Seeing as it’s already midnight I’m just going to post that Daft Punk promo. I’m just fucking with you. There should be some kind of cut-off or late adoption aggregator that stops people posting the same goddamn thing just to get those page views from getting free shoes or press trips. I like all the people who call Daft Punk EDM now though, because the EDM term really reminds me of 1996’s perpetually delayed VHS embarrassment Vibrations (“Their love erupted from the electronic underground”) where the cool guy from Twin Peaks loses his hands, performs as a masked performing robot character (like Thomas and Guy-Manuel) called Cyberstorm, culminating in the best depiction of live dance music ever. I hate people that sneer about films being so bad they’re good, but Vibrations is like 1983’s Joysticks in that it feels like it was made as a parody of a craze cash-in and bears no resemblance to a human experience. Viewing it is like a sweaty flu dream — it could break into hardcore porn at any minute or descend into Nic Roeg-esque insanity. But back to Daft Punk, today I got retweeted by Paul Williams — as a Phantom of the Paradise, Smokey and the Bandit and Bugsy Malone fan, that was awesome. To hear that Williams is working on the new album made a lot of sense, because we all know that Swan, and not Cyberstorm, was the true mask inspiration.
You know what was better than any lookbook or careful photoshoot? Old skate magazine ads. I frequently cite fact as a vast inspiration on me and Erik’s Rizzoli tome will be proof of how good much depth the brand has and how good he is as an artist, but here’s some ads to pass the time. Back when the brand was World Industries affiliated I remember the more sexualized stuff in Big Brother (plus a superb Absolut parody) but after Erik split from Rocco, the ads from mid-1993 took the step of calling World Industries out for using fuct designs. Then, in late 1993, the next wave of ads kicked off in Thrasher, starting with that list of fuct’s favorite things. I remain a huge fan of Steve Rocco’s copywriting, but that fact Profanity is Profit ad, with the slick look and mass of labels, plus the dealers only and kids only contact details? Classic. Here’s a selection of fuct ads from late 1993 to early 1996 that includes sister brand Dorothys Fortress too.
I want to watch a bootleg copy of the new Ben Affleck film (no Gigli) so this is a rush job. The Timberland brand has been an organisation close to my heart since the notion of amassing £120 for a pair of boots was impossible and I had to settle for CAT. Shit, I even considered Lugz back when Erick Sermon was plugging them in jeans big enough to block out the sun and cause a global rickets crisis, but you always knew you were compromising. For all the ‘Watchdog’ talk of quality or unfounded rumours about them and their enthusiastic hip-hop market, an ad with, say, Das EFX in ‘The Source’ would have ultimately deaded the Timberland brand. I’m not mad at the way it wasn’t all up in the rap press desperately trying to be down (though I still don’t mess with the roll-tops) during my teen years. As Timberland weather approaches and their 40th birthday is impending (though the Abington Boot Company launched 60 years ago), here’s some old Timberland ads. The blocky TIMBERLAND lettering to promote the “Outdoors-Proof Boot” in 1976 shows how the brand design has evolved and the 1979 campaign with a hillbilly family in wheat workbooks that, rather curiously, depicts them as the shoe of the moonshine maker hiding from Treasury Agents, is a gem, complete with a tagline that pre-dates Stella Artois’ “Reassuringly expensive” campaign — “A whole line of fine leather boots that cost plenty, and should.” 1982 was seemingly the year that Timberland declared boat shoe beef with Sperry Top-Sider with shot after shot. Brands didn’t do subliminals back then — shots fired, man overboard! Can I still enter the 1984 sweepstakes for Black & Decker powertools? The copywriting’s pretty solid throughout the 1980’s as GORE-TEX enters the line and the Super Boot era begins. I never realised that it took until 1991 for the brand to drop proper hikers either. I love these ads.
To coincide with the exhibition that’s in Berkeley California right now (though I’m hoping to catch in Boston next April) a full mid-career retrospective book is dropping next month and it looks tremendous and curiously affordable too. The Damiani book from 2009 was substantial, but this 448 page behemoth is something I’m judging by its cover, but you know it’s going to be necessary. Here’s Berkeley Art Museum’s Lawrence Rinder (who, put the book together alongside assistant curator Dena Beard) and Jefferey Deitch talking about Barry McGee. There’s a few more videos on YouTube courtesy of BAMPFA, including an excellent slideshow created by McGee.
I like Double RL a lot, even if it’s hideously overpriced. Now it seems to be enjoying its moment to truly shine, with Ralph Lauren’s baby — a veritable Mr. Benn dress up in worn-in seasonal costumes that reflect a specific period — being the brand to be wearing. Tres Bien’s recent (intelligent) blast at the RRL sell-in, which was refreshing in a world where everyone seems to be outwardly nice about everything, linked to their Flickr, where they upped a phenomenal set of A/W RRL 2011 lookbook images. Now that’s woah. Sweden’s Très Bien actually have an amazing blog. Now every store feels obliged to have a blog because some tit told them they should, but like Oi Polloi, Très Bien seem so at ease with their chosen subject matter that they can get funny with it — watch them get their Black Rob on in a Dries van Noten post like this. To quote Rawse, fuck a blog, dog (unless you’re going to say something interesting in it). Despite being part of a vast corporation, Double RL maintains a certain mystique, and what’s reported there is probably part of it. They don’t just throw those accounts around like the dudes with ankle-tapper denim that dwell in that strange heritage gear hall at BBB. The very thing that pisses off partner retailers
In terms of marketing and approach, Double RL’s experienced some changes, but I still love the visual language of some of Bruce Weber’s original ads. Once, this line was a personal crusade for Lauren, but a perennial loss-maker in his Ahab-style quest to break the denim market with something he felt was authentic. Continuing the nautical literary riffing, it seemed to be something of a painstakingly vintaged albatross around the great man’s neck, appearing like some attempt to cash-in on a non-existent audience of wealthy grungers who would shell out $175 for distressed jeans in 1993. The Double RL bus doing the college rounds back then seems a little at odds with the densely packed curiosity store spaces and concessions scattered around the globe now. Lauren wants to imbue these pieces with implied stories like a hipper J. Peterman and I’m a fan, but once upon a time, he was buying back $10 million dollar’s worth of unsold stock to prevent it hitting sale racks with a vengeance. However, those horses from summer 1993, previewing the line and a particularly prescient selvedge turnup and vulc shoe combination from 1994 made for bold, brilliant campaigns. By looking back, Lauren was way ahead of his time. Oh yeah, was somebody trustworthy talking about Polo being discontinued soon? I hope it was just a bad dream.
Anyway, these ads are from the 1993, 1994 and 1995 print campaigns.
It’s nice to see these Supreme London box logo stickers cropping up too. This one’s shamelessly swaggerjacked and cropped from the homie Nick’s Tumblr. You knew there’d be a Union Jack Supreme box logo didn’t you?
Apologies for turning this blog into one of those stone-faced, wordless, image blogs for one night only. That wasn’t my avowed intention. This imagery was way too nostalgic and olde world to leave alone without spotlighting some newness down below. But it fell by the wayside because I got waylaid watching the Crufts 2011 finals (that boxer was robbed, yo) and reading about The Idler magazine’s new Idler Academy in west London. I lost concentration entirely.
All I can offer this evening is what was on my hard drive after I pillaged the ‘Backpacker’ archive for imagery pertaining to outdoor performance between 1973 and 1996. The project never amounted to anything, but I know a few like minds who might get a kick out of it. Hell, there’s plenty of right-clickers who might want to stick ‘em on their Tumblrs and claim them as their own. I don’t care, seeing as I borrowed them from a magazine in the first place.
The Columbia, Du Pont, Vasque, Marmot, Universal and Pivetta ads are particularly strong. In the current climate of outdoorsy one-upmanship (a trend that seems to have stuck), I’ll take this copy-heavy, utilitarian focus over the fey drivel that’s inappropriately applied to rugged gear throughout the blog world. I’ve been fixating on the Thinsulate labelling lately as one of my favourite pieces of branding. It’s democratic too compared to the steep price tags on steep incline wear that bears another personal favourite — the GORE-TEX tab.
Beyond the official North Face hookups, I loved Supreme’s woolly hat homage to the Thinsulate branding (not to be mistaken for the Thinsulate Supreme technology) in the vein of their Patagonia tributes.
Normal windy, wordy and pretentious service should resume next week.