Like the zoot suiters of the 40’s that wore their watch fob chains dangling to their ankles, the 90’s generation of retro revivalists adopted the swinging wallet chain as a mark of flamboyance. The modern man’s wallet chain was a necessary accessory for any number of the subculture groups; from skaters to punks, to rockabillies and beyond, the wallet chain meant business.
The concept of a wallet chain came from 50’s biker culture, when leather and metal combined to create the fearsome image of bike gangs. Like Marlon Brando in The Wild One, these bikers hit the rode in cuffed jeans, engineer’s boots, white tee shirts, leather jackets, and wallet chains so intimidating that they could make grown men cry.
The wallet chain not only deferred theft, but it discouraged any disparaging remarks made about, or to the wearer of, the extreme style. The wallet was attached to a chain, which had a strap of leather that attached to either belt loops or a belt, for the ultimate security. A pickpocket couldn’t get too far away without pulling your chain.
The youth culture of the 50's boppers copied the biker style, and laced heavy chains thru their belt loops as a threateningly constant reminder that they carried a weapon. While the 90’s wallet chains weren’t so blatant, and were mostly for fashion, they still represented a symbolic threat and carried with them a bad boy image.
The rockabilly subculture sustained the fashion, and when it reappeared to the masses in the 90’s, the wallet chain was an essential accessory for any male (or female for that matter) that veered off the straight and narrow path. Punk rockers, skaters, surfers, grungers, hip-hoppers, and any of the general slackers that became known as generation X, tooled around with a chain swinging from their pants. Even ravers wore plastic chains painted with bold primary colors hanging down from their baggy pants.
Some chains were small gauge, while others were heavy 3 inch links that could tow a '53 Cadillac. Some were short, barely noticeable and just long enough to to reach to the back pocket, while others nearly dragged on the floor in a giant swag. The traditional plain black leather wallet emblazoned with the American eagle, gave way to an entire range of outrageous designs. Tiger stripes, licking flames, and neon glitter battled it out for the title of coolest wallet.
When coupled with bowling shirts, body piercings, tattoos, and a tough guy look, wallet chains were a must for any man who wanted to fan his masculine plumage.
Fashion Sub Categoriesboy's apparel