On the face of it I’m too white and too badly dressed to be writing about the Rudeboy subculture, but let’s look at it as part of a process of personal growth. I’ve certainly learnt a few things in the execution of my duties on this one. For example: I now know exactly what a Rudeboy is, beyond Coventry ska. The movement started in the 1950s in Kingston, Jamaica, when young men decided they needed to up their game to be a real player and started dressing in sharply-tailored suits and pork-pie hats. I imagine there’s a certain level of commitment you need to wear a mohair suit in Jamaica, so kudos to them for sticking with it.
The Rudeboy look arrived in Britain with the immigrant diaspora, and underwent a major revival as the fashion side of the Two-Tone music scene of the late 1970s and ’80s; The Specials’ cover of A Message to You, Rudy the scene’s defining moment. It seemed until recently though that the Rudies had indeed stopped their messing around, but the look is currently enjoying another resurgence as 21st Century Rudeboys (and Rudegirls) take up the baton, putting their own spin on the classic elements. Photographer Dean Chalkley and fashion industry creative director Harris Elliott have been tracking down sartorially savvy gents for the past year, and have snapped more than 60 subjects for the Return of the Rudeboy exhibition. Along with the photographic work, there are installations and contributions from major players in the fashion and music industries. Stop your messing around and swagger over to Somerset House, London, before the closing date of 25 August.