Category Archives: Design

PUMP-UP ARTIFACTS

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A few things have caught my attention over the last few days. All eyes should be on Paris right now, but the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City is where the innovation really lies. This year it’s all about North Face’s evolution of their existing avalanche tech — the Modulator ABS attachment for your rucksack that deploys an air bag — and strange hybrid Meta-Rocker boots from HOKA ONE ONE that would probably generate excited paragraphs if they hit the catwalk. Everybody’s grasping at decidedly non-retro wearable technologies these days, but NuDown’s use of air as insulation, with a handheld, stowable pump to increase or decrease the garments padding to determine your personal warmth has resulted in a collection of pump-up climate controlled outerwear. I had no idea that inflation insulation was even a thing, but reviews on serious equipment sites have been positive. The current Squaw Peak jacket looks a bit fashion in its utilitarian eccentricity, but the 2015 offerings like
the Mt. Tallac Jacket and Mt. Whitney Vest look a little more accessible in their line art — heat-sealed shells that bulk up when the going gets tough? Very interesting. The fact these come equipped with RECCO’s electronic communication system is proof that they’re not made for a Starbucks outing. It isn’t the first air coat I’ve seen (didn’t Final Home create something similar and, as Matt Kyte pointed out to me, Acronym did something similar with GORE-TEX Airvantage thermal adaption), but it’s a joy to see such defiantly progressive things being put to work in some extreme conditions.

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I have no idea what Future Artifacts is, but it launches soon, is based in London, will probably involve printed matter, exhibitions and a physical store. Plus it’s a REAL GOLD and Ditto Press collaborations. Their pleasantly vague website has excellent 8-bit looking A’s and R’s too, which helps.

While we’re talking type, the prospect of a project that investigates the origins and cultural status of that mysterious b-boy typeface that’s not quite old English, not quite gothic, just iconic and always appealing on a shirt or sweat, is an appealing prospect. Heated Words is all about finally answering some questions that everyone who ever paused a VHS or stared at that Biz twelve for a long time as a reaction to the olde world, yet strangely right for the time lettering on display. The site to support Heated Words is in its infant stages, but that Charlie Ahearn Doin’ Time in Times Square film is an absolutely essential watch.

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Alex Olson’s Bianca Chandon line revels in a certain gloss meets grime, near-mythical old-NYC house and disco aesthetic — as was anticipated after the talk of Fire Island photo books during a Transworld interview — and I’ve been impressed by the quality of the gear. Of course, wearing some of this iconography could earn you a G-check if you get caught slipping with these logos and names on your back so it’s well worth doing your homework (not least because the topics are fascinating moments in underground culture). At the moment, everything is getting a collaborative capsule collection created to cash-in on the Supreme wave, but Bianca Chandon’s Larry Levan pieces are smartly done — air brush art captures the era of his decade-long reign at the club and the legend’s own choice of garments, another shirt lists some Paradise Garage classic remixed by him and theres even a Larry Levan pro-model too. It’s a throwback to an influential amyl-scented, Peech Boys and T-Connection soundtracked world. Two other Paradise Garage veterans, David DePino, and Joey Llanos, were involved to consult on graphics and the charity where a portion of proceeds would go (Gay Men’s Health Crisis). Nicely played on Bianca Chandon’s part, rather than simply re-appropriating without renumeration — a depressing aspect of the current appetite for parodies and homages.

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A GOOD DAY

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I’ve looked up to Amsterdam’s Patta squad since they were putting out mixtapes featuring Non Phixion — their convergence of shoes, music and art, plus their admirable crew mentality has made them a movement (the existence of a Patta Talk group on Facebook, featuring almost 5,500 members is a testament to that. I have an ever-changing list of missions on my mind at any given time, but doing something, anything, with my friends at Patta has been a constant. We had discussions, but projects can vanish or switch repeatedly, so it never happened. Seeing as Lee and the squad have long been supporters of what I do, and I’m a fan, i wanted to put a tick by it. The 10th anniversary Converse project gave me the opportunity to write something more substantial than the 400 words a magazine would probably allow about their intentions, the role of hip-hop in Amsterdam and, most importantly, Edson’s steez, that eclipses any pitiful pocket square wearing, cancer stick posing Pitti tourists right now. It’s in the Today Was a Good Day ‘zine that Patta and Converse (it helps that the Chuck Taylor, which was the collaborative canvas for this project, is a personal favourite too) put out late last month alongside plenty of art and photography by the formidably talented Vincent van de Waal. I had a good couple of days working on this one — salutes to Team Patta.

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ARCHIVING AN ATTITUDE

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Ditto Press are becoming an imprint whose books I buy on sight, without needing to browse. Niche topics presented beautifully makes their releases the sort of thing that’s sought after within a few months of release. You can dither with other things, but when you leave a book waiting, it’s inevitable that they quietly slip out of print. To coincide with the Ditto Gallery exhibition on the same topic, the Skinhead: An Archive book is a deep dig into Toby Mott’s stacks of zines, packaging, records, notes, newspapers and films with Jamie Reid on design duties. That gold hardback cover with a female take on The Last Resort’s logo embossed on the cover, plus an appropriately uncompromising spine font custom created by Reid and based on a skinhead piece from a 1987 Penthouse article on racist skinheads (reproduced in the book) sold it to me from the start, and it’s good to see that Mott gives room to every aspect of the culture — the original skins, the right-wing skins, the left-wing skins, the female skins and the gay skins, each split by that brutal typeface.

Those of us who never recall seeing a SHARP skin as a kid and just remember braces, sneers and Screwdriver tees will remember the shaven-headed wolf packs as a reason to cross the road, back when glue sniffing seemed to be a viable get-high option. It’s a subject matter that’s loaded both politically and in terms of personal experience, so a publication covering all angles needed to be equally full-on. How many other books are going to include essays by Garry Bushell and Bruce LeBruce? That’s why this topic warrants exploration. Even Weetabix (whose advertising included a wheaty bovver boy in braces threatening you with, “If you know what’s good for you…”) advertising plays a role.

Different paper stocks, Risograph printing, tipped in pages, metallic ink and a jarring switch to lurid colour towards the book’s close is a luxury approach to a hardcore topic, but even a cursory skim is a confrontational experience. When a friend or relative swings by and has an idle flick-through Skinhead: An Archive, it’s Russian roulette as to where they’re going to land and what they’ll make of you, but for those of us with insatiable subcultural curiosity, this project sets a standard with its thoughtful broad exploration of an oft-paradoxical world linked by a headbutt aesthetic and macho uniformity. An incredible book. Go buy it here and visit the exhibition before the 22nd of this month, where there’s a Martine Rose tie-in collection too. This Toby Mott interview at Vice and Jamie Reid conversation and gallery over at It’s Nice That are a superb accompaniment to this project.

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Train cancellations meant that I never made the Soulland presentation at London Collections yesterday. I’m still stinging from missing out, because Silas and the team used technology the right way — using the Soulland app, the green backdrops behind each model came alive and let the iPhone shooter pick their background. Taking inspiration from the Happy Mondays, match day and Madchester, in the wrong hands, it could have been a car crash, but their strong prints, deliberately dishevelled fits and array of jacket cuts are great. I remember augmented reality being a buzzword back when I started my last job and most fashion projects using it regarding fashion being a shock and awe technique to distract from gimmicky garments. When technology is twinned with a strong collection and, appropriately, a simulation of the world through Shaun Ryder’s eyes circa 1990, it really comes to life appropriately. These Danish dons are doing content (another buzzword) right too: check out this chat with Mike Skinner on the site.

STACKS

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I’m late to this one and I only ran into it trying to get hold of a copy of Ice-T Shot Me in the Face (if anybody has a copy of that book for sale, holler). I’ve long railed against lame shoe-dude apparel (bar Stüssy AM95, Dead Stock and OG CT tees) and the misconception that being into trainers is necessarily connected to style nowadays, but this 2007 image by the aforementioned book’s Montreal-based publisher Paul Labonté called Rubber Bands and a Shoebox (which, as part of a 2008 exhibition, probably isn’t a reference to this track by Ya Boy, who completely confused me by changing his name recently) is a Tumblr classic (which can be summoned by typing in cash and shoebox on Google Images) that benefits from filling a box that could contain some obscure AF1 His from 1992 or some Raids with stacks rather than some new packaging. Paul Labonté’s work is something I’ve been a fan of for a while now (as Paul 107, he wrote 2003’s excellent All City: the Book About Taking Space and he directed the video to Azelia Banks 212 too, plus this Black Atlass video) and the photo has been put on a long-sleeve t-shirt from Desfois/SOMETIMES that just started shipping. You can also grab the 2010 Photographs Inspired by the Rap Music That Once Inspired Me book from here and an enamel badge made with fellow Montreal man, JJJJound’s Justin R. Saunders, bearing the stuffed box image. Very well executed.

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On the subject of graffiti and beautiful presentation, burning down the house, Norman Behrendt’s study of Berlin writers, looks incredible, studying the participants, the process and the spaces. That camo-like U-bahn seat pattern cover is incredible.

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I’m glad that there’s a lot of magazines on the shelves right, now when doomed predictions a few years back had me thinking that there might be five or six left by 2014, but I still stick to a handful of publications I’ve been reading for a while. 032c still rules for it no-compromise approach to content. The 32-page dossier on Raf Simons’ work that opens # 27 is great — Pierre Alexandre de Looz put in some serious work, and it’s a piece that reveals just enough about the process behind Simons’ work to fully understand why the stylistic imitators trying to capture some of that deceptive simplicity with pretension rather than intellect as justification are so wide of the mark. This cover by regular Raf collaborator Willy Vanderperre is the kind of thing that makes me buy something, using the camo jacket from 2001 with the Richey Edwards imagery on it that got a Manics seal of approval — the collection united some of my favourite things and looked like it could have been tour gear for any Manics moment from 1991 to February 1st, 1995. To put that into a publication alongside pieces on Richard Yurley, Tom Kummer’s world of celeb fiction (complete with Juergen Teller’s very real photographs) and Kenneth Goldsmith’s book and music recommendations maintains the constant quest that Joerg Koch and the team are on to make something that’s better than the rest. This interview with TISSUE Magazine discusses Joerg’s straight edge roots and the no-fucks-given mindset behind something whose entire appeal is really rooted in how much of a fuck it gives about its quality control and deep cultural exploration.

JAMES

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I’m already thinking about resolutions for early 2015. One is to drag the look of this blog and the clumsy URL out of 2009 and the other is to chuck more interviews up here. This site probably wouldn’t be here without Mo’ Wax’s influence and, seeing as I chucked up some Converse press bits a few weeks back (and discussed the MW bulletin board a couple of years ago), here’s a longer version of a chat with James Lavelle on the subject of shoes for the build-up to the Nike project that dropped today. He was very gracious with his time and particularly talkative on the subject of collaborations, answering a few questions I’ve always wanted to ask. That Mo’ Wax Manga project was a significant opportunity missed.

How did the Converse project begin?

JAMES: Once the book started and was on social media right at the beginning, there were a couple of interviews right at the start of the book and it started this wave of re-interest with Mo’ Wax and I wanted to do a series of collaborations around the Mo’ Wax thing, with people who we’d worked with in the past — we did a few things with Bathing Ape again and there’s other collaborations coming as well from people we worked with in Japan. For some reason it came through that Converse would potentially be interested in doing something and I know Ian [Ginoza] from DJing back in the day and I’d done some work with him back in Asia when he was there. We met up in New York when I was there at the end of last year and we talked about doing a possible collaboration that would be a friends and family type project.

Did you pick the Jack Purcell?

To be honest with you, the sneakers that I wear the most are Jack Purcells now. So I was quite keen to be able to work with Converse as a contemporary thing, representing me as a person right now. I buy Converse — it’s the sort of thing I wear and it’s generally a Jack Purcell. I designed it with them basically and the detail was really, really important. Just new ways and new technologies and things that hadn’t necessarily been down before — the idea was to create something that had the Mo’ Wax feel. I really wanted to create a shoe that would stand out as a shoe in its own right and wasn’t gimmicky or over the top and garish. It would fit in with where I was at now and not necessarily where I was at 15 years ago, do you know what I mean? It was with me and Matt [Sleep]. Ian facilitated it and has been very open, like, “Do what you wanna do!”

To be honest, there wasn’t much compromise with what we did. The idea was to take something that was iconic from Mo’ Wax, so the camouflage — it’s a recurring theme in a lot of elements of what we’ve used recently. It’s on the book, it’s on the Nike sneaker, it’s in the Nike garms, it’s on a lot of other collaborations — all these other things, like the Medicom. It’s not a graphic design thing — it has a pattern quality to it. It has something that, in its own right — away from Mo’ Wax — is an interesting image. I didn’t want to do anything where it felt like we were printing images, like when we did the DUNKLE and it was really garish, with lots going on. How can we get the design aesthetic into something really subtle? And with the mids, it was just self-indulgent for me because I really wanted to do something with stingray or something that had an interesting fabric to it. We talked through lots of ideas and I’d just seen the Margiela shoe and was quite jealous of that, with it being such a great idea. They were very much against repeating anything that might have been done in the past or something that was too similar to something that was going on, because I’d suggested about something that involved painting shoes — then I saw the Margiela and was like, “Oh fuck, that one’s done.” So what was interesting with that was keeping subtle themes going, like having Mo’ Wax on the sole of the feet or on the tips of the laces or on the insole or on the little strip on the back — there’s this sort of Mo’ Wax touch. But the stingray was just to try and apply something that would hopefully look pretty cool.

Stingray always looks good — I’ve seen real stingray used on a New Balance before.

The only compromise was that I couldn’t use the real thing. There’s laws about exotic materials. But actually, how it came out was pretty cool because it has a weird, unique feel to it.

Collaboration culture really seems to have become a business model now rather an organic act or logical progression. Do you keep up with the current state of collaborations?

No, I’m pretty out of that world now. I don’t pay masses of attention. Because what I was doing back then was about being part of the culture and reacting to that environment. Once it became a business it changed. I mean, collaborations have been going on forever — it’s the nature of the collaborations that changed and the way that certain companies that were unapproachable that you’ve grown up with, that I’ve grown up with — Nike sneakers, Medicom toys, Major Force…all of these things that, when I was a kid, were the things that you collected and the things that you never dream that you’d ever be able to be a part of, were suddenly something that you had access to. And as those things became cool — most people forget that a lot of the things I did at the time did not do very well, because people weren’t very interested in buying the toys, and they weren’t very interested in buying all the stuff and that’s one of the reasons that Mo’ Wax isn’t around any more — and they were in very, very small circles, because there wasn’t the internet involved back then, so things weren’t like they are. You couldn’t see Japan in that way — you had to go there.

So there was sort of a mythology and there was something very much about a united group of people around the world that were collaborating together and also getting to collaborate on the things that they’d admired or grown up on, so Nike was involved. And in many ways, Nike was the beginning of that, because Nike was a commercial brand. It was adidas and Nike, with Nigo doing Bathing Ape and adidas and Nike doing things like the Dunk and other collaborations with Futura and Stash — they were the first time that companies like that were doing fashion-based collaborations or music-based collaborations generally. Nike never did that before and adidas had a bit of history. And once it opened up, it just became the norm that everybody and every company had a Bearbrick, from Chanel to Gucci. Everything becomes a limited edition, you know? From Top Shop to whatever. It’s just a way of marketing things now, more than anything else. It wasn’t really about marketing back in the day — it wasn’t thought out. It was based around a small community of people.

There seemed to be a lot of collaborations that never dropped with Mo’ Wax. There was a Vans that never dropped, plus a mooted Clarks collaboration.

Yeah. There were so many things I tried to do. You see things in the book like the 3D toy and Vans stuff. Then the LEGO. There was the Glen Friedman poster. There was a lot of stuff that we tried to do — a lot of records and a lot of people that we were going to work with that never happened and to was pre-internet and it was a pretty mad, young hedonistic, lunatics taking over the asylum kind of time, you now? So you’d meet somebody that wanted to do something at a company and maybe by the time you got so far, they would have left, or the company closed down or moved on. There was Manga film — was talking to Manga for a year about making a movie. I was talking to a games company for a while about a game. There was endless stuff that never came out — there was almost more of that than the stuff that came out.

Mo’ Wax never really seemed to end for me — I only called off the search on the Friedman poster five years ago. I forget how young you were then — it makes me feel lazy.

I dunno man. It’s hard to look at yourself then. It was a long time ago and I was a different person really. I think one of the fundamental things was that I was very young but so were many of the people who were the fabric of the label — Shadow, Ben, Will, Charlie — everybody was young. Most music that you hear now that’s big is from young people, whether it’s the XX or Young Turks. There’s always that spark in music that creates a lot of people who are successful. With design and art it’s happened more in the last twenty years because of the nature of information and how we look at things. But back in the day, if you were a designer or whatever, it was just before Lee McQueen and that new generation. Most people would work in that world honing their skills for a long time so you know? Your image was based around older, more successful designers and people that had quite a long history of learning their craft.

With the whole friends and family nature of the Converse project it feels like a celebration — has the Southbank project and book allowed you to just back at what you did in a fonder way and see the influence?

It’s funny. I was with Michèle Lamy, who’s Rick Owens’ wife, at Meltdown. It was mad seeing her read the book because she was just fascinated and she said, “Oh, I thought Kanye and Pharrell invented all this — I can’t believe this is 10 years earlier!” So in that way, it’s great. It’s a mixed emotional experience for me because there’s a lot of regret and emotional history and time but there’s also a lot of joy and it’s been really good working with Ben — and that’s been a very consistent relationship — and how we went through it and achieved that process. It’s great that sort of came together and Meltdown came together and could be celebrated in that way and the opening of the exhibition was a very wonderful evening. Going back to your last question, it’s about that environment you’re in as well. Mo’ Wax was a product of its environment and that success was when the environment was really thriving and there was an amazing amount of imagination and creativity, you know? And so looking at this room and seeing all these people that were there…also, a lot of these people at that period in time had a lot of politics. Part of what I did was bring people together who wouldn’t necessarily work together, so we were trying to weave around the politics to achieve something. So that made it quite difficult and quite volatile at times — seeing all these people in one room, and some hadn’t spoken in 10 or 15 years, or fallen out, and them leaving that behind was very joyous. I think, by being in a public space like the Southbank, we all just looked at ourselves and went, “Oh fuck! We’re all part of this.” That was an amazing time and how brilliant it is that it’s being celebrated.

The record as a tangible, beautifully packaged thing seems like a thing of the past now.

It was an amazing time, but you’re young and your priorities are different. There was an infrastructure and there were successes. There was just this will to create and to do — we did a lot of stuff. It was a different time. In many ways the internet has changed a lot of how creativity works — some for the good and some for the bad. With record labels it totally changed because of the fact that there’s free digital records. People would buy records and there was money to spend on making them because they had an economic value. There are still a lot of interesting, creative labels that do unique things — I think that it’s more boutique now. Mo’ Wax was actually quite successful and well-known — it was a successful brand in that we were selling a million Shadow records and we weren’t selling 500 limited edition 180-gram, hand printed records.

As far as the relationship between Nike and Mo’ Wax, how did that begin? I recall a CD back in early 1997…

Yeah, yeah, the running thing that we did. That was weird. I can’t remember what the hell was going on there — that was a really strange project that was. It really did not connect — I wouldn’t connect the dots between that project and creating a sneaker. To be honest with you, that Nike project, and if my memory serves me right because it was a fucking long time ago, it was done through a marketing company — an ad agency. We were always interested in doing things like that — I think the mad thing with that was that it had to be all new music and there couldn’t be any samples. That’s why it ended up being Richard File and Ils doing it.

How did the real Nike relationship begin?

At the beginning we all went out for dinner with Sandy [Bodecker], Mark [Parker] and various others — it was me, Michael Kopelman, Fraser, Giorgio and the guys from Nike. I remember that I had to leave very quickly because I was going to a Queens of the Stone Age gig. I was like, “Hi, nice to meet you!” And they were like, “What would you do?” and I just said, “An UNKLE shoe or something like that…” and it just seemed to happen. So Fraser and I met them at the same time —he wasn’t working with Nike then. Fraser was at Footpatrol then — that’s when the collaborations with them started.

So how did the new project come about?

I spoke to Fraser and spoke about the book and originally asked if we could reissue or do something with the Dunk — I was put in contact with SB and for some reason we didn’t connect. I was meant to have a meeting with some guy and that never happened. Then Fraser asked if I wanted to do something with him and he asked me if I liked the Blazer. I really like the Blazer — I like what Supreme have done with the Blazer. And he showed me the Destroyer jacket and we went from there. And with that collaboration, what I really wanted to do was not use too much of the old graphics.There’s camo in part of the shoe design but it’s done subtly. There’s inner-linings and embossing again. I like repeat graphic patterns — buying into that and repeating imagery in a classic sort of Warhol-esque way. So the Converse and Nike are linked but they don’t look the same — there’s recurring theme and the history’s there. There’s a bit of Ben and there’s a bit of me and a bit of Futura — a bit of Mo’ Wax in general. But the thing with Gio is that when we looking at placing logos on the Destroyer that has patches and stuff, we found the original ideas garish and it wasn’t something that you would want to wear. While this is a Mo’ Wax collaboration, I want these to be wearable. things — I don’t just want it to be for Mo’ Wax people and I wanted to wear it myself, you know?

What’s the concept behind the Nike project?

What is it about Mo’ Wax that we’re trying to translate in a shoe? It’s this kind of sample culture idea of Mo’ Wax being part of this generation and why people made the records they did. It was this sample collage generation. We’re trying to look at how to use these elements and do something different. So I thought it would be good to take this idea of sample culture and collage and build and destroy and all of these words that were asserted with Mo’ Wax, because there was a lot of wording on Mo’ Wax records and were on the advertising — I took the classic titling like “Headz”, “sample culture”, “build and destroy” and “our past is your future” and asked Gio to basically write them out and because he also writes backwards, again it’s sort of something where it’s not in your face — it just becomes textual but there’s a historical and a wording concept to it — so yeah, it was just trying to play with how you how you make a record and apply that to something else. The whole thing with the shoe was that there’s lots of different fabrics so there’s it has this sample and collage feel to it.

How did you meet Gio? That’s a relationship that goes back a long way, right?

I met him 19 years ago. He did work on UNKLE stuff and Mo’ Wax stuff. There’s a toy with him that never came out that’s in the book. It’s a skateboarder toy of one of his characters. He is one of my closest, most dear, best, best friends. He’s like my brother. I have of some of his work that he did for me on my arm. When you’re designing the thing I want a certain amount of connection to what we’re doing so it connects you in a way that’s subtle and justifies the work to me by giving it context.

Is the orange lining an MA-1 reference?

Yes. It’s very classic of that era.

Were you a big Blazer fan when it came to that model? You mentioned the Supreme collaboration but it also stretches back to the Glen Friedman images of Tony Alva wearing a pair. It has subcultural relevance.

Yeah. I’ve worn Blazers back in the day — I’m a fan and a I really liked what Supreme had done and I liked it because it was classic. I didn’t want a new tech shoe. I wanted something that I’d wear. I’d do a Dunk because it reflects the time or an Air Force 1 because those were the trainers that we generally wore but I wouldn’t really wear them now so I wanted something a bit more subtle. Build and Destroy repeats on both the Nike and Converse so there’s little links.

Do you follow the build and destroy ethos to some degree?

It was just something that me and Shadow used to talk about a lot when making records. Make something and build it up then move onto something new. It was always about trying to be new — it’s not about being negative.

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MO’WAX FOOTWEAR

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I’m such a company man. Actually, I’ve got love for Mo’Wax, Matt Sleep and Jack Purcells, plus I wrote the press release for this project. So the anti copy-paste law is OVERRULED. I got a good Q&A out of this too, which may or may not end up on this blog. I’ve been after those stingray mids since I saw a pair on Acyde’s Instagram. As friend and family projects go, the detail on this one is crazy.

“From its debut in 1992, the London-based Mo’Wax organisation was the pioneering meeting point for an array of subcultures to merge organically – multiple musical styles met art, with painstaking attention-to-detail when it came to design. Founder James Lavelle brought his obsessions behind the sonic side to the forefront with photography, sleeve art, toys, books, exhibitions, sought-after streetwear and a connection to the collectible all celebrating the hunt for the next thing.

Coinciding with this summer’s London-based Urban Archaeology exhibition and tie-in book, Lavelle and Converse created these appropriately limited edition sneakers based on the notion of taking a collage of influences and re-appropriating them like music samples. The Jack Purcell made sense as the base model, because it’s Lavelle’s personal choice, “The sneakers that I wear the most are Jack Purcells. So I was keen to be able to work with Converse in a contemporary way, representing me as a person right now.

“The detail was really, really important. Just new ways and new technologies and things that hadn’t necessarily been done before – the idea was to create something that had the Mo’Wax feel. I really wanted to create a sneaker that would stand out in its own right but wasn’t gimmicky, or over the top and garish. It would fit in with where I am now and not necessarily where I was 15 years ago.”

The Converse Jack Purcell Mo’Wax Ox has a unique white debossed leather upper, while the mid-top version is embellished with premium stingray effect leather. Both re-workings of this staple masterpiece bring an appropriately obsessive level of detail to this silhouette, despite its apparent simplicity. Custom “Build & Destroy” logos on the familiar moulded rubber toecaps and classic Ben Drury/James Lavelle Mo’Wax camo screen-print graphics on a cotton base, with metallic gold logos, are used for the sockliners and heel stay.

For Lavelle, the end goal was subtlety, “How can we get the Mo’Wax design aesthetic into something really subtle? It was about keeping certain themes going, like having Mo’Wax on the sole of the feet or on the tips of the laces or on the insole or on the little heel strip on the back — there’s this sort of Mo’Wax touch. But the stingray was just to try and apply something that would hopefully look pretty cool.

A semi-transparent, ice blue version of the familiar smile and heel license plate, a semi-transparent ice blue outsole with the Mo’Wax logo cut between the left and right foot, and branding that even extends to the ice blue lace aglets all capture the spirit of the label. Naturally, packaging is paramount and the box design also channels that emphasis.

That boundary-blurring vision that brought skateboarding, artists, DJs, fashion and filmmakers into the same space is echoed in the Converse Jack Purcell’s ability to resonate with any style. Strictly for a chosen handful of Mo’Wax affiliates, this commemorative project adds to the mythology of the company that help define the way culture is curated and presented.”

(Speaking to James, I got to clear up the mystery of the Mo’Wax x Nike CD — with music by Richard File — from early 1997 too: given the nature of that project, no samples were allowed, which made it difficult — he conceded that it was a strange project and explained that it was one facilitated via an external agency).

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FACT CHECK

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I may have gone on record here telling those who won’t stop talking about 1993 as the cut off point for great rap to shut up — and I stand by that sentiment — because I loathe the “this is the real hip-hop, not commercial pop bullshit like Drake and Lil Wayne” repetition in the comments of every great rap video as well as cheap promos for the anonymous throwback crap that seems to believe it’s keeping some torch aflame for those who want things to sound like they’re on Grooveattack circa 2001. But I learnt a lot from staring at the fold out covers encased in transparent tape-shaped plastic just over 20 years ago and I’m a fiend when it comes to rap gossip — in fact, gossip far supersedes beatboxing and breakdancing as one of the scene’s key elements. It’s pivotal to skateboarding too, where knowing who dicked over who is some serious message board currency. I’m ravenous for trivia and Brian Coleman’s Check the Technique Volume 2 has a lot of information in it — revelations regarding the real producers of records, beat jacking and beatings abound when it comes to more talkative subjects. I’d never even pondered the genesis of the Beatnuts name, but now I know (though I’d like to have seen them discuss their first album too), that DJ Polo once had 15 prostitutes employed compared to Freddie Foxx’s six and who the girl who enquired as to who the governor of Campania during the Herculonious period was on that Gravediggaz skit. Even in this era of increasingly popular podcasts proving that there a significant market for back in the day tales from cult characters, there’s room for a 500-page book to present it without the small talk — just the facts. Track by track notes are addictive and Coleman’s project seems significantly more likeable than Rap Genius.

It’s been featured here before, but the none-more-early-1990s Funkee Phlavaz cable show that transmitted in the Beverly Hills area has now uploaded been uploaded in its 17-episode entirety. As high school projects go, this one was particularly accomplished and because we’re unlikely to see personal favourites like Y’all So Stupid’s Van Full of Pakistans (also discussed here before) or Illegal’s The Untold Truth explored in a Check the Technique book, both acts on Dallas Austin’s Rowdy label acted as presenters on a 1993 episode of this under seen show — you even get the obscure 85 South promo. Of course, both acts undersold commercially, because there wasn’t room for hyperactive goofs in Vans or murderous kids like there is now. Still, 1993’s idea of poor sales on an album was the kind of numbers that would have an act running to the car showroom in 2014. Ya’ll So Stupid rocked Real tees and dressed in skate gear decades before that seemed to be a thing to do if you weren’t the Beastie Boys or, to some extent, the Pharcyde. The connection between Austin and Andy Howell during their time in Atlanta is documented in the superb Art, Skateboarding and Life, and with Ya’ll So Stupid hailing from that city too and group member H20 working as a designer, the skate connection isn’t too unlikely. Some things are still too geeked-out to get their own chapter in a book.

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MEMBRANE

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I’m on my European sellout steez right now, so updates here are suffering right now. But why do you need to hear from me when there’s greatness out there that you might have stumbled upon. Every time I visit Japan I see the attention to detail that makes stores (though Goodhood’s new store evokes that glorious perfectionism) products and marketing materials look very sloppy indeed. GORE-TEX has a far cooler name than a membrane should have, making that breathable, protective addition to gear a brand in itself. In Japan, GORE-TEX evidently take the work of expensive, lower-case named brands like nanamica, nonnative and visvim seriously enough that they’re letting them be three of six storytellers in their Six Stories of GORE-TEX Products booklet. Hypebeast have already published each interview on the site, but the book’s right here. Plenty of insight into why, despite plenty of contenders to the throne, this is still the application of choice for some people who really don’t compromise. That they opt for it is the ultimate endorsement at fashion level and a great advertisement with an approach that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. I’d kill to get involved with creating something like this. This patchwork White Mountaineering is a thing of beauty — sweating the small stuff instigates power moves.

This interview with Foz from Heroin Skateboards from Vice is necessary too. His aesthetic defined an era and still represents a hardcore approach to skating.