BASICS

Blogging your blagging is the epitome of douchebaggery, but some things are too good not to mention. At an event earlier in the year, the OTW goodie bag wasn’t your average tote bag print-up. The tote bag’s become the norm, but I think I’ve stockpiled a complimentary tote for every man, women and child on the planet, which pretty much defeats the re-use purposes of a cotton carrier and almost certainly missed the eco-friendly point. I can’t carry one around casually either, unless it’s a post-purchase trip back — they still look like shopping bags for the fey or elderly to me — I need something that hangs from the shoulder. As a result, I have no qualms about rocking the man bag. Round my way, every ‘yoot’s getting all JJB-metrosexual with a tiny Nike bag containing whatever ‘yoots are carrying these days inexplicably near their armpit. This OTW bag > blog-dandies with camo tote. Everybody’s doing a camo now, so it makes sense to explore military build rather than the stealth aesthetics, which, through sheer ubiquity at tradeshows and on store shelves means camouflage is starting to become invisible to me — mission accomplished, I guess.

Vans win on two scores – implementing the work of Mr. Rob Abeyta of Dual Forces as part of an OTW project and — in a very Dual Forces move — ditching the anonymity of the tote in favour of some mil-spec, US-made army standard baggage. I believe this bag is a DF spec take on the SO Tech Mission Go Bag — a bumbag, shoulder bag and seemingly indestructible creation that acts as part of a modular system. Made to ride below armour, and from a design that seems orientated towards combat medics, but it also seems targeted towards (no pun intended), snipers and anybody wielding a tiny military Panasonic laptop. Big, idiot-proof zips and plenty of space, plus plenty of pockets (Lexdray still get my vote of most insane amount of pouches, compartments and hidden stuff — I lost my phone for an hour in one of their backpacks) makes it a fine camera case. Special Operations Technologies are the real deal (“Built to Survive the World’s Worst“), constantly reworking existing designs, deliberately overbuilding their goods, using heavy threads and not skimping on their Cordura deniers.

Los Angeles based and kitting out every Hollywood film of recent years with a military element, the brutal-sounding testimonials page on their site proves they’re not dropping their standards to get an end credit mention. Any brand that boasts of stocking, “the most obscure buckle designs” is my kind of brand. Salutes to Vans, Dual Forces and Special Operations Technologies. Other brands need to unleash the American-made mil-spec goodie bag too.

Whenever friends visit Tokyo, I always harass them to get me plain grey Champion US-made Heavy Weight Jersey shirts from Oshman’s. These are my favourite tees on the market and with Mr. Michael Kopelman being one of the first I ever saw wearing one, it’s good to see that London’s The Hideout will be stocking 6 colours of the plain shirt from tomorrow. With import tax and all the rest, they won’t be cheap (the Real McCoys Champion tees, with the even older style branding and fit were an expensive proposition), but these shirts last and wear in nicely. If I was balling, all my UK sunny day shirts would be these. For NYC heat they’re not so good, because that thickness and softer lining borders on a semi sweatshirt feel. On the Oshman’s topic, their US-made UCLA tees are pretty amazing too. The difference between these and the cheaper ones is in the fact that the former are nigh-on unwearable unless you’re built like a brick shithouse. Even if you were a man mountain, I suspect they might look a little too blocky.

FOR MARK

The internet is so full of tributes to those who’ve passed that it’s tough to keep up. Some of us might even develop a steely disposition, assailed as we are by tiny sub-140 character memorials and RIP hashtags. We might even get a little apathetic about death, but when it’s a little closer to home, it’s just a terrible thing. I don’t pretend to know Mr. Mark Cadwaladr all that well, but he was one of the first to say anything nice about this blog and I’d known him for a while through Crooked Tongues. I’m not American enough to engage in the retweeting of compliments and in these (ineffective) PR driven times, insincerity is pandemic, so I find people saying nice things deeply awkward. Mark’s feedback — a correction here, a snarky comment there and passing on a link was incredibly important and pretty much incited me to compile a few half arsed paragraphs when I really wanted to get offline to watch a Brian Bosworth film and eat my own body weight in Peanut Butter M&Ms.

This site has lost a like mind (even if Mark complained that I was being indulgently referential to try to confuse him) and an important part of its readership, but beyond that he was a father, friend and family member. I owe him a great deal. I’m not spiritual in the slightest, but that much enthusiasm for clothes and shoes won’t disseminate fast. It’ll keep on echoing in the real and virtual worlds for some time to come. We can all unleash the cliches at a time like this and claim that we don’t appreciate people until they’re gone and that would we should say nice things while they’re here, but most Brits would run a mile if the positive vibes became too over powering. The piss taking, sarcasm and occasional reprimand was proof that we were in the presence of a genuinely top bloke. They’re a rare breed. The self-promoters get the Google hits, but the good people make the long-term impact.

I had to bookend this post with images of Steve Cram in his Nikes. I think it’s the T/C Vendetta Windrunner (see comments) in Cram colours at the top and the running spikes in the Cram colours below. There’s a lot of unspoken tales of Brits and their entry point into Nike, and the child-size only Nike Cram Destiny and Nike Bongo frequently make an appearance. I know Mark’s shoe addiction was aided by a love of the Destiny. On a purely commercial basis, Nike’s Steve Cram Collection was a flop, because it used yellow — a deeply uncommercial colour at the time — to correlate with Cram’s running vest colours (I’ve never heard the sales figures for the Alberto Cova colourways of similar shoes from around the same time). I think the collection being a Brendan Foster helmed project and his relationship with Nike disintegrating didn’t help, but for a whole generation who’d grow up to fuel collector culture on these shores, the Nike Crams were deeply important.

It’s the little things that make the bigger splash.

ARCHIVE

I’m still out the country and still slacking on blog entries. More time eating and less time pondering the minutiae of some unnecessary matters proves toxic to my creativity and I’m trying to at least feign a break from the old routine. Seeing a 1982 Dondi sketch for sale in the Block Party 2012 show earlier in the week (alongside some Barry McGee and Haze pieces I wish I owned) had me thinking back to the swag exhibited in the above image of Futura, Dondi and Zephyr in LA, taken from the ‘Style Master General’ book. They weren’t just talking paint and ink with that title. Member’s Only jackets, tracksuit trousers and Nikes executed in a non-corny manner. Now I’m in LA and about to, presumably, end up doing some form of exercise that’s Nike+ (this Nate VanHook interview on the Hue is cool) related this afternoon, lacking even 0.1.% of the style exhibited by Donald, Lenny and Andrew right there. Though it was good to see Riff Raff holding it down in a bar last night, plus Antwuan Dixon drunk outside trying to get in (on a skate note, Koston Epic’ly Later’d coming soon).

When in doubt, throw up some old ads on the site; these date back to 1986, but are good examples of advertising for a market beyond the usual male audience. Women’s Air Forces (which were reworked for women’s feet rather than just scaled down) and an enviable roster of kids’ shoes with the ‘Some Athletes Haven’t Made it Big Yet’ copy are pretty good.

Stone Island’s Stone Island 30 exhibition sounds immense and a good reason to go brave the mean-mugging hordes in snug tailoring who’ve picked up on Pitti over the last couple of years. The book is there too and Mr. Errolson Hugh and Future Concept Lab have got some shots of ‘ARCHIVIO ‘992-‘012’, which I need in my life immediately. The exhibition version comes with a tee, but I can live without the promo garment, because at 653 pages in length, it looks like it’s worth the wait. Capping off the week, Drake’s Stone Island knitwear in the ‘No Lie’ video is an interesting sartorial choice that sees a global star dressing like a British road rapper. The last Stone Island/CP samples sale was significantly more gooned-out than a Drake/Chris Brown scuffle.





ART IMITATES LIFE & VICE VERSA

To compensate for the volume of shoe-centric pieces lately, I thought I’d throw up some more film inspired stuff on here. In terms of traffic, a little less potent, but for the few of you who check this site out semi regularly, I’ll be presumptuous and assume it’s relevant to your interests. If you’re here and haven’t seen ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and you’re over the age of 20, you’re one of those characters who I don’t want to be seated next to at a wedding dinner. Pacino in a role that’s shouty but nuanced (those phone call scenes are pretty much as good as ’70s cinema gets), the amazing and much-missed John Cazale and an excellent Chris Sarandon on support and…fuck it, there’s no point even trying to talk it up, because if you know, you know. I knew it was based on a true story; P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore’s ‘The Boys in the Bank’ from a September 1972 issue of ‘LIFE’ about the John Wojtowicz case, but I forgot how much of that article (and the accompanying imagery) is in Frank Pierson’s screenplay and the final film, rather than Scorsese loosely channeling the doom atmosphere of Larry Clark’s ‘Tulsa’ for ‘Taxi Driver. For all the drama and panicked humour, it’s a strange, sad story really.

This Ain’t It Cool News conversation between Jason Schwartzman and Quint is a fun tangent from the usual press junket topics and Quint breaks out some close up shots of the University of Texas’s De Niro donations. I’d seen the ‘Taxi Driver’ “King Kong Company” tank jacket and shirt before, but Sam Rothstein’s burnt post-car bomb jacket from ‘Casino’? Insane.

Images taken from here.

I had the pleasure of talking to Jerry Cohen, founder of Ebbets Field Flannels recently. There’s a lot I wanted to ask him with regards to sportswear’s lost brands and techniques, but it’s heartening to see a man who is obviously obsessed with the subject of old sports making a career out of it and on his own terms. Go visit POST/NEW for the whole thing, but beyond the talk of several cities having their own hat shape as well as their own logos and colours, Jerry also schooled me on the difference between a varsity jacket and baseball jacket. To tie this to the talk above, Ebbets make a replica of Robert Redford’s New York Knights jacket from ‘The Natural’ (I think the OG was made by Maple Authentic Sportswear who made the film’s flannels too). Word to Wonderboy…

GW: On the jackets, is there a difference between baseball jackets and the more commonplace varsity jacket?

JC: Absolutely. Nobody asks me that because they assume they’re the same. The big difference is length. Varsity jackets went up on the waist but baseball jackets went longer. They were meant to be worn to warm up in, so the shoulders were cut different too. They used to make them tailored and varsity jackets were more bulky — Wilson made the best ones and I have a few originals.

GW: Are they from the 1950s?

JC: Yep, the 1950s. The Wilson jackets were beautiful, with a zipper or buttoned front and they just had a certain drape to them that was just gorgeous. That’s what we try to replicate. The wool isn’t as heavy. A varsity jacket used a Melton wool , but baseball jackets used an 18 or 19oz wool rather than the 24oz.

GIGER, TOKYO CLOTHES & HIP-HOP

As part of a recent Instagram conversation with those older and wiser than me on such matters, the subject of Tokyo’s legendary Let It Ride line emerged. Too many brands seem to be ignored in favour of lesser ones and just finding an old Japanese-made Let It Ride long-sleeve tee with what looks like bleached branding and a ’50s style back print during a clear out reminded me of the brand’s work. Established in late 1993, by former BEAMS and United Arrows employee Ken Sadomura and designer Kiichiro Kurata, the brand was a key part of the ELT (which I believe stood for Every Little Thing) store in Shibuya that also provided the foundation for a few more brands along the way (according to an entry on Pass the Baton, the store made Birkenstocks fashionable too).

Let it Ride made no secret of its inspiration from punk and Malcolm McLaren’s pre-SEX Let it Rock store, with the teddy boy style that imbued the Neighborhood aesthetic too. As the elder statesmen of the industry pointed out to me, Let it Ride was superseded a little by Unrivaled, as stocked in the mighty Goodhood — a brand with startling levels of attention to detail. It’s not that the brand ever declined, it’s simply that the minds behind it seemed to opt to avoid magazine and blog “celebrity” and just let the product talk. Kiichiro Kurata seems to be putting in some extra work on the Tuscany-made PRESIDENT’S line too (that Oddojob jacket is tremendous) but back in mid 1990s Kurata was an early partner with POST O’ALLS on a sub-brand with ELT called SPANISHCURVES, inspired by the rear view of Hispanic ladies during an NYC trip. This ELT site proves that Let it Ride is still very much an ongoing project.

Salutes to Let it Ride for opening my eyes to (cue up the ‘Aladdin’ soundtrack) a whole new world alongside GOOD ENOUGH. Out of interest (and I know some of you can answer this in a second), what became of Sarcastic post 2006? I’d also love to know more about another early POST O’ALLS collaborator — Shinichi Nakasone, who founded the LL Bean, New England style of Harajuku’s Labrador Retriever store in September 1988 with some vintage pieces, imports and dog-centric takes on rugged Americana way, way, way before the majority. I know it split into two companies with the same branding in the mid 1990s, causing a little confusion, but Nakasone’s contribution to the culture is deeply significant.

Did the YO! MTV Raps documentary leave anyone else as melancholy as it did me? That show changed my life back in the day and the mild sense of anarchy, title animations and even those white album and directorial credits affected me in a way that’s tough to describe. We got a weekly mashup of those daily episodes on a Saturday morning and I’m not mad at the MTV Europe insert of Marxman and Al Agami videos where US videos would have been either. Even the crappier elements are rose-tinted to me. What Ted Demme pushed for changed my life. R.I.P. Ted.



I still maintain that the Demme co-directed documentary ‘A Decade Under the Influence’, released posthumously and screened on IFC is absolutely necessary if you’re a fan of 1970s cinema — there are few better love letters to cinema’s most subversive period. While it might feel a little rushed, there’s several anecdotes delivered by some folks who’ve since passed on that make it a joy to watch in its three-hour form. It used to be on YouTube in its entirety, until music rights and whatever else led to it being alopecia patchy in the chapter stakes, but you can sample the first part below. During the final YO! In 1995, was that a Supreme sweat that Ed Lover wore or was it made by somebody else? (Edit: Sung from Clae, a former PNB founder member, confirmed that it’s not Supreme and it’s actually a 1993 PNB Nation sweat with a WEST FC handstyle) Bearing in mind that the good folk at Milkcrate Athletics upped some footage of Fab politicking with Stash, Futura and Gerb in tradeshow mode (I recall Fab presenting from NFC retailer Triple 5 Soul in 1990, but I’m sure this was from 432F a couple of years later), maybe Ed got tipped off — his clothes were usually on point anyway.



Some are struggling to decry ‘Prometheus’ as garbage, so they’re in denial, giving it ‘7’ and breaking it into two halves of differing quality. I just saw muddled rubbish that felt like a straight-to-DVD pilot to a show that never was. Despite falling asleep during ‘Robin Hood’ and the one with Russell Crowe and wine, the marketing had me fiending for a film that turned out to be as engaging as the appalling “AVP2: Requiem’ with that smartly executed TED talk.

I don’t want to know how those curious HR Giger designs came to exist, especially when the Space Jockey looks as though it’s basketball player height compared to the reclining behemoth in ‘Alien.’ The only piece of Giger mythology I wanted answered is how he and Chris Stein from Blondie became buddies, but apparently it was just a meeting at a gallery after ‘Alien’s release, resulting him creating the cover art to ‘Koo Koo’ and directing the videos for‘Backfired’ and ‘Now I Know You Know’ being full of his work. There’s some good photos of Giger’s house on Chris Stein’s site that don’t disappoint — the baby faces on the garden wall are a nice touch. The ‘Now I Know You Know’ video is better than all of ‘Prometheus.’





MOVEMENTS

I’ve definitely always looked to Paris as Europe’s most hip-hop city, with Amsterdam running a close second. As a continent, we were once dangerously obsessed with rap and all its related sub-cultures — memorising shout outs, trading tapes and haplessly trying to ape NYC’s styles with local brands and no-name hi-tops. Germany had its own thing, but it was all a bit too wide-eyed and headspin led, third gen dubbed Britcore C90s for me and the UK’s bumpkins with boom boxes, obsessively tagging are fun, but it never held up as well as that small scattering of soundsystem centric acts that had their moment in the early 1990s before burning out.

We all seemed to try too hard and while hip-hop wasn’t the French’s first language, it seemed to slot into their linguistics and innate Gallic cockiness. It seems Parisian folk were hip-hop before hip-hop even existed. They could wear goose downs without looking like caricatures and can still flip the bucket hat and bulky leathers — in some cases even a name belt — without coming off like boom-bap pensioners. I’m not talking Solaar and whatever groups were on some crummy global rap compilation back in the day, but the militancy of NTM and the work of BANDO and co — graffiti in Paris never seemed to lose its edge either. They’re the kings of Euro sports footwear culture too, and I appreciate Xenophobics will want to get me in a headlock for those sentiments, but no other nation can still make hip-hop’s elements not look like a Bomfunk MCs video.

However, I still need to understand what the rapper’s saying, so I barely listen to any French rap — I’m just caught up in the aesthetic. Today I spotted some good news via Mr. Thomas Giorgetti’s Facebook page — Japanese photographer’s Yoshi Omori’s time on the French hip-hop scene between 1984 and 1989 has been compiled into a book called ‘Mouvement’ that’s published by 19/80 Editions. Lots of leather jackets, lots of b-boy swagger done right and a documentation of something that looks to have a certain stone faced unity about it. There’s some faces in the preview shots that are still involved in the scene and I think that some of them might take old loudmouth Rosenberg’s side on the HOT97 Minaj ‘Starships’ debate — they just would have dismissed it with a little more flair than Peter’s drunk dad at a barbecue technique.

On a completely unrelated topic, the videos of partygoers exiting NASA at NYC’s The Shelter (the spot from ‘Kids’) via Scotto TV includes a parade of some of the most early 1990s clothing styles possible.


Other things I’m into today are the ‘FUSE 1-20’ book by Taschen for a Neville Brody-designed fuckload of typography, plus Y’OH‘s new t-shirt and sticker designs (image jacked from Kara Messina’s Instagram) which are so well executed that Y’OH feels fully established in just a couple of seasons — there’s a lesson here in getting your brand’s visual identity on point early, which is something that most UK brands flop on in a mass of Brooklyn Kid and knockoffs. Bring something new to the table like Kara and you’ll reap the benefits.

On discovering a bag of old ‘zines during a clear out, I was reminded how tremendous the art direction for Milk’s ‘Never Dated’ mini-album was (complete with Mike D on drums). The broken bottle with blood cover and the ‘got milk.’ ad are still peerless.