Tag Archives: air force 1

WATERMARKED

SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store. New York, NY 1/11/1984 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X29513 TK1 R2 F10 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store.
New York, NY 1/11/1984
CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X29513 TK1 R2 F10 )

We watermark crew members might be too cheap to pay to get our Getty shots unlabelled, but some images need to be shared. I won’t apologise for my relentless sports store nostalgia, and these 1984 shots of respected investigative reporter Armen Keteyian posing in a branch of Athlete’s Foot for a Sports Illustrated story photographed by Lane Stewart. There’s a beauty to those early 1980s walls, seeing as the majority of the stock has made multiple comebacks, but this one is a real beauty — 990s, Campus, Lavers, Air Forces, Grand Slams, Equators, Internationalists and Challenge Courts all seem to be present. As far as ageless design goes, it never got much better than this era. Flawless stock. Thousands of great shoes followed, but they were never future proofed like this display of masterpieces.

SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store. New York, NY 1/11/1984 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X29513 TK1 R1 F7 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store.
New York, NY 1/11/1984
CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X29513 TK1 R1 F7 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store. New York, NY 1/11/1984 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X29513 TK1 R3 F5 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store.
New York, NY 1/11/1984
CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X29513 TK1 R3 F5 )

On the subject of watermarked imagery, this footage of skaters at South Bank from the 1970s via The Kino Library is gold. It’s devoid of audio, but you can open up another tab and play Back Street Kids by Black Sabbath or something similar to give it extra energy. Given the close call this historical area had over the last couple of years, this kind of thing is extra important. Plus, it was Go Skateboarding Day this weekend, which makes this extra timely.

PEER PRESSURE

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Music videos get mentioned here a lot as an inspiration and introduction to brands for a sheltered Bedfordian back in the day. With the M-O-B-B being the party house band of choice this year (with both Supreme and KITH drafting them in), Havoc and Prodigy (who, despite claiming he invented everything a few years back, is one of the original heavily tattooed east coast rappers, back when MCs were showing off a solitary piece on their shoulders) are getting some coin to compensate for their contribution to hard rock style. With the recent ACG relaunch (and the eventual arrival of some proper winter weather in the UK), the 1992 Peer Pressure video deserves some retrospect. Not only is it the track where P reveals his George “It’s called a T-square” Costanza style dream of becoming an architect, the gear being worn is notable too. In a discussion with Ronan from Nike, he pointed out that Puba isn’t the only Air Revaderchi king — Mobb Deep rocked matching pairs of the 1992 classic in this promo, back when they were on their sickle and teen thug rap wave. The Blink-and-miss Raids, that yellow Carhartt sweat and Air Force 1s with tucked in socks and faded denim were huge looks too. Now, hip-hop videos are cheap again, but this era of getting a crew into a couple of locations and doing a lot of walking towards the camera and behind fences is golden. The sickle (which, if my memory of the Prodigy autobiography is fully operational, was referring to his sickle-cell condition as well as their bleak outlook — though it may have been coincidence) and zip up Champion hoods to give them grim reaper looks is a nice, Queensbridge gothic touch.

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EXHIBITION

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I’ve been obsessed with basketball shoes since I was a kid, despite being completely incompetent on a court. I spent hours staring at new additions to Champion and Olympus Sports, but I assumed I might grow out of it — I certainly never expected Nike to ever come calling to contribute to a project based around them. Over the last couple of years I’ve had the privilege of doing just that. To coincide with the Basketball World Cup in Spain I got to work with London’s own Magdi Fernandes, Nike and the kind contribution of some serious collectors to create an exhibition that, selfishly, featured some of my favourite shoes ever. Taken down from a collection of 240+ shoes and after making those emails cry, we took it down to 86 shoes to coincide with the whole Search for the Baddest/Come out in Force campaign in Madrid. Nike and Rosie Lees created six custom cabinets (here’s a better shot of one) to deliver an overview of Nike Basketball, Air Force and Air Jordan from 1972 to the present day. Getting the Franchise, Air Force STS, Alpha Force Low and the 1996 Python AF1 alongside the crowdpleasers in there was indulgence on my part, but there just aren’t enough exhibitions with those things in them these days. I don’t think this one is going to go on tour, so I’ll hunt some more professional shots, but in the meantime, here’s some hastily shot iPhone snaps of some of my favourite shoes. Shouts to Nike for getting me involved.

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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.

ARCHIVE

I’m still out the country and still slacking on blog entries. More time eating and less time pondering the minutiae of some unnecessary matters proves toxic to my creativity and I’m trying to at least feign a break from the old routine. Seeing a 1982 Dondi sketch for sale in the Block Party 2012 show earlier in the week (alongside some Barry McGee and Haze pieces I wish I owned) had me thinking back to the swag exhibited in the above image of Futura, Dondi and Zephyr in LA, taken from the ‘Style Master General’ book. They weren’t just talking paint and ink with that title. Member’s Only jackets, tracksuit trousers and Nikes executed in a non-corny manner. Now I’m in LA and about to, presumably, end up doing some form of exercise that’s Nike+ (this Nate VanHook interview on the Hue is cool) related this afternoon, lacking even 0.1.% of the style exhibited by Donald, Lenny and Andrew right there. Though it was good to see Riff Raff holding it down in a bar last night, plus Antwuan Dixon drunk outside trying to get in (on a skate note, Koston Epic’ly Later’d coming soon).

When in doubt, throw up some old ads on the site; these date back to 1986, but are good examples of advertising for a market beyond the usual male audience. Women’s Air Forces (which were reworked for women’s feet rather than just scaled down) and an enviable roster of kids’ shoes with the ‘Some Athletes Haven’t Made it Big Yet’ copy are pretty good.

Stone Island’s Stone Island 30 exhibition sounds immense and a good reason to go brave the mean-mugging hordes in snug tailoring who’ve picked up on Pitti over the last couple of years. The book is there too and Mr. Errolson Hugh and Future Concept Lab have got some shots of ‘ARCHIVIO ‘992-‘012′, which I need in my life immediately. The exhibition version comes with a tee, but I can live without the promo garment, because at 653 pages in length, it looks like it’s worth the wait. Capping off the week, Drake’s Stone Island knitwear in the ‘No Lie’ video is an interesting sartorial choice that sees a global star dressing like a British road rapper. The last Stone Island/CP samples sale was significantly more gooned-out than a Drake/Chris Brown scuffle.





DÉJÀ VU

I’ve posted about this documentary here before, but during a colossal tidy up and clear out, I found my rough cut copy of ‘Sneaker Heads’ on DVD and watched it for the first time since I last wrote about it (around 3 years ago). It held up well. Only a handful of folk (and If you’re one of them, I owe you) read this blog back then, so there might be a spot of déjà vu here, but the screen grabs I posted were finger nail size. You can see the 3-minute teaser right here too. That repetition is appropriate though, because the attitudes espoused in this film are echoed in 2012. Self-hating hype folk should watch ‘Sneaker Heads’ and just appreciate what we’ve got — alas, my work loaned MacBook won’t allow me the luxury of burns or rips, so I’m strictly jpegs at the moment. What happened to the eBayers selling bootlegs of this film anyway? There used to be plenty around. At the moment there’s plenty of murmuring about new generations ruining everything with their queuing and their hoarding and their hype and their pesky fixation with limited edition, but guess what? People were doing that just under a decade ago too. People moaned about it back then too.

‘Sneaker Heads’ was a Wieden+Kennedy and Brand Jordan production directed by Israel, with production by some music industry and ESPN affiliated folks, but it never seemed to be fully completed. The copy I’ve got and the one that was bootlegged has no real credits over the CGI intro of some living Escape AF3s (though you can see the completed title sequence right here), missing statistics and no real ending, but there’s at least some semblance of narrative and some of the footage is gold. Yet ‘Sneakerheads’ got shelved. I like ‘Just For Kicks’ as a primer (salutes for getting the Run-DMC adidas cash demand too) and I thought some of the chats in last year’s ‘Casuals’ documentary (in the case of ‘Just For Kicks’ and ‘Sneaker Heads’ there was some casual and footie talk that got shelved, mainly because it’s all far odder and complex in terms of social interactions and oneupmanship than NYC culture, even though it’s equally as significant in telling the story of sports footwear) were eccentric enough to sit alongside some of the conversations in this film. Other than that, some episodes of ‘It’s the Shoes’ on ESPN aside, most attempts to tell Nike, adidas and New Balance tales on film in more than 10 minutes are intolerable. ‘Sneaker Heads’ feels like a time capsule of the sports footwear cycle just pre-peak and we’re back in the same position right now.

There’s plenty to love. Nerds will enjoy EMZ and Air Rev’s (his suede swoosh Lows are still killer) digging mission for Ellesse while the everybody else is queuing for Jordan IIIs (ring any bells?) and ESPO Air Force IIs in 2003 is refreshing in its traditional approach, the surgeon with the enviable Jordan collection, Chris Hall (who kindly gave me this copy) talking skateboarding and AJIs, cars customised to match Cool Grey Jordan XIs, AF1 disciple Christian Clancy of Interscope (now the manager of Odd Future), my Crooked Tongues mentors getting a blink-and-miss appearance, Euro-dons Edson of Patta and Thomas Giorgetti, Spike Lee, lots of old news clips, Dr J, Jordan smoking a cigar and being cryptic about the AJXX, Alan Mesa’s insane game worn collection plus DJ AM’s genuine enthusiasm and superior in-house displays proving that he was a celebrity collector with a deep, deep knowledge — it’s poignant when he mentions that he’ll never stop hoarding. I guess he never did lose the excitement for shoes during his short life. There’s A-Ron in Supreme, Martin Packer, Bobbito, Retrokid and plenty more folks who all have their own perspective on this wearable compulsion.

But who exactly was ‘Sneaker Heads’ aimed at? The teaser hinted at a theatrical release and one was apparently cited for 2004, but it’s not the greatest advertisement for the brands. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s quite bleak in its indictment of brands attempting to mould an existing culture of collectors. “They got a new pair of Dunks every fuckin’ day” and a dismissal of “Halle Berry artist series bullshit” aren’t the greatest PR, and while those queues are living, breathing testaments to the power of the product, the furious lady offing and blinding because she queued 12 hours for ESPOs is the swearier angrier side of that world. People complain about bad retros and reformed obsessives sell their AF1s because they’re jaded by the state of the industry. There’s a sense that it’s documenting a post-purity period for things, but how sentimental can we be for mass-produced tactically reissued product. Maybe it was Michael Jordan saying “Shit” that got it shelved.

As a piece of research for internal study in the development for future Nike and Jordan product directed at a then-fresh energy market, ‘Sneaker Heads’ may have proven extremely useful. When the current boom subsides and everyone’s back in brogues again for half a decade, and the whole sneaker “thing” erupts again, you’ll be able to watch this in 2021 and see parallels between kids complaining on whatever medium they’re misusing all over again, using the same arguments. It’s the same old story over and over again.

Anyway, here’s some stills, because Mr Clark Kent and Mr Steve Bryden were curious to see whether they made the final cut. I think, with a little polish, ‘Sneaker Heads’ would be relevant today. In fact, if any enterprising editor could splice the best of this film into ‘Just For Kicks’ to extend that running time it would create a classic piece of sub-culture documentation for we weirdos who still keep the faith. After that long-overdue viewing, my passion for shoes was restored — I wish I’d watched it prior to disposing of some dustier pieces of the collection. Then they’d still be gathering dust, but I’d still be kidding myself that I was going to break them out of hibernation one day.

HYPE

Hype makes the industry tick. No blog buzz within 24 hours of launch? Disaster. Nothing gets time to breathe. I find myself laughing at peers picking up on something that went wall-to-wall on Facebook 48 hours prior, and it’s not something that I’m proud of. I’m convinced that the downside of this quick hit, tentacled notion of “street culture” is that while it might snake out far beyond printed tees (and my friend Mr. Marcus Troy made an interesting point on Hypebeast regarding the possibility that too many brands might be dwelling on an “over it” audience at the expense of an audience who want to wear caps, tees and hats, rather than washed-out, button-down blues), it doesn’t seem to take time to create any roots.

I also think that exposure to everything that goes down globally in ten minutes of browsing is homogenising local scenes. I still the joys of information overload provide benefits that outweigh that issue, but I felt it was something worth discussing, because when you turn into a miserable old fuck like me, you cease to create, and commence with utterly unnecessary introspect. Eugene at Hypebeast was kind enough to let me vent a little on the site about a lack of movements (though the title accidentally invokes my lazy way of life and approach to my career too), complete with a little disclaimer too for the site’s Op-Ed experiment.

Lest I look too much like an ageing hipster doofus, I wrote it a short time before the OFWGKTA movement truly went mainstream with the Kimmel and bug-chewing and I realised that nearly every hip-hop blog had become a redundant Johnny-come-lately. So please allow for the token trendy dad reference point. It’s the kind of unfocused ramble you might find here – mostly BlackBerry written and bearing my trademark cavalier approach to grammar. But the aim wasn’t another tiresome things were better in 19_ _ or 20_ _” rant, rather a query as to how cultures might progress in the abundant information age. You can find it here. The next Hypebeast crossover with this self-indulgent corner of the internet will be more focused, but it’s a fun opportunity I appreciate.

Any talk of HYPE also reminds me of the excellent 1989 Sports Illustrated article of the same name, talking about the relationship between sport and hyperbole, using the white leather jacket with “Don’t Believe the Hype” in gold and black across the back that Mike Tyson was fetching from Harlem’s Dapper Dan store at 4 in the morning when he ran into Mitch “Blood” Green and left him needing expensive sunglasses.

Just as the Lo-life gang’s illicit efforts popularized Polo, Hilfiger Nautica and The North Face in such a way that they altered street style forever, Dapper Dan deserves similar status — Gucci, MCM and Louis Vuitton can’t have been too pleased to see themselves bootlegged to the point where folk thought they might be making the madcap items taking pride of place on record sleeves sailing up the Billboard charts, but they created a brand loyalty and aspiration that’s made these houses a fortune. The Louboutin Swizz hookup and Kanye Vuittons are the by product of what “Dapper” Daniel Day was capitalizing on when he stayed open 24 hours for an audience of celebrities and the criminal minded back in the day.

Exclusive Game clothing are following that lineage with their gear for Jadakiss, Rick Ross and Diddy (check the custom MCM piece in the ‘Another One’ video) and anyone crying “FAKE!” might be missing the point. I only recently noticed that DJ E-Z Rock is wearing some customised Louis Vuitton monogram Air Force 1s in Janette Beckman’s 1988 photo shoot for the ‘It Takes Two’ album. Maybe I’d always been too distracted by the early Uptown sighting on an artist’s foot as well as that Dapper Dan tracksuit to pay full attention to the swoosh and heeltab. I always thought the designer fabric Air Force was a late 1990’s phenomenon, but this was Harlem style in full effect.

PHADE and the crew’s Shirt Kingz empire that ran relatively concurrent to the Dapper Dan movement with their printed sweats and tees deserves its props as part of the bigger contemporary picture now too. Mr. Paul Mittleman posted up some images of the crew’s heyday (I love the Safari sighting and some shots reiterate just how popular the Air Force II was — there’s some Assault action beyond the Fat Boys too) recently and it was clear that while the west had its own surf and skate culture for new brands to gnaw on, hip-hop’s golden age informed the east coast’s streetwear — Jamaica Coliseum Mall, where the Kingz had their retail operation apparently has a stall selling airbrushed shirts up to the present day, but PHADE, NIKE and KASHEME helped form a uniquely hip-hopcentric apparel and an industry that’s worth billions.

Shit, even the cheap artist photo tees that followed (usually incorporating a deceased artist) inspired Supreme’s teamups with Raekwon, Jim Jones and Juelz, plus the rest of those eBay-friendly releases. That lineage makes the sight of a sullen Lou Reed on a shirt even more entertaining.