Maria Claudia Bonadio (Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil)

Paula Guerra (University of Porto, Portugal)


Deadline for submission of articles: July 30, 2021

Publication forecast: April 2022.


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From the mid-1970s, the notion of do-it-yourself (DIY) culture has progressed from an ethos of resistance to the mainstream music industry, centered on punk, to a more widely endorsed aesthetic that supports a broad sphere of alternative cultural production (Bennett, 2018; Guerra, 2017). While not avoiding counter-hegemonic concerns, this transformation of DIY into what could reasonably be called a global “alternative culture” has also seen it evolve into a level of professionalism aimed at ensuring cultural and, where possible, economic sustainability. Now, fashion prevails as a crucial artistic field of approach to contemporary culture.

Let us look at the story: the initial contact with punk was made, roughly, through the bands and the musical media. With this emerged an outfit, which depended on DIY expertise, as well as shopping in the few clothing stores available and mail order. Thus, in small places, the flow of fashion information depended on a set of spaces, such as bars and discos. Young people would go to see punk bands and this provided them with a pattern they could imitate. Another source of information were magazines, where it was possible, first, to find pictures of punks and draw from them ideas and influences; second, in these magazines there was advertising for punk clothing and accessories (Cartledge, 1999). All this made the local punk fashion grow and change. But always connected with a wider cultural system. Cartledge (1999) postulated five phases of punk fashion: In 1975, a pre-punk style was experimented, influenced by David Bowie and Roxy Music, and by DIY experimentations; between 1975-1978, the focus was on a style exclusive to London and stores such as Sex and Seditionaries; between 1976-1979, a dark urban style emerged that coexisted with the previous one, based on experimentations and DIY changes, such as plastic sandals, homemade t-shirts with slogans or band names, military clothing, etc. From 1979 onwards, in the best known punk outfit, partly derived from the rock outfit, the leather jacket, Dr Martens and bondage pants, among other things, assumed prominence; from 1980 onwards, practically the same thing as the previous point, only with more and more exaggerated Mohicans, piercings and more extreme body modifications, as well as a style more marked by political doctrines.

During precisely the 1980s, deindustrialization in the Global North further contributed to the prevalence of DIY discourses in music, cultural practices and associated stylistics in a broader global sense. Similarly, the ease with which young people, and indeed later generations, can view fashion and other creative practices as viable occupations has also evolved globally, often in conjunction with a strongly articulated DIY code of cultural policy and practice. This evolution of DIY culture in a broader global sense is extremely significant, not least because of the demonstration of DIY as a language of action and intent most commonly adopted by an increasingly wide range of cultural producers and their audiences (Bennett & Guerra, 2019).

Once used as a means of denoting pockets of resistance to traditional forms of music and cultural production, DIY has now become synonymous with a broader ethos of lifestyle policy that unites people in networks of alternative and translocal cultural production. In the same period, the rapid emergence of digital creative technology, while not democratising the process of cultural production in a universal sense, given the cost implications involved in acquiring this technology for personal use, has made it easier for a growing number of people – including young people – to obtain the means to create and disseminate their own cultural products, particularly fashion. As this suggests, the combined effect of such socio-economic and technological changes has significant ramifications for the position and status of DIY as a cultural discourse and cultural practice in the post-industrial era. Articles, interviews and reviews dealing with the above-mentioned themes are welcome. You are all invited to participate.