There’s few topics that recur on this blog as much as skaters skating in non-skate footwear. Workboots were covered here a while ago and while every skate brand seems to be peddling a runner-style shoe as an off-board comfort option, that’s a copout. I’m all about the pick of big basketball shoes (which, in turn, inspired plenty of releases from the likes of DC) being worn as a true demonstration of no fucks given, with their hefty price tags and barely-there boardfeel amplifying the sense of show(shoe?)manship. Keenan and Harold deserve their place in the hall of footwear fame, as does Gino, but without getting all Quartersnacks-lite (because they do this kind of thing way better), I don’t see enough credit for Vinny Ponte‘s pick of the oft-dismissed but genuinely incredible Air Jordan XI Low IE (International Exclusive) in the Zoo York Mixtape (he wasn’t alone in that selection of shoe either) or Brad Johnson in Western Union videos from the early 2000s rocking the Retro+ Jordan XIs (as in the real deal with the patent toe), Vs with the debut of the heel Jumpman and, like Mr. Iannuci, a pair of AF1s (albeit Lows rather than the Mid). Ponte and Johnson deserve their place in the glorious history of Jordans worn for skate that goes way beyond Mountain or Gonz’s reasons for wear and it’s a joy to see sacred shoes being annihilated. I want to see a book of non-skate shoes being worn for skate — remember when the budget Nike GTS court shoe had a moment there? If someone had broken out the Air Seinfeld cast and crew GTS for a session, I would’ve caught the holy ghost.
I’m a keen enthusiast when it comes to movies that are style way above substance and Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire is an overblown, occasionally miscast masterpiece of that genre that boldly elects to create its place in time — neon 1980s excess and 1950s ducktail hair for an anachronistic rock and roll fable that’s part thriller, part musical — flick knives, Willem Defoe being weird, exploding cars, soul groups, Jim Steinman, trenchcoats, near lawlessness, Warriors-style heavily choreographed dust-ups, the beginning of my lifetime crush on Diane Lane, Lee Ving from Fear…everything collides to create a film that’s far too well-executed to be a folly. Hill gets the Peckinpah comparison, but I can’t imagine Sam creating something like this. They really, really don’t make things like this any more and its failure at the box office in 1984 probably has something to do with that. Streets of Fire gets a Blu-ray outing this month in the UK and they’ve brought back the original poster art too as well as compiling an 80-minute documentary specially for the release. If ever a film deserved Blu-ray, it’s this one.
I have to interview people occasionally and while frequency has made me immune to my idiotic voice, more often than not, the constant uncertainty of “like” breaking up my questions and fawning, obvious questions make me want to punch myself in the temple. The only solution to bad interview technique is to study the masters, and while the Playboy interview books are good, Jan Kedves’ collection of interviews with the likes of Jurgen Teller, Rick Owens, Raf Simons, Diane Pernet and Bruce Weber for a selection of magazines (Kedves was former editor of Spex) are compiled for Talking Fashion and are a masterclass in interrogation as an artform, asking intelligent, well-researched questions and getting some incredible insight as a result. This guy goes into the meeting equipped, but there’s a fluidity to his follow-ups and conversational skills too. Some things can be learnt and other things are just innate, but there’s plenty of lessons in the pages of this book.
Recycle of an old piece — I wrote this for my friend Frank Rivera a couple of years ago for the old BTC site. It misses out on a ton of important stuff, but it was only ever intended as an overview.
1. EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE (1800s—1960s)
There’s an intrinsic joy in owning something that could perform. It’s that potential that amplifies appeal — nobody wants something that’s made to get by. from the apartment to the workplace and back again, perhaps created to withstand the rigours of public transport. We want product that’s built to last — should, god forbid, we end up on a mountain or in extreme wet weather (we’re talking a Noah’s Ark situation here), we want that thing that allows us to smirk in the face of adversity. Can’t have that super car? At least a bag or coat that performs at a peak is almost within our means.
After all, who isn’t drawn in by the notion of a lifetime guarantee? The appeal of the day-to-day baggage that was built to last is founded on multiple movements and technical breakthroughs, but ultimately it’s fueled by the love of the very best. Witness Eastpak’s pledge for eternal life for a rucksack or Filson’s “Might As Well Have the Best” tagline and testimonies. The holy trinity of working, fighting and climbing has taken product on a voyage from life-saving necessity to a must-have accessory. Three different routes based on occupation, but a final destination on the backs and shoulders of a casual wearer. Before records began — we’re talking B.C. era — baggage and functional apparel was being developed out of necessity and the back as a key spot for load-bearing had been noted and experiments in insulation had taken place using natural materials.
Centuries later, outerwear began its true development on the back of wealthy adventurers during the mid to late 1800s — some had already begun to experiment, often using inspiration from Inuit methods of survival. Those traditions even extended to include early experiments in taped seams, an application generally believed to be a quintessentially late 20th century outerwear breakthrough. Sheer existence in Nordic regions (with oils and skins providing natural solutions) fired imaginations too and when a preoccupation with polar exploration occurred among the wealthy by the end of the century, the seeds were well and truly sown.
In the early 1800s, the knapsack was part of the soldier’s uniform during the Napoleonic War. The French wore animal skin variations, and single strap haversacks were worn around this era to carry rations. Trotters of London made an uncomfortable wood and canvas backpack for British troops, but Napoleon is generally considered to be a godfather of the two-shoulder design as we know it, extolling its virtues as the perfect vessel to survive a week. John Merriam’s 1886 patent on a frame pack is significant, with that design’s inspiration reportedly harking back to Native American basket creations.
With the accessibility of the train and later, the plane. uncharted areas became a challenge for explorers and mountaineers. Today’s problem of breathable waterproofing was still posed back in the Victorian period, where Thomas Burberry’s (the man behind Burberry) Gaberdine, a tightly woven worsted/cotton offered a more comfortable wear that uncomfortable rubberized fabrics like Macintosh’s patented material. A combination of wealth and necessity continued to push forward the development of baggage with an emphasis on light weight. Alpine excursions became increasingly popular for pleasure and for the purpose of recognition as the first to conquer a perilous peak or region. The outcome? Business built on providing Alpine apparel and accessories.
Elsewhere, functional workwear was being developed for railroad workers, builders and miners, with the development of denim during the California gold rush around the 1850s, as well as duck canvas. Patented a couple of decades later, resilience took precedence over the performance that climbers required, but affordable pants, bibs and jackets built to last would inform later outerwear. In 1894 J. Barbour & Sons, located in the north of England set up shop, with their branded oilskins proving particularly popular. The later introduction of a poacher’s pocket across the rear of a field jacket offered a solution to carrying a separate bag altogether for those looking to stay grounded.
The quest to conquer Everest between the 1920s and 1950s would fuel global imaginations, with the high mortality rate necessitating some of the most advanced materials to date. here, experiments in moisture wicking, vapour barrier linings and stretch fabrics would birth the next wave of outdoors gear. Casual climbers and hikers with disposable income could treat themselves to a top-of-the-line Bergen rucksack from the Norwegian brand (those designs would ultimately inspire the contemporary Bergen British SAS Paratrooper rucksack), resulting in an early example of coveted baggage of this kind. Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s commission of Grenfell cloth — a material that debuted in 1923 — from a Burnley manufacturer, offered waterproof and breathable properties through a tightly woven Egyptian cotton to supersede Gaberdine.
On the American side, LL Bean’s 1921 patent of the duck boot design and Eddie Bauer’s 1940 patent of the down coat were key developments. Lloyd F. “Trapper” Nelson’s 1920s reinforced packboard creation was a notable patent too, inspired by a Native American sealskin and willow stick design emphasised ventilation for the back and was manufactured by George Trager. During the Everest preoccupation, two world wars (and subsequent conflicts) played their part too. The model 42 WW2 rectangular Swiss infantry haversack made from pony fur and calfskin set a precedent for natural materials and their performance benefits that evolved the style of militaristic creations from over a century earlier.
The U.S. Army’s 1941 Specification File No. 2971 was the first of their rucksacks, made from duck canvas, the J.Q.D. 88 design from 1942, made in line with arctic storage breakthroughs. U.S. manufacturers like Baker-Lockwood Manufacturing and Morrow & Douglass had the contracts to create these classic-looking designs. Duck canvas would be the regular material for these bags, until the introduction of lighter nylon takes on the canvas M-1956 Load Carrying Equipment (or which the field pack was just a component) in 1962. After further iterations, that led to the ALICE (All-Purpose Individual Carrying Equipment) system’s introduction in 1973 during the Vietnam War, a system only phased out fairly recently.
DuPont’s development of nylon in 1935 was significant, with the material adopted early as a replacement for hemp or silk in parachutes as WWII commenced. By twisting two threads together at quarter-inch intervals, a fabric was made that could take the blows without tearing and distribute stress over a large area while remaining relatively light — ripstop nylon. That developed, with the thicker Ballistic nylon made with a basket weave that minimized debris penetration, making it perfect for WWII flak jackets. It was never a bulletproof fabric — that was the job of unwieldy fiberglass laminated creations, but the development of Kevlar into clothing in the mid 1970s (though the compound was discovered a decade earlier) was a life-saving introduction.
The Shirley Institute in Manchester’s development of Ventile in the 1940s for pilot’s suits that kept out water and wind via a woven cotton method offered something quiet and hard-to-tear too, ensuring that it’s still a fan favourite to the present day, kitting out generations of explorers and saving the lives of countless servicemen unlucky enough to be downed at sea.
Cordura appeared in a silkier rayon form to aid pilots and soldiers during WWII. Though it was developed in 1929, it wasn’t until 1966 that the nylon version superseded that fabrication. After developing dying techniques for the soft-sided version of Cordura in 1977, it became a favourite of Eastpak and Jansport for daypack use, with higher denier variations still the protective fabric of choice elsewhere. Cordura’s texturized yarns offered a fuzzier, more natural feel than the smoother ballistic nylon yarn, making it a tougher cousin to canvas in terms of look and feel. Ballistic nylon doesn’t take to dyeing like Cordura, so it’s frequently only offered in black.
2. CHECK DA BACK PACK (1960s—the present day)
The explosion of popularity in backpacking during the 1960s and 1970s, via a certain hippie idealism as well as a baby boomer generation who would fuel the industry for years to come, created some iconic brands and equipment. The UK’s Karrimor and Berghaus (whose Cyclops internal frame rucksack broke new ground) competed in developing baggage for serious climbers. Stateside, Gerry Cunningham’s GERRY brand created a controlled weight distribution backpack in 1968 as well as several pioneering down experiments in the years that followed, Skip Yowell, Murray Pletz and Jan Lewis’s Jansport debuted in 1967, bringing us the external frame D3 rucksack, Greg, Jeff and Mike Lowe’s Lowe Alpine produced the Lowe Alpine Expedition rucksack in 1967 — the first with an internal frame and length-adjustable back, and they changed the game again by debuting plastic buckles the following decade.
The breathable and waterproof 60/40 cotton/nylon mix was popularized by the underrated Holubar (also pioneers in their use of Vibram soles and goose down) with their Everest-type nylon pima around 1961, but more commonly associated with Sierra Designs and their 60/40 parka that first appeared in 1968, offering a new resilient fabric option to rival Ventile. GORE-TEX’s debut on outerwear around 1977 provided a costly take on the breathability conundrum that was immediately adopted by Berghaus (the Mistral is a classic), Sierra Designs and the North Face.
Into the 1980s, sport footwear designs like the adidas SL 72 and the Nike LD-1000 had a significant impact on a lighter approach to rugged footwear — the former was the inspiration for a new kind of boot from Karrimor, and the latter on John Roskelley’s feet on K2 helped birth All Conditions Gear. Long distance running inspired targeted designs for vertical distances. In the GORE-TEX era, colors became more lurid for visibility, but in the era of the yuppie, the boom in skiwear as both the Aspen holiday apparel choice and style statement of the day, it was inevitable that outdoor gear would explode in popularity..
Sierra Designs cameoed in 1978′s The Deer Hunter and the North Face packs in 1984′s Red Dawn were interesting product placement. In Europe, the UK’s casuals fetishised the costly coats, Italy’s young, monied Paninaro broke out the Monclers and in New York, boosting crews like the Lo-Lifes terrorized Paragon Sports and, beyond Ralphy’s world, popularized ultra-tech creations like the North Face’s Steep-Tech ski collection, designed alongside Scott Schmidt. Thus new aesthetics were born and the day pack’s popularity soared too as an everyday essential. The New York, Chicago and Boston winters fueled a certain sartorial, goose-down, GORE-TEX one-upmanship. Jake Burton Carpenter founding Burton in 1977 set a precedent for a new wave of winter sports enthusiast. Helly Hansen and Patagonia‘s breakthroughs with the lightweight fleece created an effective but more affordable wing of performance outerwear that became part of the everyman and woman uniform. Outdoor-wear spilled into every street in the western world.
It would be remiss to omit the wave of “everyday performance” lines, designed for city living but made with absolute function in mind — the Mandarina Duck Utility line from 1977, Stone Island’s 1982 debut and Kosuke Tsumara’s Final Home collection that commenced in 1992. All three took that pure spirit of innovation to the streets and catwalks. In terms of real mountain performance, Arc’teryx’s seven-bag collection in 1995 was a serious statement of intent.
While we took the vintage 1970s creations for granted at this point, Japanese collectors — monied and hungry for Americana — were snapping up iconic pieces. The eventuality was their own lines with the North Face, Gregory and Sierra Designs. Hip-hop’s early 1990s camo-clad notions of urban warfare blended with Hardy Blechman’s maharishi and his dedication to army aesthetics and DPM, Japanese takes on east coast streetwear styles evolved far beyond cotton to bring back the archive outdoor wear looks with Otaku-style lines like Setsumasa Kobayashi’s General Research and Mountain Research, Tetsu Nishiyama’s miltaristic WTAPS and Hiroki Nakamara’s visvim. Were these costly pieces ever going to ascend a steeper gradient than slight angle in an urban environment? Unlikely.
The rucksack’s use for nefarious reasons — be it weapons, stashed ill-gotten gains or paint and markers — made it an unobtrusive carrier that entered hip-hop lore. Black Moon’s Buckshot might have had one strapped to his back to accompany the talk of being strapped, but in interviews he insisted his back pack wielding was all in the name of goonery. Key rap folk who watched what they wore like Grand Puba, Erick Sermon and MC Serch (watch the Yo! MTV Raps finale freestyle cypher for proof) rocked them too. A rise in camo-clad MCs in the early 1990s wearing fatigues as well as workwear brands like Carhartt meant the neutral coloured army issue bags became a common sight — Roughhouse Survivors released Check Da Backpack in 1992, with the titular bags depicted as rhyme receptacles.
By 1997′s indie rap boom, stern-faced kids of all races with a Jansport full of markers, blackbooks soon-to-be-deceased ‘zines and vinyl filled Mike Zoot shows, fixating on Guesswyld, Fondle ‘Em and Rawkus. As the bigger-budget rap took hold as 2000 approached, “backpacker” became a dirty word. Rappers themselves were keen to publicly distance themselves of the nerdish limitations the expression evoked. But using Kanye’s post-2002 ascent as an example, his initial PR dwelled on a backpacker-with-a-Benz everyman appeal, rocking a Louis Vuitton backpack with a Polo rugby, helping to create a hip-hop atmosphere of total consumerism with a nod to the forefathers who raised artists sonically.
By the time Lupe Fiasco broke out the maharishi gear and ballistic nylon visvim baggage with elk skin (harking back to the design’s origins) trims in 2006 a convergence was even more visible. 2007′s Duffel Bag Boy by Playaz Circle proved that even the waviest individuals can benefit from a durable holdall.
Beyond the boom-bap pensioners, a boom in all things digital created a new middle class who took to the bikes and the hills that surrounded their liberal stronghold cities, making those brands built on ideals and innovation into powerhouses held under vast corporations. Even onetime rivals sit beneath the same hefty organizations. Things done changed, but that quest to own the absolute best in its field remains, whether you’re heading up a mountain or not.
There’s nothing wrong with resurrecting a brand, provided it was an interesting one in the first place and Life’s A Beach sits with brands like Town & Country and Maui & Sons which were gateway drugs in the 1980s into the current wave of post surfwear lines (Stüssy always seemed almost high-end to me with those M-Zone price points on jackets, so it sits out this discussion). The drug analogy is appropriate here, because Life’s A Beach was all about the gear — bikegear, surfgear and skategear — and there was a lot of gear going around during the decade in which it flourished.
Where the brand has been during the last 21 years is a mystery — did it do the rounds as a license in other territories? There doesn’t seem to be a definitive archive to explain where its been and we know that the L.A.B. Bad Boy Club skate spinoff is actually still in use as an MMA line, which somehow links motocross, skate, surf, BMX and beating the shit out each other. As of this week, Life’s A Beach is officially back in business.
First, some history: Life’s A Beach started in 1984 as the project of non-professional but competing motocross riders from Chicago — Jeff Theodosakis and brothers Mark and Brian Simo who had no real background in the rag trade. Having spent time on beaches between bike riding, they saw an alternative to Spandex minimalism with baggy, colorful shorts which they created from tablecloths and curtains. Selling their Life’s A Beach shorts to a Florida store, after a slow start, spring breakers popularised the brand. Realising there was money to be made, Theodosakis and the Simo brothers relocated to California in 1985. The legendary Doze Green was involved in the designs and it’s said that the trademark neon-goth bone pattern, among other things, is his creation.
Initially sponsoring motocross rider Rick Johnson, who stood out in both his riding skills and stylish ways (motocross being a hotspot of sartorial no-nos back then), wore the shorts over conventional MX attire, the L.A.B. sponsorship also included surfers like the temperamental but brilliant Sunny Garcia and BMXer Brian Blyther, famed for his vertical feats. I believe they also had judo champ turned boxer Pierre Marchand on the books too (preempting that MMA connection). Once skaters entered the fray, Life’s A Beach had created an extreme sports lifestyle line before anyone seemed to have tied the pastimes together under that name and hell of a long time before X-Games ever came to pass.
If you grew up reading skate magazines circa 1988 then you’ll recall the irreverent Life’s A Beach ads that pre-dated the World Industries marketing strategies that followed. Both Life’s A Beach Surfgear and Skategear ran ads with the legendary Bill Danforth (a tattooed skater back when shoulder ink seemed rebellious and the type of guy to skate in DMs before Matt Hensley) and Mark Gonzales rocked those gaudy pants and garms in the press — skater’s skaters seemed to be the criteria and as the B.B.C. Bad Boy’s Club L.A.B. board division emerged, a young Mike Vallely wore his branded beret with pride. Texan legends like Jeff Phillips and Bryan Pennington were faces of the line too. Shouts to Mike Garcia, Ron Allen and Monty Nolder too.
Beyond boards, on the music side, members of The Accused and Anthrax wore those shorts and it even seemed to be infiltrating the growing snowboard scene. Looking back at images of the Swatch Impact Tour, it’s a sign of an industry at its vertical limit waiting to get squashed by a bigger focus on street. While B.B.C. offered street and vert options on their decks, they couldn’t compete with skateboarding’s complete aesthetic switch into the 1990s. Those neons, bum bags, all over prints and letters down the sleeves defined a decade, but they didn’t define the 1990s. Reading the September 18th, 1990 Los Angeles Times look at a sports retail tradeshow, things look doomed: “Life’s A Beach will replace Day-Glo colors with two different color schemes. Its main line of clothing will feature “basic bright” colors, including turquoise, blue, yellow and red, Theodosakis said. An “underground” line, which is aimed largely at skateboarders, “will be drab olives and muted colors, like grays and blues…”
The business partners would split in 1990. Bizarrely the company’s last boomtime was when the aggressive looking Bad Boy Club character (drawn by Mark Baagoe) experienced a strange boom as a sticker on car windshields that reached epidemic levels. There was a sale of the business in summer 1991 and by 1992, Life’s A Beach seemed to vanish. The late motocross rider Marty Moates would recruit the Blyther brothers to turn an earlier design that read ‘NO FEAR’ into a full-fledged brand in 1989, which, while never as cool as L.A.B. (to quote Canibus when he had quotables rather than pseudo-mathematical gibberish, “Blow up the planet with No Fear like them clothes white boys be wearing”), was incredibly successful. Theodosakis founded the yoga-centric company, PrAna with his wife in 1992 and the partners reunited to found the SPY Optics sunglasses company in 1994. For the original Life’s A Beach team, it seems that there were happy endings, whereas for onetime team riders like Jeff Phillips, things would come to a sad end in Christmas 1993.
It’s good to see that my friend Greg Finch (who as a skater, knows a lot about Life’s A Beach) and art don Fergus Purcell are heading up the brand’s resurrection. Fergadelic was key to the Holmes and Silas aesthetic, has put in work for Very Ape, Hysteric Glamour, his Tonite brand, Stüssy and probably created your favourite Palace prints too. He makes no secret of the fact he’s a Life’s A Beach fanatic, to the point where multiple L.A.B. identities are drawn on his skin permanently:
“I first saw Life’s A Beach in the pages of R.A.D, Thrasher & Kerrang and I fell in love with it. It was worn by sick skaters as well as by the thrash and crossover bands that I was into — the stuff was out of order! It had a bad attitude and a killer sense of fun. This look and feeling had a big influence on my own aesthetic — to this day I hope that my work includes those two qualities!
I’m so obsessed with the brand that I have five homemade tattoos relating to it and I am super stoked to now be involved. I’ll be bringing some of my designs to the party, but the archive of original designs is incredible — and very timely — so we’re mainly going to feature them. It’s all about the shorts, baby!”
Looking at Ferg’s influence on the industry and taking into consideration that L.A.B. inspired him to that extent, its reappearance is very relevant. Skulls, bones and long-sleeve print tees (Canada’s Skull Skates deserves a lot of respect too) seem to be standard issue right now, so it’s good to see an OG brand back with some OG folk behind it — this was just the surface scraped on the Life’s A Beach story. A rebirth is welcome and while the nostalgics might struggle, because neon can be a young man’s game, there’s plenty of simpler stuff in the mix that just keeps the lairy stuff to the backprint where age doesn’t matter. Go check it out at spots like PRESENT and Slam City right now.
I completely forgot about this 1996 Nike documentary that braitnicho uploaded. Seeing this late that year (I believe the Branded series also had Heinz and Levi’s episodes) was a key instigator in making me want to work with Nike on something one day. There’s some interesting footage in the mix here and some good insights from Phil Knight. This seemed to be a golden era of business documentaries that wrangled access to some places that no other documentary seems to have gone since.
On the subject of YouTube, this footage from a CBGBs showcase of unsigned acts from summer 1992, with Bobbito as the host via CharlieChopoff (salutes to Unkut for the heads up) is worth your time — Artifacts clad in Polo, Fatal in a Timberland sweat, 8-Off showing you why he got a deal, plus Hard 2 Obtain and a few acts that never made their splash post Unsigned Hype (like Legion of D.U.M.E) are all present in this rare video.
Another toy I wish had existed when I was a kid is Sideshow’s Snake Plissken figure. The McFarlane toy doesn’t count because it was based on Escape From LA, which we all like to pretend never happened, but this super detailed creation is taken from the 1981 original, complete with the strange cam on the trousers, his weaponry, everything allotted to him by Lee Van Cleef, and, if you pre-order it from the source, you get a tiny repro of the tape which may or may not contain Dixieland jazz to set off WWIII. Now, where’s that Frank Doubleday as Romero toy, reeling off a list of kidnap demands when you pull a string? Carpenter’s classic has always warranted a full toy line.
By now the internet will be at least 25% Lou Reed, but the planet has lost at least 2% of its angry stares in his absence. Contrary to Sickboy’s assessment, Lou never really lost it. I also think his period of musical excellence (though it wavered in the mid 1980s around the time of this Honda ad) up to 1990 tops Bowie’s tenure of brilliance too in terms of longevity (and Lou’s early novelty record, The Ostrich is better than David’s The Laughing Gnome). Those live performances from the last decade and the courtside seats at Knicks games with Richard Lewis meant he was a functioning cool guy up to the very end, regardless of any perceived missteps. For decades, Lou was the final level boss for many an aspiring music journalist to tackle — a lone wolf participant in a jihad against mediocre questioning. Now he’s gone there’s not really a replacement with the intellect to match the bad attitude, is there?
Street Hassle is my favourite Lou Reed song at this moment at this moment in time for that blend of romance and pitch blackness, with that uncredited Springsteen appearance. Even in a spoken word verse from a scumbag junk dealer’s perspective regarding dead body disposal ends in pure poetry. That’s why something might owe a debt to Lou and the Velvet Underground, but it’ll rarely match the dead-eyed beauty of its reference points.
Hey, that cunt’s not breathing
I think she had too much of something or other
Hey, man, you know what I mean
I don’t mean to scare you
But you’re the one who came here
And you’re the one who’s gotta take her when you leave
I’m not being smart or trying to be pulling my part
And I’m not gonna wear my heart on my sleeve
But you know people get emotional
And sometimes they just don’t act rational
They think they’re just on TV — sha la la la, man
Why don’t you just slip her away
You know. I’m glad that we met man
It was really nice talking
And I really wish there was a little more time to speak
But you know it could be a hassle
Trying to explain myself to a police officer
About how it was that your old lady got herself stiffed
And it’s not like we could help
But there’s nothing no one could do
And if there was, man, you know I would have been the first
Only, someone turns that blue
Well, it’s a universal truth
And you just know: That bitch will never fuck again
By the way, that’s really some bad shit
That you came to our place with
But you ought be more careful round the little girls
It’s either the best or it’s the worst
Since I don’t have to choose, I guess I won’t
And I know, This is no way to treat a guest
But why don’t you grab your old lady by the feet
And just lay her out in the darkest street
And by morning, she’s just another hit and run
You know, some people got no choice
And they can never even find a voice
To talk with that they can even call their own
So the first thing that they see
That allows them the right to be
Why, they follow it
You know, it’s called bad luck
First things first, I think Complex‘s HNIC, Rich Antoniello speaks a lot of truth in this video for the folks flooding the internet with hapless content strategy that are a waste of money (that I’d do excellent things with, given the chance). It’s interesting that we went from claiming that the 140 character approach to information distribution would dead long-form writing to suddenly getting excited about any “original content” that’s over 500 words, regardless of quality. Still, I’m not complaining, because this culture of content keeps me in Supermalt money every month, but those barely used hashtags that are part of a three-week promo strategy in the quest for that elusive, oft-discussed consumer engagement are just lurking in far-flung corners of social media platforms like sad phantoms in limbo, or those sickly, skeletal blogs that people send me as part of a CV to show that they’re assertive with just three entries that are all from March 2013.
If this site had a real name (I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually referred to it as GWARIZM in a blog entry), I’d make it a play on Champion in one way or another, seeing as it’s pretty much a Champion fan site. One thing I’ve bemoaned again and again is the UK’s raw deal when it comes to the brand — though, as I’ve mentioned, it’s the Animal Chin of sportswear in that it never seems to genuinely exist beyond a handful of global licences — with its budget status. That American licence has been all over the place, from the bulbous magnificence of their Modell’s fodder to the Todd Snyder stuff to the nasty shoe deal that puts out copycat, low-budget duds.
Over here, we haven’t seen much that’s interesting since stores like Aspecto got in some Reverse Weaves in the early 2000s (shouts to The Original Store for importing the goodness in recent years though). It’s been bad three-packs of socks, crappy sweatpants and anti-aspirational rubbish in the UK on the Champion front for a while and the launch of the Champion Europe site to sell in pounds sounded exciting until I saw the product on it (even the basic college gear fell short here through unnecessary and inexplicable embellishment — the antithesis of why pretty much everyone who loves Champion treats it with such reverence).
I even traded emails and calls with a friend as he crusaded to bring the good rather than bad Champion to these shores, to no avail. I was happy to see that we’re getting the simpler Reverse Weave pieces on these shores very, very soon, in what looks like a slimmer cut in line with Japanese pieces (even though I’m guessing by those blue labels, as opposed to the red ones, that it won’t be US-made). Sweatpants, crews and zip hoodies in navy or grey will be appearing at spots like Oi Polloi next month (as well as on the championstore.eu site) and I’m reliably informed that pale blues, heather and some other colours will make an appearance in March.
It’s baffling that its taken this long to happen, given the cult following of the little ‘C’ over here, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t easy to wrestle the name from whoever was abusing it. This is definitely a step in the right direction for fans of fleecewear that fights vertical shrinkage.
Record Store Day seems to be a time when a slew of cool shit you’ll never own drops and Joe Mansfield’s Beat Box: a Drum Machine Obsession documents his 75 strong drum machine collection, with a foreword by the Burroughs of the other kind of beat, Mr. Dave Tompkins. It drops in December and it’s on the list, but this special edition arrives early with a special 7-inch steeped in Paul Revere nerdery by correcting the direction of the drum program and a tape of beats made from the devices in the book. There’s soul in those 808s and this is a topic deserving of documentation.
Ahead of the release of Take None, Fear None and some current Sons of Anarchy binges, I’ve been obsessing over the predominantly black motorcycle club, The Chosen Few and the imagery that defines their crew. Naturally, any appropriation of a club’s imagery is a foolhardy move (as brands have learnt over the years), but it always makes for arresting photographs. Ebony ran a feature on west coast black biker gangs in 1966 that included shots of Chosen Few and Fresco Rattlers members, plus a breakdown of the 1%er name and an explanation of sorts regarding the use of the swastika as a tool of offense rather than a statement of racism (complete with a shot of black club members alongside Pagans beneath the offending logo on a flag). The Chosen Few’s website includes some superb shots that seem to be from around the time of this shoot (many of which manage to be both heartwarming in their multi-racial unity, but deeply intimidating at the same time), but the whole aura seems significantly cuddlier in the Ebony piece when compared to recent news reports on Chosen Few-related arrests. Over 50 years after the club’s inception, that outlaw status seems to have escalated.
The beauty of 6876 is that product simply makes sense. There’s nothing superfluous — no mystery to why you want anything. They’re open to stocking some exceptions though. Coinciding with the release of their Chapman bag, they’ve got a product in stock that I want for no good reason — a scale model of Mount McKinley in a perspex case from Reliorama. Why does a transparent plastic case make an object so appealing? I never knew I needed a tiny replica of North America’s highest peak until I saw this. Then I realised that it’s an object that was missing from my life.
I thought Patta’s London store launch was tonight, got back late and this Duran/Sugar Ray No Mas ESPN documentary has completely distracted me from updating this blog with anything substantial. But I’ll point you in the direction of a blog more interesting than mine — way before I was obsessing over old ads and things that nobody seemed to acknowledge the existence of, DeFY. New York was on the case. One of the truest shoe dudes on the internet, his knowledge of shoes is Jedi level and you can get lost in the sheer volume of imagery he’s amassed and uploaded. We chuck the term influencer around a lot, but he’s a huge, huge influence on what I do here. So go visit www.defynewyork.com and look at some stuff. Completely eclipsing my YouTube spotting in this entry, DeFY got hold of some tapes, including a ton of 1987 Foot Locker commercials that, with their Eddie and Rick soundtracked openings, are superb, talking about some classics on their introduction, with a wide-eyed, scripted, infomercial-esque excitement. Here’s a couple of the rare gems this prolific knowledge-sharer has upped on his YouTube channel and they’re a glorious antidote to the current knowing, tech savvy, SEO enabled, social media shared modes of footwear promotion. The Air Max is a big shoe, but those rarely spotted Snake Cortez are next level. Go get educated.