If you’re in London with an hour to spare between now and July 19th, you need to go and check out the Shout Out! UK Pirate Radio in the 1980s exhibition at the ICA. It’s a compact collection of artifacts, documents and imagery that charts the pre-legal days of Kiss in its five years as a pirate station, as well as several other seminal DIY broadcasters that never went straight. This was the second London exhibition with a snapshot of Groove Records in just over a month (the great little gathering of London record shop history that popped up on the rapidly perishing Berwick Street was the other one), and from a style perspective there’s nuggets there in the browsable (as in aper format and not some iPad simulation) fanzines with their 1989 ads for the seminal Soul II Soul store in Camden. This is isn’t just a showcase of radio culture — given the connection between music and the streets, its was an important chapter in helping define what wear too. Don’t let my abysmal iPhone photos put you off paying it a visit.
My friends at 032c have moved into creating their own garments. If you grew up reading i-D and The Face, you’ll remember the occasional apparel offerings towards the back of the magazine. The ever-thorough 032c’s clothing brand starts with a short-sleeve sweatshirt (a challenging format that reminds me of the Jordan VII-era thick-tees that gave you heat stroke) with a long, slim unisex cut. Joerg and the squad aren’t basic enough to set things off with a print tee, and the Portuguese-made Stealth Varsity Logo Sweatshirt’s flock tonal lettering and anti-pill polyfibre and cotton construction is some wilfully contradictory summer wear. It’s in their online store right now and they’re promising further projects over the coming months.
My updates here have been sporadic due to work distractions. For that, I apologise (I actually need to get this basic blog template redesigned at some point soon too). A couple of pieces I wrote are in the new 032c. It’s easy to become jaded in a world where much of what you love has become cyclical cultural mass, but that’s how you become so embittered that you render yourself unemployable. I still manage to get hyped about things like this. As somebody who’s an admirer of ACG, 032c and ACRONYM’s work, I was excited to see the All Conditions Gear article we put together in the new issue, plus an extract from a conversation I had with Toby and Sk8thing from Cav Empt. There are longer versions of the interviews that might find their way online too. Shouts to Joerg for letting me get involved. Go pick up issue #28, because it’s still the best magazine of its kind on the market — the What We Believe piece is bold and brilliant, plus there’s a rare spot of Supreme print advertising in there too. There’s an 032c clothing line coming soon that, going on the strength of some brief IG previews (and knowing that they don’t do anything by half), will be good.
On the magazine front, upping the seminal Ruder than the Rest article from an early 1991 issue of The Face half a decade ago amassed a lot of interest at the time, with this period of real London streetwear barely documented or celebrated. The logical follow-up to it was Norman Watson’s Karl and Derick styled New Skool shoot (mentioned on this blog a couple of times before) from later that year (which includes Mr. Charlie Dark as a young ‘un). That piece united skatewear, streetwear and sportswear perfectly — Nike Air Max and Huaraches worn with Pervert, Poizone, Fresh Jive, Anarchic Adjustment and Insane, plus haircuts by Conrad of Cuts and Rollin’ Stock. It was incredible — the look that dwells in the Basement and gets hectic in Wavey Garms now, but back when it really seemed to take form for a wider audience to watch from far, far away.
6:77FlyCreative have put together an exhibition called Ruffnecks, Rudeboys and Rollups that gathers imagery from this pivotal era of style in the country’s capital, with submissions from the likes of Normski. It runs from a private view on Friday, May 22nd to Sunday, May 24th at 5th Base Gallery at 23 Heneage Street in east London, with some very appropriate sponsorship from Supermalt. I’m looking forward to seeing it, and I hope it’s the start of something even bigger.
Linking every topic above again, something interesting is happening with The Face archives by the looks of things — Maxwell Logan and Nick Logan have started an Instagram account called THE____ARCHIVE that showcases me gems from the magazine’s vaults for its 35th anniversary, like these logo prototypes from Steve Bush. This outlet, plus Paul Gorman’s book, should provide some extra insight beyond the fancy design and memorable features. It’s the 35th anniversary of the very much alive i-D this year too.
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.
Can I lapse into promotion mode for a minute? It’s good to get my name in magazines I actually read and after the INVENTORY Nike online piece from a couple of months ago, the print piece is in the new issue (which has great chats with Shin from Neighborhood, gloriously reckless soundbites from A.P.C’s Jean and plenty of detailed material talk with Paul “Jacket Ninja” Harvey) — an article with chats with Mark Parker and two VPs that I conducted during my last trip to Beaverton with some phenomenal photography by Dave Potes. It was interesting to see just how fastidious Simon, Ryan and the crew are in getting the magazine together and it was great to get the opportunity to geek out over a few thousand words, rather than the usual two hundred word PR pieces. I was excited to get the opportunity to write a little something for 032c on HTM for the new issue, but I’m keen to reiterate that Jonathan Olivares wrote the article and I wrote a shorter supplement as a supplement to it — I wouldn’t want to be stealing credit for Jonathan’s great work, because it’s one of the best articles on Nike I’ve read in recent years. Still, as a big fan of Joerg Koch’s vision, getting my name in there was an ambition fulfilled. Especially as someone who never went out with any aim of being a journo.
I know that it’s something that did the rounds a couple of weeks back, but I still find myself returning to We Are Shining’s The Wheel video — Acyde, Morgan Zarate and Carl Addy killed it here. Friends making music can be a problem (with plenty of white lies told when prodded for a reaction) but I’ve been listening to a zip file of Shining recordings regularly for a couple of years and The Wheel feels like the evolution of that — controlled chaos and a migraine for muso WordPress pigeonholers. Addy’s visuals match the madness and the mode of delivering it on a USB after a Soho viewing session in it entirety as well as GIFs and Instagram/Vine friendly chapters was interesting, with attendees urged to upload it ourselves in the event that copyright issues from that relentless montage meant that it was pulled from YouTube. As of this moment it’s still standing and you should give it 3 minutes and twenty-eight seconds of your day.
I hoard paper promotional materials like one of those oddballs stacking rubbish to the point where its visible on Google Earth. Some of the best stuff is promo only, because it’s free of clearance issues trimming the good stuff. Every shoe brand has books. PUMA has a hardbacked brand history, Nike’s ‘Irreverance Justified’ and a host of perfect bound listings, New Balance had a 100th anniversary tome, Vans put a book together and while there’s been histories(the 2008 book was okay, but it only scratched the surface) and Japanese catalogue style affairs, there always seemed to be scope for an adidas book that really fleshed out the roots of the company and celebrate the clinical brilliance of their very best output. So when some nice folks at adidas Originals sent over a copy of their book, ‘The Story as Told by Those Who Have Lived and are Living It’ (I just call it the big fucking adidas book), a gap on the shelf was filled. Actually, it’s more than a gap, because this book requires a chasmic space.
At 650 pages, in its own cardboard carrier and accompanied by two large posters — one of archive shoes and the other of classic adidas marketing campaigns — the adidas book is serious. Interviewing key athletes old and new, talking to execs, breaking down the entire timeline of adidas and making no attempt to gloss over darker days, showcasing classic sporting images with adidas in the frame, profiling the masterminds who created marketing waves still resonating, like Rob Strasser (RIP) and Run-DMC deal man Angelo Anastasio as well as DMC himself, it was worth waiting for the brand to deliver a book. With a personal preoccupation with EQT, I was well served by the contents, and if you’re expecting a breakdown of every adidas shoe ever, you’re out of luck, but the handful of pages at the book’s close are pure footwear porn (bring back the 1936 roller skating shoe please adidas). The embossed cover, inserts, paper stock and print quality is outstanding — even the book’s marker is coloured appropriately. The catch? It’s not going on sale. I have no idea how you get hold of a copy either, but the hours that have gone into this one show in the execution.
I spend an unnecessary amount of time pondering as to what rappers actually have in the bank. Traditionally they have to talk it up, but listening to some of Posta Boy’s wild claims on ‘Jurassic Harlem,’ frequently rappers talk big career talk before they’ve made it up the first rung of the ladder. And Young Buck mocking those who throw their rent money around and going broke, before reports rolled in of his bankruptcy a few years later? It’s a cold world. It’s nice to hear a little truth once in a while from a realm that favours exaggeration. It’s funny to see journos and commentators still falling about in shock at a rapper being articulate — not all rappers are Webbie in Wal-Mart mode.
The rap bio is the best kind of bio. Prodigy proved that with his trashtalking My Infamous Life (one of 2011’s best books), rivaling Dustin Diamond in the shit talking stakes. But hip-hop is a multi-layered thing. Even a behind-the-scenes player like Steve Stoute has his book out. Jeezy’s recent documentary and video interview campaign trail revealed enough details to create a compelling read in the corner boy-turned unit shifter stakes (I need a Project Pat Bob Dylan ‘Chronicles’ type tome in my life, charting a life of antics in Memphis) and RA the Rugged Man’s opus will surprise the uninitiated with his knowledge recall and journalistic savvy.
On the shelves, you can pick up Common’s ‘One Day It’ll All Make Sense,’ J-Zone’s ‘Root for the Villain’ and — the admittedly older — ‘Game Over’ by Azie Faison. That’s some commercially palatable Wholefoods rap, an indie rapper who had Mr Bongo’s going nuts and the gangster-turned-rapper multi-tasker all charting their lives thus far. If you’ve read J-Zone’s excellent blog on Ego Trip’s site, you’ll know he’s a MobStyle fanatic, so there’s a certain synergy between Azie’s book and his. Common’s book has plenty of rap trivia, Dilla recollections and introspect by the pound — the spiritual talk and maternal asides all makes it a little twee, but for better or for worse, it’s a decent distillation of the man’s sound.
J-Zone’s book is a self-published expose of the indie rap life circa 1998-2004, charting the rise and fall of walls of vinyl and serious kids with Jansport bags distorting their spines. It’s not bitter, but rather a rational look at the point where a rapper has to get a day job. It happens, and with Mr. Zone’s ‘Music for Tu Madre’, ‘A Bottle of Whup Ass’ and ‘Pimps Don’t Pay Taxes’ remaining some of the few non-gutter, illicit money street label indie releases worth breaking out in 2012 (most people spending their cash on J-Rawls records back then pretend they were listening to nothing but Pun, the Lox and DMX nowadays), there’s no shame in J-Zone’s game. He’s a gifted writer and despite trying to paint himself as a curmudgeon, is a likable character too, and while the autobiographical element fades like the protagonist’s income from the industry to give way to some angry essays, it’s a rare insight into a career in the underground and its ups and downs.
Go buy J-Zone’s book. I want to read Money Boss Players, Boosie, J Prince, Kool G Rap and Scarface autobiographies one day too.
I saw ‘Strange Behavior’ when I was a kid. Appropriately, it’s a strange, seedy little film. Ostensibly, it’s a slasher flick, there was weird stuff with a male character and his dad, a certain scuzziness that was answered when `I found out that it was an Australian movie despite American accents. But the soundtrack is amazing. Tangerine Dream on the score, a scene where an entire party breaks into a choreographed dance to Lou Christie’s solitary hit ‘Lightnin’ Strikes’ and my introduction to Nick Cave in the form of the pre-Birthday Party group Boys Next Door, whose remarkable ‘Shivers’ on the car stereo pre-stabbing blew me away. ‘Shivers’ was written by Rowland S. Howard who passed away almost two years to the day, and I’m looking forward to getting hold of Richard Lowenstein’s documentary on the man, ‘Autoluminescent.’
‘Autoluminescent’ is set for a DVD release in March, but we Brits are being spoilt by Studio Canal with a budget-priced UK Blu-ray release of the Paul Schrader’ co-written revenge masterpiece ‘Rolling Thunder’ at the end of January. William Devane and Tommy Lee Jones are great in this gritty, faintly weird classic that’s a perfect supplement to other late ’70s Schrader aided revengers ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Hardcore’ — a John Flynn Q&A? Heywood Gould commentary? Linda Haynes interview? I’m in. Why we’re getting it and the rest of the world isn’t is a mystery, but hey, that was the case with the recent Blu-ray of ‘The Outsiders’ which was admittedly the ‘Complete Novel’ edition with the ill-judged rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, but the extras and extra footage almost make up for jettisoning Carmine Coppola’s score. Almost. On that film’s extras there’s discussion of Francis treating the Soc actors and extras like rich kids and putting the Greasers into no-frills accommodation, but I had no idea that there were Soc and Greaser t-shirts, plus an inter-faction basketball match until I saw the GreaserSocProject photostream with Paul Raczkowski’s image of the teams of extras posing. It’s a good set of images if you’re strange about that movie like I am. Being an extra in that film would have been a life highlight. I still want to see Mickey Rourke’s screen test for the film though.
On the subject of movie merchandise, Mr. Sofarok put me onto the sale of one of the prop jackets worn by Sylvester Stallone’s character Gabe Walker in 1993’s ‘Cliffhanger’ for $1200. Between this doing the ’90s outdoor tech thing and Seagal’s ‘On Deadly Ground’ (sold recently for the same amount) doing the native handcrafted RRL-esque look, I believe that action movie star outerwear will be a big trend for the coming season. I like the fictional accolades, locales and made up expeditions somebody had to mock-up for those patches.
You don’t see many interviews with James Jebbia, because he’s fully aware that most journalists will either miss the point or misquote him. Plus Supreme doesn’t need very much press coverage, does it? But you can trust ‘032c’ to get something right though, and their Supreme piece in the new completely redesigned edition of the magazine is decent. They approach subjects with a certain intensity, but even they only got a short interview with him that necessitated quotes from the book’s KAWS conversation and tracking down some Supreme affiliates for extra soundbites. It even discusses his reticence for Q&As. In the case of production runs, labels and chatter, the man behind the brand knows that less is more. Even in a world where you’re expected to Instagram and tweet your breakfast and the subsequent bowel movements. Still, as you’d expect, it’s a nicely presented article, with foldouts, the Nate Lowman artwork from the NYC store and plenty of red. ‘Absolutely Fabulous’s Christmas special was a car wreck testament to a shoe that was hardly funny in the first place, but nine years before the Kate Moss and Supreme shirt, there was a Supreme and Naomi Campbell collaboration on BBC1 at primetime. Check the hairdresser’s tee out in an episode originally transmitted in April 1995…
After peeping the Nike archive, I’ve been pondering some near-mythical forays into the musician-footwear realm. While Nike’s emphasis in the 1970s seemed to be to step on adidas’s toes as much as possible (which is well documented in the book ‘Swoosh’), but it also ushered in some oddities that have been whispered in collector circles for a few years. The Yeezy? That’s new-jack stuff.
Next year that mania’s set to reappear, but looking back to the brand’s early days, in 1975 Sir Elton John got himself a proto-pair of Nike Bespokes—Geoff Hollister made him a multicoloured platform pair. I’ve never seen that actual pair, but the recently unearthed Cortez-sole, Roadrunner upper looking pieces—placed on eBay by an ex bouncer from a club that had them on a wall display after a visit by Elton – fit the mid ’70s year of origin by silhouette and described makeup.
That relationship seemed to flourish, but the later release for a full tour crew that seems to date to around 1980 with shades of Daybreak or Tailwind in the upper is a personal favourite in terms of makeup and execution. The fantastic Gallic video from sneakers.fr showing Edymalawi’s phenomenal collection offers a couple of extra musician SMUs—the aluminum swoosh runners for Rod Stewart’s band that seem to be on the same sole unit as the Eltons from the same era (the sole looks like a Nike Leisure’s sole). Imagery of the mysterious Bob Marley rastas that were reputedly made for the legendary adi-head still eludes me, but the Devo versions (again, looking like the Elton and Rod silhouette) are another revelation.
I need to find out more about the mysterious Nike musician rollout.
It’s magazine season again. The highlight of this month’s offering is a new issue of ‘Manzine’ that ups the content, stays irreverent (and non-cunty in that approach too) and incorporates a great pieces on the Berlin doner kebab, female pubic hair, nuclear bunkers, everyday glass design classicism, fatherhood, driving etiquette and misspelt names on Starbucks cups. It’s fucking brilliant and a hotbed of experienced writers let loose without being tethered by ad money or ABC circulation. The illustrated Oi Polloi advertorial is a highlight —the antidote to the solemn treatments to clobber elsewhere. That’s why Oi Polloi keep their lead while everyone else copies their buying policy. Just fucking buy ‘Manzine’.
If, like me, you insist on spending thirty pounds on magazines which only get a brief browse and you justify them as a future research investment, you’re probably deluded. Berlin’s ‘032c’ marks its twentieth issue by including a vast feature on Rei Kawakubo with an essay my Mr. John Waters to introduce it, an interview with David Simon that isn’t wooly like a Guardian chat and a great piece on Arc’teryx Veilance that lets Conroy make himself heard. Veilance is awesome. Soon, everyone will realise this. Having to travel to DSM rather than my usual news stand near Carnaby Street to pick it up was symptomatic of the strange, staggered approach to dropping publications that hinders casual discovery. This issue is great.
b Store’s ‘b’ magazine is still better than it should be too. A store’s magazine should be a glorified self-promoting lookbook. That’s how it’s meant to work, and I’ve never assumed otherwise. ‘b’ doesn’t do that—instead it offers product without the hard or soft sell. That’s supreme confidence. The piece on collectors is good, as is the Stephan Schneider piece. Obviously, the incorporation of Champion (which you should buy from the Original Store on these shores) in shoots is a strong look. Blending athletic wear and casual coats are in every spread I see at the moment.
Along with sunglasses I have issues with gloves. Padded ski numbers are a simpleton look, but traditional leather numbers make me look like a Nazi sadist or Giallo-style murderer. I can’t pull that off. Thank you to Mikkel and the Norse crew for creating those tan deerskin numbers with Hestra. My hands are safe as the temperature prepares to plummet, but this video from a few months back from the aforementioned Arc’teryx brand makes me want Alpha gloves from them too. GORE-TEX gauntlets are my kind of thing.
Here’s a picture of John Lydon in the PIL era wearing a pair of Air Flows too. It’s an odd pick…but somehow it makes sense. If there’d been a Lydon SMU, that would have been one to track down.