Looking Back: Where did the 'Mod target' come from?

February 13, 2015

Between the khaki greens, the plaid tailoring and the Reni hat, there was a certain element of Mod styling at Pitti Uomo this year. According to John Harris, the Mod ideal boils down to "an emphasis on sharpness, an attention to detail, and everything being just so"Originating in the 60s in 'Swinging London', this style is one that's been revived time and time again. The Who. The Jam. Oasis. Miles Kane. It's all about looking smart and taking pride in even the smallest of details. It's not surprising that their defining symbol, the 'Mod target', originated in the most regimented environment of all, the military. 

During the First World War, the French used a tricolour cockade symbol to distinguish their planes from enemy aircraft. Initially the British painted the Union Jack under the wings and on the sides of their planes, however, from a distance, this marking was easily confused with the German Iron Cross. From 11 December 1914, the British followed the example of the French and, by reversing the colours of the target, created their own roundel and the new standard marking for the RAF.

50 years or so later, the RAF roundel was adopted by Mod culture and pop art. Bands like The Who and The Jam lead the way by incorporating the symbol into their wardrobes and album artwork, whereas brands like Lambretta have used it as the basis for their logo.  And so the RAF roundel became the 'Mod target' and took on a whole new meaning, the representation of a style and a generation that is always sewn, drawn and pinned. A new kind of uniform.