Madchester: Music and fashion that defined a decade
A prominent cultural movement throughout Manchester in the late 80s and early 90s, Madchester was central to popular culture, clothing, and everyday life.
Acid house, Britpop, and Indie all took influence from the Madchester scene, as it defined the music and fashion of a generation. Read on to find out more about its roots, and why it was – and still is – so influential.
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What is Madchester?
Madchester was the term used to describe the fashion and sounds coming out of Manchester’s iconic Haçienda nightclub during the latter part of the 1980s.
Who coined the term Madchester?
The term Madchester was first coined by Tony Wilson, owner of Factory Records. This label featured some of Manchester’s most influential bands on its roster and ran the infamous Haçienda nightclub – the home of the Madchester scene. Put simply, this label transformed the musical landscape in Manchester and around the world.
Factory Records was founded in 1978 and some of its early acts included iconic post-punk bands such as Joy Division and The Durutti Column. After Ian Curtis died in 1980, the success of Joy Division’s single ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and second album Closer inspired the band’s remaining members to continue releasing music as New Order.
Whilst signed to Factory Records, New Order teamed up with Wilson to transform an old Victorian textile factory in the centre of Manchester into a venue and nightclub, which became known as The Haçienda. A Mecca for the Madchester music scene, the Haçienda, was where rock, dance, and fashion joined forces, solidifying Madchester as a generational movement.
What is the Madchester Sound?
In the beginning, bands such as The Smiths, The Fall, and Joy Division were influenced by rock’ n’ roll and epitomised the early stages of the Madchester sound.
However, with the success of New Order’s electro-pop music, the Madchester scene developed its own unique identity categorised by a mix of acid house, rock ‘n’ roll, and psychedelic 60s pop.
New Order’s rise to prominence allowed Factory Records to sign more up-and-coming Manchester bands and host bigger acts in the Haçienda. The Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and Primal Scream were some of the greatest bands within the movement.
The Haçienda hit its high point in the summer of 1988. Known as the Second Summer of Love, the late 80s were seen as the glory years, filled with endless nights of live music, dancing, and clubbing.
In the 90s, the clubbing scene changed, with dance music and DJs becoming as popular as the bands that preceded them.
What is baggy music?
Inspired by the psychedelic sounds of the 1960s, baggy music spearheaded an entire fashion movement.
‘Baggy style’ was the signature look of the Madchester scene, and came from the freedom of movement required to dance along to the sounds played in the clubs. Categorised by baggy, flared jeans, fisherman-style bucket hats, half-buttoned shirts, three-quarter length shorts, and long cagoules, this iconic Madchester look went on to inspire indie and hipster trends.
The look was influenced by rave culture, retro styles, hippies, and casual football fashion, with many Madchester bands wearing football shirts whilst on stage. The Happy Mondays’ Shaun Ryder and The Stone Roses lead singer Ian Brown were iconic frontmen during the ‘baggy’ era, and their styles are still emulated by fans today.
What kind of music is The Stone Roses?
The Stone Roses are one of the greatest bands to emerge from the Madchester scene – and arguably the north of England. The real creators of ‘baggy music’, their sound was a combination of acid house-influenced guitar music and a funky drum beat.
Although The Stone Roses were never signed to Factory Records, they had strong links with Tony Wilson, New Order’s Peter Hook, and the Haçienda, and they were a popular and prominent part of the Madchester scene. When their debut, self-titled album was released in 1989, it was heralded by many as one the best British albums ever recorded.
By the mid-90s, The Stone Roses were selling-out gig venues worldwide, from Manchester to Tokyo and bringing the Madchester sound to the masses. However, following line-up issues, the band decided to separate in 1996.
In 2012, The Stone Roses made a comeback world-reunion tour, with rumours circulating that the band would be releasing new music and an eagerly-anticipated third album. Two new singles were released in 2016, but the band are yet to release any more singles or albums at the time of writing.
From their psychedelic sounds to their baggy fashion and music, The Stone Roses helped popularise the Manchester music scene, influencing up and coming bands such as Oasis and paving the way for the Britpop scene of the mid-90s.
Were Primal Scream a Madchester band?
Primal Scream were one of the most important bands in helping catapult the Madchester sound to the masses.
Screamadelica, arguably the Scottish band’s most iconic album, was released in 1991, and made its mark on musical history. It infused techno, rave, and acid house, and brought these genres to the mainstream in the process.
Prior to Screamadelica’s release, Primal Scream were known as rock revivalists with a similar sound to The Rolling Stones. However, the genius production of Andrew Weatherall saw them take rock and turn it on its head to create a sound that will tie the band to the city of Manchester forever.
How to dress Madchester style
Manchester bands such as Happy Mondays, The Stone Roses, and The Charlatans led the Madchester fashion movement. The Britpop revolution of the 90s, led in large by Oasis, also had a huge influence on clothing styles and trends of the time.
Britpop and Indie emerged directly from the Madchester scene, and influences from the Madchester movement are still present in the dress codes associated with these styles today.
Taking inspiration from rave culture, much based around the Hacienda nightclub, Madchester fashions were loose, bright and designed to make a statement. Casual and comfortable, yet a little edgy, the Madchester fashion scene saw the introduction of cut off denim, in your face logo tees and bucket hats, with the Britpop influence bringing polo shirts, khaki jackets and sportswear into the mix.
Shop Madchester style by exploring Menswear at Loofe’s
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