A cut-off, battle jacket or battle vest in heavy metal subcultures, is a type of vest or jacket which originated in the biker subculture and later found popularity in punk and various heavy metal subcultures. Biker, metal and punk subcultures differ in how the garment is prepared, what decorations are applied, and how this is done.
Cut-offs are usually made from leather or denim jackets with their sleeves removed, or cut very short, and often adorned with patches, badges and painted artwork that display motorcycle club affiliations known as colours, or alternatively band names, political affiliations, beliefs, or sexual acts performed.
In the 1970s and 1980s, cut-offs were almost always blue denim. Thrash metal fans favoured heavily washed denim, while members of one British motorcycle club bleached theirs until they were almost white. From the mid to late 1990s, some punks and metalheads have worn multi-pocketed hunting or fishing vests, both in plain colours and camouflage patterns, and leather cut-offs—always popular with punks, and with bikers in recent decades.
In punk subculture, cut-offs are often leather (but can also be denim). Typical decorations are metal studs and badges (often painted-on) of bands or political causes, with cloth patches being secondary, ultimately because of the difficulty of doing the required needlework on tough leather. In addition, sleeves are more likely to be kept attached to the body of the jacket. As part of the DIY philosophy of the hardcore punk scene, the vests may be home-repaired with heavy thread, dental floss, or safety pins, and the band logos may be put on using paint and crude home-made stencils. Some wearers also drape chains or other paraphernalia from the vest.
Cut-offs in the heavy metal scene are often adorned with patches of logos and album covers of bands, ranging in size from small square patches to large patches that fill the back panel of the vest. Patches are the main decoration; however, some Heavy Metal kutten have studs on them, particularly for fans of crossover thrash bands such as mid-1980s Discharge or of thrash metal.
Yeah the vest itself you have to buy from a thrift store – it’ll be preferably a denim top that you rip the arms off yourself – and you’re only allowed to buy patches from the metal market at Wacken Open Air (it’s accepted, but not wholeheartedly endorsed, if you later buy them online from a vendor that has a stall at the WOA metal market). Also, you need to make sure all the bands bear some relation to the “main” band on the back – for example, if it’s that much-worn Motorhead England patch then at the very least, all the bands in the immediate periphery (ie. less than one patch removed) will need to be from England, or bands whose popularity peaked in the early/mid 80s, and preferably who had a notable Motorhead cover (Sepultura, Sodom). And it’s a bit of a faux pas to have Master of Puppets (any Metallica, really) as the main backpatch – this will give the impression that you just got into metal last week. And if you just cut out the front of a t-shirt and use it as the backpatch you will be shunned in Europe but welcomed in the US. Hope this helps.
-Unacceptable to have a Burzum patch if you’re not racist.
-You can’t have a grindcore patch if you’ve never seen Napalm Death live, if you have one, a Vegan grind police will get you.
-You must own at least 10 Iron Maiden (but not Virtual XI) albums if you choose the popular The Trooper back patch.
-Use glue for the patches on the pockets, if not you could get sued by Girlschool.
-You can’t have more than 4 metal subgenres represented at once.
-The vest should only be cleaned for 2 reasons: 1) a large amount of mud and 2) beer vomit But yeah, there’s no rules, dude. Just put whatever you like on your vest and do your own rules. The only real faux pas would be not to have a back patch and just use small patches to fill in the back, it looks nasty.
The rules I gave myself are as followed and I try to follow them.
-I need to own at least one album of the band before getting a patch
-I saw the band live.
-The backpatch needs to be one of your top bands and not only “eh this looks nice!”
Feel free to do whatever the fuck you want. If you want a Beyoncé patch, just do it.
It’s not important if you get bootleg patches, they sometimes look quite nice. I got some from Ebay as well. I often buy patches from live bands, 15 bucks for a CD and a patch is always a good way to support METAL.