If you’re not playing #WipWorldBuilders this month, the theme is FASHION and PHILOSOPHY and the prompt card is here, and available via the hosts’ and guest host’s accounts. I’ve suggested prompts for this November, when the theme is FOLKLORE and ART. What will October be? We’ll find out soon!
Fashion in Pagham-on-Sea is as in real life, but there are distinct subcultures. The main two I can think of are the lycanthropic community’s youth and the (human/mostly human/human-passing) Jubilee Estate kids.
Punk is not dead in POS. Werewolf youth have adopted the chains ironically, since inhibitor collars are required for the under 18s. They are accessorised with silver studs & charms. Punk androgyny allows them to express the fluidity & liminality of their forms. Werewolf youth are open to experiment with gender identity and sexuality, as they tend to rebel against the tyrannies of their biology. Being forced to Turn once a month, even if you can Turn at will, creates a deep need to assert choice and control over their bodies the rest of the time. More and more young lycanthropes across the country are turning to punk to express bodily autonomy and the fluidity of identity.
While older werewolves of course live relatively normal lives with jobs, and so most of the time dress appropriately for work, they may join their offspring in punk styles on weekends. Punk hairstyles counter the “hairiness” trope by accentuating & ‘taking control’.
In real life wolves do not have ‘alphas’, and ‘packs’ are actually just family groups. Wolves only form packs with ‘alphas’ when in captivity with other wolves to whom they are not related. Humans, however, naturally seek to implement some kind of power structure, and when in a society where this is the norm, werewolves find themselves not only living together in family groups but also with newly-bitten werewolves and werewolves who have moved into the area for work, for example. This is why, in werewolf packs, you see similar behaviour to that exhibited by stressed captive wolves, rather than by wolves in the wild.
Young lycanthropes born into the condition [or rather, state of being; some dislike the term ‘condition’ as pathologising, but others argue that their rejection of the term is rooted in ableism] consider their ‘pack’ to be their immediate family group. However, for wider administrative purposes, family groups and individuals in a particular geographical area are lumped together in one or more packs of up to 20-30 individuals each, with an elected Alpha or Alpha Couple.
The youth may form their own ‘packs’ or friendship groups that merge these administrative units, which helps to keep the peace (or not) within that area. Punk styles therefore also express a democratic/anarchic desire to subvert ‘imposed’ and ‘arbitrary’ groupings of individuals and families.
Dan, 14, Pagham-on-Sea:
“I hang out with my brother and sister, but we have friends from other packs too. I don’t like it when people assume we can’t hang out because we’re from different packs. It’s like saying you can’t hang out with people if they aren’t related to you. It doesn’t mean anything.”
Despite this, pack tattoos are becoming more popular among some groups who also feel a strong emotional bond to their own ‘pack’ and/or Alpha(s). You may see young people with pack tattoos representing their pack, but also designs of their own making that represent their own social group ‘pack’, like gang tattoos. The Jackals of Barker Crescent, for example, are comprised of First and Third Pack youth, and there are 6-7 of them aged between 14-17. You can usually find them hanging around in the bus shelter outside the cinema, or in the town centre by the ornamental fountain.
Alex, 16, Eastbourne:
“I’m non-binary and a werewolf, which is weird because you get forced into one kind of biological body every month that might not correspond to how I feel at the time. I dress more androgynous, but sometimes I like to be more femme or more masculine. I’ve started to notice my wolf form aligning more with how I identify in the way it smells to other Wolves – they can’t always tell my sex by smell now, and as I get older I think that’s becoming more a thing each time I Turn. I like dressing like this [punk styles] because it gives me more control.”
Packs & Gangs
In PoS, the Five Packs of Barker Crescent have five Alpha couples and one Council, with one Loner to act as their internal affairs investigator, as well as judge, jury and executioner in cases where the Alphas must be seen to be impartial. The position of Loner is advertised to lone werewolves who are strong enough to take out the Alphas themselves, if needs be, and typically are not suited to pack life. The Loner lives outside of the pack and is never invited to pack socials, but turns up anyway and throws their weight around. Executions of rogues are done in public, by hand, and in front of the children.
Statistics from 2012 show that most werewolf youth in Britain – around 68% – had witnessed at least one such execution before the age of 16. By 2016 that figure had jumped to an average of 70% of under-16s and 85% of under-21s.1
Given this context, it is hardly surprising that most of the lycanthropic teens surveyed for this post say that punk expresses a kind of edgy aggression and an acknowledgement of the darker side to lycanthropic life. It also provides them with a sense of collective identity and shared bond, a recognition of one another’s unspoken trauma, a sign that these groups are a ‘safe space’ for fellow teens.
Maisie, 15, Manchester:
“It’s good because when you go anywhere new and you’re not sure about a place, if you see people dressed in a certain way you know that they probably share a lot of your stuff, like experiences, baggage. We recognise each other by scent, but if they dress like you do then you’d hope they’d be more accepting and share some of the same values as you. We’ve all been through the same stuff, seen the same stuff. Tattoos and badges are a good way of telling, too.”
You can find an unedited bare-bones first draft of werewolf noir mystery, Real Meat, on Wattpad, along with its incomplete sequel, Lily Brown and the Big Bad Wolf. Follow the links below to read the drafts for free!
NEXT FASHION POST: JUBILEE/NEW ESTATE NEON AND REFLECTIVE FASHIONS
1. Spates of Rogues up and down the country in the mid-00s with another spike in the mid-2010s are largely to blame for this, although reasons for this spike are debated. Blame has been laid on rising xenophobia and hate crimes, stirred up by Brexit and the rise of nationalist, populist parties. Anger and aggression within human communities, especially times of social unrest, can exacerbate anti-human feeling among lycanthropic communities. Others blame the horse meat scandal of 2013, claiming that not all the contents of affected ready meals were even actually ‘horse meat’ but that the truth was covered up to avoid a mass panic among the human (and Other) populations. These conspiracy theories have no basis in fact and are not supported by any official sources.