Mike Smith: “Britpop in general encouraged competitiveness – it was a clash between art school traditions and classic British R&B.”

England. Mid-1990s. Music was reinvigorated with the rise of Britpop: a thrilling new style which soundtracked youth, subculture and class defiance. Among the big players were Pulp, Suede, Elastica and Supergrass. But the biggest battle took place between upstarts in the north and south, respectively: Oasis and Blur.

A sound comparison:

Blur – a guitar pop mash-up of several styles, moving from rhythm-led rock (like The Kinks) to indie-led lo-fi (like Pavement) to subtle shoegaze (like Spiritualized). Always vocalised by British intuition.

Oasis – a guitar pop mash-up of hooky melodies (like The Beatles), a rough spirit (like The Stones) and a thuggish attitude (like Sex Pistols). Always sealed with carefree Mancunian mantras.

A 90s style comparison, from the first layer to the last:


Blur – hoards of V-neck jumpers, basic crew neck T-shirts and button-up polo shirts, favourably by Fred Perry.

Oasis – unbuttoned workwear shirts, Man-City F.C. team tops and button-up polo shirts. Also favourably by Fred Perry: the ultimate Britpop brand.


Blur – casual choice: straight cut jeans, clad in an array of colours. Formal choice: tailored trousers, sometimes featuring a narrow pinstripe.

Oasis – always jeans, black or blue, sitting low and falling a bit baggy.


Blur – for Alex James and Dave Rowntree: leather loafers or battered Doc’s. For Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon, striped Gazelle sneakers.

Oasis – a mix between black suede desert boots and striped Gazelle sneakers for the Gallaghers. Common ground with Blur.


Blur – corduroy blazers, cropped denim jackets, bomber styles, velvet athleisure. A wardrobe reflection of their many genres.

Oasis – bar a boxy leather jacket (collar upturned), practical parkas took centre stage. Duffels, ponchos, mountain jackets – a finishing layer of pure Manchester.

The verdict:

Doses of division.

But equal strength in style, equal strength in sound, and an equal burst of British expression.

HASEBE, Koh, phot. BLUR. London, United Kingdom. 1994.

SPENCER, Paul, phot. BLUR. London, United Kingdom. 1994.

BORDEN, Harry, phot. BLUR. London, United Kingdom. 1994.

BLUR. London, United Kingdom. 1995.

BENETT, Daven, phot. GALLAGHER, Liam. GALLAGHER, Noel. London, United Kingdom. 1998.

FLOYDS, Chris, phot. OASIS. Manchester, United Kingdom. 1995.

LINSSEN, Michel, phot. OASIS. Manchester, United Kingdom. 1995.

OASIS. Definitely Maybe. 1994. 

BLUR. BLUR album. 1997. 

    « Few words, to outline the men who punctuate his films. »
    « revealing as work of ghosts, a little black, a little red, a little brown – tweed-clad Englishmen, too elegant for Venetian apex »
    « birth of the white jeans; from a disregarded choice to enticing youthfulness and cinematic appeal »
    « the suits that populairzed the urban wardrobes by lightening the silhouettes, complimented by a contrast colored tie »
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