2014 is the anniversary of everything. 20th birthdays, 21st birthdays, 27th birthdays — if we’re not mourning stuff, we’re commemorating it. That’s no bad thing — the current climate has created openings for fitting tributes to some niche stuff I never thought I’d see a proper celebration for. You can sit and sob about Essex boys rolling up the sleeves on brands you’ve liked for ages, but you should appreciate the opportunities to hear some untold stories as a result. There’s a few documentaries in the making that cover some more obscure tales relating to brands and the minds behind them (as mentioned in the last post), but as somebody still waiting for the Mo’Wax Arts Glen E. Friedman poster after 16 long years, it’s good to see that the Kickstarter fuelled anniversary project is really happening, with the exhibition running for over a week this coming June and the Rizzoli Urban Archaeology: Twenty-One Years of Mo’Wax book dropping in September (which looks pretty substantial in this shot). I won’t pretend that I’ve made much effort to dig out my old Mo’Wax records in recent years (beyond some old favourites and Now Thing is still overlooked) but the imprint taught me a hell of a lot about joining dots between cultures and the cash-burning ambition of the whole thing was more of an inspiration to me than it was a cautionary tale. James Lavelle and the team brought a lot to the UK. It’s also nice to hear that some old issues have been resolved to ensure that the Mo’Wax story will be told a little more comprehensively (though I still think Mr. Zaid Mudhaffer’s unpublished article on the label is one of the best things ever written on the subject).
It’s a testament to how hard I’ve fallen off that I miss things like this on the Internet. Having said that, why isn’t the rest of the hypesphere picking up on this? We’ve become lazy. By Such and Such‘s 13-minute conversation with Supreme creative director Brendon Babenzien is well worth watching for some little insights into how he entered the industry and his take on style versus fashion. As Animal Farm/Pervert (working on the post-Don incarnation of the brand) alumni, it’s a nifty segue to this great Oi Polloi interview with Louis Loizou, director of How Can I Be Down: a documentary about Pervert and its founder, Don Busweiler, who opted to leave society with a collective called The Brethren in the mid 1990s. The parallels with the cult of prints on clothing and the kind of cult that makes you grow a beard and drop out are presumably not coincidental. This eight minute preview includes chats with Erik Brunetti, Eric Haze, Rick Klotz, Alyasha Owerka-Moore and Ian MacKaye, with more promised if Loizou gets full finding via Kickstarter. The connection between Pervert, Supreme, Gimme 5 and pretty much every other key entity from the era, all the way up to its influence on Miami based brand Stray Rats (who, like Pervert in its early days, work plenty of hardcore mentality into their work), means that this story deserves to be told in the depth that this film is promising to tell it in. The underlying theme of Don’s story is about false prophets, but he makes some pretty prescient statements regarding where that street wear thing of theirs would be a couple of decades down the line.
Still rushing through other things and this blog is still suffering. If you like magazines, you should probably acquaint yourself with A La Champfest (though I’m guessing you’ve already picked it up). A lot of publications that are over six quid are usually buyer’s remorse before you even exit the newsagent’s door, but the layout, content, logo, cover shot, size and density of Champ makes it something worth making the time for. Shouts to the Kaweckis — getting a Stüssy shirt created especially for the magazine launch was a nice touch too. I was allowed to write a short tribute to Phat magazine in the new issue with some insight from Tim Leighton-Boyce and Chris Aylen. Nothing to in-depth, but seeing as this blog sure as hell wouldn’t exist without those three editions of RaD‘s laddish offspring in 1993, I’ve always wanted to pay homage on paper. While we’re talking UK skate mags, this link here takes you to another piece of Brit skate history — all 19 issues of Skateboard! from 1977 to 1979 to download: plenty of flares, tips, tournaments and fuck-off urethane wheels. I wish I could get my hands on PDFs of its slightly more irreverent 1988-1992 resurrection (eight years between editions was a long time, but bear in mind that Vanity Fair was put on ice for 45 years).
On the North Face front, the Scott Schmidt Steep Tech line seems to get plenty of attention, but the original money was with the earlier, ultra sophisticated TransAntarctica collection, created for the 1989-1990 foot, ski and sledge expedition, where a global crew of six men from six nations that included Will Steger and a pack of huskies would travel 4,000 miles across the Antarctica over 220 days — the first ever crossing without any motorised assistance. With their heavy fabrics, doomed explorers like Captain Scott and his party would find out that apparel mattered earlier that decade, but this twelve-piece collection, custom created by Erickson Outdoors for The North Face, GORE-TEX and DuPont and made in the USA, was integral to the crew’s success. It even included shoes for the dogs to protect their paws.
It’s interesting that, for functional reasons, the shells were linerless, exposing the GORE-TEX membrane and the system’s colourway of three colours were specially chosen to be visible in a low visibility situation as well as visible for the extensive TV coverage of the journey — orange is considered more visible than red, turquoise, according to the 1990 Ski magazine feature above and below is “…psychologically soothing” and purple is apparently amplified when it’s contrasted against snow. Erickson managed to twin technology with Eskimo traditions that had been common sense for centuries. You can see the gear being worn for its purpose here and in this 20th anniversary video.
The North Face would put out a TransAntarctica collection at retail in 1990, with the vast GORE-TEX stitching on the shells and the six-flag logo, representing America, Britain, France, Japan, Russia and China (not a combination often seen in this kind of unity), plus some rugged stretch fleece designs, plus 3M detailing — all inspired and modified from the expedition spec rather than being 1:1 copies. Those expedition pieces are definitely world’s best jacket contenders and — with all the crazy patches — they’d probably be Homer Simpson approved.
Nothing substantial tonight, but shouts to the uploader of this camouflage episode of the History Channel’s Modern Marvels from 2002. I caught this once on American TV and it’s not bad at all, especially since camo has been camouflaged by men with digicam pocket squares and woodland patterns on tote bags — I think everyone needs a primer on the purpose of those prints.
Coinciding with man like Jagger teasing a London shoot of the Brooks Brothers and Supreme collaboration (evidently, seersucker season is approaching) — the closest thing we’re liable to get to Supreme x Polo — and giving folks a headache when it comes to the dilemma of label removal, it was good to see a new Supreme ad in i-D. Prior to the Thrasher ad with some old legends earlier this year, I hadn’t seen a print ad since the old squint porn that ran in The Fader in 2000 or some Japanese ads in Philosophy. Tyshawn Jones and Nakel Smith represent the future, giving kids the same jumpstart that Ray Barbee and Steve Saiz gave old moaning men 25+ years ago, back when they were young and wide-eyed.
A couple of things drove me to think about the Nautica jacket era this evening — old Gino Ianucci coverage (if you take the Chris Hall Champion homage, the Salvador Barbier Polo graphic and the Ianucci Nautica bite, you’ve got a holy trinity of sorts) and this great Proper interview with Steve Sanderson from Oi Polloi that dabbles in discussion of classic nautical gear. It seemed fitting to chuck this 1993 Yachting magazine piece on technical windbreakers up here (surprisingly devoid of Helly Hansen, though that might have been considered a weightier, more traditional sailing option.) This model is killing it — you can keep your normcore irony and pay tribute to this guy’s array of expensive outerwear, because he looks like the sort of guy who really would own a yacht and blast Hall & Oates from a Bang & Olufsen system as he glides across the water, quite rightly without his tongue in his cheek. And naturally, this stuff got reappropriated brilliantly.
First things first — Robbie at Unkut just upped a photo of Showbiz that proves he was very much about that life pre-Rap. The gold, the white Reeboks on his feet, the Dapper Dan gear, the blue AF1s, the Air Max 1s, the adidas and the multiple Air Force IIIs indicate that Show was making some steady revenue circa 1988. Bronx kept creating that cash. This is the best photo I’ve seen since the 1990 Sports Illustrated shot of Steve Smith and friends cleaning enviable footwear when 15 pairs of flagship releases seemed like some Sheikh-level power move. This October 1991 Tim “Original armshouse lick for the girly-girl crew on that rammajammer tip, for the punani mechanics!” Westwood ragga set that Random Rap Radio recently shared is a perfect soundtrack to browsing those images — if the combination doesn’t inspire you in one way or another, then there’s nothing left for you in this world.
If you’ve enough of slackness and ostentatious nostalgia, this interview with Peter Ducommun from Skull Skates on Sex Magazine is fantastic. Now that’s how you put logos on long-sleeve t-shirt arms with integrity. And there’s finally a cover for Scarface’s autobiography, Diary of a Madman, which will probably be incredible when it comes out in October. Willie Dee’s intro for the Houston Rap Tapes book has got me prepped for some Geto Boys memories on paper. The crazy look and a Sir Benni Miles skully is a strong cover image.
Perks & Mini are one of the remain one of the most underrated brands of the last 15 years and this grey P.A.M. sweatshirt might look like it’s been dyed at the neck but that’s actually wool. Misha and Shauna are the smartest innovators and reappropriators in their field — that explosive collar of mohair-like softness is excellent (the black and yellow version is good too.) An insane idea, well executed. They’re at Goodhood right now.