Tag Archives: acg

ROLLUPS

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

PEAK PERFORMANCE

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I hate to be that guy talking about month-old projects — especially when they were out last year — but I haven’t seen this Nike ACG newspaper online anywhere. People seemed pretty interested in the exhibit stuff from 1948. While the wrong image was used for the mighty Zoom Tallac, the archive section of this publication is pretty good. Steering from the same old early 1990s’ pieces, it was a response to a list of truly important ACG pieces from a pure performance angle as well as a sales standpoint. Ultra tech stuff like the Storm F.I.T. Tech Jacket from 1996, the Air Teocalli XCR from 2002, with its more breathable GORE-TEX and snowshoe binding compatibility, and 2004’s CommJacket (which was sold alongside the more minimal CommVest) with the built-in radio for rescue operations are all worthy of a moment in the spotlight. When this division of Nike was operating as its own business unit (like Jordan Brand) they got very serious with the innovations. I can’t promise that I won’t talk about All Conditions Gear again here very soon. In the meantime, this publication was available at NikeLab locations fairly recently, so you can probably still pick one up.

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BANGERS

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At the ACG relaunch event at London’s NikeLab store, all eyes were on the future, but there was a small amount of archive material on display to provide a little context. With the 1989/1990 wave of inaugural All Conditions Gear apparel being designed by a former Patagonia man its functionality and attention to detail is underrated. The budget blockbuster that is the Air Mada was on display alongside the proto-ACG greatness of the Escape, but that 1989 GORE-TEX Cervino Parka to match your Baltoros, Snowpatch Spire Pullover from the same year with the asymmetric zip and 1992’s ClimaF.I.T. Micro Fiber Anorak. These hastily shot iPhone images don’t do the products justice. As the owner of a couple of pieces from this period, I can testify that those layering system fits aren’t ideal for everyday wear, unless you have fleeces and base layers to accommodate the generous sizing. Those colours are still perfect to me.

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This was the year of the underwhelming collaboration, but Zomby (who soundtracked an ACRONYM® video back in 2012) dropped an unexpected winner with his collaboration with Jonny Banger’s Sports Banger line. Sports Banger’s FILA homaging, Tulisa supporting, Polo meets Sports Direct, Mr Freeze addled worldview is part of a new wave of gleeful bootlegging with British corner shop and high street staples being given tributes in a post T-Shirt Party realm where things sneered at a few years back are being celebrated. 2014 is the year when people who were preoccupied with Shawn J Period when two-step was big and picking at Rawkus’ dying embers when Pay As U Go were popping can claim to be garage and grime heads, but it’s good to see British scenes get their recognition and artists like Skepta get room to move in that renaissance on their own terms. The fact no American could understand this mass of reference points is a pleasant polar opposite to hapless, once-you-go-crap-you-never-go-back attempts to break the States. If you buy both of the Zomby x Sports Banger ’92 t-shirts, you get a tub of dual-branded wet look ’92 hair gel — the gunk that created crispy barnets in schools, clubs and pubs 22 years ago. You can almost smell the Davidoff Cool Water, skunk and Marlboro Lights in the air.

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For anyone that moans about Gildan tees on marked up shirts not being removed (and anyone who bought street or skate wear back in the early 1990s can testify that a Hanes, Camber or Champion label left in was commonplace on the output from some of the greatest brands of the time), this Gildan one is a perfect middle-finger:

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NAUGHTY

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(Image by Ernie Paniccioli from Free Stylin’)

Watching Onyx carry on during The Breakfast Club as if the last 21 years never happened, with Envy’s important question about them firing blanks during their Source Award appearance cut off by some haggard mad facing reminded me of how much I wanted an Onyx hockey shirt or black denim jacket back then— I never saw the official Slammin’ Gear versions of the quilted vest in the UK. While April Walker’s contribution to the industry is well-documented, I feel that it should always be reiterated whenever possible — we all know about Walker Wear (whose hoodies seemed more minimal than anything else on the hip-hop brand side of things) which was on the back of any thug rapper of influence, back when a giant mustard waistcoat with fireman jacket fastenings was a thing. The Walker Wear logo was incredibly effective on chests and heads and her connections got it everywhere, but Angela Hunte-Wisner’s styling work from the same era was incredible too — she was key to putting Starter and Nike on in Another Bad Creation, R Kelly and LL Cool J album covers and videos, but her decision to put Jodeci in Hi-Tec Magnum boots (possibly the only legit moment in Hi-Tec’s history) was pioneering in bringing rugged looks to R&B. April Walker also designed Onyx’s mad face logo — this piece from last year is still essential.

Naughty By Nature always seemed to have the best rap merchandise pre Wu-Wear (bar Public Enemy, NWA, Run-DMC or those Sleeping Bag jackets that cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars that were advertised in the EPMD sleeve) and for reasons unknown, I was preoccupied with getting some Naughty Gear denim in 1994. Treach, Vinnie and Kay Gee set the brand off in 1993 and opened a store in Newark, New Jersey the following year. Building on the “Down with O.P.P” tee and Naughty by Nature underwear, plus a knack for merchandising since the New Style era (the connection to master merchandisers Tommy Boy probably didn’t hurt either), given Treach’s patronage of Walker Wear, I’m certain April Walker played a role. This piece from Yo! MTV Raps back in 1995 (recorded in bad quality but essential nonetheless) showcases the store as well as a trip to a hardware store to get chains, plus a Timberland mission too. In that video, Vinnie reveals that Naughty Gear jeans were made by Ruff Era, a frequent advertiser in The Source, who sold stiff, voluminous jeans. Savvy choices of collaborator and Vinnie’s decision to build the brand beyond just local screen printing paid off, but when the band started beefing in the late 1990s when urban wear really started popping, their licensing deals to make Naughty Gear, Inc. more profitable suffered. I’m not saying Naughty Gear was classic, but Naughty By Nature’s visual identity very smart indeed. Now Naughty Gear looks a little more basic.

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South Beach colours on a Wildwood should be the worst thing ever, but these impending versions are decent. Still the greatest all-round All Conditions Gear shoe of all-time — the mystery of why this Pegasus remix existed around the time that the Pegasus ACG and Pegasus A/T were sold remains, but this always seemed closer to Escape spirit.

RUSTIC TECH

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Yep, I’m still peddling that old shoe schtick. Not content with writing a top 50 trail shoe piece for Complex a few years back that bricked because kids don’t care about 20-year-old brown rustic-tech (rus-tech?) shoes, I collaborated with my friends at High Snobiety to run through 25 of the best Nike ACG shoes ever — naturally, somebody asked where the non-ACG Terra Humara was with the quickness. This one’s good because HS brought in the talented Dan Freebairn to illustrate the shoes, meaning this might be the first and last time you’ll ever see a drawing of a Pubah or Terra Tor, because they’re not the kind of shoes that anybody normal cares about. I think I’ve run my course on the footwear history side of things (unless anyone wants to give me money to talk on the subject of ancient footwear. Anyway, this was fun. I’d campaign for a lot of these shoes to be reissued if I didn’t know that they’d probably brick with a 21st century audience. All Conditions Gear is 25 this year (26 officially — the Pegasus ACG was 1988 but the category and logo really seemed to take form in 1989) and my childhood ambition of giving one of these shoes a colourway remains. If you think something deserved inclusion, leave a comment.

STAPLE BRANDS

Pressed for time because of freelance work, so why not fall back on two failsafes — All Conditions Gear and Champion? ACG as a full subdivision may be gone (though every time you see a sealed seam jacket from Nike, the spirit lives on) , but it’s still part of of the footwear offerings at trend level. Here’s a few non-ad images of some interesting moments in ACG history — Trip Allen is a crucial part of the old ACG squad and according to legend, he was one of the pioneers in applying some truly insane colours to shoes that remain scorched into my retinas for reference in far too much of my work. I believe (looking at the sketch) that he was heavily involved in the Terra ACG design — a pioneering moment for the brand that may or may not have aided in the genesis of the non-ACG Terra trail running range you might have lusted after in the late 1990s. The Terra ACG’s speckles and wildcard orange and pink were decidedly peculiar at the time too. The packaging for the Nike Thermax Underwear that I believe dates back to the early days of ACG (I like the “Clothing as equipment” copy too) is well executed and captures the commitment to it at the time. Moisture wicking ACG underwear is a rarity nowadays, but these are some of the most aesthetically appealing thermals ever made.

Why does Champion’s Japanese licensee get it while the others don’t? Admittedly it’s a country where a heritage wing could actually prove profitable, but to see this brand plastered on tat in the UK is depressing. Like Fila, it’s an opportunity wasted and while Champion always was a fairly affordable brand compared to the Italian premium sportswear of the former, it seems the original point was lost in a variety of acquisitions and wheeler dealing. Even Russell Athletic seems to be slowly getting its shit together in this territory while former champions flounder. Pop-ups and spaces are usually a good reason to ignore an email invite, but the collegiate-themed Champion Bookstore in the Shinjuku branch of Oshman’s (itself a franchise of a mostly-gone US sporting institution that became Sports Authority — not dissimilar to how Shibuya’s mighty Tower store keeps standing) looks tremendous and captures the essence of what makes the brand great. Cotton fleece heaven with a history lesson worked in there. This kind of thing and the nanamica x Champion masterpieces of loungewear maintain this brand’s magic. Everyone else seems intent on sticking a ‘C’ on cheap accessories. Sadly, I can imagine what proves the most profitable.

IT’S THE BOMB

I don’t know why I keep returning to ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ Maybe it’s for the same reasons that I keep trying to get dig away at ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ with it’s spine cracked to just 10% of the book’s content — I want to know what I’m missing. I’m not talking about the cult of characters who topped themselves in black and white Nike Decades, but Michael Cimino’s ponderous ani-western, which fired my imagination as a kid by featuring a manic Christopher Walken, Tom Noonan, Brad Dourif, Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke and a nude Isabelle Huppert. Alas, the pauses, the pacing of the first half and the frequent misuse of its spectacular cast means I’ve never managed to finish watching ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ I concentrate too hard and get confused, I get restless, I answer the phone, I end up daydreaming that I’m watching ‘Con Air.’ I got so close — 20 minutes from the end of the 149 minute cut, but after pausing it to answer the door to a Domino’s I realised that I just didn’t want to go back — I didn’t care about Kris Kristofferson’s hero or Sam Waterston’s villain. That 20 minutes could be spent watching a ‘Seinfeld’ episode again

Somebody told me that I’m a fool, a spoon fed moron, who doesn’t understand the nuances of Cimono’s work, but I’m convinced that this film could be distilled into an engaging 100 minutes. I still can’t co-sign the animal cruelty like the supposedly “real” horse with dynamite sequence — if you’re going to die for a film, I’d sooner be the bull in ‘Apocalypse Now’ or the cow in ‘Come and See.’ Being sacrificed for a film that recouped $3 million on a $44 million budget is the final insult. I still haven’t made my mind up about this film. What am I missing? Why did Jerry Harvey make the extra effort to screen the longer version on the Z Channel? There must be something in this abomination that creates these rabid fans who think the film flies by. The Johnson County War is a significant moment in American history, but it isn’t the stuff of gripping cinema — rather it seems to have been something that’s touched on in more entertaining books, TV shows and films as part of a snappier narrative — and the director slows it to a molasses crawl that I can’t quite wade through.

I’m going to return for more when the real director’s cut (the 219 minute version was a rush job) that’s been trimmed to 216 minutes is released by Criterion this November. Maybe that 3 missing minutes is the key to unlocking this mess. Maybe I’m just a glutton for cinematic punishment. Will Criterion put out a ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ 2-disc Blu-ray package in 2032 that lets us reassess Eddie Murphy’s lost masterpiece with a digitally restored 142 minute director approved cut? I hope so. If I had one really positive thing to say about ‘Heaven’s Gate’ it’s that the film has the best roller skate violinist/barn dance sequence of any Hollywood film. And that’s something to be grateful for.

With OG Huaraches set to return, it’s always worth focusing on a slightly more contemporary (though still showing my age) crush than Huppert — Chilli from TLC whose Huaraches and ACG-looking garments in the ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ video make me love her even more.