How Buffalo shaped the landscape of 80s fashion

Alumni Barry Kamen and Jamie Morgan talk us through the collective’s most famous images to mark a new collab with Dr Martens

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A maverick collective made up of photographers, designers and artists, it is impossible to mention 80s youth culture without referencing Buffalo. The disruptive and radical movement transformed the way that society absorbed fashion with a pioneering style that became one of the most influential of the decade. “At that time, there was no such thing as a stylist,” remembers Buffalo alumni Barry Kamen of Ray Petri, the movement’s leader, who died of Aids in 1989. “There were fashion editors, but the word itself didn’t exist, so Ray created that.” Other founding members included photographers Jamie Morgan, Mark Lebon and Cameron McVey. The world itself was a Caribbean expression adopted by Petri, used to describe rude boys and rebels.

Petri grew up in Scotland and travelled through India and Africa before landing back in London in the late 60s. He applied this tapestry of culture and sartorial landscape to a youth-charged aesthetic that threw MA-1 flight jackets, sportswear and Che Guevara hats with the decade's leading fashion designers; Armani suit jackets with Dr Martens boots, tribal headwear and kilts. Music also greatly influenced his work, inspired by Motown, punk and reggae. Neneh Cherry, Culture Club and Soul II Soul took Buffalo to the musical main stage, and its effect rippled the world over.

“She was just this nutty girl aged about fourteen, but she was part of the crew” – Barry Kamen on Naomi Campbell

The models used by the collective were also diverse – street-cast characters that carried the clothes, not the other way around. “She was just a kid,” remembers Kamen of Naomi Campbell. “She was just this nutty girl aged about fourteen, but she was part of the crew.” Petri’s work was daring, soulful, inventive and, ultimately, revolutionary. It was the antithesis to the current fashion of the decade, and brought together a gang of friends and a style that would eventually filter onto the catwalk, in the work of Jean Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons.

To mark the thirtieth anniversary of Buffalo, Jamie Morgan and Barry Kamen have joined forces with Dr Martens to create a contemporary interpretation of the cult movement, celebrating Petri’s groundbreaking style. Watch a documentary narrated by Neneh Cherry exclusively above.

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