Gavin Watson skins is the most important photographic book about skinheads. Skinheads, perhaps one of the most reviled yet misunderstood of all the youth subcultures, the skinhead look and lifestyle has now rightly returned to the very forefront of contemporary youth culture. While celebrities and sportsmen shave their heads for the red carpet, the underbelly of British youth culture has rediscovered the look via acclaimed films such as 2007’s award-winning This Is England. The look is now more fashionable than it has ever been. The single most important photographic record of this unique subculture is Gavin Watson’s Skins. The scores of black and white shots offer a fascinating glimpse into a skinhead community that was multi-cultural, tightly knit and above all else, fiercely proud of their look. These are classic photographs of historical value.

Gavin Watson photographer and author

Gavin Watson was born in 1965 in Kingsbury, London. Aged six, his family moved to High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. At 13 Gavin bought his first camera, a Hanimex from Woolworths. After seeing his son’s interest in photography, his father Richard Watson bought him a Zenit TTL and later an Olympus OM1. All photographs in the book Skins were taken with Gavin’s Olympus OM1. Back then there was no option to shoot now and edit later, a luxury of the digital age. Money was extremely tight and Gavin Wotson had to give careful consideration every single photo he took. His dad, an engineer by trade, got the proper equipment and processed Gavin’s negatives at home.

Gavin Watson Skins a different view of skinhead subculture

Carrying his camera everywhere, Gavin followed his compulsion to record his friends and their unique scene. There are so many brilliant images here that capture true moments in young kids’ lives where they openly share their joy and show no inhibitions. Very different from the hard geezer and racist image of Skinheads which have become the main references. Skinheads as violent thugs and racist ignorant white lads, that’s probably become the most common perception. This book shows a different reality. A British working-class youth subculture, boys and girls brought together by a love of music and fashion, and a drive to unite under one code and belong. Black and white, little kids through teenagers and older, established chaps in the movement, and girls too. The photos show the versatility of style under the Skinhead umbrella; as well as the Crombies, rolled up Levi’s, braces, Doc Marten’s, Fred Perry’s and Harrington jackets that we know as standard, capped sleeve T-shirts, Trojan Record T-shirts, tweed caps, tartan bondage trousers, cricket jumpers.

Gavin Watson Skins book reviews

When he was 13 years old, Gavin Watson got his hands on a camera and started taking pictures of his brothers and his friends mucking about. Those photos later turned into a book called Skins, which is arguably one of the best and most important books about youth fashion and culture ever published.
Vice Magazine review of Gavin Watson Skins

The world Watson depicts is so skilfully captured, giving an undeniable pull to these pictures, making Skins a compeling tome. We are sure you will get the picture.
FHM review of Gavin Watson Skins

A candid, no-punches-pulled profile, a colorful set of motifs for a cultural subsector and crammed with absolutely enthralling images. Thought-provoking stuff.
Record Collector review of Gavin Watson Skins