Thus as soon as the original innovations which signify “subculture” are translated into commodities and made generally available, they become “frozen”. Once removed from their private contexts by the small entrepreneurs and big fashion interests who produce them on a mass scale, they become codified, made comprehensible, rendered at once public property and profitable merchandise. In this way, the two forms of incorporation (the semantic/ideological the “real”/commercial) can be said to converge on the commodity form. Youth cultural styles may begin by issuing symbolic challenges, but they must inevitably end by establishing new sets of conventions; by creating new commodities, new industries or rejuvenating old ones (think of the boost punk must have given haberdashery!). This occurs irrespective of the subculture’s political orientation: the macrobiotic restaurants, craft shops and “antique markets” of the hippie era were easily converted into punk boutiques and record shops. It also happens irrespective of the startling content of the style: punk clothing and insignia could be bought mail-order by the summer of 1977, and in September of that year Cosmopolitan ran a review of Zandra Rhodes’ latest collection of couture follies…and the accompanying article ended with an aphorism – “To shock is chic” – which presaged the subculture’s imminent demise.
- Dick Hebdige (1951 - ?)