There’s an entire strain of British streetwear history that nobody talks about at length — the Donnelly Brothers’ fine memoir Still Breathing documents the Gio Gio era brilliant, but I find myself occasionally wondering what the provenance of some lines that were popular on my playground were. Many seemed to be knockoffs — names like Eclipse (I’ll never forget that Fila on E branding — the Bernard Matthews version of Nice And Safe Attitude) on black denim and luridly embroidered coach jackets that seemed to bear a resemblance to more expensive gear, if you never had a bloody clue what that stuff actually looked like in the flesh. i-D magazine always ran the ads in the classifieds, where a distributor would fling up all kinds of logos — Nervous Records,Technics and mysterious lines like Dosse Posse (which really seemed to have a moment around 1992). Daniel Poole always seemed a little more prestigious, even though Poole ultimately called it a day and went into interior decoration instead. Record bags were as important to a licensing deal as the tee.
Then there was Dready. If you were a teenager back then, the idea of having a weed leaf on an item of apparel seemed like the ultimate statement of rebellion. Of course, in retrospect, it’s embarrassing — it makes you look like a wandering stash tin, and the THC equivalent of the beer boy bores who’d regale me with fictional tales of how many jars they sank over the weekend back when I worked in a call centre. I wanted garments with a leaf on more than anything, but I never sank as low as getting garments with the mysterious Spliffy character on — which I assumed was a Stüssy/Dready bite. Sometimes it got rocked with the Naf Naf imitating NAFFCO54 line. Indeed, at a point when rave’s bagginess and ragga’s click suit audacity collided in many a provincial town, people broke out some appalling head-to-toe combinations. Big clothes, six-tape sets with distorted bass and fifth-gen Stone Love clashes on a TDK brings back some vivid memories. There’s a documentary idea in there somewhere.
For years, I’ve assumed that Dready was another Stüssy copy (never to the extent of Massimo though), but news of its recent relaunch revealed that, unlike some of the faceless, cash-in curiosities that hit the markets at the same time (bootlegs of bootlegs of bootlegs of copies) when this guy was on store shelves, there’s a name attached to this one — an artist by the name of Robert Sidlauskas, who passed away in 2012. Dready came with a philosophy of truth and rights, unlike his evil Spliffy clone, who looked like he leapt from a mag cover-mounted Spectrum game about car thieves. The new Dready website has some background details, plus some interesting original imagery from Sidlauskas (like the stuff above) — I’m interested in seeing what they do with the brand going forward. It’s not for me nowadays, but it’s an entity that embodies a moment when a rack of clothes in your local streetwear spot might have a scattering of rave and UK-centric gear alongside the Droors and occasional X-Large.