What’s all the fussing and feuding for these days? I’ll never understand the people pretending that they emerged from the womb fully clued up, nodding sagely. Life is about discovery and evolving tastes. Got into something a year ago? Feel free to comment, regardless of what some old misanthrope who hopped on it five years prior tells you. Those who were really there at the start of anything, don’t sit and waste their time typing, blogging and dissecting them, unless they made a bad business decision and ended up on the outside. If something makes a few thousand kids YouTube Ninjaman or New Order, even if it’s just to get bragging rights over their online peers, then it can only be a good thing. then A brand like Supreme might not have been as widely discussed 20 years ago, but it was still fêted enough by the style press to warrant a page in The Face around Christmas 1995 — a magazine that was on the shelf of my local newsagent, with a then-circulation of around 113,000, back when mentioning anything in relation to Stüssy had us interested. Supreme was even on the shelf relatively locally at Dogfish in Cambridge for a bit earlier that year. It wasn’t necessarily a secret society then either — just a good brand, carefully distributed.
Whoa. Did Apple just acknowledge the obligatory Supreme box logo sticker on a MacBook that’s the Hypebeast Essentials equivalent of a Scarface poster in an episode of Cribs? That’s an interesting corporate co-sign. Things have come a long way. Personally, I think that it’s a 19th anniversary salute to Lord Nikon in Hackers, the Supreme sticker on a laptop OG back in 1995 who slapped a box onto a Toshiba Satellite. In a film that seems to be Apple sponsored, Nikon was one of the few without a chunky Powerbook, meaning he never quite brought the worlds together entirely, but Laurence Mason’s character is still the father of that rectangle you carefully applied to expensive hardware to fake not-caring. Unless we’re Dutch, we’re not listening to Urban Dance Squad, wearing shades to hack in strange digital cityscapes or whizzing around on rollerblades, but Hackers got one prophecy on point.
The whole Genealogy of Innovation project I worked on for Nike has been collated in a book by Sneaker Freaker and it’s very good. Weirdly, I put a book project on hold to write that website copy and now it’s a book, but there’s extra copy in there, all the shoes, all the stuff I wrote, some interviews with Nike football folks I did, other interviews with famous people and about 230-something pages of stuff. The packaging is bananas with the Magista (and Superfly) colour contrast on the slipcase. I still wish I’d written THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MARIAH AND NOT THE MARIAH PR after my Mariah copy all those months ago, but it’s a minor (and it’s correct on the site). I know quite a few were produced as promo pieces, Salutes to Woody, Ryan and the team on this — ridiculously fast turnaround and a very impressive product.
I’m out of town for a while, so this is a weak blog update. I only just realised that the Passengers segment on Biggie Smalls from 1995 has been uploaded on YouTube, despite it being there since August. For years this was inexplicably absent from the internet and just as The Word‘s Onyx Throw Ya Gunz made an appearance fairly recently after being little more than a gradually eroding memory for 19 years, it’s back. Not only was the UK the place where Biggie got his first magazine cover, the following year, Channel 4 transmitted nearly fifteen minutes of his daily operations on a Friday night as part of Passengers, the patchy but entertaining yoof magazine show that also included pieces like James Lebon profiling Shyhiem during his Rugged Child days. You get Chris Wallace’s mum talking about his Polo pieces as a kid, some studio static with some concealed firearms, great footage of Faith smoking lots of weed, some live footage and a young Lil Kim (credited as Little Kim). Classic material. Naturally, like most long-unseen things of this ilk, this was elevated to a D.A. Pennebaker level of insight in my mind during its absence, but significantly less in-depth now I’ve finally watched it again. Shouts to jimbeanthelegend1982 for that upload.
Edit: The original uploader, iom seventynine hasn’t got his full dues here — go check his YouTube channel for other UK TV gems like Company Flow on Jo Whiley’s show and Bushwick Bill on Badass TV…
24 hours late on the blog updates and still not much to say. The leather jacketed or vested ne’er-do-wells of old always fired my imagination in movies and magazines, but I can’t help but think that gangs were making more of an effort to dress back in the day. Juvenile delinquency looked particularly fucking cool in the 1950s and 1960s, back when the dawn of the teenager had “squares” bricking themselves at grease-slicked haircuts and tribal uniforms. These pictures from a 1957 LIFE feature on Upper Westside and Bronx gangs called Teen-Age Burst of Brutality make alleged thugs look like rock stars. An Egyptian Kings member looks cool calm and collected on the way to be quizzed for a murder, complete with fans peering in the window, and the crew shot of the Laughing Jesters in Manhattan makes them look like the best gang ever. People generally seemed to look more excellent 50+ years ago.
While the gang jackets in this anti-hoodlum film from the 1950s are the worst thing ever, the gangs in the 1961 San Francisco based documentary Ask Me, Don’t Tell Me which has some kind of religious redemption overtones (and did the blog rounds back in 2009 when it seemed to go into public domain) has crews of dudes who are deeply stylish, until they start doing decorating and digging holes and being productive members of society because society asks them to be — it completely does the opposite of discouraging anyone from not wanting to stand on a street corner playing elbow tit (as depicted in The Wanderers). Even in the 1970s, the gang jackets on the cover of New York Magazine‘s March 27, 1972 cover story on east Bronx gangs (which can be read here) would almost certainly have a kid reaching for the marker pens to decorate a garment so he and his friends could rumble with neighbourhood rivals.
Ralph Bakshi has drawn some great hoodlums in flicks like American Pop and Coonskin and given his escalating inability to work within the system, an initiative like Kickstarter is the perfect way for him to raise capital. He’s currently working on a series called Last Days of Coney Island with pledged voice work from folks like Matthew Modine and there’s some amazing incentives to pledge some dough here ($35+ for a Bakshi character doodle?). And I’ve talked about Ralph’s work here a lot of times, because Wizards, Fritz the Cat and Lord of the Rings, plus shows like his Mighty Mouse redux had such a big impact on me — if you don’t know who he is, educate yourself immediately by picking up a copy of Unfiltered and reading this interview with him from a year ago. The sketches and imagery from Last Days of Coney Island look pretty good so far.
Does anyone else recall Champion’s Japanese licensee putting Champion on some extremely underwhelming hiking boots in 1995 to capitalise on a boom in hiking heritage? I thought I dreamt it until I pulled out this old ad again. They really did a number on the iconic ‘C’ right there.
There’s more interesting things to read elsewhere on the internet, whether it’s this sequel to Complex’s Alchemist sunday sessions or a debate about whether Politic borrowed Palace’s VHS aesthetic. You could also watch a collection of demonstrations of Errolson putting on jackets and strapping up bags extra precisely, including the 2004 video. Or you can watch the “holiday shout outs” section of these 1990 Elektra party footage, where everyone looks super young and has amazing jackets. Remember when we Brits couldn’t get Air Force 1s and had to marvel at them on folks’ feet from a distance? I still don’t understand the ill will towards the mids, but I’ll concede that they look their age (even though they’re 12 years older than the other heights) highs and lows are still the ones, ever since I obsessed over the black soled highs in i-D back in the early 1990s that were stocked in Passenger on Beak Street.
After they arrived at Foot Locker in the UK and JD Sports in a slow rollout between 1998 and 1999, the explosion on UK shores was significant, reaching an apex with JD’s 2004 and 2005 exclusives. Seeing Vans Eras with tracksuits still throws me a little, but they seemed to invade the AF1 market in the UK. Any rumour of the shoe’s demise can be batted away by the fact the white on white and black are still some of the bestselling shoes in Nike’s business and that whereas the Dunk’s hype was largely fueled by a late 1990s fixation beyond a core few and subsequent retro, the Force had only been totally unavailable for a couple of years during its lifespan, giving it some serious sub-cultural credentials. Bizarre to think something that looked so space age on it’s debut, became a superior “dad shoe” of sorts after it hit 25.
I still think the canvas 1995 SC versions and the 1996 SC (which I’ve long believed stood for “Sports Classic” unless anyone wants to shoot me down on it) snakeskin duo of Air Force 1 are legendary, regardless of your opinion of the shoe. Who made the snake colourways back in the mid 1990s? How were colourway and retro departments being operated? The Ivory and Obsidian editions with the ‘NIKE AIR’ are still objects of desire for me and before they went robotic, but not before the masks went on, a January 1997 Daft Punk photoshoot featured Thomas Bangalter sporting the Ivorys (Guy sticks to black Stan Smiths). If these had an Ivory outsole, just as the Obsidians had the matching sole, I’d have spontaneously combusted.
Daft Punk never cloned these for their Bapestas (though there were plenty of other similar Bapestas) and their stockists and availability eluded me until I saw them a few years later, shrink wrapped and out of my budget. Truth be told, if I had them, I’d never wear them, so some things are better left as objects-of-desire than dusty owned items taken from their golden, glowing pedestal and sat in a black and red box with the other 999+ shoes I don’t wear very often. Still, it was one of the shoes that convinced me that simplicity beats gimmickry and it distracted me from my 1995/early 1996 preoccupation with the original Air Ndestrukt for good.