The year is 1974. The disenfranchised youth of Britain have grown restless, and punk is on the periphery, ready to shove its Doc Marten-clad foot into the door of mainstream fashion.

You might ask, "Who pioneered this dramatic shift in fashion?" The answer lies with none other than Vivienne Westwood and her then-partner Malcolm McLaren. They were among the daring few who dipped their toes into the then-very taboo realm of fetishwear.

Their store specialises in fetishwear and bondagewear. Walking into it, one could immediately sense its strong sexual statement. The interior walls, reminiscent of a womb with their pink spongy material, were adorned with a plethora of fetish gear, from leather bras to ankle and wrist restraints.

Incongruous in its location amidst the Chelsea elite, the store at 430 Kings Road underwent several reiterations and name changes between 1971 and 1976, with "SEX" being easily the most memorable. In an era of paisley prints and flared jeans, Westwood and McLaren opted to make their own mark. Sex was not merely about fashion; it was about attitude. Westwood used her clothing and designs to steer fashion away from the burgeoning bohemian fantasy scene within Chelsea and towards a bold anti-fashion statement that mirrored the youth's dissatisfaction with society.

Armed with an arsenal of safety pins, zippers and locally-sourced leather, the duo combined their fanaticism and commercial acumen to erect an empire that would become a relic of punk rock and fashion for years to come.

The Sex Pistols, emblematic of the punk movement pioneered by SEX, played a fundamental role in the store's success and legacy. Not only did band members frequent the store, but they also wore SEX designs from head to toe for many concerts.

As the band members donned Vivienne’s designs, including the controversial t-shirts, SEX maintained its presence in both the streets and the charts, further propelling its influence.

The garments were a collage of references to the recent past of youth culture. The couple favoured 50s rock icons like Chuck Berry and Elvis, rejecting the dominant Glam Pop-Rock of the time. Many designs referenced Teddy Boy fashion, while leather gear drew inspiration from motorcyclists. Their clothes were a reflection of the music, embodying a 'distressed' vibe that became synonymous with punk and heralding an early manifestation of deconstruction in fashion.

London was the birthplace of classic Brit punk, which evolved into various forms and sub-genres, notably street punk. Before that came the conventions of early punk in London, epitomized by Sex, the store that brought punk and the underground fetishwear subculture to the streets.

Bondage, straps, buckles, and fasteners were essential elements of both Westwood's designs and punk fashion as a whole, evoking a suggestive, fetishistic vibe.

Leather was another fundamental component, with punk being inconceivable without it. Studded, spiked, red, or diy leather garments earned extra points in true punk fashion.

Rubber garments, epitomized by the iconic Rubber Maid’s dress worn by Jordan, symbolised the fusion of pin-up aesthetics with BDSM influences.

Underwear, a major part of the boutique, was redefined by Sex, embracing leather, rubber, latex, or studded designs. Underwear even became outerwear, a trend popularized by McLaren in the 1980s.

Graphic print played a crucial role, reflecting Westwood's explicit political stance. From controversial imagery to aggressive slogans, Sex's graphic prints challenged societal norms.

The embrace of shock value was not just a stylistic choice but a bold statement, a rebellion against the norms and conventions of society. In their creations, the pair dared to challenge the status quo, blurring the lines between the Chelsea bourgeois and the so-called 'sexual deviants,' appealing to both the elites and the working class alike. This inclusivity, however unconventional, mirrored the essence of punk, reminiscent of the ethos of Dadaism in art—both movements defied tradition and embraced the unconventional. In more ways than one, punk was to fashion what Dadaism was to art: much like the dadaists, the punk scene thrived on pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms. There was an emphasis on motifs such as a rejection of conventional beauty, and subversion to the point of provocation, alongside a previously near-uncharted exploration of DIY aesthetics and expressive individualism. This sentiment was echoed in the music of the time, with bands like The Specials articulating the frustrations of youth who felt trapped by economic recession and societal constraints, as heard in their classic, zeitgeist-stomping track "Ghost Town."

The DIY ethos that emerged from this era was not merely a creative outlet but a necessity born out of economic hardship, symbolized by the iconic Doc Martens with their different coloured laces, drainpipe trousers, and bomber jackets. Leather, spikes, studs, sweat, and anger became the aesthetic language of dissent, as punks defiantly raised two fingers to a public they felt had abandoned them.

Through defiant music, confrontational lyrics, and a do-it-yourself ethos, punk challenged the status quo and provided a voice for disaffected youth. Bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash became icons of this cultural insurgency, inspiring a generation to question authority and challenge societal norms. However, as punk gained mainstream attention, towards the tail end of the movement, it underwent a process of commodification that diluted its radical edge. What began as a grassroots movement of rebellion and dissent became co-opted by commercial interests, leading to the mass production and commercialisation of punk aesthetics. Despite this, the original spirit of punk continues to inspire new generations to resist conformity and challenge the status quo, as many harken back to a time where its spirit symbolised something daringly radical.

Today, Sex's influence on fashion extends across haute couture and the high street, inspiring wardrobes ranging from Michelle Pfeiffer to Playboi Carti. Punk's legacy lives still today on still, through many various contemporary subcultures, each embracing its spirit in unique ways.