Tag Archives: buzz rickson


That London RRL store on Mount Street has got me wanting to spend. The navy dip dyed stuff, deerskin hunting vests, Cordovan shoes which — like many Japanese repro merchants — make use of boxes of deadstock Cat’s Paw heel units, and an awesome N-3 snorkel parka made with Buzz Rickson are all expensive but beautiful. Somehow everything on this blog manages to revert to Polo talk. Last week I heard somebody remark that Polo had gone “commercial.” It was curious to see a complaint like that leveled at a billion dollar business, but we’ve all had that moment in time where a brand feels like our own cosa nostra, oblivious to its history and just how many folks got there before we did. One thing’s for sure – with the Independent and Guardian Facebook apps spitting out old articles and dry snitching on the reader via that loose lipped little column on the right, the British broadsheets only got round to discussing the Lo Life “phenomenon” this summer. Then that UK Lo-Life documentary embarrassed the nation.

Going back almost twenty years, ‘The Face’ was there relatively early, typifying what made the magazine so essential under the Sheryl Garrett administration with the October 1992 (when in doubt, pillage ‘The Face’ archives — please, please, please can somebody make a DVD set of issue scans or a pay-per-view database of that magazine’s halcyon years) feature, ‘Living The Lo Life’ by Steven Daly. It’s a memorable feature for a number of reasons — the gear is fresh rather than tinged with not-as-good-as-it-was nostalgia, the footwear isn’t reissue and it answers and creates a few questions along the way. Young veteran Superia is an interesting focal point — dismissive of Lauren himself, applying a sense of activism to his crusade for fresh rather than reverence for Ralph and annoyed at Harlemite group Zhigge’s Polo gear until it’s revealed that they’ve got a Brooklynite in the crew.

We find out that JanSport is out and that Boostin’ Kev has been discredited too. Beyond that, the photography is excellent — David Perez Shadi (who’s worked with Supreme, BBC and ALIFE as well as being the man behind House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ video) took some incredible shots (the bandana is particularly memorable). What was shot but left out the feature? I’m keen to see the out takes.

The list of brands mentioned is interesting, with Tommy, Guess and Nautica joined by Duck Head – presumably only in vogue for a minute, but a curious brand that started life in the late 1800s as O’Bryan Bros workwear, selling union-made Duck Head overalls in the early 1900s, kitting out several country music artists in the 1960s and ending the 1970s with a surplus of 60,000 yards of khaki fabric that was bought by a mill operator, leading to the preppier incarnation of Duck Head that rose in popularity throughout the 1980s and early 1990s with a middle class audience, offering a kind of Polo-lite. They closed a Monroe, Georgia factory in 1996 and shifted manufacture abroad, floundering a little under new ownership and being purchased in 2003, leading to its current position as a merchant of fairly nondescript, low price dadwear. Still, it’s interesting that it once shared racks with Carhartt — another company given some unexpected innercity reappropriation at the same time Polo gear was sneaking past security.

I try to offset nostalgia here, but it seems we can’t avoid 1992’s tractor beam of bold labels and powerful pricetags. It seems to aggravate a few purists that rap’s golden era is a subjective thing — kids losing their mind to ‘Shot Caller’ right now wouldn’t want it any other way, no matter how many times you bang on about ‘Funky Child.’ Consider it a work in progress. But hip-hop attire always seems to hark back to exactly what Superia and his boys were preoccupied with. I’d love to see a publication with ‘The Face’s knack for prescience. Shit, I’d like to see a Friday night show that had segments like this James Lebon filmed piece on Shyheim for ‘Passengers.’


Sometimes, just sometimes, there’s too much for one blog entry, but not quite enough to be broken down into a number of blogs. So the solution is to just shoehorn them into a solitary roundup, even if there’s no relevance between each topic. That’s how we do round these parts. This is one of those days. Lots of subjects on the mind that need to be put down in pixel, some trivial, some inspirational.


Everyone’s a fucking photographer now. That point’s been raised here before. Glen Friedman made some interesting points on the current wave of snappers in a recent ‘Juztapoz’ and while wilfully amateurish, warts and all is the order-of-the-day, there’s a sense that the current aesthetic lets a few chancers in the backdoor. If you’re going to sacrifice technique, for fuck’s sake shoot something pertinent, rather than some pallid coke slag in tube socks. Larry Clark, Nan Goldin frequently shock me into submission, and Stephen Shore altered my perception of the mundane, but Denmark’s Jacob Holdt is the man behind the greatest book of photos to date – ‘American Pictures’ (sadly out of print again) – seemingly an oddball idealist, he threw himself into a documentation of the American dream gone sour, specifically focusing on race and class relations.

Funded by blood donations and goodwill, wielding his Canon Dial, he compiled something extraordinary. Still powerful, and sadly, still relevant, his documented experiences and accompanying text – Jacob’s keen to reinforce this isn’t art photography – are unsurpassed. As a book and show, it was last updated in 1997, but while his personal website might look a little rudimentary, the whole of ‘American Pictures’ is online here. The follow-up from the images going public was even odder – the KGB got involved and he was involved at the premiere of ‘Precious’ too, having had a relationship with the film and book’s lesbian author Sapphire back in the day. As we’re shocked by the news that Terry Richardson loves to get his dick out, and that fellow dirty old man Dov Charney’s empire seems to have gone cockeyed, it’s worth taking it back to something real for inspiration. Vice’s recent interview with Holdt was good too.


Alongside Nasir, Shawn Carter isn’t one of the best-dressed rappers out there, seemingly in flux between getting his grown man on and dressing like its still 1997 with a touch of TK Maxx in there too. Still, his line on ‘Run This Town’ made an impact – watch it repped by the big brands later this year. While the young ‘uns can pull it off, what about those of us who look like cat burglars, Milk Tray men or mimes in a fully noir ensemble? What’s wrong with brown? Carhartt’s duck canvas and the current Dickies line do it well, but what about some other rugged mediums? Rest assured, this blog makes efforts to minimise the levels of cooing over chambray fabric – you can see that in every corner of the internet. Spit in the wind in any hipster hotspot and you’ll stain some fade-effect cotton with saliva. But why is there so little brown chambray out there? Buzz Rickson’s excellent Mock-Twist shirt comes in brown, and is a worthy purchase, and the chambray chino from Lofgren and Cushman is something different. Still, grey, pale blue and red have a tendency to run things.

How about denim? Brown jeans are a tough one – they’re out there, but chocolate-brown APCs and Levi’s have been lacking. There’s distant memories of Tenderloin making something decent along those lines, but Sugar Cane made a good dyed version back when they were homaging the red tab device. The current SC40302A version that uses persimmon juice to get the brown hue seems a little fussy. Superfuture’s got a whole discussion on persimmon denim colouring going on – apparently it oxidises and, contrary to the preoccupation with gradual fade, gets darker with age.

Personally, as admirable as these creations can be, the obsession and proliferation of retailers nerding out with the reproduction brands can occasionally lose sight of denim’s no-frills intent and make product as far-fetched as any overtly distressed, boot cut monstrosity – an abject case of when keeping-it-real goes wrong. But then again, the notion of brown denim is presumably inauthentic from the very beginning. Hence duck canvas’s popularity. All suggestions on this matter are welcome…brown jeans wanted, preferably selvedge and preferably not as part of some madcap natural colour science experiment.

iii. P.M.A.

NYHC stalwarts seem to be pushing the self-help mantra even further with some interesting side projects. Toby from H2O is going school to school for the ‘One Life One Chance‘ initiative which espouses the benefits of straight edge and empowerment to schoolkids. The west coast’s school system gets Toby, we got mumbling policemen telling us tales of “wacky baccy” and mystery pills. Respect to Toby for that move. The images on the site with some D.A.R.E. tie-in were an odd one – having seen the tees worn ironically, I’d always been apprehensive of that project, but presumably, Mr. Morse knows the deal there better than I do. Additionally, Cro-Mag John Joseph is following up ‘The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon’ (which you really should have read by now) with the brilliantly titled ‘Meat Is For Pussies‘ which, from reviews, sounds like ‘Fast Food Nation’ with bigger biceps and a lot more ink. Looking forward to picking it up. THC and red meat are my downfalls – I’m open to being swayed by these two underground figures on those issues.

Seeing as Positive Mental Attitude plays its part there, it’s worth taking a brief look at the history of P.M.A. – self-help author Napoleon Hill included it in his seminal philosophy of achievement tome, ‘Think and Grow Rich’ back in 1937 before teaming up with businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone to pen ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’ in 1960. Stone, a notable conservative, donated around 10 million dollars to Richard Nixon’s election campaign. HR from Bad Brains was introduced to Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ in the late ’70s and P.M.A. became part of the doctrine of the early hardcore scene. Unlike Stone’s outlook, HR’s “A true person would never vote for any politician, especially Ronald Begin and his husband Nancy because they eat many taxpayers jellybeans.” section in his ‘DO’S AND DON’TS OF A TRUE PERSON’ approaches things from a different angle politically. With Bad Brains’ heavy weed intake, and what came next for their career – some major drug issues for some members – positivity never necessarily meant abstinence, but by its very nature, it’s open to reinterpretation. Hence Toby’s version, continuing the lineage of P.M.A. in hardcore for a whole new audience. Which can only be a good thing.

(Image taken from X442X’s photostream)

Some good CBGBs footage recently released from Japan-only rareness…



Charlie Porter just previewed a new ‘Fantastic Man’ on his Twitter – no other magazine does men’s fashion like this publication. Precise, sharply written and innovative, it would never trouble itself with matters of brown denim. It’s also a step your styling and shooting game up to the wannabes. Artist Wolfgang Tillmans on the cover,’Village Voice’ and ‘Vanity Fair’s finest, Bob Colacello and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor makes this an interesting proposition. Thus, the stakeout of glum-faced London magazine hotspot RD Franks begins…


Good to see the obsessives at Eastman Leather going even crazier on the details. The coined KWIK (“The Zippiest Zip!”)  zip was the faster of choice on plenty of flight jacket designs, but has been out of production since WWII. So Eastman seem to have acquired the exclusive rights (after putting the Crown zipper on other garments) to KWIK, putting it onto items, whenever it’s historically relevant. Now that’s dedication.


The hunt for the perfect grey sweatshirt is as troubling as the quest to find that special white t-shirt. Other clothes can come and go, but the glorious neutrality of the marl grey sweat is the piece that comes out season after season, year after year. It swoops above subcultural pigeonholes too.

Curiously, while I’ve grown in stature, I’ve reduced my sizing since my days pausing MTV Raps to gauge branding – in 1993 I was submerged in an extra-extra large oatmeal-coloured mass of hooded Carhartt. A year or so later, infuriated by the sagging waistband, intended at portly welders rather than my pre-pubescent scrawn, I downsized to a volumnious extra large. It’s notable that the sweats I sported had more longevity in crewneck form. But now I’m inclined to feel (Japanese brands aside) like a Nurishment supping car thief when I go beyond a large.