Pirate Radio: Origins

18 Jan 2018

The Pretty Green SS18 collection is a salute to an era defined by extraordinary imagination, a spirit of adventure and a bold sense of Britishness.

In the early 60s the airwaves were a cultural vacuum to British youth. The BBC had a monopoly on radio but their playlists fell way short of the mammoth demand for modern rock ‘n’ roll. Pirate radio transformed all of that.1964 was the year that would change the face of British pop and youth culture forever.

With The Beatles embarking on their first world tour, the zoot-suited Who announcing themselves via sharp tailoring and sharper riffs and The Rolling Stones releasing their debut album, it was a pivotal year for British music. But off the east coast of England something else was happening.

Legally, the battle for the airwaves had to be fought at sea. New entrepreneurial stations exploited a legal loophole meaning they could broadcast from international waters. Transmitting from disused sea forts and old fishing ships, pirate radio rapidly became a social and cultural phenomenon.

These medium wave shows were all designed to do one thing: give people the music they wanted. And the people responded. The DJs became cult heroes who were celebrated for their defiant choice of playlists featuring The Byrds, Tamla Motown and many, many more. As a result, the stations amassed huge audience figures.

By 1967 it was all over. Law was passed that brought an end to the original pirate radio trailblazers, but they’d made their mark. The BBC were forced to restructure and launched Radio 1 in response to the demand for popular, contemporary music.

Fast forward to now and the pioneering, rebellious spirit of pirate radio lives on. Rave, jungle, drum’n’bass, garage, grime and dubstep all have similar roots.

The SS18 collection pays tribute to the original pirate radio instigators with cable knits inspired by classic fishermen jumpers, while our Chambray shirt bears a naval nod thanks to its distinctive jacquard anchor detail. We’ve also introduced our take on the classic Breton stripe and created a wool version of the timeless mandarin jacket, with a durability reminiscent of old naval outerwear.

The SS18 range also boasts a printed graphic sweatshirt inspired by The Stones’ Brian Jones visit to the Radio Syd pirate radio ship, and a psychedelic-infused bandana in house print, depicting a swirling collage of sea, soundwaves and vinyl.

Elsewhere, there’s an acknowledgement of the endeavour, risk and innovation shown by early off shore broadcasts with a navy, rubberised, waterproof parka featuring an internal striped hood facing, while the SS18 cagoule is a modern interpretation of vintage naval military jackets with an orange hood liner influenced by ‘distress hoods’.

The Pretty Green SS18 collection: an homage to the people and music that shaped popular culture as we know it today.