Rebel Hell - London Riots or Fashion Ads?

27 Sep 2011|Added Value

Brands have always used the cultural code of rebellion. These recent mainstream fashion adverts – with their images of fire, broken windows, battle wounds, hoodies, clenched fists and street scenes – are almost indistinguishable from the press photographs from the London riots.

But does this code still feel appropriate and aspirational? Do they capture the romance, authenticity and freedom of thwarting the establishment, or the criminal violence of mindless hooligans? Is the icon of the rebel, bravely challenging conventions and doing it his own way, now fully associated with looting, burning homes and thoughtless disregard for others? Is it tainted by association, evoking disdain rather than excitement?’

The spirit of the moment seems better captured by the pictures of volunteers with mops and buckets cleaning up their local areas. In a time of communities pulling together, anything that seems to glorify anti-social violence could seem hopelessly out of touch. The rebel’s defiance of authority doesn’t seem so glamorous when the police are held up as brave defenders and the rebels as thugs. Is the outlaw now the enemy?

Welcome to the era of the rebel with a broom.

Click to see full gallery


1, Levis ‘Go Forth’ campaign (*which was postponed/dropped due to the rioting). 2, London riots 2011. 3, Diesel ‘Only the brave’ fragrance ad. 4, London riots 2011 (BBC News). 5, Wrangler ‘We are animals’ campaign. 6, London riots 2011 (BBC News). 7, Wrangler ‘We are animals’ campaign. 8, London riots 2011 (BBC News). 9, Levis ‘Go Forth’ campaign*. 10, London riots 2011 (Daily Mail). 11, Wrangler ‘We are animals’ campaign. 12, London riots 2011 (BBC News). 13, Nike ‘Just do it’ England with Wayne Rooney ad. 14, London Riots 2011 (Daily Mail).

prev next