Every year, approximately 175,000 people descend on Glastonbury Festival – that’s roughly about the same as the population of Norwich. As the biggest and best festival in Britain, it draws a crowd composed of everyone from ageing ravers to tiny-sunglassed sixth formers on their summer holidays. As a result, it’s full of different fashion sensibilities, from your core, Pink Floyd-tee festival dads, to spiritual healers called things like ‘Sally’ who waft around draped in robes dripping with mystical ability and the smell of hemp.
As self-described cultural anthropologists (we write articles taking the piss out of uni students for a living, you see), we think the best way to understand Glasto is through its subcultures. As such, we dove headfirst into this frankly bizarre festival ecosystem – for you. Here’s what we found:
If you have ever gone camping – not least camping at fucking Glastonbury, where you’re just as likely to need a crocheted poncho as you are bog roll – you’ll know that it’s basically a military operation to pack for. The Sparkly Babes of the fest, usually found in the Fields of Avalon, know this and they bring their shiny wares anyway. Realistically they’ve probably sacrificed space in their backpack for something practical like a jumper in favour of an ombré sequinned jumpsuit, and for this us lesser mortals appreciate them.
Soraya (R), 36
“I’ve been doing Glastonbury five years. I run a stand called Kuccia – I design everything, and we make a lot of it, hand-stitched in Devon. It’s psychedelic festival rave wear.”
“It’s my 30th birthday and I’m doing an eating challenge!!!! [Shows us her grilled cheese; her friends squeal appreciatively]. This is my second Glastonbury – I first came in 2016. I can’t wait to see the Chemical Brothers.”
“I haven’t even looked at this year’s lineup, but I’ll see anything, I really don’t mind. My jacket’s from Primark and my hat’s homemade!”
A universal form of attire both at music festivals and in life, The Band Tee is a brief biopic masquerading as a non-distinct item of clothing. They may be fucking everywhere – on the lone muso poring over their programme for something featuring a fiddle, on infants too young to even be able to read the logo, on the dedicated angels of catering serving you that third cone of chips of the day – but behind every band tee there is a story. It may be the most commonplace, but for that reason the band tee is always the item of clothing in the wardrobe has seen the most shit.
“I first saw Take That when I was, what? 15? So about 1996. I also went and saw them the other week, and that was at least the sixth time I’ve seen them. They were amazing. I’ve only ever seen them with Robbie once. The first time I went to see them was just after he left, and then I got to see him on tour with them in 2011. It was brilliant, because he did a load of his old stuff, they did their stuff without him, and then they did all of Take That’s stuff. This weekend, though, I can’t wait to see Fatboy Slim.”
“This is our first Glastonbury and it’s really, really lovely. Our sons are here as well and they’ve been a few times. I had a major operation about two years ago, so I was determined to come. The last few years we’ve been to British Summer Time to see Eric Clapton, where I got my shirt, and The Killers the year before – as it happens that was three days before my op, so I was determined to see them as well. I’m excited to see Yola here on Sunday, but we’re just happy to watch things wherever we are really!”
Lauren and Emma, 25 and 29
Bonus: VICE writers cosplaying as authentic 90s Seattle gig attendees, except they're at Glastonbury.
With everyone this year notably toning down the usual mad fancy dress vibe, the ones to stick to the agenda were the healers and the to-be-healed. It’s a delightful sartorial throw-shit-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks vibe in the healing fields – rather than capri pants and togas it’s unicorns and leopard print. Healers understand to be magic you have to look the part: like a 23rd-century wizard. Find them banging gongs at the healing fields or meditating around the stone circle.
“This is my tenth year at Glastonbury. I do spiritual healing – no tricks, no mess, no fuss. The healing ministry are very high up, and I attune very high up where the light and the love is. It’s holistic, so the healing will affect you mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. It’s usually a combo. I got my outfit from Ubud Market in Bali – I live in Bali for January and February. I love the pattern, but they’re a bit complicated to go to the loo in!”
“I’m helping to run 12-step meetings here and performing aerial. We are healing, although this is a different type of healing. Keeping people in recovery, keeping people who are recovering safe, as there are lots of triggers here. It’s a really intense environment: food, drink, drugs. From people in from the outside who go to meetings, they can get their usual meetings here. This is a beautiful space. I’ve just inherited this hat from my dad, he just passed. Got these goggles too. And snakeskin leggings are from the lizard king himself. I’m kidding, they’re my girlfriend’s. I’m sober but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun: I do Glastonbury every year, I’ve travelled the world, nearly. You don’t need to be scared of being sober and being boring.”
“I’ll definitely be getting some healing done soon – I’ve got a bad knee so I need to see if they can sort me out. I’m just waiting for a chance between working on my friend’s glass-working shop. I made everything myself except for the swimming costume which is actually a child’s swimming costume. For the hat, I used anything that would be sat on a landfill, I recycle it: forgotten toys, bits, whatever really. These are just some reversible tracksuit bottoms. There’s something about the green fields and healing area here: green grass, green trees. It’s good energy.”
A current staple of every 17-year-old boy with a TikTok account, the bucket hat weirdly spreads across every Glastonbury demographic from older dads to thirty-something straight women on hen dos – easily the biggest trend of the year. But, like, dotted with pink sequins, because it’s a festival. Most people claim to not really like them, but dipped their toe in the pond. Find them fucking everywhere.
“I came here knowing I really, really wanted an outrageous bucket hat. Day one, that was part of the checklist – it’s reflective so it stops you from getting hot, and I know everyone can find me. Maybe you get picked up by a style person who wants to take a picture of you. I just didn’t think this would suit me at all and I thought that I’d be trying to be a little bit too edgy. Just for Glasto, though, it’s actually quite practical. A big fan now. I’ll wear it out after this but I think it will be ‘she’s been to a festival’ looks from people. Not exactly an ASOS purchase.”
“I spend a lot of time doing my hair, and didn’t want it just shoved under my hat. So I just cut the top off of a hat. I didn’t copy the idea from anywhere… I literally went into a shop, I really wanted a bucket hat, so bought it, cut the lid off [laughs]. I don’t even really like bucket hats, I just thought it’d be good for this weekend, but quite liked the fact it was gold and shiny. It’s a nice little feature piece for me. I swear when bucket hats first came out it was just girl bands like TLC and whatever, then they came back with mid-00s lads in their forties and now they've come back again.
Dan (R), 28
“Mate, I just found this and thought, 'I’d go up to Glastonbury in that.' There was no plan, just did it. I’ve grown into them; used to think they were completely shit and now I’m in love with them and don’t go anywhere without them. [His mate, Leon (L): I’m more northern so bucket hats are a staple for us. I’ve got a whole stack of bucket hats at home.] That’s it, it’s the north-south territory thing, the divide. I’m from south London but I’ve seen the light. I don’t need sunglasses right now – look into my eyes! They’re covered!”
In recent years, Glastonbury has become a mecca for the waviest of wavy. Go to the sadly departing Beat Hotel and witness them in their throngs: checkerboard print, cat eye sunglasses, and All Burberry Everything abound.
“I did a cookery course and these are my chef’s trousers. I’m having so much fun. I’m so excited to see The Wombats, My Nu Leng, and Jorja Smith.”
Kate, '14' (actually 27)
I’m absolutely buzzing. I’m looking forward to Sunday, there’s a nice little lineup. There’s Bring Me the Horizon, because I haven’t grown out of my emo phase from 2006. After that it’s Loyle Carner, and after that it’s Billie Eilish, so that’s a nice little run for me I think. I realised I had all these clothes so I thought I’d shove them together for Glastonbury. The prints are different, but at the end of the day, everyone’s on drugs so no one’ll care.”
Bee, 21 and Mia, 23 (L-R)
Bee: This is my first Glastonbury and it’s amazing. I’m excited to see Rosalia, Stormzy and Shy FX.
Mia: This is my third! I really, really want to go see Doo Wop – like, I’m not bothered I just want to see them once. I’m also excited to see Lauryn Hill but I think she clashes with Rosalia so I don’t know what to do! I got the top I’m wearing in Aalborg. We came home from a night out and [Bee] had her baggies confused, and we ended up in Denmark. We were so unprepared. We just had these little bum bags and it was freezing – we didn’t even know where Aalborg was.
Generations may come and go, trends arise and pass, but amid the ever-changing landscape of Glastonbury there will always be a dad, sat on the floor, holding a pint of cider in a recyclable cup as if he was placed there thousands of years ago by the druids themselves. With one or two specific bands on his agenda, and a load of time in between to spend on picnic blankets captivated by someone playing a £50 acoustic guitar to an audience of sleepy spirit guides at Green Fields, the dad is here to do what the dad does best: have a fantastic time with an open mind, unadulterated sincerity and very responsible shorts.
Pete, '21' (actually 38)
“We live in Glastonbury so we come in and out every day. I’m looking forward to seeing The Killers and Bananarama. I’ve had my hair like this since last week – I did it for Keith Flint. I love him – I saw him in November, luckily, before he died. I just wanted to do a bit of a tribute.”
Jason, John, Paul and A Man Who Would Only Give His Name As “Woody From Toy Story”, 30s-50s (L-R)
Jason: “I got this jacket somewhere in America and the hat from Hard Rock cafe in Orlando. I’ve been to Glastonbury… I don’t know how many times. I’ve done security here, burger vans, but this is my fifth year coming in properly. Us three [Jason, John, Paul] have done the last five years together but he’s a virgin [points to Woody]. We’re looking forward to seeing The Killers, Liam Gallagher and Miley Cyrus. Should be alright, needs to warm up a bit though.”
Paul, 46, and Chris, 49 (L-R)
Paul: This is my 13th Glastonbury.
Chris: And my 17th.
Paul: We’ve done the last 13 together, and I’d they’ve all been my favourite. I feel like the vibe only keeps getting better, you know. I don’t know why. I love it more year on year. I’m looking forward to seeing Fatboy Slim, bit of Chemical Brothers – and I haven’t seen these yet [gestures to Chris’ shirt] but I’ve heard they’re really good.
In 2019, men lashing out at the patriarchy means wearing a garment that looks like an open dress. Find them stumbling around empty fields at 6AM shouting ‘butt-scratcher!’
“This is my morning attire. I wake up in the tent, just get up, put this on and get out of there. Nice ‘n’ breezy! It’s all good! I usually only wear it as a dressing gown but this year I’m thinking I’ll keep it on. I got given this for my 21st birthday so it’s been going more than 15 years this guy. I always take this to festivals. I keep it light. I don’t really nod to other guys in kimonos or dressing gowns but I do have a moustache and I usually clock them. A mo-clock.”
“I’ve picked up this outfit from all sorts of random places. The kimono is from a charity shop in Sheffield and the Westie t-shirt's from eBay, probably taken from some dead woman. [VICE: Do you like Westies?] Not really [laughs]. I got the kimono at a festival four years ago, from Gottwood, it’s an electronic festival. A lot of people seem to love it, it’s been getting a lot of attention. Picked up these glasses here last night too – just asked for the shittest glasses he had for a fiver! And that’s it!”