The Paninaro Movement
May 2 2017
It is widely recognised that Liverpool was the birthplace of what was to eventually become the Casual movement, despite the fact that a few bitter cockneys still try and dispute this right up to the present day. During Liverpool F.C's glory years of the late 1970's and early 80's the scousers returning from their away trips to Europe brought back with them designer brands never before seen on British streets. There were many European boutiques that were relieved of their entire stocks of designer wear from brands such as Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Lacoste and Diadora by buccaneering and often marauding young scallies, all desperate to lay their hands on the highly sought after European labels.
This desire to be seen in the best clobber on the newly established catwalk of the football terraces was also taking shape with the lads down the East Lancs in Manchester, who for a short while became known as Perry Boys. It wasn't long before a few exclusive retailers in the U.K. began stocking and selling many of these continental labels, with Liverpool’s Giancarlo Ricci being one of the very first to do so. As with any new fashion trend the media soon got hold of it, and what was once a truly original and organic fashion counter culture had become mainstream, and the new movement simply became known as Casual. It was now commonplace to see smart looking youths sporting wedge haircuts wearing the likes of Lois cords matched with Fila or Sergio Tacchini tracksuit tops, Lyle and Scott polo's and of course the very latest trainers. Things quickly progressed and within a few years the average casual had moved on to wearing more expensive and exclusive designer brands. This was seen by many as just simple one-upmanship for those wanting to be seen wearing the most expensive clobber, in some cases this may have been true, however there was a far greater influence which pushed the British casual scene in this direction, this influence was the Italian youth movement known as the Paninaro.
The Paninaro started life in Milan in the early 1980's and took its name from a group of middle class youths that would meet at the Panino cafe in Milan; those that followed the fledgling movement became known as the Paninari. The young Paninari chose the sandwich bars and the newly emerging American style burger bars as their preferred hangouts, thus rejecting the traditional Italian slow-food culture. The movement quickly spread across Milan and to other major Italian cities and became a fully-fledged subculture. Unlike many youth movements that opted for a more exclusive underground identity, the Paninaro embraced the mainstream culture of brightly coloured expensive designer labels and fully adopted the new materialistic and globalised outlook of the 1980’s. The Paninaro look was based on a passion for home grown Italian labels such as Fiorucci, Moncler, Trussardi, Armani and later the Massimo Osti designed brands of CP Company and Stone Island, however the must-have label for any self conscious Paninari was Best Company. To complete the Paninaro look the jeans, preferably Armani or Versace, had to be rolled up to the ankle in order to show off their expensive Burlington Argyle socks.
The movement also had a love of classic American styles such as the MA-1 Bomber jacket, Timberland deck shoes and boots were also essential Paninaro staples as were Levi 501's and Schott leather flying jackets. In the mid 1980's the subculture was exported the U.K. with brands such as Paul and Shark, Stone Island and CP Company, all of which quickly became synonymous with a certain fraternity of the British casual scene. In 1986 the Pet Shop Boys released a track entitled Paninaro in honour of the movement, the track was originally a B side of the single Suburbia; a new updated version of the track was then re-released in 1995. At the height of the movements popularity during the 1980's there were several highly popular lifestyle magazines that were dedicated to celebrating the Paninaro scene.
Although the main Paninaro movement faded towards the end of the 1980's its legacy has been profound. Many of the brands that were so revered by the movement have lived on and have truly flourished after being adopted by later generations, even down to the recent resurgence of jeans being rolled up to the ankle. All things considered then, it is only fitting that this influential and flamboyant subculture that began in the sandwich bars of Milan should forever be revered and should never be forgotten.
Written by Paul Smith