Over the past years, styles, trends, and movements from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s have been filling our everyday lives. From leg warmers reminiscent of the ‘80s to Y2K tooth gems, the nostalgic trend cycle isn’t stopping — if anything, it’s accelerating. So far, 2023 has been no different. Trends from the ‘80s, specifically ‘80s punk, have been making a comeback in the entertainment space. Case in point: various celebrities such as the American rapper Lil Uzi Vert (Uzi), and K-pop stars Taeyong and Hoshi are proudly donning liberty spikes and punk-inspired outfits.
Of the Liberty Spikes
Driven by the anti-establishment spirit of the era and in tandem with the rise of punk music, the 1970s saw one of the greatest stylistic revolutions in modern history take place. Challenging societal norms, British youth channeled their dissatisfaction with the system rebelling against traditional dress codes and rules. Bondage references, subversive hairstyles, and an innate rejection of norms contributed to the spring-up of punk style.
While punk youth often appealed to deconstructed clothes and embraced do-it-yourself (DIY) to shape their fashion, hairstyles such as mohawks and liberty spikes emerged as signatures of the punk movement. The liberty spike, in particular, became a symbol of freedom, a sign of rebellion, and a shocking display against the status quo.
Drawing its name from the Statue of Liberty’s diadem crown, the hairstyle dates back to Celtic Britain and was sported by warriors to intimidate their enemies. In the ‘70s, spiked hair reemerged in the rock scene with singers such as Richard Hell. The hairstyle, however, kept evolving until it featured tall, stiff spikes — lots of them. The spikes are achieved through a variety of products but historically, punks struggled to keep them up, leading to the use of household items like egg whites, gelatin, or even glue to maintain the style. Nowadays, a strong-hold hairspray should do the part.
Stars Bringing Liberty Spikes Back
As fashion becomes more fluid, stylistic choices like the liberty spikes have grown outside of the traditional ‘80s punk attire. While stars such as Uzi, Taeyong, and Hoshi have worn the same hairstyle, they all have put a personal twist, adding a present-time allure to it.
For instance, Uzi is no stranger to punk style and liberty spikes. They’ve previously worn the hairstyle at Rolling Loud Miami 2022, the Summer Smash 2022, and appeared on the 65th Annual Grammy Awards red carpet sporting large liberty spikes. The singer paired the hairstyle with a black suit from COMME des GARÇONS and an oversized pair of derby shoes. Uzi also added a pop of bright yellow with Richard Mille’s latest watch, the RM 88. With a look that leans into the alternative and brings back memories of the ‘80s and ‘90s — an era of hip-hop and punk, perfectly defining the rapper — Uzi’s use of liberty spikes is definitely a standout.
In the K-pop realm, the group NCT 127 is no stranger to hair experimentation and spiky hairstyles — just take a trip down memory lane for proof. However, in the music video of their latest release, “Ay-Yo,” leader Taeyong takes it to another level sporting his auburn-blonde hair in tall liberty spikes. In contrast, he dons a matching set featuring a bomber jacket and pants from Off-White x Post Archive Faction’s Leaves collection. He also wears an all-black skull necklace, furthering the edgy look. Taeyong creates a more tactical and avant-garde vibe for the liberty spikes, making him almost reminiscent of a fictional villain going to battle. In an Instagram post, Taeyong even joked claiming to be Ryuk, a death god from the manga and anime series, Death Note (2006-2007).
Hoshi, on the other hand, showed off a futuristic take on punk style, sporting smaller, platinum blonde liberty spikes on the pages of Vogue Korea. The photo shoot is filled with tight leather clothes and chrome accessories from a variety of high fashion brands like Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Swarovski, and more. Combat boots, leather jackets, and pants, as well as spiked necklaces, nod at the ‘70s punk scene but Hoshi’s outfits also retain a cyberpunk quality with tech wear and items such as cargo pants and padded vests.
Liberty Spikes and Punk in the 2020s
Last year, a wave of punk-infused music prompted the comeback of punk fashion staples. Reworked, reinvented, and remixed, items such as fishnets, graphic tees, combat boots, and other pieces traditionally lined to the punk movement were spotted on the streets, the red carpets, and even on the runways. This revival, of course, also included punk hairstyles and makeup.
In 2022, fashion brands like Dior, Thom Browne, and Junya Watanabe dipped their toes in the water of the punk scene during their Fall Winter 2022 and Spring Summer 2023 shows. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri referenced punk elements like tartan, bondage, and dark makeup. Meanwhile, a handful of Thom Browne models even paraded the liberty spikes themselves. Junya Watanabe, who has previously paid homage to the referent of punk culture Soo Catwoman, introduced spiked hair at its finest. And more recently, during New York Fashion Week, brands like Marc Jacobs pulled inspiration from the punk movement, sending spiky hair and chunky shoes down the runway.
Outside of the celebrity world, many Gen Z-ers have been embracing liberty spikes. Hundreds of users on TikTok have already jumped on the trend. As of today, the #libertyspikes hashtag has amassed more than 147 million views. Viral videos of users with liberty spikes date back to 2020 during an era that web culture journalist Ryan Broderick dubs the “creative chaos of quarantine.” Liberty spikes and punk has been going upward in popularity since then and their revival, it seems, is bound to continue.
Want to learn more about the punk revival? Check out how rock music and its genres have influenced the fashion and pop culture scene throughout history, here.