Apologies for the BlackBerry-quality struggle shot of this shirt. Only Andrew Bunney and friends could turn a defunct moquette from the District Line and a few other carriages and buses into a plaid-style pattern and a kind of public transport camouflage. With the Nike project using this design there seemed to be a deliberate nod to the parallels between trainspotters and shoe dudes but this thick overshirt design with its workwear weight (part of a handful of pieces using this pattern as an all-over application) from the second Roundel collection just seems to have a bit of fun with the inadvertent bashiness of it, looking like something Super Cat would wear in 1991 (always a good thing) or some kind of alternative London Underground staff uniform. Back in 1978 when Misha Black was creating this design for the Design Research Unit, he would have been oblivious as to where it would end up. Beyond its intended line, it was on Metrobus seats, the Circle Line and 1983 Jubilee Line stock until it exited the District Line in the mid to late 1990s and had apparently vanished from London at the start of the 2000s.Those were the days when everyday design had a certain soul.
Underground cultures don’t get much more literal than a dip into the archives of the thing that keeps London moving. The Roundel by London Underground project is a particularly considered approach to the history of the tube to coincide with its 150th anniversary, with Andrew Bunney, Slam Jam’s Giovanni De Marchi and DK Woon doing good things. Often cursed by its customers, but a subterranean world of its own, the whole system has a history that’s full of eccentricities and overlooked geniuses creating colour schemes, their own letterforms, mascots and logos. This collection feels like a (more official) extension of the British Remains brand and what might sound dull is a well thought out collection of clothing using London Underground images — we’re not talking “Keep calm and…” whimsy here — workwear gets literal but subversive, shirts get strange alphabets in punk sloganeering prints, MA-1 jackets hark to a history of skins and other subcultures in the capital with tube map back prints or linings that carry the District Line pattern introduced in the late 1970s and used on carriage seats. There’s even a full marl grey tracksuit bearing the griffin logo used on London Transport catering back in the day. The Roundel (the actual name for the London Underground sign) collection is London culture celebrated the right way, amplifying things so familiar we long ceased to pay attention and dusting off some inadvertently odd imagery along the way — Mr. Bunney has a knack for research and an eye for the authentic, but somehow there’s an air of subversion to it all. There’s also a collaboration with a sportswear brand on a couple of shoes that London loves, plus an Bunney-edited book of Derek Ridgers’ photographs (a key reference point throughout the collection — even in other photographers’ work) called 78-87 London Youth. The current wave of British subcultural nostalgics should gravitate towards Roundel by London Underground, but the trainspotters and graffiti guys — who fetishise all that’s train related with some serious parallels between both camps — might go crazy for it too. Fair play to London Underground for backing something that commemorates a real side of the city rather than an HSBC welcome ad campaign at Heathrow representation. After all, if it wasn’t rough around the edges in terms of content, it wouldn’t be an accurate depiction of tube life. Keep an eye on Roundel-London.com for more information over the next few weeks (cheers for DK for the only pictures here that don’t look like they were taken by an idiot who can’t work an iPhone)…
I like catching up with people and talking over caffeine. Mr. Andrew Bunney knows a lot about a lot of stuff and has worked on plenty of projects alongside Gimme 5. He’s also doing well as director of Bunney and British Remains. Having just put out a newspaper format collection of Derek Ridgers’ imagery, selecting some striking portraits of British subjects from the skin, punk and new romantic scenes wearing accessories on their outfits. You can pick it up at selected stockists, but I took the opportunity to hit record during a chat after meeting to pick up copies of that ‘Collected Works’ publication — a form of psuedo-journalistic entrapment for the purposes of padding out this blog with chatter.
Everyone bangs on about all things iconic and curated — Derek’s portraits are raw, brilliant and genuinely iconic, while Andrew certainly approaches things with a curator’s eye. Andrew’s recommended some excellent things to me over the years and he makes me look like a rookie in the sub-cultural knowledge stakes. I’m fascinated by the trivia he’s amassed. Lest it looks like he wanders around wielding a portfolio, it just so happens that Andrew had his portfolio on his MacBook, so we talked through it to give this conversation some semblance of structure. We managed to cover Will Ferrell, the director of ‘A Short Film About Killing,’ staring at cats and plenty of discussion about the nature collaboration, but the unsolicited SBTRKT soundtrack to the meeting made it hard to transcribe.
(Pointing at an early shot with his arm in a sling) Andrew: I’d just broken my arm through arm wrestling.
Me: You broke your arm by arm wrestling? How do you do that?
But how do you do it by arm wrestling? Was it like Stallone in ‘Over the Top’?
We’d watched Sylvester Stallone in ‘Over the Top’ and thought that we’d have a go at it and it broke.
I saw it happen in a world’s strongest man competition one Christmas and it really stuck with me. Did it snap?
Were you intoxicated?
We’d had a few but we weren’t crazy drunk. There was some pressure for a sustained amount of time, a pop and then it snapped straight through. I sat down for a while and I was trying to concentrate on the pain. Then I wanted to got to the toilet but it was difficult. The ambulance people came and they couldn’t believe it.
It’s quite a tough thing to do.
Well, it felt silly. So yes, that was when that was taken.
Then there’s the Stüssy Alpha Industries MA—1.
We asked lots of people who were affiliated with the company to design badges.
It’s still a very nice jacket.
Everything I did there was ribbed.
Wasn’t there a Gloverall one too?
The Penfield Hickory Stripe stuff was very ahead of its time.
There were Schott jackets.
I’ve never seen that Schott jacket before? Why have I never seen that?
I don’t know. You’ve never looked hard enough. Then there were the Levi’s…
I remember those. Weren’t they 505s?
Were they actually to your spec?
Yes. Because they were actually based on my jeans, because the 505 had a few different iterations. The first iteration has a different label. There’s one after that. I had to send Levi’s my jean, but I thought that it was a very normal jean.
Why was that never pushed during that project’s promo? I’d just got the normal 505 LVC jean that year and I was horrified by how slim it was, so I avoided the Stüssy ones.
Well, you know my background’s vintage, looking for it in America? So I know that quite well. The first Levi’s we did had silver stitching and they’d copied it from my own jean, but it contradicted the ones they had in their archives. They had to get in touch with a lady there.
The lady in the archives? I once had to email her about an LVC project on a fact-finding mission. It was good.
She verified it. I know this world quite well because of my own peculiarities. I’ve kind of reduced myself to buying one or two style of jeans.
Idiosyncrasy is a polite way to put it.
Yes. Then there was the Levi’s coach jacket.
Do you think some of that stuff was overlooked?
Perhaps. But back then, people hadn’t done these sorts of things. I remember meeting with Alpha and they didn’t know what I was talking about, “Do you mean you’ll make it?” I remember talking to Brooks Brothers about doing an Oxford shirt in 2004 or 2005.
No dice. It was just two people talking differently.
They only seemed to grasp it with the Thom Browne stuff. I’ve got a Woolrich shirt with them, but it’s pretty much Brooks Brothers with Woolrich wool.
Then there was an i-D shoot with Terry (Hall).
How is he? He sometimes seems quite glum.
He’s not glum. He’s very wry. But I like to work with people I like, then work with them for a long time like Marius (Hanson) who does Antenne.
I’m really looking forward to your books with those guys (the translation of Kazuo Hozumi’s ‘Ivy Illustrated’ books).
Yep. The author has hurt his back. I’m working with my friends in Japan on that. He wants to add to it and it needs to be translated. Hopefully it will be out for summer.
Then there’s the Stüssy Baracutas…
With the Baracuta, there were a few different ones.
Was that ’05? I remember a green one.
No, this one had a thick stripe and there was black, red and maybe one or two others. Then after this one there was one with lots of stripes and contrasting cuffs. And after that there was one that didn’t make it past sample stage but was better.
How was it making those? It seemed to be a time before Baracuta fully relaunched. Were they easy to work with?
It was a very rag trade business.
What’s your take on Penfield?
I like Jamie very much.
I never know much about Penfield’s history.
That’s because it’s not that old — it’s from the 1970’s
But I’ve never read much about them from those days.
It wasn’t pushed that way. Back then these projects were received very well — I mean that from the customers as well as the business and the distributor for Penfield in Japan wasn’t considered cool, so Stüssy Japan weren’t into running that project — it wasn’t aligned with things, but the product was very good.
Do you remember that mini Penfield boom around 1998?
Yes, it was a Noel Gallagher kind of thing.
I thought it was a golf company at the time — lots of thin jackets.
When we did our project they had three jackets or something — maybe three jackets including a vest. Then there was several items for Michael over the years including the Supreme t-shirt.
I remember a visvim photoshoot for i-D a few years back with the Decoy duck boot. I laughed at it then a few months later I realised that I needed them in my life.
What one was that? Maybe I did that. I think it was on a boat.
That’s the one.
Then there was the Nikes (the Hideout Woven Footscapes).
I was a fool for not buying those.
I think they came out good.
How did that design come about?
Jesse (Leyva) was doing a project called the Clerk Pack.
There was the Undefeated, Union, True releases and the Stüssy Blazer. Was it meant to be part of that?
It was meant to be, but it ended up different.
When I first saw it I didn’t like them. I thought they looked flimsy.
It’s very wide.
I like the Footscape — remember the Probe ones at Hideout?
Was it Hit and Run or Hideout then?
I think it was Hideout. The Woven version looked so fragile to me.
It’s actually very wide and very stable. They got a bit of internet hate.
I learned my lesson.
One was supposed to be the wide one and the other less. But I think they got them the wrong way round. It had pink inside, like an ear. I like animal colours. I wasn’t trying to make something wacky — think they’re quite good. I’d wear them now and I really like the shoe.
It took me a while. Do you like the fact Mark Parker wears the Livestrong versions of that shoe?
But that I didn’t do.
No, but what I’m saying is that he isn’t averse to that hair concept.
I think it works with pony hair…I don’t know, it just works as a shoe. It doesn’t work on some shoes. There was a Porter case too.
I remember people spending £200+ on the duo. A lot of people wore them though. I remember somebody breaking theirs playing football.
That would break them. I’d been working with Footpatrol on some stuff too, like t—shirts.
I liked the Henry Cooper/Ali one.
Yes, that was classic. “Round 4” it said on the back. We made beanies with New Era.
I remember seeing them on Being Hunted. It was a bit early. 2005 was a transitional time. The infrastructure for promotion was different.
I dunno if it was then or 2004. By the time the Footscape dropped, it was more in place.
It was closer to being in place.
It wasn’t a business — it was more like messing around.
It was more about people saying “That’s shit” on forums.So just to reiterate, the Hideout Footscape was based on an ear?
It sounds a bit pretentious, but I like to look to nature. Animals are good colours.
Do you walk around a field?
No, no, no.
With a stout stick, tapping rocks?
No, animals are just good colours.
Yeah, I wanted to do a range of shoes based on dog breeds.
Do you know what the third unreleased colour was?
With the spots?
I was staring at my brother’s dog…they don’t like it when you stare…
That’s why you’re supposed to blink when you look at cats.
But I was thinking — actually tabby cat would be good as a swoosh on an Air Force 1, but a red setter would be a good swoosh colour. What happened with your chambray Converses that never came out? I remember you used fanciful words on your blog about them. You called things by their proper names.
Okay, the rand?
I think you went deeper.
It came out a few years later with the triple stitch.
Did you spec that?
Was it on an old pair?
No, it was just on chambray.
The recent Hideout releases had a triple stitch too.
It came about because Converse had started doing their own NikeiD — Create Your Own or whatever, and I did a bunch where the stripes were tonal, so it looked like it didn’t have any racing stripes. The old military contract ones were a bit like that.
What year were the military contract ones from?
I don’t know because I think it goes between companies.
It would be uncomfortable to exercise in All—Stars.
Rocky ran in them.
But that was part of the film’s underdog elements.
When I applied to go to film school, ‘Rocky IV’ was the film I put down as being very important to me.
Did they see the funny side?
I wasn’t joking. It was one of the first films I saw where you could see how the film was constructed.
I love it. I like Stallone. I love ‘F.I.S.T.’ and I love ‘Night Hawks’ — I love the outfits. We talk about the notion of British grubbiness, but that’s grubby American. It’s grimy, Keith Emerson on the soundtrack…
I don’t mind grubby New York because it’s a city. But when it comes to that Jodie Foster film, ‘The Accused’? I struggle with that.
That smalltown feel?
I don’t like it.
Then there’s the visvim fragrances. What was your role with visvim? British bloke?
Umm, everyone there is very motivated and Hiroki in particular is very driven — he wants to experience new things. I was working with Michael and The Hideout was one of the only stockists in the UK, even in Europe, to sell it at the beginning.
I remember the Polkes in Footpatrol.
Yeah, we swapped it, but it worked better in The Hideout. I was friends with Hiroki. He wanted to grow it. So for me and Michael at that point, Gimme 5 were the distributor and Slam Jam were involved too. We were staying at the Park Hyatt — there was me, Hiroki and Hiroshi.
That sounds like the beginning of a cool joke.
It smelt really nice in the room and we were talking about it. I went home then contacted them and there was a perfumer who scented the room. I met with him, chatted with him and went out with him to Tokyo. He walked around the shop and wandered around, sniffed around, does what a perfumer does and he made this candle.
I’d be interested to see a perfumer at work.
it’s really interesting. Then there was some freelance stuff with Dr. Martens…
You did a good job jump starting that brand again.
Our last stuff was for autumn ’12 and it relaunched their brand.
The WTAPS white lace incident a few years back was unfortunate. I think that was an accident.
But that was done independently with a distributor in Japan. They put it in there because it looks better, but it’s laden with things. I’ve tried to get to the bottom of the lace code colours was. I knew white but there were others. I think the other colours are quite provincial — true to other towns with red meaning stuff, but internationally white is known as the most dubious. Part of it was to do something beyond boots.
Was that EVA sole you both used new thing for them?
What about the wedge one?
The PVC one was taken from a women’s style. We did fashion ones for fashion people and streetwear ones.
Do people like Raf Simons need any persuading when it comes to collaborating with a brand like Dr. Martens? They must know the shoe.
In some respects, the most successful was the Garçons one because they were really happy with it and it was a shoe that looked like what they do already.
If you do something with Raf Simons, how much input does he have?
From his team, quite a lot. I think it depends on the project.
Now the collaboration is part of everybody’s business model — looking at the gap between the first Stüssy stuff and the Dr. Martens bits.
My background’s not in making collaborations.
If you’ve ever looked at anything and thought, “I’d like a jacket like that.” I think you can collaborate. That became a norm.
Yeah, I think we’ve reached a point a little while ago.
The Hideout Dickies stuff was great — it was like the opposite of a usual collaboration.
That was a line that would become a compliment…that was the idea. It wasn’t double branded.
But that sounds a little too like cack.
Who was the rabbit model for Bunney?
It was just a rabbit. I read lots of books on rabbits and I liked that one. The idea was that I like shopping, I like nice things and I like jewellery, but I’ve actually not worn that much because men’s jewelry’s got too many skulls for me. It’s not that I’m scared and it’s not that I’m a baby…
Unless you’re Keith Richards, it rarely works.
That’s a good ring, but to have skull cufflinks is just dull. I was looking in the women’s section and it was too feminine. I remember really clearly, I was on the escalator at Selfridges and I started thinking about brooches.
A brooch for a man is quite controversial.
Yes. And I was thinking about who could make it and who to make it for.
I never knew you did the Starbucks card for Japan.
That was with Uniform Experiment.
Going back to BAPE and Pepsi, that culture and popular culture mix very well, don’t they? How does that happen? You’ve done a few multi nationals now.
It comes from being in Tokyo and Hiroshi was taking a photo. It was a nice arrangement. A couple of weeks down the line it ended up on a Starbucks card.
That’s the kind of thing that happens in Japan. What about the Bunney lock for Colette? Can that go round your neck in a Sid Vicious style?
No, it’s far too big for that.
Jewelry’s an odd departure. Is it easier to work in that sphere than on the clothing side of things?
I don’t know.
Where do you buy silver from?
You buy it from a bullion dealer.
What’s a bullion dealer like? Are they like Easy Andy from ‘Taxi Driver’? Do they have a briefcase handcuffed to their wrist?
It’s not a million miles away from that with gems. It’s not quite the end of ‘Marathon Man’ though.
There is something inherently sinister about that world, like the provinence of the material and how it can be melted down to make other things.
Yeah, one of the things I like about it is that the materials are for many generations — its worth is retained and one can give it to another as a gift, which is nice. It’s different to clothing in a lot of respects. And if I think about it now, I like working with companies — not really utility companies, but companies that make product that a lot of people can adopt, that people can wear in their own different way. It has to have enough character that a punky person can wear it, that elderly person can wear it, or that indie kid can wear it. And it can cross over to wherever else. It isn’t quite fashion.
A rabbit had to be a logo.
The hardest thing is using my own name. It’s weird for a while when you’re sending emails.
Do you still get fanboy when you’re stocked somewhere like the Undercover store?
Sure, I’m happy.
They’re very discerning.
Those characters came from a time that’s very good and I’m happy that I can make a product they want to stock.
The newspaper’s an interesting departure.
I had to do this thing at Somerset House. I wanted to do something visual and friends told me to do something with Derek. I actually tried to do something with him for Dr. Martens.
That would have made a certain sense, given the skinhead history.
But Derek’s images are quite raw. They’re the truth.
It’s not a soft perception of skinheads. In my town they weren’t liberal, blue beat listening guys with sideburns…
They were brutish, racist thugs.
It made for good imagery though.
I like how people use and re-appropriate things. It’s why I like Dickies and it’s why I like Nike…or even Dr. Martens. I like those items and they have appeal.
Had you met each other through working for ‘i—D’?
No. I met him through Dr. Martens.
His imagery is so strong.Then there’s British Remains.
That’s with my friend Daryl.
The newspaper could have been a British Remains project too in some ways.
It could’ve been. The idea was to be more provocative I suppose in what we were doing. What I really liked was when I walked along Camden or wherever and there were t-shirt graphics copied so many times that you never knew where they started.
I’d like to see a pop—up shop on Oxford Street near the man selling the fake perfumes.
In the black binbags?
A friend of a friend once bought a video camera that was full of flour to give it the correct weight. It was a shell. I like the British Remains ad with the old-fashioned look. Who did that?
Jeremy Dean. Do you know a site called the Hardcore Archaeologist?
It looks like an old Lewis Leathers ad.
I like that look. Jeremy also did a new logo. I like the way he remade it. I don’t know why he did, but I can imagine people would have done that at that time.
The creeper thing’s interesting to me. Everyone’s in them.
I though people would struggle with that, but people liked them. It’s quite unusual that I’ve got a portfolio on me.
So the decision to quiz you was timely. Who would you work for if a genie appeared and offered you any brand to work with?
I don’t know.
I suppose the shock of seeing a genie would be terrifying so your decision would be marred.
At school the answer would have been “I wish for a wish whenever I wish.”
Yeah, but that would have ‘Monkey’s Paw’ style consequences.
I think I’ve learnt something from everybody I’ve worked with. I can apply that knowledge hopefully. There are good things and bad things about working with small companies and there are good things and bad things about working with big companies. But what’s nice about larger companies is that you can do something because they have great reach. It would be nice to work with a big company where you have a reasonable position to put things out quickly and efficiently.
What’s next for British Remains?
I’m not interested in making an exact replica. I want to make something new.
Any more print plans?
Is it out your system?
Is Derek happy with it?
He’s happy with it. Well, I think he’s happy with it.
Is it your edit?
They’re all images around people based around people wearing things to make their outfits more interesting or project their personality. I could’ve made a catalogue all about me. Maybe I could’ve called it ‘All About Me.’
I would like to see that.
I don’t have it in me!
Your face could be in the ‘O’ in “About.”
Yes. I could be doing this (Gives thumbs up). But things like this are important. I’ve done things with Jason (Jules) before and he was kind enough to do this for me.
You mentioned film school — who’s your favourite director?
I don’t believe in auteur theory, but I like Krzystof Kieslowski. I like his films, because I like that storytelling aspect.
Filmmaking would be a lot harder than clothing collaborations.
I think the thing is with film is that once you’ve been in college you’ve worked with people and done group projects and it’s so unappealing.
My films would be an intolerable mass of reference points.
I don’t think that’s the difficult thing. The difficult thing is having a small army of people and guiding them in a direction. I just stumbled into clothes because `I was a massive consumer. Then I started working as a buyer and I knew that I wanted to make it.
Colourways are very easy. If you like something you have a rough idea.
You get a sample process. Sometimes you watch a movie and you know it was botched from the start and beyond repair.
There’s that one with Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon out at the moment and I think they were trying to shape that up.
It looks rubbish. It looks like a Gerard Butler film. I don’t associate Tom Hardy with that kind of thing. ‘Warrior’ was excellent. You’re a fan of ‘The Other Guys’ aren’t you?
I like the one hand clap at the art gallery.
“How outre!” I like “Paper bitch” too.
It doesn’t mesh like ‘Step Brothers’ for me though. That’s a masterpiece.
For me that’s ‘The Other Guys.’
John C. Reilly just makes me laugh. I laughed at him in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ — just at his face.
He’s really unlikeable in something else — what was the Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox Vietnam film?
Oh yeah, he’s in ‘Casualties of War.’
He’s awful in that. Do you know who’s really good in ‘Step Brothers’? He’s only in it for a brief amount of time — the one that works with Will Ferrell’s character’s brother. (Rob Riggle).
He’s got a real jerk’s face.
He was actually in Iraq.
Really? He’s done a lot of comedy since.
He’s the guy in ‘The Other Guys’ who makes it funny — when they have the fight at the wake and they’re whispering.
I like jump cuts to things. I like the bit where Steve Coogan offers them front seat tickets to the Knicks and Will Ferrell’s got a foam hand. Do you remember ‘Neon’ magazine, the ‘Select’ spinoff?
It had Graham Linehan’s column at the back page — once it came up with the idea of arthouse firms. Like a Fellini firm and Peter Greenaway firm, or away trips to ruck with Fassbinder fans. It was written in the style of John King.
Really? That sounds good.
He wrote a piece on things he doesn’t want to see in comedy, like, “There’s no way you’re getting me on that thing!” and a cut to two men wobbling on a tandem. But I really love that kind of thing. Do you like Alan Partridge?
I struggle with Alan Partridge.
There’s one I like very much.
I like the turn-of-phrase. Like, “A pipe of Pringles.”
I think it was things like the signature. Like the ‘A’ doesn’t look like the ‘A’ would be written. One I did like was the one with the stalker where they end up in a room. I really like Larry David. What ‘Curb…’ has is Leon in the last series.
Leon is excellent.
What do you think the funniest film is?
‘Step Brothers.’ My dad’s favourite film was ‘Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’ — he used to cry laughing at the collapsing canoe.
Sometimes it just resonates. Was it Pauline Kael who would only watch a film once?
Yep. I don’t think it works for comedy films though.
I do like ‘Step Brothers’ but I do really like ‘The Other Guys.’ The “Big boy pants.”
I like the wooden gun.
I prefer the “Big boy pants.” Somebody really reached somewhere and got that.
Back when this blog was on SlamXHype, I upped a piece about my favourite outfits from Paul Schrader films. It was shit. It’s on here somewhere, but it’s weak. I can’t believe I fucked up and made a half-arsed blog post. My excuse? I was probably tired and it was during my ill-fated blog every two days period. Yeah, I know that you love Steve McQueen (I wrote a tribute to him during that shitty period, pertaining to his appearance in ‘The Hunter’ — bad film, good outfit), but yo, nobody cares about his Persols and Rolex any more. You Tumblr’d it irrelevant. If I could be any film icon, I’d be William Devane in John Flynn and Paul Schrader’s 1977 oddity, ‘Rolling Thunder.’ The fact he’s only got one-arm (ruined by a garbage disposal) doesn’t hinder my aspirations one bit. While the excellent VBS ‘Tattoo Age’ documentary on Smith Street Tattoo was a treat today, the death of Tracy Underwood of Phunky Phat Graphics killed my vibe. So I broke out ‘Rolling Thunder’ and watched the violent bits again.
The shotgun sawing, sunglass wearing killing machine’s detached presence makes for a deliberately joyless cinematic experience – the anti ‘Death Wish’ in which neither Devane or Tommy Lee Jones’s (“I’m going to kill a bunch of people.”) characters are particularly happy post-shootout. And what a shootout it is, matching ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’s bloodshed or the caesarian section bullet-blasting in ‘Way of the Gun.’ Whereas William Lustig’s trashier ‘Vigilante’ — shot five years later — is gleeful in Robert Forster and Fred Williamson’s dispatch of the bad ‘uns, Schrader never wants to make any of his character studies feel good. I love ‘Rolling Thunder’ and recommend that you watch it as soon as possible. I wish the Major Charles Rane look would catch on and the blind copyists would cut off their naval tattoo speckled right forearms to be more like ‘Rolling Thunder’s main character. It’s good to hear that ‘Rolling Thunder’s long-delayed UK Blu-ray release is set for September.
That Japanese poster might actually be the single greatest movie poster ever created. While I can spend a lot of time on the Internet Movie Firearms Database, I heartily recommend Museum of Cinema (where I pilfered that black and white shot of Devane) and the Grindhouse Database for more information on proper films.
If I was Charles Rane, I wouldn’t settle for the kind of pussy vehicles that McQueen favoured. I’d want to cruise around in the Landmaster from another 1977 flick, albeit a significantly crappier one — ‘Damnation Alley.’ A post-apocalyptic film with George Peppard and Jan Michael-Vincent should have been awesome, but what’s mind-boggling about this film was how lo-fi it looks for something that was aimed at a mass audience. This wasn’t a low budget film, but it’s as if the entire budget was poured into making the car that the crew drive about in. That’s it – the sole good thing about ‘Damnation Alley.’ It was released on Blu-ray after years of fuzzy video purgatory, and that’s only good to ogle the Landmaster — a functioning and and water $350,000 12-wheel creation that was made by pin-stripe and custom car legend Dean Jeffries. There’s a pleasantly obsessive page about it here. Charles Rane in the Landmaster would probably be the most badass thing on earth.
I’m pretty bored of writing stuff at the moment, because I sense we’ve all gone full-circle in just half a decade, but it’s fun working on releases for Mr. Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders’s British Remains line. There’s something about seeing your text in typewritten form that’s eerie in a ’70s Mountbatten getting blasted to fuck, Peter Sutcliffe report kind of way. Yet that’s a pleasant antidote to easily copy-pasted paragraphs. I need to interview Andrew on some cinematic and musical matters for this blog at some time. He knows an awful lot.
I’m packing for Paris, so this is being written in between haplessly trying to fill a Supreme rucksack with everything I need. There’s a few slight changes to the site because the old theme was too limiting. This serif font is a bit too folksy for me and belongs with those who read “journals” instead of magazines and “curate” rather than steal. Once I figure out Typekit, those serifs are out of here. My good friend Charlie Morgan made the Ben Davis Moomin after a Twitter conversation about my love of Moomins and Ben Davis goods. So I pilfered it and made it a logo. That is, until Tove Jansson’s goons come and get me in a headlock.
All I can offer the interwebs is an assortment of things I’ve just done. I just finished transcribing this conversation with Eddie Cruz from UNDFTD and Adam Leaventon aka. Air Rev — one of the trinity of sports footwear Jedis alongside EMZ and Chris Hall. Those guys represent the good side of sneaker obsession, but the conversation was interesting — how do you sell a classic sneaker with history to a 15-25 year old audience who couldn’t give much less of a shit about your cast-iron heritage and ‘80s subcultural props? Nostalgia is just for weirdos like me, and it’s not particularly profitable.
That’s day job talk though.
I’ve seen the fruits of a few freelance gigs appear online and on shelves lately. My hobby is copywriting. Some people run, some make model planes and others maintain a drug addiction while their colleagues and friends remain oblivious to their activities. My hobby is writing stuff and engaging in the process of altering it to the point where a client’s happy. For about five minutes I thought about it as a full-time occupation, but I had visions of having to write excitable promo tomes for Jack Wills and Superdry in order to make a living, so I prefer to work with people and product that I actually like. Insincerity is tiring – probably more tiring than a gym addiction, and I haven’t got the energy for it.
I remember leaving higher education with wild, idiotic dreams of being a scribe for the numerous cooler-than-thou publications stacked high enough to make the floorboards creak. That was back when I assumed that you got paid to write for anyone cool. Instead you get the school-leaver reply to money talk; “It doesn’t pay, but it’ll look good in your portfolio.” People are still using that one too on the assumption that more than fifty people in the whole world read magazines any more. Fair play to the industry for tricking itself into thinking it’s still important though. I don’t keep some portfolio either — I just have some bags of magazines in a garage sealed up by hand in a hapless attempt to shield them from rain and insect infestations.
So for me, writing is merely a hobby to stop me from becoming agitated outside of the workplace. Seeing as I don’t keep much of a record outside of Linkedin (and can recruitment consultants stop getting in touch about “retail opportunities”? I’m shit at retail), I figured I would celebrate some good things that I’ve been fortunate enough to write about.
GYAKUSOU for Nike Sportswear S/S 2011 was one thing I worked on for Nike— I just spotted the lookbook on Hypebeast. I salute Jun’s work for this stuff. It’s mostly too smedium for me, but it’s defiantly progressive. As a merger of what Mr. Takahashi does at high-end with something a little more accessible, it’s pretty much unbeatable. Anything that includes skeletal, barely-existent jackets with moisture-wicking pods is cool with me. I recommend the long-sleeve tees: the ones from the first season are some of the best I’ve ever owned. I can’t remember writing a blurb, but it looks like one of mine, so I’m assuming it is. The branding on that stuff is bang-on. After concerning myself that I may be getting typecast as “shoe wanker,” it’s been fun, albeit odd, to suddenly be writing about incredibly technical apparel. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write about anything ordinary.
The new issue of ‘Arena Homme+’ under a new editorial team is pretty good. Mr. Rory McCartney’s Art Direction is excellent, and thanks to Sharma and Rory it was pleasantly odd to see myself listed as a Contributing Editor even though I only contributed one thing to it – in stark contrast to futuristic footwear and jackets that look like androids, it was a piece on the fine work of London-based Antenne Books — a distributor of fanzines, magazines and books who put in sterling work. Shouts to Marius and Sherman. Max Pearmain and Ashley Heath have given the magazine a new personality, and while their editorial shakeups meant we get the S/S 2011 edition a little later, it was worth the wait. I also recommend the new ‘DAZED’ too. How many other style magazines would have a four-page feature on Frank Henenlotter? If you want to survive in print, there’s far worse examples to follow in the magazine department than these two.
On the t-shirt front, now that T-Shirt party is done, where else could I go? Andrew Bunney’s British Remains is a fun press materials project. Only Andrew would create a brand that has a handkerchief and t-shirt set. Mr. Bunney knows more about everything than pretty much anyone else I know. He’s an amusing person to exchange feedback with too and with BR moving into brothel creeper inspired footwear soon and set for sale on Honeyee, Andrew seems to be pushing he and Daryl’s project forward in a way that only he can. As an anti-monarchist I have to concede that I approached this one under the belief that the wedding was April 2012. My shirt is very much upside down.
Finally, Arc’teryx Veilance’s Spring/Summer offerings are out, and they’re typically amazing. Everything’s significantly lighter for the warmer months, and the lookbook coming in its own GORE-TEX envelope (like the trade show press invites last year) is a great way to see some writing displayed. I like this project a lot and writing about it is a fascinating exerience — Conroy at Arc’teryx is a genius in his field. If that sounds like dickriding, I suggest you go check out the product in person. I’m smitten with my putty-coloured Field Jacket LT. As GORE-TEX dirt magnets go, it’s a thing-of-beauty.
That’s my self-promotion quota filled for the year.
I’m part of the problem when it comes to plugging things that are hardly revolutionary, and thus aiding and abetting the slow, sludgy flow of mediocre ideas, but by god (bar the excellent social life) I’m glad I’ve evaded the summer’s tradeshows. Just as dogs supposedly see in black and white, only when I leave certain areas of London am I aware that I see in more than just light blue and beige cotton. We’re flooded with it. The heritage lines are in full effect. If your ailing brand is more than 30 years old, start a heritage line. If it’s new, make it look like a heritage line anyway. Bread & Butter is generally awful, but this year’s sneakily shot offerings were total Emperor’s New Clothes (the emperor’s attire in this case being the same tiresome bunch of collaborators on bland brands and brands good enough to know better, and some once-great lines reacting to blog attention and playing themselves by losing that charmingly oblivious aura).
Naturally, the good people of Pointer and Wood Wood are excluded from vitriol as their offerings are looking excellent.
But how much post-Albam crap can we possibly take? Albam make excellent gear, fairly priced, but the slew of Albam-alikes pumping out button-downs, chinos, denim and totes makes a man want to self-harm. Regardless of the material weights, painstaking treatments, sourcing or manufacturer who’s within walking distance, a substantial amount of feverishly WordPressed product looks like Blue Harbour by Marks & Spencer. Ignore my quest for the perfect blank for a second. Bring back the print tee.
Print t-shirts never feel fully British — neither does the tee itself as an article of clothing, seeming more like a sought-after import that arrived and never left. John Lydon’s gleefully defaced Pink Floyd effort, Malcolm McLaren aided graphic output and Katherine Hamnett’s sloganeering seem like rare examples that made a significant impact. There were skate brands in my wardrobe that were keepers, but it took Holmes, Silas and Barnzley-era Zoltar or Tonite to really match the Shorty’s, Stussy and Supreme preoccupation. I think Gimme 5 was an underrated brand with graphics are worthy of a retrospective too. Can’t forget Carri’s Cassette Playa imagery either.
My respect for what Palace is doing doesn’t need require reiteration (Incidentally, Lev’s TMI quote pertaining to Fergus Purcell, “Loads of people try and bite Fergus’s shit as well…he’s the OG guy…” carries some weight) and the Ferg-Tour tee is a great piece of design, and T-Shirt Party, who I’ve enthused about before are still fulfilling their shirt-a-week mission, currently on number 21 with an England backpiece image. Just as they made their ultra low key arrival, Mr Andrew Bunney — a walking encyclopedia on a number of matters and a man who knows a fair few things with regards to subcultures and apparel has started a small brand with artist Daryl Saunders called British Remains for a simple reason – they couldn’t find the kind of t-shirts they wanted.
T-Shirt Party and Palace are channeling a certain Britishness that’s alien to or US cousins but easily accessible. To convey UK imagery without descending into mockneyisms or tiresome levels of nationalism is tough. I remember a streetwear brand called Artful Dodger, never my particular cup of PG Tips who were presumably (I certainly hope they were) American, and their awful ads in Frank151 that bordered on Dick Van Dyke chimney sweep patter. We don’t want to go there. But the Britain I love is a mixed bag, and I love to see our grimmer side showcased. And boy, do we do bleak well. Andrew seems dedicated to researching and unveiling the country’s treasures and oddball elements, and mixed with a keen eye for aesthetics, that means some nice shirts (plus totes too if that’s your thing) that play with some localised elements, some as common as W.C. cubicle signage, the glorious London Brickworks (which operated near to my hometown) and some class matters.
Just for riffing on the Hambert and Deverson’s ‘Generation X — Today’s Generation Talking About Itself’ study, familiar to a certain generation of sociology student as being, alongside Dick Hebdige’s ‘Subculture: The Meaning of Style’ a rare moment of interest in an otherwise tedious curriculum on the ‘Generation X’ design, the brand impressed me more than most on first impressions. I look forward to seeing where this line goes, as I’m in no doubt it will confound any presumptions that printed white cotton will stay the sole medium. I love the type on the press release/statement of intent too.
As you may have gathered, I really like t-shirts, and London is making me proud at present.
Go get British Remains and Palace from www.hideoutstore.com