guy Ritchie. He always seems to add one of these sort of characters into his films.
I remember wondering WTF was going on with Nate and Pat Smear in the Everlong video.
A Stars-and-Bars tattoo? What’s cool about that?
Harlo, the exact same series sprang to mind for me too. Always found the Teds interesting, but for me the Mod movement was much more my thing.
We’re told that ‘youth culture’ began in the 1950’s with Rock’n’Roll/Teds, but I’ve always liked the idea it was the Scuttlers of Manchester (UK) back in the 1870’s http://www.bbc.co.uk/manchester/content/articles/2008/10/20/201008_scuttlers_interview_feature.shtml
Anything similar over in the States? Anything pre-rock’n’roll?
Cool – I’ve never heard of this subculture. Something tells me Brandon Flowers has though.
Great pictures. Reminds me a book I have.
“The Teds” By Chris Steele & Richard Smith
Just older and dressier
I need to be friends with all of those guys
Amory Blaine, I don’t think that’s a Confederate flag. Looks like Scotland to me.
I find it really interesting how a specific style reborns.
These guys are kinda scary in a Robert Mitchum “Night of the Hunter” sort of way.
Love Love Love Love Love. Don’t forget about Teddy girls!
Teddy Girls here: http://lark-about.blogspot.com/2008/12/teddy-boys-and-girls.html
There’s something so much more intimidating about violence kept in a tailored suit. Schwarzenegger was at his fearsome best when busting faces in that Armani suit and short cropped hair in Raw Deal. I can’t abide the sloppy pants look of today. Bring back the tailored thug!
I always liked the Teds much better than Mods. A bit darker and more in touch with the whole lifestyle. Some great photos.
Wow, thanks for the British Style Genius link – didn’t know it was still available to watch. And the Scuttlers of Manchesters…who knew!
PS, don’t forget Bruce Weber’s short film about the Teddy Boys of the Edwardian Drape Society:
brands that have riffed on the teddy boy look with cool results:
the later did a great run of teddy boy lookbook photos.
Fabulous. I wish that men would dress like that around here instead of dressing like they just got kicked off the basketball court for looking like an idiot.
“… an English youth subculture.”Apparently the English have a different definition of youth as most of these guys are old enough to be my granddad
This started in the 1950s, so um, yeah, they are old enough to be your “granddad.”
Yup, that’s the Confederate Battle Flag on the guys hand. Ted’s use it as a symbol of rebellion I suppose. Doesn’t have the same conotations it has here in the U.S. (thanks to the invisible empire). Are Ted’s racist? Probably no more than their average English working class contemperaries.
So wrong. Scotland is white on light blue. There are clearly stars on those bars. Again, why is this cool? Why do people want to be friends with these people? Is this just another case of style over substance, just as in the majority of mainstream fashion and culture? “Violence in a three-piece suit”? Boring me to death.
I never thought of the teds as old guys. The photographs are beautiful; the guys I find a little scary.
I see a certain amount current street style in Hackney with a bit of Teddy Boy influence to it. It ends up mainly being more of a sharp shirt collar and contrasting jacket collar on the jacket. Not much of the class issues that used to exist.
Didn’t Bruce Weber make a documentary some time ago about Teddy Boys? ‘The Teddy Boys of the Edwardian Drape Society’ I believe… Haven’t seen it so can’t say exactly what it’s about.
The word “unique” means “one of a kind. There’s no such thing as “very unique”. It either is or it isn’t.
Thanks for the prize. I just think when you write for public consumption you should have an understanding of the meaning of words. That’s not an error, it’s a lack of basic knowledge. I’m happy to have helped, since you were absent when they covered that in school.
Nothing is more pathetic than a grammar troll. I. Ponder you should find another blog to read. I’m going to moderate your negative bullshit from here on out.
Lots of ugly people right up there.
Tough as nails. I think that last guy is a dental hygienist
Re: A Treasury of
What an odd assumption that Brandon Flowers would know about Teddy Boys.
I’m not insulting your comment, I just don’t see the connection. Yes he wears suits but that’s about where the similarities end. I don’t recall Brandon flashing job blockers anymore than seeing pictures of Teds wearing glitter.
Perhaps I’m just being closed minded.
I think the term Teddy boy comes from T.E.D.S. which is an acronym for The Edwardian Drape Society.
Those Teddy Girls were shot by Ken Russell, the film director, when he was still a photographer. They were first published in Picture Post. The feature was called Bombsite Boudiccas. An awesome shoot
very nice seriesâ€¦
For many of fathers generation the teddy boys represented the violent face of racism in England during the early 1960s. Whilst not all teds are racist, and niether are all skins for that matter. It is difficult for me to look at the ted culture past the 5 inch scar across my old mans face. I am glad he gave as good as he got…
“I think the term Teddy boy comes from T.E.D.S. which is an acronym for The Edwardian Drape Society.”
Not so, sir. T.E.D.S are an early nineties outfit. We have been around since the fifties, and Teddy does indeed come from “Edwardian”, as the gentleman said.
Sorry to be a pedant, but it matters to us.
Ed the Ted is correct,teddy boy does come from the ‘edwardian’.I am one of the ‘first teenagers’ myself born in 1938 and still a teddy boy.
Just occurred to me that Nick Cave must have dug the Ted look.
My mum’s man was a Ted when she was young, incidentally.
while I dig that people place fashion in same category as philosophical movements, I’ve been thinking: Can they just be fashion people? nobody gives a f what they think. or stood for. Do I have to define myself by a dress code? They could just be cool photos.
also, the stars and bars, being from the southern usa, to some people they regard the flag as a symbol for racism. Originally, it was the rebellion against the centralization of government at the expense of states or locals, which was wrong in the sense that slavery being vital to the south’s economy is wrong. BUT, it is my understanding that the perhaps misguided courage to stand up to your government was widely well received by the lesser educated in the uk. Is it any surprise that the world class stupid of the usa could rub off on the foreign stupid?
I don’t think they’re cool just because they have tattoos
Recently in the East End of London, young people have been rocking the Teddy Boy look, but for me it’s so over – people should be looking to the future, not rehashing the same old trends over and over again…
I’m not a fashion guru, but I’m pretty sure that the Everlong video has Rockabilly characters in it, not teddys.
should see the short film by Bruce Weber… The Teddy Boys of the Edwardian Drape Society
Where has Coventry’s “Springer” gone to? He was everyones hero including mine. I was 13 got myself a “tat” of a little swallow just because “Springer” had one.
I moved on a bit and 30 years later entering Lloyds bank in Coventry with a bag of money who shod shout after me? Springer! Same purple drape jacket 2 inch brothel creepers and a bootlace tie.
Once a “real Ted” then always a” real Ted”. Great people ( the women loved ’em as well just quietly).
Sorry, got carried away there. Great pictorial by the way. Thanks. Justas a little post script; there is probably razor blades sewn into the collars along with a flick knife, bicycle chain, knuckle duster and a studded belt in the pockets.
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