OUTSIDERS

Living outside of London is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that one can’t succumb to a hipster overdose, and a curse because, at time-of-writing, the PALACE Lucien  party is shaping up to be a classic. Twin distance living with an impending site relaunch, and you know tonight’s partying is a no-go. Oddly, the last relaunch of said site coincided with some buzzworthy DC event in 2006. Where did the last 4 years actually go? Seriously, what happened?

It would be east to become another of the low-work ethic, sniffing hordes mumbling broken promises of freelance work. Fuuuuuuck that. Chill doesn’t pay the bills. Everyone knows that London is the UK’s cultural epicentre, and when events go on beyond this miserable capital, it feels more like a sympathy shiner than a true celebration. But industry events are riddled with dead-eyed PRs (“That…is…so funny!”) and the same folks day after day after day -the same characters who’d hang about to attend the opening of a Red Bull can if they could. Break out the checklist – hapless communications type making “powermoves” by staring over someone’s shoulder during inane conversation? Men dressed like shit Serpicos? Self important folk with, like,  blogs and stuff? Tilted New Era  guys looking paradoxically solemn yet colourful? Attractive girlfriends bored and blankly thumbing an iPhone? Lots and lots of folk with Canon 550Ds round their necks? Boring. My Grandpa once berated me for claiming I was bored with the stock, “Bored people get bored” reply. 10 minutes at some inane shoe customisation non-happening and he would have hastily retracted that statement.

If you want to maintain the sheen, don’t get too involved. Seriously. Working in a comic shop as a kid, giddy excitement gave way to apathy at the stacks of Image/Valiant crossovers and Cerebus back issues strewn in the stockroom – that was the end of comic hoarding. An overdose of trade priced reality nipped that habit in the bud. The same grotty realism and hordes of jaded folk can kill other obsessions too. It’s best to dip in but keep your distance for the most part.

Talk to any hip-hop fanatic from beyond the states, and witness their devotion to rap rareness that those from rap saturated NYC took for granted and ignored. That’s distance learning at work. If you grew up poring through Face magazines, sending stamp addressed envelopes for sticker packs, saving booklets from sport stores and gazing at those shout out names in fold out cassette sleeves, you probably got as much enjoyment through wistful “what if” dreaming as those who were in the mix, participating. Curiously, the provincial oddballs who lived their lives vicariously through record, skate and WH Smiths shelves make for the most interesting conversations just because they have a tendency to be truly psychotic about their pick of subject matters.

My small town existence deliberately keeps me out the mix. Despite constant commutes, London still maintains a certain mystique, and I can concentrate and get shit done. After all, what else is there to do in boogie down Bedford? Sometimes you need a normal human being who isn’t dazzled by repro stitch detailing and limited numbers to tell you when you look a prick – that’s another hometown benefit. Travelling greater distance can be preventative when it comes to making the shorter trip up your own arse, providing you don’t regale all around you with tales of a phony big shot existence in the big city.

In the socially networked blog realm where it’s a race to attain “first” status, and you don’t even have to leave the bedroom to stay in the loop (though the loop is itself, overrated), let alone pick up a print magazine or hop aboard a train. Beyond mere apps, you can live your aspirational lifestyle through the internet – a cloud existence, and drop it whenever you want to. People are overrated. The e-persona usually beats the cold ‘The Wizard of Oz’ style reality. If you want to maintain that enthusiasm, rather than going through the motions and becoming a stinkeye administering “over it” shit talker, enjoy it through a monitor. I prefer to dip in and out at will – my bipolar moodswings and sudden character changes are a testament to this – London made a monster. Robert Frost summed up the taint from a purer worldview with “So dawn goes down to day, Nothing gold can stay” – as Johnny Cade from ‘The Outsiders’ implored in a neater summary, “Stay gold” – stay away, stay enthusiastic and stay gold.

UNRELATED MATTERS

Too much copywriting and staggered website relaunches has stomped out any semblance of cohesion between the topics included in this post. They were all worthy of inclusion so they got included. It’s not even another one of those top 10 blogs you drop when you’re running low on ideas, but can cobble 10 minor things together – it’s even more tenuous than that. Still, it’s sunday, and sunday is a blog day, so something’s got to go up. So today it’s Tyson, Morrissey, undershirts, Neneh Cherry, carphones, Larry Holmes, more t-shirts and dear old Malcolm Mclaren.What links them all? Nothing. They’re going up regardless.

Since the homie Waz mentioned that ESPN is killing it with the 30 For 30 season of documentaries (‘The U’ is particularly outstanding), HBO’s hyped new offerings have had to lean back in the download schedule. One of the best pieces of commissioning, and with Levi’s helping bankroll the project, one of the most credible pieces of sponsorship, it’s absorbed the weekend. Reggie trash talking against the Knicks, yayo killing hoop dreams, Iverson’s divisive jail time, bands without teams, defunct leagues with the trump money….fascinating. Being late to the TV party again, the ‘Mohammad and Larry’ film, built around a scrapped documentation of the 1980 bout from Albert Maysles who brought us ‘Gimme Shelter’ ‘Grey Gardens’ and ‘Salesman’ is the anti ‘When We Were Kings’ and an absolute classic. The footage of the perennially underrated, and oft-media unfriendly Larry Holmes in a cheerier mood giving his wife a heads-up about the impending camera crew with a bulky carphone setup is worth your time.

But that was broadcast in October – what’s on the horizon? Reggie Rock Bythewood’s ‘One Night In Vegas’, charting the events of September 7th 1996 as Tyson took on Bruce Seldon, and 2Pac met his maker. While any personal interest in ‘Pac’s output took a swan dive at the bloated ‘All Eyez On Me’ his story and Mike associations are interesting. From a glut of straight-to-disc 2Pac cash in films none stood out bar the big budget ‘2Pac Resurrection’ and there’s been too few solid Tyson documentaries bar Toback’s masterpiece. The fact that Reggie directed the deeply shitty ‘Biker Boyz’ might create some skepticism, but hopefully production yielded some new footage of Shakur and Tyson in swagger mode.

The other personal fixation at the moment is undershirts. Jean Touitou had folks looking at dirt cheap JC Penney chambrays with excitement after singing their praises, but can we also spare a little time for their Stafford line of undershirts? As a freak who can’t wear a shirt without a shirt beneath it, they’re a necessity. Non-transparent, some Stafford pieces like the Performance line are the Hanes Beefy-T of concealed white garments, while the mid-weights are a little better for the summer. This site goes deep. Waaaaaaaaay deeper than anything here. Just check out those undershirt reviews.

On the tee topic, Malcolm Mclaren’s son Joe Corré’s Humanade initiative unleashed the ultimate Malcolm tribute garment. If you ever watched Mclaren’s fly posting show tune moment in ‘The Great Rock N Roll Swindle’ and wanted the shirt he flashes at the very end, it’s been put out to raise money for human rights issues. Seeing as the great man’s final words were reputedly in support of the incarcerated Leonard Peltier and his questionable treatment at trial, and that’s where some proceeds are heading, it makes even more sense.

Can we just have a few extra seconds to pay homage to Annabelle Lwin? She still looks beautiful, but that 1983 look could work in the present day, now even the most corporate artistes are play-acting the whole avant-garde steelo.

if Pete Waterman’s Diamond D affiliations (ask your mum) didn’t earmark him as a curious culture straddling mogul, how about his involvement with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken as the team behind Buffalo pop duo Morgan McVey? That links him to DJ Milo and, as the interview in the new i-D attests, Shin from Neighborhood was involved during their Japanese tour. 1986’s ‘Looking Good Diving’ (covered by Nick Kamen in 1990) is notable despite being a bit Scritti Politti light, for putting another childhood crush (alongside Annabelle), Neneh Cherry, in the video. It didn’t stop there, someone called in the Wild Bunch to drop a remix – ‘Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch’ with Neneh (who married Cameron McVey) dropping some verses that are eerily similar to 1988’s ‘Buffalo Stance’ – it actually appears that SAW were behind much of that record’s DNA with all credit going to Tim Simenon. ‘Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch’ is pretty crappy, but here’s a minute of it anyway…

After mentioning Tim Simenon, it’s worth mentioning that Sony have upped a good quality version of James Lebon’s ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’ – full of Stussy tribalism, Jordan IIIs, shoe shots and Fila. Truly aspirational material for a smalltown 10 year old.

For no reason other than because it’s a great video, this Morrissey promo’s getting upped here too. Stephen and his boys do the whole vintage look better than you right here, filmed back in 1992, even if his output now is as mediocre as it was in 1997 prior to a hefty hiatus.

REPRINTING THE T-SHIRT

You could be away from the internet for a long, long time these days and miss nothing. Just the echo of pop cultural references past as the global regression continues unabated. That’s why something different hits a little harder when it saunters onto the screen without blog hyperbole surrounding it. The majority of us could tell a cotton-based life story through print tees – those discarded, those lost – those that required a garment-disposal ‘Sophie’s Choice’ decision to euthanise because of yellowed ‘pits or a stretched off-the-shoulder neck. While on the west coast, the print shirt still seems to shift to kids who elsewhere, are button-downed up that makes sense – that’s the print tee’s spiritual home.

Elsewhere, the blank took over, from 5-packs to deadstock US-made Hanes to painstaking replicas of vintage, glorious crew-necked plainness. Bar the token collaborative offering on a tee, Supreme-heads seem to be bypassing the extensive screen printed offerings, going straight for the Ventile parkas instead – things done changed. Once the tees would’ve been the first to vamoose – the affordable, entry-level into a lifestyle brand, feeling infinitely less tokenistic than a similar shirt as a diffusion line from a brand – with Supreme or Stussy…even Vision, the shirt was the iconic piece from the brand. But over the last year, to quote Coppola in ‘Hearts of Darkness’, with regards to the hype-fueled tee-influx of ’06/’07 “We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane.”

Now only makers of street-level shitcoms like HBO’s ‘How to Make it in America’ think that print tees are edgy. But the truth is, when they’re tough to track down, well executed, and steeped in that same mystique that got you stacking paper round dough to own a little piece of cutural capital, there’ll be an exodus back to ink and cotton. Those camo Rejuven8s are a hugely technical throwback to co.jp glories and if that aesthetic quietly slips back into the party, print tees will rise again. Palace dropped a few beauties these last few seasons, but T-Shirt Party is bringing it. Really fucking bringing it.

Serif fonts, well-chosen imagery, reference points that don’t feel played, and all straight out of London. Shirts are white, available as a subscription or purchased individually and the website’s aesthetic matches the garms – each one has an accompanying video. The Lisa Bonet (word to ‘Angel Heart’) design is strong but the ‘They Danced the Dance’ DEFII ‘Dance Energy’ stills collage is a classic. That’s a good use of a Fruit Of The Loom. (The tribute to Brother Malcolm is a great one too – anyone else re-watched the once hard-to-find unseasonal oddity that is ‘The Ghosts of Oxford Street’ on YouTube or 4OD?) With a certain mystique, it all feels like the kind of thing that would have you sending an SAE to an address published in The Face for more information. And getting no reply whatsoever. Those were the days.

www.t-shirt-party.co.uk

AT LEAST THE FRENCH GET IT…

For all the fond regard trickled its way, Brian De Palma’s ‘Phantom of the Paradise’, a garish satire on how corporations make anything real into a blister packed mockery of its former self, and a gloriously lurid ‘Faust’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’ takedown doesn’t get the treatment it deserves. Except in France. The French will take a cinematic ugly duckling close to their chest, and thanks to licensing and an effort to recruit swanarchives.org – arguably one of the best movie fansites online, Opening’s new hi-def print of the film, an ‘Ultimate Edition’ has made it to Blu-ray. While in the UK and US we’ve had to make do with a bare-bones budget digital travesty, complete with some phony trailer for the film, this is actually the second French all-singing and all-dancing (but still no angry De Palma commentary) version our Gallic friends have had a few years back the Hollywood Classic Limited version did the movie proud, and while some films don’t necessitate a mark-free transfer, this most certainly does.

The audio is stunning, and those visuals are as eye-bleeding and faintly disturbing as ever. The outfits and production design are still some coked-out madness, and if any film benefited from being given a full yayo-mirror shine, this is it. Respect to the French fanboys and cinephiles who saw beyond the flop reception in 1974, gave it an award at the Festival du film Fantastique and pushed for this release. All other film going nations should hang their heads in shame. Bar a new introduction from Gerrit Graham the extras here remain the same as the Hollywood Classic version, but the quality here could put your hair back like the Maxell ads of old. ‘Somebody Super Like You’ never sounded so good. The beauty of ‘Phantom…’ is that with that disturbing, experimental camp, it could’ve attracted legions of dress-up midnight movie imbeciles, yet, like ‘After Hours’ or ‘Sorcerer’ you still feel a curious kinship with fellow fans that hasn’t been wrecked by ironists.If you like this film, you’re alright with me. If you don’t, fuck you…fous le camp.

An early example of Brian doing true spectacle, he remains a phenomenally underrated director, deserving of more than lazy Hitchcock-lite allegations. Master of set pieces (exploding Cassavetes being a personal favourite) the whole of this film feels like one long giddying set piece, and a pretty on-point tear up of the music industry of the ’70s. Beyond that, and far beyond the fantastical then-contemporary fable status, the notion of master douchebag Swan pilfering ideas from unknowns and leaving them to get crushed by the scene’s machinations, is a fair enough fable for the fashion/blog…whatever scene you might reside in. There’s a prick magpie picking ideas at the top of every tree. That remains relevant.

The ‘Paradise Regained’ documentary, included here, is a good insight into the whole ‘Phantom…’ saga. The promo materials from Richard Corben and Neal Adams are further evidence that even the best artists on the promo tip can’t save your flick from bricking. Once again, go check the Swan Archives again – they’ve got their own out-takes and behind-the-scenes footage – they’ve even got details on the unreleased ‘Death Records’ cushion from Medicom.

‘Phantom of the Paradise’s enduring appeal across the pond seems to be one of the pop cultural DNA strands that formed the generation of overachieving hipsters France produced. Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel are superfans of the film, bonding over a shared love and repeat viewings – those Hedi Slimane suits were straight-up Phantom attire. Justice’s ‘Phantom’ might have reused Goblin’s ‘Tenebrae’ soundtrack, but was there some link between that, and another Goblin-scored Argento film, ‘Suspiria’ that also starred the beautiful Jessica Harper, ‘Phantom’s female lead and muse, Phoenix who inadvertently instigates mayhem? In fact, are the group Phoenix named after Harper’s character too? Sebastien Tellier’s ‘Sexuality’ album contained a tribute to the film’s soundtrack on ‘Divine’ and there’s some Swan stances in Bob Sinclar’s ‘I Feel For You’ video. There’s more examples of homages out their too – but this film seemed to strike a chord with France’s creative community at child-age. Go buy this disc.

And seeing as it was mentioned earlier, Josh Olsen talking over the equally misunderstood ‘Sorcerer’s trailer on Trailers From Hell late last week was a treat too. Josh knows.

SHOULD’VE BEEN A CONTENDER: STEPHEN KEATS

It’s no big secret that I think ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’ is one of the great crime novels and movies. Credible, dialogue driven, yet often unrecognised, beyond Mitchum’s low-key, grouchy performance – one of his best, he’s surrounded by some of the best character actors out there. It’s a shame that so many passed before their time and never got the dues deserved. Richard Foley for one, died too soon. I know every motherfucker with a WordPress account is eulogizing the style of some staggeringly obvious performers, but it’s heartening that Erik Brunetti’s mighty FUCT – specifically its SSDD imprint, referenced ‘The Trial of Billy Jack’ – OGs riff off the offbeat while everyone else fellates McQueen. Bronx-born Stephen Keats is the true star of ‘…Eddie Coyle’ as gunrunner Jackie Brown.

Consider that bombastic statement – that’s in a film with a career best from one of the greatest that ever did it, but I stand by that statement. At turns ultra relaxed and ultra fidgety, Jackie’s always on his Ps and Qs, and while the big collars haven’t aged well during his talk of broken knuckles with Eddie at the film’s opening, the hair, polo neck, multi pocketed leather jacket, car, firearm knowledge (automatic weapons are a more problematic matter) and sunglasses make him a lowlife icon. Absolute cool. It’s only some old-fashioned snitching that brings this workmanlike delivery man down.

Tragically, despite some appearances in classic films like ‘Death Wish’ and ‘Black Sunday’ b-movie status inexplicably remained – he got no shortage of work, but should’ve become more well-known – and he took his own life in 1994. He undertook a Vietnam tour-of-duty before becoming an actor and interviews indicated he saw some harrowing things that took a toll. RIP Stephen Keats. One of the greats.

A depressing story needs some happy news – other than the fact you need the Criterion ‘…Eddie Coyle’ disc in your life, Janus films (Criterion’s brethren) recently put out a cinema print of the madcap 1977 Japanese horror, ‘Hausu’ aka. ‘House’ – well-regarded but confined to trades by lovers of odd films, you need it in your life. There’s more lurid brilliance in 5 minutes of ‘Hausu’ than you’ll get in any film released this year. That means a DVD release is a-coming this summer. There’s even a t-shirt.

The director actually made this comically manly Japan-only Charles Bronson deodorant commercial too.

On a newer film note, while ‘A Serbian Film’ is probably going to ruin our lives with depictions of something truly hideous if it ever gets released without Daily Mail readers engaging in self-immolation outside art cinemas, on a ’70’s cinema topic, the writer, who I assumed might be a lunatic, masturbating with razors and tediously out to shock, seems eerily normal, with some fine reference points mentioned in this interview. It’s the calm ones you have to watch out for.

JACOB HOLDT, ALL BROWN EVERYTHING & SOME P.M.A.

Sometimes, just sometimes, there’s too much for one blog entry, but not quite enough to be broken down into a number of blogs. So the solution is to just shoehorn them into a solitary roundup, even if there’s no relevance between each topic. That’s how we do round these parts. This is one of those days. Lots of subjects on the mind that need to be put down in pixel, some trivial, some inspirational.

i. JACOB HOLDT

Everyone’s a fucking photographer now. That point’s been raised here before. Glen Friedman made some interesting points on the current wave of snappers in a recent ‘Juztapoz’ and while wilfully amateurish, warts and all is the order-of-the-day, there’s a sense that the current aesthetic lets a few chancers in the backdoor. If you’re going to sacrifice technique, for fuck’s sake shoot something pertinent, rather than some pallid coke slag in tube socks. Larry Clark, Nan Goldin frequently shock me into submission, and Stephen Shore altered my perception of the mundane, but Denmark’s Jacob Holdt is the man behind the greatest book of photos to date – ‘American Pictures’ (sadly out of print again) – seemingly an oddball idealist, he threw himself into a documentation of the American dream gone sour, specifically focusing on race and class relations.

Funded by blood donations and goodwill, wielding his Canon Dial, he compiled something extraordinary. Still powerful, and sadly, still relevant, his documented experiences and accompanying text – Jacob’s keen to reinforce this isn’t art photography – are unsurpassed. As a book and show, it was last updated in 1997, but while his personal website might look a little rudimentary, the whole of ‘American Pictures’ is online here. The follow-up from the images going public was even odder – the KGB got involved and he was involved at the premiere of ‘Precious’ too, having had a relationship with the film and book’s lesbian author Sapphire back in the day. As we’re shocked by the news that Terry Richardson loves to get his dick out, and that fellow dirty old man Dov Charney’s empire seems to have gone cockeyed, it’s worth taking it back to something real for inspiration. Vice’s recent interview with Holdt was good too.

ii. ALL BROWN EVERYTHING

Alongside Nasir, Shawn Carter isn’t one of the best-dressed rappers out there, seemingly in flux between getting his grown man on and dressing like its still 1997 with a touch of TK Maxx in there too. Still, his line on ‘Run This Town’ made an impact – watch it repped by the big brands later this year. While the young ‘uns can pull it off, what about those of us who look like cat burglars, Milk Tray men or mimes in a fully noir ensemble? What’s wrong with brown? Carhartt’s duck canvas and the current Dickies line do it well, but what about some other rugged mediums? Rest assured, this blog makes efforts to minimise the levels of cooing over chambray fabric – you can see that in every corner of the internet. Spit in the wind in any hipster hotspot and you’ll stain some fade-effect cotton with saliva. But why is there so little brown chambray out there? Buzz Rickson’s excellent Mock-Twist shirt comes in brown, and is a worthy purchase, and the chambray chino from Lofgren and Cushman is something different. Still, grey, pale blue and red have a tendency to run things.

How about denim? Brown jeans are a tough one – they’re out there, but chocolate-brown APCs and Levi’s have been lacking. There’s distant memories of Tenderloin making something decent along those lines, but Sugar Cane made a good dyed version back when they were homaging the red tab device. The current SC40302A version that uses persimmon juice to get the brown hue seems a little fussy. Superfuture’s got a whole discussion on persimmon denim colouring going on – apparently it oxidises and, contrary to the preoccupation with gradual fade, gets darker with age.

Personally, as admirable as these creations can be, the obsession and proliferation of retailers nerding out with the reproduction brands can occasionally lose sight of denim’s no-frills intent and make product as far-fetched as any overtly distressed, boot cut monstrosity – an abject case of when keeping-it-real goes wrong. But then again, the notion of brown denim is presumably inauthentic from the very beginning. Hence duck canvas’s popularity. All suggestions on this matter are welcome…brown jeans wanted, preferably selvedge and preferably not as part of some madcap natural colour science experiment.

iii. P.M.A.

NYHC stalwarts seem to be pushing the self-help mantra even further with some interesting side projects. Toby from H2O is going school to school for the ‘One Life One Chance‘ initiative which espouses the benefits of straight edge and empowerment to schoolkids. The west coast’s school system gets Toby, we got mumbling policemen telling us tales of “wacky baccy” and mystery pills. Respect to Toby for that move. The images on the site with some D.A.R.E. tie-in were an odd one – having seen the tees worn ironically, I’d always been apprehensive of that project, but presumably, Mr. Morse knows the deal there better than I do. Additionally, Cro-Mag John Joseph is following up ‘The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ (which you really should have read by now) with the brilliantly titled ‘Meat Is For Pussies‘ which, from reviews, sounds like ‘Fast Food Nation’ with bigger biceps and a lot more ink. Looking forward to picking it up. THC and red meat are my downfalls – I’m open to being swayed by these two underground figures on those issues.

Seeing as Positive Mental Attitude plays its part there, it’s worth taking a brief look at the history of P.M.A. – self-help author Napoleon Hill included it in his seminal philosophy of achievement tome, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ back in 1937 before teaming up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone to pen ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’ in 1960. Stone, a notable conservative, donated around 10 million dollars to Richard Nixon’s election campaign. HR from Bad Brains was introduced to Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in the late ’70s and P.M.A. became part of the doctrine of the early hardcore scene. Unlike Stone’s outlook, HR’s “A true person would never vote for any politician, especially Ronald Begin and his husband Nancy because they eat many taxpayers jellybeans.” section in his ‘DO’S AND DON’TS OF A TRUE PERSON’ approaches things from a different angle politically. With Bad Brains’ heavy weed intake, and what came next for their career – some major drug issues for some members – positivity never necessarily meant abstinence, but by its very nature, it’s open to reinterpretation. Hence Toby’s version, continuing the lineage of P.M.A. in hardcore for a whole new audience. Which can only be a good thing.

(Image taken from X442X’s photostream)

Some good CBGBs footage recently released from Japan-only rareness…

iv. OTHER THINGS

FANTASTIC MAN 11

Charlie Porter just previewed a new ‘Fantastic Man’ on his Twitter – no other magazine does men’s fashion like this publication. Precise, sharply written and innovative, it would never trouble itself with matters of brown denim. It’s also a step your styling and shooting game up to the wannabes. Artist Wolfgang Tillmans on the cover,’Village Voice’ and ‘Vanity Fair’s finest, Bob Colacello and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor makes this an interesting proposition. Thus, the stakeout of glum-faced London magazine hotspot RD Franks begins…

THE RESURRECTION OF KWIK ZIPS

Good to see the obsessives at Eastman Leather going even crazier on the details. The coined KWIK (“The Zippiest Zip!”)  zip was the faster of choice on plenty of flight jacket designs, but has been out of production since WWII. So Eastman seem to have acquired the exclusive rights (after putting the Crown zipper on other garments) to KWIK, putting it onto items, whenever it’s historically relevant. Now that’s dedication.

LAZY MIDWEEK BLOGGING: MORE RALPH LAUREN

Oh shit, more Ralph Lauren talk? Like the anonymous caller that ushers ‘Protect Ya Neck’s Shaw Brothers headnod “Ah yeah, again and again…

It’s been a busy week. I’m feeling lazy, work is breaking balls and I was desperate for something to fill this evening’s blog void. If in doubt, I fall back on a couple of things close to my heart – Polo and Champion. I think I’ve exhausted the latter, but there’s always mileage when it comes to the former Lipschitz’s empire. First things first, I’m re-reading Dana Thomas’s ‘Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Lustre’ – essential reading for the brand fiends out there – though it’s worth noting that while the fragrance industry catches an slap to the head in Dana’s book, Hermès and LV are still projected as premium. If you’ve never picked it up, from the headquarters of brands to the truth about manufacture and Rodeo Drive’s origins, plus the LVMH interest in Asian-friendly outlet shopping, it’s a good one for the commuters out there looking for more insight than the usual vapid fashion week talk.

The real appeal of Ralph Lauren lies in those visits to the wood-furnished Ivy League looking stores, where to quote Lenny Leonard on clocking the Fleet-A-Pita van outside the Springfield power plant, “It looks like it doesn’t even need our business!

In tribute to Ralph, here’s a few recently unearthed Polo-centric happenings – firstly, the always-excellent (seriously, for spotting James Jebbia’s brief classroom TV appearance he gets props over here) Martorialist just talked Zhigge, and noted that they’re pioneers of the Lo’ Life references on record* as well as wearers of some fine garments linking the group to Hiroshi in a roundabout way that 99.9% of bloggers would lack the knowledge to execute. A little remnant of my ‘New York Magazine’ pillaging post from last month, the ‘Ralph’s World’ cover story from September 1993 is based around the opening of the Polo Sport store and the launch of RRL (“The leather jacket, the worn-out flannel shirt, the beat-up hat represent living, not fashion’ he spits out the last word.“) and is a good piece of Ralph history.

In line with my attempt at doing my bit to kill the e-pollution of retrospective pieces, my token spot of retro-offsetting arrives in the shape of a short Q&A with Ralph from the new ‘Man About Town’ via Philip Utz – I laughed at editor-in-chief Huw Gwyther when he appeared on ‘Dragon’s Den’ asking for cash. The joke’s on me, because this is a good publication (I’ve never picked up ‘Wonderland’) – Simon Foxton is in remarkably restrained mode, still on a young black teenagers vibe (and I’m not talking whiteys with dreads and Reverse Weave hoodies), but showcasing some clean Polo and Purple Label pieces in a Parisian setting. The shoot’s right here, but the interview is worth your time too.

*Though the non-major label antics of Boostin’ Kev preempt Zhigge by a year.