Category Archives: Sports

THE OTHER RALPH

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The closest I could come to anything relevant to this time of the year is these Ralph Steadman illustrations for Nike from 1982, 1984 and 1991. One features a rabbit (actually, maybe it’s a hare, but that’s still relevant to March), so it felt right. Was Nike UK’s decision to use his art to promote their involvement in the London Marathon back in the early 1980s one of the earliest uses of an artist like that on a campaign? I always thought that the 1991 Nike 180 commercials with Industrial Light & Magic, Guido Manuli, David Cronenberg, Caleb Deschanel and other equally offbeat partner picks, plus Ralph on the print ads (as well as French satirist and cartoonist André François, plus graphic design dons like Alfons Holtgreve, Charles S. Anderson and Takenobu Igarashi) were the first time Nike had gone wild with it like that, but it transpires that British running magazines were riddled with unorthodox ads that fitted the irreverent tone of the time for the brand.

The man responsible for Gonzo’s aesthetic evidently liked drawing Nikes a great deal, because, while I’d like to put my frequent Nike fixation down to hip-hop or sports, it’s actually down to the aura of the swoosh back when I was becoming aware of what was on my feet and the shoes on the cover of Ralph Steadman’s 1986 children’s book, That’s My Dad, which I spotted in the school library and lost my mind over. Back when trainers were misrepresented in comics and books, Ralph went in — there were closer looks at dad’s shoes inside as well. Presumably, the recent Nike commissions meant the artist/writer felt comfortable drawing their shoes when the time came to draw trainers. I think this book (which was aimed at an audience half my age back when I first spotted it) might be one of the key reasons I talk about nonsense like this now — 27 years later.

Steadman’s ability to wallow in the mainstream as well as the murkier subcultural waters during his career is always something worth celebrating, but his contribution to fueling my sports footwear preoccupation is something I hadn’t thought about properly until a recent flashback. I mean, Quentin Blake was another personal favourite of the time, but he wasn’t arming his paternal depictions with strong shoes like Ralph was.

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Cheers to Exposure, Protein and Nike for letting me write a foreword for the Air Max Reinvented publication to coincide with the weekend’s exhibition of Max reinterpretations. I particularly liked the inclusion of the Dave Swindells triptych of a tripping man in Infrared Air Max 90s who’s on one at RAGE at Heaven in its proto-jungle 1990 heyday. Here’s two of the three shots they selected. That’s a strong tracksuit going on there in the background. Dave’s website has a great selection of his work, which is as essential as a document of British style as it is as history of club culture. I think this shot from Soul II Soul at Brixton’s Fridge in 1989, with Air Max Lights, Torsions and Coca-Cola clothing is equally tough too. This is the part of Nike Air Max history that hasn’t been fully explored for the current campaign. Maybe it will be in months to come.

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Taken from Dave Swindells’ site.

Reading Nicky Haslam’s Redeeming Features, which namedrops like nothing I’ve ever read before, I noticed that, in his digression regarding the Countess of Kenmare, he trumps the niche nature of the Hermès apple holder, with talk of the Countess’ bespoke Louis Vuitton creations: “…giraffe-shaped cases in which to transport her baby giraffes, regardless of quarantine, to London for her seasonal sojourn at Claridge’s.” Please bear that one on mind next time you feel the urge to write #swag after a picture of your Goyard card holder.

All praises to Tokyo’s Oshman’s store for their work with Champion. It’s undisputedly odd to find yourself begging friends who are Japan-bound to pick up some replicas of American college team tees for you while you’re there, but the new collection of the almost sweatshirt weight thick cotton of the American-made T1011 tee with the binding process that makes it less prone to stretch (though, as a word of warning, they fit pretty boxy) with an official UCLA print, plus AFA and United States Naval Academy editions look great. They’re exclusive to Oshman’s by the look of things and there’s no bad egg in the whole bunch. Converting to around £33, they seem affordable, until you consider the £20+ shipping, £20 import tax and Parcelforce’s £10+ processing fee — the murderers of many a bargain. These arrive at Oshman’s in April and if anyone’s heading there and back with suitcase space, all assistance is appreciated. Theoretically, at this time of year, heavyweight fabrics shouldn’t be too much of a consideration, but because spring has forsaken us, I’m taking no precautions.

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TINKERING

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Rushing blogging today for a number of reasons. But that doesn’t mean I can’t assail you with a bricolage of barely related bollocks. No sir. It just means it’s even less connected culturally than ever before. For some reason, putting some pictures from the bin bags of brand-related ephemera (which I believe are out there on the internet somewhere already) of Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan in deep conversation on the subject of Jordan V and VI caused some commotion, so here’s the images again (the AJV one is actually from ‘Sneakerheads’ and has been posted before, but sometimes you need to repeat yourself to get noticed). Garments, hair, variations on popular colourways and sensible shoes. It’s all here. There’s more somewhere in the papery stacks, but drop-feeding rather than turning this into some Jordan fansite is probably the best route. For the time being, until I start hunting that SEO scrilla by reposting Modern Notoriety’s images with some hyperbolic copy. One day I might start doing that here.

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How the fuck did I miss out Carhartt and Chysler’s small collection of ‘Imported From Detroit’ jackets, tees and trousers? While the union of motor vehicle and apparel isn’t necessarily destined for greatness, these pieces are the best car-related clothing since Alan Partridge’s Castrol GTX jacket. In fact, unlike some more high-profile (and more expensive) Carhartt projects, they’re made in the USA as part of a new drive (pun unintended) to promote the brand’s homegrown manufacture, as detailed by A Continuous Lean last October. The blacked out ‘Made in the USA’ patches limited runs (each individually numbered) and Detroit map on the custom quilted lining are all nice touches. In fact, from a high-end partner and launched at one of any number of Euro fashion trade shows right now, the iPhone blog paps would be descending on these pieces. But they’re not letting them into their urban ninja or street goth world right now. Not yet, anyway. These are more legit because the motor trade is one that actually necessitates workwear, whereas looking serious by a wall for a lookbook doesn’t. Admittedly, while you’ll pay extra for APC and Adam Kimmel’s vision, and they probably won’t be made in the USA, and while I love the IFD Active Jacket, it’s quite clear from the imagery that it fits mad boxy, unlike the slimmer fit of the higher-end and Euro-centric pieces.

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It’s good to read informed opinions that hint at some substantial levels of research too, and I’ve been preoccupied with The Weejun all over again lately. The musings of a Brit who has been infatuated with Ivy since 1979 (a little while before either ‘Take Ivy’ reprint, anyway) is a masterful blog and his Brooks Brothers circa 1980 piece reminded me of a conversation with a friend about rich guy trousers, wherein we defined wealth by the mindset that innately associates lurid corduroy with casual, rather than a beat up pair of jeans. Brooks Brothers mastered the rich guy trouser and The Weejun talks about the pair that caught my eye when those old catalogue PDFs popped up a few years back on the Ask Andy Trad forum via Yamauchi Yuki (who I believe is a Japanese Aloha guitarist), with a wealth of wild trousers in the mix. The Christmas “fun” cords are basically half of a click suit for the very wealthy. Anybody who can pull them off is an original don dada of the college town scene — I’ve seen similar attempts at lurid mismatches from Polo, but Brooks Brothers’ are significantly wilder.

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Bookending this entry with shoe-centric talk, given the boom in all things Nike Free, here’s a shot from a Nike promo booklet on innovation of the original Tinker Hatfield shoe prototype he called the Nike Free back in 1994 — a decade before his brother Tobie Hatfield helped bring us a very different Nike Free in 2004. As the company copy points out, this was actually destined to get a Rift-style split-toe (this was just before the Rift too). I see a little bit of HTM2 Run Boot in here, plus some traditional weave in there that may or may not have informed later developments too. That’s a lot of influence in one unreleased space age sandal and pure urban ninja fodder.

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RAP NOSTALGIA, SHOES, JEANS & SERIAL KILLERS

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Do you know what’s hypocritical? Berating rap nostalgia and then losing my mind over a box set of a well documented hip-hop release from 1994. But considering I change my mind on most subjects at least thrice daily, consider whatever’s on here a screengrab of my psyche at that moment in time rather than any opinion with longevity. CNN just got excited about Nasir Jones’ output, I personally haven’t fucked with much of his work post-‘Illmatic’, bar guest spots, a couple of songs per album (‘You’re Da Man’ on ‘Stillmatic’ samples ‘Sugar Man’ by Rodriguez — the subject of the excellent ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ documentary), ‘The Lost Tapes’, that Mike Tyson bio track, and the newest LP. I attribute my own reverence to the running time — ‘Illmatic’ isn’t long enough to let my frayed attention span wane and that I purchased it alongside that bland Fugees tape when it first dropped, meaning it shone even brighter by comparison.

Get On Down‘s Akinyele set might have been canned (sample clearance hell), but their work on the classics amplifies the joy of gawping at sleevenotes in a digital era. The wooden case, audiophile CD, repressed and remastered double vinyl, hardback book, replica press release, poster and press shots, plus the reproduction of the earlier Nas logo sticker are all geek manna, but they’re as far removed from that launch priced Sony cassette with the distorted bass as it gets. There’s a handful of hip-hop albums that deserve the Springsteen-esque bombast, but when I can psychologically separate myself from the kind of rap fan-damentalists who leave “cool story bro” baiting essays beneath blog entries, this album remains largely (‘One Time 4 Your Mind’ still sounds inessential) unfuckwithable. Thank you Get On Down and Mr. Frank the Butcher for the hookup on this.

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I’m hearing good things about the ‘Maniac’ remake and despite my love of Jay Chattaway’s score for the original, the mysterious Rob’s soundtrack for the redux is pretty effective. Before that film’s sweaty sadism wrecks your day, how about ruining your Sunday by watching the legendary Austrian serial killer flick, ‘Angst’ from 1983, with the innovative camera work (mentioned here before) that influenced Gasper Noé in a major way. Somebody’s kindly upped Gerald Kargl’s hard-to-find masterpiece onto YouTube. If you can tolerate things like this, you’ll love it and if it upsets you, it’s fucking meant to — it’s a kinetic but hyper real exploration of a serial killer’s antics in bleak surroundings. It kind of goes with the territory.



It’s tradeshow season and I’m anticipating a mass of prints on racks. Previews of Engineered Garments spring/summer offerings hinted at them executing that aesthetic better than most and the Nepenthes Osaka’s site’s images of the Anchor Baker Jacket, Paisley Ghurka Shorts and that insane oversized blow up of the more restrained floral print on another Lafayette Shirt from this season are all way more interesting than much of what I’ve seen elsewhere. These and the Hawaiian Print Microfiber Ground Jacket are all fun Ridicule is nothing to be scared of, but I bet I get too shook to get properly floral. Those that can will make that giant pattern look incredible while the rest of us resort to our drab wardrobe staples. More Engineered eccentricity. Just think of paisley as a form of camo — albeit, late 1980 indie club camo.

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What happened to the ‘Blue Gold’ denim documentary that did the blog rounds back in 2009? While we wait, ‘Warp and Weft: a Snapshot of Raw Denim in the United States’ is finished and out there with a Kickstarter cash boost (thank you Selectism for the heads-up). 70 minutes of denim fanatics talking proved pretty absorbing — Superfuture culture is prominent throughout, and the appearance by their denim Jedi, RingRing, with his face blurred, the interviews at Selfedge, the DIY jean making footage (via Roy Slaper) and the visit to the Levi’s archive (I once worked on a LVC project and had to get in touch with the archive who didn’t think some late 1980s Levi’s selvedge designs existed) are all highlights. The infamous Levi’s legal blitz of 2007 which changed the repro market is mentioned, as is the occasionally overlooked but pioneering Warehouse brand. The RED camerawork’s nice, but the sound doesn’t match that clarity, but it’s a minor gripe. If you missed the launch, you can still support it over here. This is the subject’s surface scratched — a sequel set in Japan is needed. A UK edition with footage of Robert Elms’ near lynching for goading Northerners over jeans after the December 1984 end of Levi’s selvedge production as the opener would be amazing.

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I would love to thank the person who sent me this scan of a page from what I believe was a 1986 issue of ‘Runner’s World’ with the entire Steve Cram Nike collection (including the legendary Destiny — for kids who were too cool and monied to fuck with the Bongo), but I lost the original email to email or comment and I’ll amend this. This collection flopped at the time, but the uncommercial colours of the time look great in 2013. Bourne Sports in Stoke-On-Trent didn’t need a website — they just slashed prices and an order form. I wish I could use some kind of time traveling Diners or Access card and buy the lot. The Cram Range is very, very underrated. I know we’ve discussed it here before, but this is a clearer look at the scale of the line.

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BO KNEW

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Did ESPN just give me an excuse to fill a blog post up with Nike Air Trainer images via last night’s ‘You Don’t Know Bo’ documentary? It sure looks that way. One of those ad-heavy ones that content hungry bloggers who credit the source super small at the very bottom seem to like? Okay. I wish I was in NYC for the AF1 festivities, but once again, an Air Force anniversary party has passed me by. Maybe I’ll be there for the 35th birthday of the shoe to commemorate some remix of it in one way or another if a hip replacement and advancing age doesn’t hinder my visit.

The hip replacement talk is a nice seque into the Bo film talk too — while Saturday’s 30 for 30 offering was more of a celebration of the Jackson era than a character portrait like last season’s excellent and occasionally disturbing ‘Unguarded’ piece on Chris Herren, it still represented the fabled subject matter in an entertaining, honest way. After all, with a lack of steroids or philandering, the only thing you can talk about with Bo is — as one talking head explains — the man’s aptitude to make remarkable feats look easy. From the apocryphal tales or a young Vincent Jackson dunking a stick in eighth grade, leaping a 40 foot ditch and an unmatched crab apple throwing aptitude that could send the airborne fruit through a screen door, to the triple jump, high jump and pole vault feats in high school to Steinbrenner’s Yankees scout seeing Bo collapse a batting tent during an impromptu trial, his early days were represented by animations from my friends at Doubleday & Cartwright (when was the last time you saw a cartoon of a boy dunking a stick?) in Mickey Dusyj’s unique style.

Little stories, like neighbors visiting to gaze at a phone just because a famed coach called it nailed the community nature of the poor community from which the great man emerged, but the parallels with the apple hurling, the distance hits that got him pro baseball career, that throw and a candid demonstration of Bo’s knack with the ‘bow at the film’s finale bring structure to a tale of a man who subverted sport just by doing his own thing. Playing in the NFL as an off-season hobby? That’s not normal. Excelling there and redefining the running back position? Sonning Brian Bosworth at the height of his tough guy schtick (‘Stone Cold’ is still classic though)? Okay then. Every now an again, somebody excels to the point where I have no other choice but to pay attention and it’s usually by making the superhuman look easy — I’m not interested in the nuances and the things that sports connoisseurs notice because I have no athletic ability or casual game experience that would allow me to gauge the difficulty. As a result, I want people to play like it looks in the movies or do some really, really bad stuff in their spare time. Bo did the former and for once, we Brits knew the name of a baseball player.

It was ‘BO KNOWS’ that put me onto Bo though. The Air Trainers and the cheaper non-Air variants, plus that W+K engineered Futura bold sloganeering and it was, for an Air Trainer nerd like me, good to see some sketches and moodboards for the 89-91 Bo-endorsed SC offerings on display in the film, as well as a Tinker Hatfield appearance. There were even some OG Air Trainer pre-Bo sketches shown that indicated the line was a riposte to arch rivals Reebok and their Workout concept (look at those white shoes) and even included a loafer. Strangely, it’s constantly reinforced throughout ‘You Don’t Know Bo’ that — bar the painstaking post-hip replacement rehabilitation — Jackson didn’t actually train, despite being the poster boy of the whole Nike Cross Training category. It’s more of the man’s innate knack for contradicting popular performance wisdom, but that versatility and the snappy nickname still made his involvement extremely relevant. He even got his own video to accompany the ‘Bo Knows Bo’ autobiography as part of the newly created Nike Sports Entertainment line with Fox.

It was also good to see that director Michael Bonfiglio also managed to include the pop cultural Bo moments beyond the fields and footwear, with talk of the infamous Tecmo Bowl advantage and his role in the ‘Pro Stars’ cartoon, where his destruction of evil practitioners of illegal deforestation by wielding an entire tree didn’t seem as over the top as some of his real life antics, like the bat snapping acts of exasperation what spawned thousands of bruising failed imitations. Culminating with Jackson contently carving arrows for his hunting habit in his “man cave” where a bull’s head resides next to an MCM holdall, the what could have been nature of the man’s career after that premature retirement at 28 doesn’t feel like a tragedy, because the dual career, the achievements and the fact he did it his way is something too otherworldly to mourn — the world just needed a reminder as to what Bo knew, and ESPN provided a perfect refresher.

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THE WORLD’S BEST JACKET

The notion of a world’s best jacket is subjective and prone to change every few days, but some Stone Island efforts, the legendary Double Goose V-panel bomber and the North Face’s Steep Tech Work Jacket don’t quite match the power of the tasselled number that a self-esteem free Homer Simpson drooled over, but ran pretty close in their day. Anybody who had $440 to drop on an extreme ski jacket co-designed by Scott Schmidt (a real life version of that Polo suicide ski silhouette) in 1991 was definitely in a powerful financial position. The purple, black and yellow is a trinity of high visibility wrong that turns out right and that five-zipper ventilation is ludicrous but a key element of a jacket that needed some guidance to fully feel the benefits long before the days of Acronym Vimeos. Cordura reinforcement and the Sunspark III Ultrex fabric seemed to mean serious business.

The Smear Jacket, Apogee Jacket, gloves, full suits and the later Access Jacket all fired my imagination, but that Worker in those colours is the one (though there’s some sample teals that are nearly as bananas) with the Michael Jackson levels of zipper. But I’m no TNF connoisseur (those dudes know the lines that preceded Scott’s signature pieces). Then like that, Steep Tech was gone and a decade of extra yuppification occurred. I last saw a Steep Tech on sale after they reissued them a few years back; a sad-looking Apogee hanging on the shelves of a store on Broadway with two markdowns on the label already. I tried it on after spending minutes working out the straitjacket-like fastenings, I tried it on and looked like a dickhead — I was over a decade too late to the party and I wasn’t a skier or NYC-based shoplifter. Some things are better left in the past with their rose-tinted glow added to already gaudy colourways. Stone Island’s more experimental efforts aged a lot better.

Just as I ran out of topics to cover, along comes via friend of this blog and the man behind the excellent Smoking Section, Mr. John Gotty, with news of a Dapper Dan interview on the Life+Times site — Alpo’s Louis Vuitton snorkel might join the aforementioned roll call of all-time outerwear. Go to Gotty’s site right now and watch it, because I’m damned if I’ll cockblock his traffic by just posting it here. It’s an amazing story of a man finding a niche, working the angles against a racist fashion infrastructure. I never knew the Tyson/Mitch Green tussle’s publicity was a spotlight that led to lawsuits either. Even better, there’s an official Dan site with pictures like this on it as well as the changing face of that iconic (and I feel that overused term is relevant here) spot’s shopfront.

Shouts to Porkys1982 on YouTube for uploading a high quality version of “sensational rap crew” Beastie Boys’ appearance on Soul Train back in 1990. R.I.P. Ad-Rock and Don Cornelius. There’s over 40 hours of Beastie Boys footage on his Vimeo including some 1987 tour rehearsals, interviews, ladies in cages and plenty more.



“JAMES WOODS IS A DEEP BROTHER”

Recycled material from the hard drive today, with a Tyson-centric theme incited by talk of Roy Jones Jr. scheming a bout with Kimbo Slice, thus devaluing boxing to the point where it might as well involve kangaroos like a 1950s British fairground. If I had my way, the majority of posts here would involve Kid Dynamite anyway. ‘Spin’s January 1991 meeting between LL Cool J (on the back of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’) and a post Douglas-defeat Tyson is excellent. The “Neither of them have ever heard of Morrissey” line in the intro is a nice start and the topics discussed are pleasantly incendiary, linking boxing and hip-hop and scattering it with a few choice bits of trivia along the way. It’s a bit like classic ‘Source’ meets ‘Playboy’ in terms of content. The ‘Wild, Wild Haircut Craze’ piece from a 1989 ‘Ebony’ uses Mike’s ‘Killer 1’ cut as the starting point to talk step-up flattops and “channel cuts.” The images of Tyson (wearing a Fila track top) and Ali, Tyson being congratulated by Eddie Murphy (who’s at a career point between the mild flop of ‘Another 48 Hours’ and the resurrection that was ‘Boomerang’) and an older shot of Mike proving that espadrilles are for players if you’re built like a brick shithouse and wear a chunky anklet with them. TOMS wearers are still bellends though.

DRESSERS

The entire casual subculture is coated with at least three layers of wish-they-were-there, which makes it hard to get to the core of kids dressing sharp to beat each other to a pulp during home and away games. It’s open to dimwitted exploitation and the majority clad in Sergio Tacchini and Lois just look like they’re off to a 1980s themed office party, with as much credibility as a bunch of Daves blacked up in afro wigs en route to Carwash. Most documentaries about it are atrocious and the majority of the books charting it are ‘ard nut div lit of the Kate Kray’s ‘Hard Bastards’ school of writing. Part the sea of professional northerners and Danny Dyer-isms (when even Alan Clarke’s attempt to document a lifestyle ends up heavy-handed, you know it’s never going to be easy to tell this story) and a fascinating sub-culture’s there, Stanley knife in hand and clad in the sportswear of the wealthy. It’s just most books on it are crap — Phil Thornton’s ‘Casuals’ did a noble job, ’80s Casuals’ was a great scrapbook of amassed gear and ‘The End’ compendium is necessary for a view at the time rather than retrospect and rose-tinted dust-up anecdotes.

I’m still waiting to pick up the definitive book on the topic, but it’s never going to happen, much as hip-hop books are a mixed bag — too many regional scenes and too many stories to tell without denting egos. As a half-Scot (my temperamental side is inherited from my mum’s side) I feel a selective sense of patriotism and having heard the horror stories of the country’s firms (my only key reference points to the older, more brutal days there are Gillies MacKinnon’s teen gang classic ‘Small Faces’ and John Motson announcing, “The scene is so typically Scottish” during a goalpost dismantling pitch invasion after Scotland’s 1977 victory over England), I was open to being educated. ‘Dressers’ delivers stories from a Motherwell fans’ perspective over 280 pages, with plenty of skirmish stories that are a solid Jock-centric sequel to Thornton’s mass of beatings and close calls, but there’s also hundreds of images, a ton of clippings and lots of shoes and clobber (ZX 280s and Seb Coe Impacts are beautiful objects) in charting the culture of the Dresser and the scourge of the Saturday Service. Just as it’s the law that Irvine Welsh had to have a quote on anything about smack a few years back, ‘Dressers’ comes complete with endorsement after endorsement, but thankfully, not a word from Nick Love.

This would make a hell of a documentary, but when it comes to clean living in difficult circumstances, our Celtic brethren put in work, and if you’re not inspired by the masses of bad hair, beer cans held aloft and clobber worn for clobbering time, I can’t do much for you. Crucially, the first 139 pages house a remarkable amount of information for any scholar of working class sub-cultures. It might only deal with one particular scene, that a small town squad managed to develop the reputation that the sons of Motherwell managed to accrue is a significant feat. It’s also noteworthy that the book is slickly laid out in hardback format rather than bearing the aura of mate’s mate with the desktop publishing software. You can buy ‘Dressers’ here and it’s a project worth supporting.

Going off at a macabre tangent (this is some rushed blogging), as a kid I was deeply disturbed by an image of Otis Redding being pulled from the water post plane crash. He looked peaceful, but as an Otis fan, it was a peculiar sight I couldn’t quite shake. Here’s where I drop a disclaimer — this isn’t Rotten or some gore forum and I apologise if you’re disturbed by the below image, but I imagine in these Worldstar, trade-a-death-video-with-your-boss, corpses-in-the-Daily-Mail days, you can stomach an image of a dead body, but is this picture of Otis Redding strapped to his chair from a ‘Jet’ feature just after the accident one of the oddest and most haunting pictures ever?

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.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN FOAMPOSITES

This is a blog entry for the sake of it. Google Patents is pretty useful, even if you’ve only got traces of geek tendencies, and the selection of shoe-related stuff on offer is pretty impressive. The downside is that everything’s got a lofty, literal title rather than the consumer-friendly name it went to market with, making it tricky to isolate a specific product. Then there’s the hefty gap between the filing and issue date to make searching trickier — but once you’re there, nerd Valhalla awaits. Via the Overview section you can trace the original reference points too and it’s here that a lazy blogger like me can dig up enough material to pretend I’m creating content. As an example of how the creativity trail can unearth the background of some of my favourite designs, I was hunting the original Nike Air Footscape design by Toren “Tory” Orzeck for another project and it eventually sprang up as just “Shoe upper” (submitted Dec 6th 1994).

From there, I noticed that it references the side-lacing Converse Odessa (submitted April 24 1985) and Padmore & Barnes’ Lugger silhouette (submitted January 28 1983), which also led me to the patent art for the legendary Padmore & Barnes Weaver (submitted October 25 1977).

But what really impressed me was Mr. Orzeck’s involvement in the development of the Foamposite project (alongside several others, including John Tawney who also worked on elements of the Footscape project and Eric Avar who actually designed the shoe) as part of Nike’s Advanced Product Engineering team. With Orzeck’s background at GE Plastics and an ex-Ford man on the team too, there was a strange mix of Nike’s early hints at hippy idealism fused with absolute function in pieces like the Air Moc and Footscape, but even if you’re a Foamposite hater, you’ve got to concede that the production process was one that broke new ground. Looking at the “Method of making footwear with a pourable foam” patent (filed on August 21 1996) you get a strange step-by-step into the creation of a shoe that became a performance phenomenon years before it went global and became the line in the dirt that split fanboys and girls.

It’s as bizarre, difficult and intelligent a design as the Footscape and Rift from those APE days, but contemporary basketball never quite slipped into the Japanese selvedge and Subware uniform of a tribe pretending to like vocal-free hip-hop like the division’s running output did. DC, Baltimore and New York kids were on it from the off, but were more liable to be enjoying NORE, DMX, Pun and the LOX than DJ Krush. What would get you laughed at outside the Tunnel might be accepted outside Bar Rumba, and on the flipside, strutting into ‘That’s How It Is’ in big basketball shoes might not be considered cool.

So if you’ve got some tensile air bladders, a foam material in a viscous state at around 80-55 degrees centigrade, a mould with specific measurements for each size, inner bootie, outer and sole unit pieces, plus a series of “super gases,” and thermoplastic urethanes, you’re good to go. I recommend following these simple instructions to make a pair at home. It’s good to see that a bizarre shoe has an equally odd production process.

On a loft clearance mission, I found a stack of magazines I believed to be long-gone. Was ‘The Downlow’ magazine the most stylish rap fanzine ever? At a point when Brit-rap’s aesthetic was particularly unappetising (and it took Trevor Jackson getting Donald Christie and Dave McKean involved to make it look slick again), Mat-C and the team made things so stylish, they took the Neville Brody spirit and got busy on Quark. In fact, the magazine won a Design Week Award in 1995, beating ‘The Face’ after its 1993 relaunch in a gloriously difficult mass of alternate fonts and horizontal and vertical paragraphs converging. I remember ‘The Downlow’ being involved in releasing ‘Tried by 12’ in the UK before those dull remixes dropped a couple of years later and a compilation CD that was pretty good that may or may not have been Streetsounds or Profile affiliated. After doing the ‘Blues & Soul’ rap column, he launched ‘Fat Boss’ was on a BBC reality show for a minute then went on to perform as Jaguar Skills and get BBC radio and Jade Jagger co-signs. Who said UK-based rap journalism always ended in a return to the call centre?

VICTORY

In a realm where so many magazines have said no más due to lagging ad opportunities and a focus on digital above pulped trees, there’s still some contenders like ‘Victory Journal’ making the most of sprawling pages and the scope to enlighten in a tactile, visually pleasing way that the web can’t match. Theoretically, with its ability to stream, cater to a statistical addiction, constantly update and get a jab in long before print can retaliate, the internet should have the extra reach to make any showdown a mismatch, but they’re too very different beasts. A legacy of great photojournalism, impassioned essays and sprawling profiles of the characters who dedicate their lives to sporting disciplines — from the frequently forgotten characters (especially during the recent NBA deadlock) who make a living serving snacks, attending the car park and cleaning up long after the cheers and traded blows have finished, to the professional athletes — has made for compelling reading and viewing time and time again.

As well as the spectacle of the events and the jot of participation in the crowd and on the field, ‘Sports Illustrated’ and the defunct ‘Sport’ fueled the No Mas team, inspiring a wave of gear rooted in absolute obsession that span off into media content, fighter sponsorship and an agency (Doubleday & Cartwright). As a showcase of their abilities and as another love letter to sports, their ‘Victory Journal’ is a necessary read. I don’t care much for any sport that’s not broken into three or five-minute rounds, but I love sports journalism from the likes of Gay Talese and some more prominent macho intellectuals’ talk of boxing meets a its match next to Dick Schaap’s work or Mark Kram’s incendiary paragraphs (this moderated chat on the topic is tremendous). With an emphasis on design as well as copy (their typeface game is extensive), the ‘Victory Journal’ team evade the obvious with the cover shot — some nautical jousters engaging in an activity that I never knew existed, continuing a bold move that treasures visual clout over familiarity, moving from Brazilian football to this lesser-known pastime by way of Jimmy Snuka.

Issue Three, with its “For Love or money” motto, is the perfect home for Cheryl Dunn‘s 1980s’ boxing photography and frequent No Mas collaborator Mickey Dusyj’s 1986 Mets portraits. Dunn recently got $45,000 funding via Kickstarter to finish her ‘Everybody Street’ documentary on NYC street photography and these portraits of a golden age are a testament to her versatility and knack for access. Just as Grantland.com and Deadspin.com provide compelling stories online and ESPN’s ’40 For 40′ series had a strong hit rate, ‘Victory Journal’ taps into the part of sports culture that even the kids who spent two lessons a week with great Nikes on their feet but their hands in their pocket can be caught up in the sheer passion and aptitude for oddball behaviour that professional sports (and let’s not forget the luminaries of sports entertainment either) attracts. Go visit www.victoryjournal.com to grab a copy.

I’ve talked No Mas on here before and I’m keen not to repeat myself in my unbridled enthusiasm. There’s some repro brands remaking old Ali shirts for lithe hipsters to wear as well as other notable tee designs, but No Mas is different — it’s not jocked and juiced up, tearing doors from hinges on a testosterone-addled rampage, but it is wild-eyed with obsession and laden with nostalgia. After Staple put out the Ali sweat in the early ’00s, No Mas takes that baton and just fucking runs with it. Actually, given the breadth of their output, maybe they need testing — this is sporting fandom on steroids. Current highlights included a foray into MMA with a licensed UFC 1 ‘The Beginning’ shirt taking it back to November ’93 and a celebration of the defunct but unsurpassed PRIDE Fighting Championships, motivational speaker and Arguello defeater Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor’s “Hawk Time” shirt. The Leon Spinks replica harks back to Leon’s choice of self-promoting attire around the time of the second Ali bout and the ‘Sport’ magazine masthead shirt pays tribute to another lost empire. There’s even an officially licensed Gleason’s Gym shirt.

It comes down to this — the tees and sweats I covet are rooted in sports performance. You can loopwheel it or you can cover it in disruptive patterning, but at the core, it’s about athleticism. No Mas make no attempt to cover up those origins and take it back to the essence. That, in itself, is infectious.

Speaking of Grantland, McSweeney have compiled articles from that site with a basketball texture cover. But beyond sports, their food publication in association with Momofuku’s David Chang , ‘Lucky Peach’ is on its second issue. This looks like a publication to match ‘Swallow’ in terms of content and design. I don’t know what I was smoking over the summer to miss the first issue — a ramen special — but it won’t happen again. An adhesive tribute to fruit stickers? I’m all over that.

On a sporting style note, Edwin Moses doesn’t get his dues for looking slick on the move with that (post-Diadora?) sunglasses and beard steez that made him look like Rick Ross if he kicked the breakfast bisque habit and got athletic. People criticised Ed for looking distance in the shades, but he had eyes susceptible to glare (and I’m not talking about the glares of haters). I’m not sure the beads were for medical benefit, but the overall look is serious.

If Steve Jobs and Kyle from Tenacious D didn’t sell the New Balance 993 to you, it’s also Louis CK’s shoe of choice too. Louis’s Rolex, loose denim, black tee and black 993 combo is no joke. Larry’s love of Simple might be infectious, but the 993 is officially the shoe of geniuses. Louis rocks it during his $5 comedy special (well worth your money — the weed routine, parental revenge and soldiers on planes bits are worth, like, $1.6666667 each alone). Its been a good year for New Balance, and this is a happy finish (insert jizzy punchline here).

Team Gourmet know a lot about shoes. Jon and the Gregs are passionate about footwear – not in that dry skinny chino pinroll, Fuzzyfelt AM1 and Obey five-panel hat way…that by numbers shoe dude stuff is horrible. The minds behind Gourmet know shitloads about every brand and reference all kinds of footwear. Except a lot of people don’t notice that, because they’re too hype on a retro shoe that looks like it came from one of those sites where everything’s $80. I like shoes with a story. Not a story in some superfluous PR muppet kind of way or basing it on a type of fish, but in the naming and execution. You should like a shoe on face value first and the covered, zip up style of the Dignan is appealing. There’s a spot of Moc in there and the brand’s usual high-end cues, but the real inspiration is ‘The Departed.’ Specifically the end scene where Mark Wahlberg’s foul-mouthed Sgt. Dignam shoots rat cop Colin Sullivan in the face with hospital shoe covers to cover his tracks. Gourmet have always maintained a healthy preoccupation with a shady living blend of tracksuit, fancy footwear and pinky rings, but this clinical tracksuited outfit ups the ante of anti-hero outfits. Cross trainers, renegade cops doing the right thing and technical fabrics in one shoe? Salutes to the crew.

If you haven’t bought a copy of ‘The End’ compilation, and you’ve got an interest in the roots of Britain’s adi fandom, you’re slipping. The adidas sponsorship of the book is perfectly pitched and isn’t gratuitous like, say, UK rappers looking glum in PUMA, Salutes to Sabotage Times for putting it together too (it’s available from Selectadisc, Oi Polloi, Garbstore and HMV now too). The adidas ads in there include a great Forest Hills one, but the ad inside for a special made-in-Germany Munchen for February 2012 is the most interesting element, harking back to early ’00s issues of ‘The Face.’ One of adidas’s finest late ’70s moments (and way, way, way better in PU sole form as Munchen or Suisse than the skinnier ’72 version too) is coming back in homegrown form, and even the box looks on point. The casual connection can be horribly mishandled, but adidas and ‘The End’ are great partners.

Shouts to Gabriel and the Origin London team on this i-D feature too — young London talent on the rise, offering something that isn’t steeped in wearying self reference. 17 years old and already running a brand? Salutes.