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Image Customised punk outfit worn by Lewis Nicolson, 2004

TLF ID M000833

This is a photograph of Lewis Nicolson at a DIY (do it yourself) punk festival in New South Wales, wearing a ten-piece punk outfit that he customised to reflect his world view. It consists of a hat with badges, a studded leather and chain necklace, white cotton printed T-shirt, sleeveless denim jacket trimmed with fake fur and patches, a pair of patched, printed and ripped trousers, a studded black leather belt, bum flaps and a pair of boots with a detached boot chain.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This outfit was worn by Lewis Nicolson of Melbourne, Victoria, to the Belladonna DIY punk festival in Wollongong, New South Wales, on 4 December 2004. It is an excellent example of alternative dress and the way dress can be used for self-expression, creativity, identity and communication. It is accompanied at the Powerhouse Museum by other photographs and an interview with Lewis. Much of the information here comes from the interview.
  • The outfit consists of various commercially available items of clothing, including a hat made in France, a belt made in Australia, a T-shirt made by Delta Pro Weight, a jacket made by Magazine, China, trousers by Jag Jeans, and boots by R D Allender, Australia. Lewis customised  (re-created) these items through the addition of badges, screen-printed fabric patches and fake fur.
  • While uncomfortable with being labelled a punk, due to the often negative stereotyping associated with the subculture, Lewis describes himself in the interview as a punk and anarchist involved in DIY culture. For him, DIY culture is essentially a way of escaping capitalism's emphasis on consumption and reliance on technology - a way of finding other ways of living that are more broadly beneficial to the community and the planet. Lewis feels  that punk and anarchy's traditional associations with chaos and mindless violence have nothing to do with his beliefs, which are about respect for all people and animals and striving to create a better, more equitable world.
  • Lewis makes most of his clothing and accessories, remaking and modifying existing commercial clothing and creating new items. The result is outfits such as this one, which reflect his personal style and communicate his beliefs.
  • This outfit includes a printed T-shirt and numerous applied 'patches' mostly created by Lewis. (A 'patch' is a piece of fabric that has been screen-printed, handwritten on or painted with images or text and then sewn onto garments or accessories.) Lewis's patches contain anti-racist and anti-sexist text and imagery and text from bands whose music, lyrics and political beliefs he admires.
  • He has also added political and band badges to the hat and jacket. While acknowledging that he 'can't change the world just by wearing badges', he sees them as a powerful communication tool for setting up dialogue and inspiring others to seek further information.
  • Lewis's denim jacket features an applied trim of fake leopard fur, a take on fashion's disregard for the wellbeing of animals and his own commitment to vegetarianism. His 'bum flap' features the red and black anarchist flag overlaid with patches of anarchist bands. The front flap is printed with an anti-Nazi symbol, reflecting Lewis's anti-racist stance and concern about a resurgence of racism among young Australians. He has been involved in youth peace organisations and anti-racist actions for several years. His T-shirt features USA-based political band Anti-flag, which Lewis admires for its stance condemning blind patriotism and the way such patriotism leads people to unquestioningly follow their government's policies.
  • For Lewis the chain necklace symbolises the constraints that hold individuals and society back, such as racism, sexism and homophobia and the belief that people should be 'judged by content of character not what they look like'.
  • DIY punk festivals are a celebration of punk and DIY culture. They include such things as bands, a range of market stalls selling zines (self-published magazines), band merchandise, clothing and accessories. They include do-it-yourself workshops, discussions and forums on topics ranging from bicycle repair and maintenance to dealing with sexual harassment within the radical community. Lewis sees such festivals as an important opportunity to learn more about DIY culture, share knowledge and attend workshops with like-minded people.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Powerhouse Museum
  • Organization: Powerhouse Museum
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: NSW, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
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  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Curriculum Corporation and Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2010 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out, copy and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.