The International Writers Magazine

My New Jumper
James D Evans

his is how Blur looked in and around 1993. It was their new image conjured up off the back of their first LP 'Leisure' released two years previous, an album that had them camped firmly in the arse end of a scene called 'baggy' and which was latterly morphing into something the music press were speculatively beginning to call 'shoe-gazing.

Blur had a new sound too to accompany this new look, a sound which was proving to be equally out of keeping with the prevalent fashion in threads. Indeed so shocked were their record company on hearing the finished tapes for their second album 'Modern Life is Rubbish' that they were heard to decry that there weren't any potential singles and Blur had better retreat to the studio and come up with two pretty pronto so at least they had something to promote this sonic oddity with. A few days later and 'For Tomorrow' & 'Chemical World' were in the can, tunes that would both reach the heady chart position of 28.

In 1992 Blur released the single ‘Popscene’ and if the record company had been paying attention then maybe Modern Life Is Rubbish wouldn't have come as such a surprise. It's a defining moment in their career but there are earlier signs still, sartorial indicators that Blur weren't ever going to be a band comfortable with following the pack. Check out their video for 'Bang' released in the August of 1991 and Damon Albarn in particular is a visual portent of a style that was a good three years in the offing. Dressed down in a shabby brown leather sheepskin coat, yellow 70's retro t-shirt and short layered messy hair he could pass as a member of the Strokes now let alone a prime mover on the Brit Pop scene he helped to create in 1994 with the release of the era-defining 'Parklife'. But Damon, hang on to your ego, because it was always as a group that Blur were perceived, a key to a success unusually withstanding in a business that thrives on the temporal. Graeme Coxon in particular seemed to know very keenly what he was doing with his vertically pin striped navy blazer, grey V-neck sweater and scuffed up desert boots.

He was Damon's slightly more scruffy counterfoil, if he needed one, often unshaven, slightly miserable and often drunk (as they all were around this time). Dave picked up the cues and came out wearing the requisite gear as and when required, demonstrating an eye for detail way beyond the expected call of a drummers duty. And Alex? Ahhh, Alex, the handsome Alex. He could have been a model, there's no doubt about it and all the girls loved him for it. I loved him for it too and what I didn't share in chiselled good looks and a perfectly cheeky grin I did share in height and build. And so it was to Alex I initially turned when fashioning myself in the image of those Brit-pop conquistadors that fateful summer of 1994.

What Alex seemed to get right about his look before the rest of the group was the need for a tight trouser. If you're going to wear vintage Fred Perry's, your old man's V-neck sweaters and slim-line footwear like the desert boot then you're doing yourself no favours if you then proceed to marry this ensemble with a pair of long, loose fitting jeans. And whilst the rest of Blur were putting turn-ups in their jeans to accommodate this fact Alex was wearing tight, black and slightly faded slacks to complement his fitted shirts and sweaters.
Shopping in Marks and Sparks for a grey V-neck sweater I stumbled not upon what I was looking for, but a jumper of a deep yellow hue, described on the label as being the colour of gold in fact. I was instantly reminded of Alex James's sartorial dalliances of the early nineties, that piece of footage in Blur's tour diary 'Starshaped' were an infuriated Graeme can't seem to drink his cup of tea, sitting at the back of the mini-bus, spilling it every time he tries; swearing he turns and then smiles to see Alex looking out of the window, nonchalantly whistling to whatever's on the vans radio, cup of coffee held motionless in one hand, cigarette perfectly poised in the other. AND THAT JUMPER MAN! He's wearing a mustard yellow V-neck jumper of perfect proportions and the bloke looks great in it.

And so I purchased this Marks and Spencer foil, and now Blur aren't the band they once were I don't even have to worry about the negative association that often comes with dressing like well known bands. I can just wear it with my tight black cords, a pair of desert boots (naturally) and an old shirt underneath - or maybe just a black T-shirt? And I will be pleased, pleased that my sense of style hasn't changed much in the last ten years, untouched by the flippancy of fashion, and girls will see me and with any luck think I look as good now as Alex James looked back then in the heady days of the early to mid 1990's. Well, one can hope...?

© James D Evans

Young British Filmakers


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