Tag Archives: carhartt



Way before spending twenty quid at the Japan Centre on 200-page publication dedicated to dungarees was the done thing, I was obsessed with workwear for different reasons (mainly this picture). My first forays into the brands I saw Apache, Mobb Deep and the other Havoc and Prodeje wearing came through Camden Market and — bound to a small town as I was — the Duke American Workwear’s mail order service. Ashley Heath’s workwear article in The Face around 1992 was a real eye-opener too. Seeing as we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web and I’ve done Shoe Trends to death already, the Duke’s site was one of the first things I ever saved as a favourite back in 1999 when I got the Internet at home. There was no e-commerce on it and the method of buying was roughly the same as it was in the Transworld and HHC ads years before — send a cheque. With a ridiculous amount of Ben Davis (for whom The Duke was UK distributor), an array of boxy Carhartt shades of duck, Big Bill, Walls, Pointer Brand and Dickies, the catalogues (complete with a ton of stickers) were an education in themsleves. Bill who ran The Duke (no relation to Bill “You know you done fucked up, right?” Duke to the best of my knowledge) based the business in Manchester but worked on oil rigs for a living (where workwear can be a life or death matter rather than something to profile and pose in. There was Peterman-eque prose on the site about the mail order service’s origins,

“The threads of this website were originally sown, in the South China Sea, twenty-two miles off the coast of Kowloon. Whilst I was sat with my size 12 steel-toe rigger boots, dangling over the side of The Julius Offshore Drilling Platform, which I was working on. Where could I get myself some hard-wearing, well made workwear similar to those worn by the American toolpushers who were also working onboard? The journey has at times been a rocky, twisting, badly eroded mountain trail and on other occasions a fast-moving, well-tarmac-ed interstate highway. Never being one to shirk from the necessary graft, the search was on, to track down some suitable American workwear brands.”

The Duke ended up primarily being a Ben Davis retailer by 2002 and I never saw any more updates after that, but his work deserves respect. That monkey on the chest pocket has been a big influence on me (check the logo above and shouts to Sofarok) and after all, workwear was the only gear you saw on MTV Raps that you could afford to acquire without breaking too much of a sweat. Happy birthday to the WWW and salutes to the Duke.




Hold up — is it okay to post workwear related stuff again? Are Primark ditching 60/40 jacket knockoffs for Damir Doma imitations? Looking at glimpses of the impending Supreme drop,it looks like arty all-over prints are back again – after the L’Origine du Mond reproduction put a pussy on the chest of kids with expendable income (and the owner of the aforementioned pussy has apparently been located to give one lucky person the ultimate resell action), is that flower print a Power, Corruption & Lies Peter Saville homage, or is it a tribute to the source material by Henri Fantin-Latour? I get confused by all the tributes myself, but the prospect of gear that uses that imagery is cool with me. Just wait until the Supreme-alikes unleash the Chelsea Flower Show on fleece in response. I’m in the middle of two copywriting assignments this weekend, despite pledging to put writing on the backburner, so I can only offer you a by-numbers blog post. I still read long form copy from before the #hashtag era for inspiration whenever I’m working on a project and I’m a huge fan of Carhartt’s 1980s ads. Much has been printed and reproduced regarding Hamilton’s company and their no-nonsense Depression-era ads, with their emphasis on value and longevity, but I like looking at their 1985-1993 campaigns for that smart move not to address a growing trend-led audience. I believe some of these were published in those brand books that contained an excellent set of brand histories, but I’m feeling lazy and duck canvas is still one of the beautifullest things in the world.










Rushing blogging today for a number of reasons. But that doesn’t mean I can’t assail you with a bricolage of barely related bollocks. No sir. It just means it’s even less connected culturally than ever before. For some reason, putting some pictures from the bin bags of brand-related ephemera (which I believe are out there on the internet somewhere already) of Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan in deep conversation on the subject of Jordan V and VI caused some commotion, so here’s the images again (the AJV one is actually from ‘Sneakerheads’ and has been posted before, but sometimes you need to repeat yourself to get noticed). Garments, hair, variations on popular colourways and sensible shoes. It’s all here. There’s more somewhere in the papery stacks, but drop-feeding rather than turning this into some Jordan fansite is probably the best route. For the time being, until I start hunting that SEO scrilla by reposting Modern Notoriety’s images with some hyperbolic copy. One day I might start doing that here.


How the fuck did I miss out Carhartt and Chysler’s small collection of ‘Imported From Detroit’ jackets, tees and trousers? While the union of motor vehicle and apparel isn’t necessarily destined for greatness, these pieces are the best car-related clothing since Alan Partridge’s Castrol GTX jacket. In fact, unlike some more high-profile (and more expensive) Carhartt projects, they’re made in the USA as part of a new drive (pun unintended) to promote the brand’s homegrown manufacture, as detailed by A Continuous Lean last October. The blacked out ‘Made in the USA’ patches limited runs (each individually numbered) and Detroit map on the custom quilted lining are all nice touches. In fact, from a high-end partner and launched at one of any number of Euro fashion trade shows right now, the iPhone blog paps would be descending on these pieces. But they’re not letting them into their urban ninja or street goth world right now. Not yet, anyway. These are more legit because the motor trade is one that actually necessitates workwear, whereas looking serious by a wall for a lookbook doesn’t. Admittedly, while you’ll pay extra for APC and Adam Kimmel’s vision, and they probably won’t be made in the USA, and while I love the IFD Active Jacket, it’s quite clear from the imagery that it fits mad boxy, unlike the slimmer fit of the higher-end and Euro-centric pieces.



It’s good to read informed opinions that hint at some substantial levels of research too, and I’ve been preoccupied with The Weejun all over again lately. The musings of a Brit who has been infatuated with Ivy since 1979 (a little while before either ‘Take Ivy’ reprint, anyway) is a masterful blog and his Brooks Brothers circa 1980 piece reminded me of a conversation with a friend about rich guy trousers, wherein we defined wealth by the mindset that innately associates lurid corduroy with casual, rather than a beat up pair of jeans. Brooks Brothers mastered the rich guy trouser and The Weejun talks about the pair that caught my eye when those old catalogue PDFs popped up a few years back on the Ask Andy Trad forum via Yamauchi Yuki (who I believe is a Japanese Aloha guitarist), with a wealth of wild trousers in the mix. The Christmas “fun” cords are basically half of a click suit for the very wealthy. Anybody who can pull them off is an original don dada of the college town scene — I’ve seen similar attempts at lurid mismatches from Polo, but Brooks Brothers’ are significantly wilder.


Bookending this entry with shoe-centric talk, given the boom in all things Nike Free, here’s a shot from a Nike promo booklet on innovation of the original Tinker Hatfield shoe prototype he called the Nike Free back in 1994 — a decade before his brother Tobie Hatfield helped bring us a very different Nike Free in 2004. As the company copy points out, this was actually destined to get a Rift-style split-toe (this was just before the Rift too). I see a little bit of HTM2 Run Boot in here, plus some traditional weave in there that may or may not have informed later developments too. That’s a lot of influence in one unreleased space age sandal and pure urban ninja fodder.



After the blitz of ACG related attention, I feel an urge to pander to popularity. But then I remembered that this blog has a duty to alienate. There’s a lot that’s wearying out there – there’s the hipster douchebags who feel that they’re above the other hipsters by self-conscientiously pointing and laughing at them via WordPress, Tumblr and twitter. They’re oblivious to the fact that they’re far, far worse. There’s nothing worse than a hipster doofus who thinks he’s evolved beyond the common garden variety – like the ones chuckling at Dalston mock reality shows and songs about being a dickhead. It’s like Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’ but with far more vacuous wankers than Warren Beatty or whoever pissed Carly off.

We should do a little dance every time an independent store opens during a recession, but there’s too many stores out there with a homogenized buying policy of chunky-soled brogue boots, US-made jackets, Pendleton, the smell of incense and some olde world wooden fixtures. It’s not that I don’t want you to succeed and it’s not a criticism of the items you’re stocking, but when the “McDonald’s 1955 retro burger effect” makes identikit heritage crumble like a house of cards, I fear for your Ralph Lauren-lite retail space. What are you going to do? Start selling futuristic suits made of space age fabrics overnight? Unlikely. Top Man can ditch the Nigel Cabourn-lite overnight and be onto the next one, but smaller brands eating off Cabourn’s considerable swagger (a knowledge attained by more than 24 months of ‘Free & Easy’) are going to catch a black eye. Then that Americana fetish will scuttle back to Japan where it never gets corny.

But (almost) worse than all these characters is the heritage trickle down. When I see takedowns of looks that London bellends bred in my hometown, I know they’re done. Scoop necked tees on pallid chests, white Vans Era copies, Kasabian playing through Beats by Dre headphones and worst of all — the cuff chino. Once, the pinroll was the preserve of kids who’d check your pockets with a gruff “What have you got for me?” query, accompanied by Argyle socks. Then it became the totem of the significantly less threatening sneaker dude — same shoes as the rudeboy, but significantly weaker. That spread via track bike to a certain breed of buffoon who’d cuff their chinos for anything, showing their wacky socks off to feign personality and revealing brogues and plimsolls. It was the devolution of cool. Not everybody is Nick Wooster — even if they buy the same camo blazer. It’s worth mentioning that the scally and provincial town phenomenon of young men (and occasionally women too) wearing their football socks over tracky bottoms is amazing and exempt from this criticism, one of those authentic looks that seems to spring up organically without media interference (was it born of post-kick around necessity?) though I wonder if it had any bearing on the cuffed look’s national sprawl.

Thanks to “stylists”, a new breed of reality show runner up boy bands and some high street retailers and growing online entities decided to sell the chinos ready cuffed. It’s curious to see a bunch of “oi oi saveloy” beer boys dressed in drop crotch, ankle exposing trousers, because it’s a convergence of almost avant-garde and lumpen twattery that convinces me that the ground is ready to swallow us up into a fiery pit any minute soon. The wearing of cuff chinos was almost certainly mentioned somewhere in the Book of Revelations.

Flicking through Michael Allen Harris’s awesome ‘Jeans of the Old West: A History‘, (published last year and necessary if you’ve got the faintest interest in denim’s many, many incarnations during gold and silver mining times), when Michael’s not puncturing frequently told tales regarding the development of the jean, he’s showcasing some early duck and denim designs. A pair of Hettrick Manufacturing Company American Field Coats duck pants from the end of the 19th century have a leg cuff on the rear ankle and escalating cut on the thigh that brought to mind 2011’s breed of twat-pant. That bulbous cut is almost Chipe-esque. Perhaps that pant’s original owner was the forefather of today’s fast expanding breed of chino bellend.

Salutes to Carhartt for doing this heritage thing right though. The six brand books form an interesting brand history (I love the slogan, “Honorably Made for Honorable Men“) for hadn’t seen gathered before and the homie Sofarok put me onto this Carhartt ad that’s currently on US TV. I like the cool-guy free message a lot. There’s a lot of scope for shameless myth making and blue collar sentimentality in that realm that should outlast any fads.


Making light of Channel 4’s ‘Street Summer’ season is like shooting beatboxers in a barrel, so it would be too obvious to lampoon their Superdry-friendly mix of parkour, BMX, making music with your mouth and dripping stencils. It is what it is, “urban” culture zip-filed up into some kind of rapping, dancing expression of da ‘yoof. If you expected a three-hour Money Boss Players documentary, a JA character study or a celebration of Hypnotize Minds, then you were being wildly optimistic. Still, it’s curious that T4’s ‘Inside SBTV: From Bedroom to Boardroom’ and some of BBC Two’s ‘No Hats, No Trainers’ felt like superior attempts at the same subject matter.

But their two-hour ‘How Hip Hop Changed the World’ was a wasted opportunity. It’s not a case of naivety and nerdery, angrily fist waving at a lack of Beatnuts — it was just a weak offering that seemed to be cobbled together by the same minds behind ‘Street Summer’s infamous commercial. Idris Elba waved his arms around and swaggered like Danny Dyer on a roof somewhere, Nas was deadpan and dull, plenty of UK acts got excited, people were filmed in the act of racking their memory banks and historically it flitted around like some Burroughs-esqe cut-and-paste hallucination. People spinning on their head! Mike Skinner! Ronald Reagan looking impressed! Diddy being wealthy! The Sugarhill Gang! Weetabix men! A clip from a Wu-Tang Video!

‘How Hip Hop Changed the World’ was simply another ‘I Love…’ nostalgia show that felt curiously dated, like the sort of thing you might catch at 3:15am on a freeview music channel in a drunken haze and it displayed a curious regression — 1999’s ‘The Hip-Hop Years’ attempted a history and failed with a simplistic delivery, but it was more watchable than friday night’s offering. As if to highlight the inferior nature of Channel 4’s latest failure, adverts looked culled from YouTube and plenty of footage from 1987’s BBC Open Space documentary ‘Bad Meaning Good’ and 1984’s ‘Beat This! A Hip-Hop History’ was used. The latter efforts were excellent, and while hip-hop culture operated in a smaller space for documentation, how on earth is hip-hop still being treated as some kind of fly-by-night gimmick in terms of documentation?

The truth of the matter is that hip-hop needs something akin to the ten-part Ken Burns treatment. An adaptation of Dan Charnas’s ‘The Big Payback’ would be fascinating. Some would say that it’s still too immature and others claim that it regressed…that it doesn’t respect itself enough to warrant a serious documentation, but that would be erroneous. Contemporary “urban” culture being treated as some kind of bad musical where folks dance out their grievances in dayglo clothing is part of the problem — depictions of the inner-cities are wildly at odds with the realities, and a multi billion-dollar business that seems to have permeated everything is still being summarised in a 1-minute moving tableaux of twattery.

Forget $299 books retreading the flawed steps of ‘Hip Hop Immortals’ or the equally messy ‘Hip Hop Immortals: We Got Your Kids’ and ‘Rhyme & Reason’ documentaries. The culture got more complicated and the depictions got dumber. How on earth does an expert in Tudor history end up on Newsnight in lieu of any of the young journalists who could have offered some valuable insight without resorting to a Mr. Starkey-friendly “white voice”? How did Channel 4 go from screening Henry Chalfont’s masterful ‘Style Wars’ in 1984 to 120 minutes of unstructured stating-the-bloody-obvious 27 years later? This was a valuable opportunity to celebrate something remarkable squandered.

While we’re ranting, what’s up with the 5D culture of factory-tour videos? If your brand needs to show me the manufacturing process in order for me to appreciate it, then I want nothing to do with it. The provenance of a garment or item seems to be superseding whether it’s actually very good. Making something in the UK and describing it down to the strand of cotton doesn’t necessarily make it better than anything else. Production line shots, earnest images of men in aprons, occasional blur and a SBTRKT or Beirut soundtrack are becoming a formula — if your documentation of handcrafts feels formulaic and clinical, then you’ve missed your own point.

I had a wander round Jacket Required in London. I can’t remember much, but I enjoyed myself. My favourite item was a velvet jacket from Sk8thing and Nigo’s Human Made line depicting a Toddy Cat (aka. the Asian Palm Civet — the creature that defecates the berries that make Kopi Lawak coffee) enjoying a brew. It’s a very expensive item, but like the varsity jacket with a hotdog across the back, Nigo seems to have restored his aptitude for awesome again, building on the URSUS styles to go completely crazy with these surreal, self-indulgent vintage style. I like the Carhartt camo pieces as part of the archive line that are dropping soon too — definite crowd pleasers, and the contemporary buttons on the recent heritage-style stuff have been ridded in favour or something a little more olde world.

Picture from Thursday’s NOWNESS feature.

Rest in peace KASE 2 TFP. I mourned his passing a little too early on Twitter this week, but the one-armed, letter camouflaging, King of Styyyyyyyyyyyle has passed away. I know Goldie painted with Kaze, but did I dream up the footage of a starstruck Goldie meeting KASE 2 back in the 1980s? Was it from the ‘Zulu Dawn’ footage pulled down from YouTube? My love for the ‘Beastmaster’ scene in ‘Style Wars’ has been expounded upon here before, but this legend deserves a celebration.

Linking to that Canon 5D remark, you’re likely to see an influx of tattoo-centric videos soon, but ignoring a lot I’m really enjoying VBS’s Tattoo Age. In a fantastic coincidence (and one that will no doubt cheer up the homie Nick Schonberger, just as VBS started teasing the Grime episodes, Grime Daily started showing their ‘Tattoo Watch’ episodes. In the latter, there’s no talk of technique, just lots of madcap meanings or none-at-all, but the UFO chest piece is awesome.


Hey, ironist whitey — don’t front, you know you’ve pretended to throw up a gang sign, Crip walk or done up the top button on a Pendleton and scowled at the mirror. Bet you’d shit yourself if you were in gang territory though — your blogwear wouldn’t stop from being treated like Marky Mark by locals. Still, our preoccupation with Los Angeles gang culture isn’t any more inexplicable than the mafia fascination that pervades popular culture (gotta love ‘Bangin’ in Little Rock’ with one of my favourite moments at 17:06), and any organisation operating outside society’s rules with its own rules and uniforms is going to fire imaginations. Ah yes, the uniforms.

Let’s be clear here, who’s selling the aforementioned Pendleton, Chucks, Carhartt, Dickies, Ben Davis, khakis and white tees to you — some lookbook clown with a side parting who you could put in a chokehold, or some real OGs? That pride in the quality basics is a striking aesthetic that’s had more impact on the current wave of simple, quality looks than is credited.

If we’re going to explore how a blog post like this comes about, it was entirely fuelled by the photo of Crip founder member Greg “Batman” Davis (check his website here) in swagger mode — I don’t understand enough to either condone or condemn Greg’s earlier lifestyle, but with his Charles Manson friendship plus dalliances with the Symbionese Liberation Army and Jim Jones he’s a fascinating figure — that I spotted at the MOCA ‘Art in the Streets’ show. The way a whole gang phenomenon was summarised in a couple of sentences as part of the exhibit was curious, but that high rolling image is a strong piece of criminal imagery, with Davis seemingly looking to document a moment of perceived invincibility fired my imagination.


What happened to Nemo Librizzi’s Bloods and Crips documentary ‘Lay Down Old Man’ from 2005 that got a single screening at Blacktronica and some film festivals before vanishing? It had plenty of footage of Davis reflecting over his past, but whereas ‘Bastards of the Party’ and Stacy Peralta’s ‘Crips & Bloods: Made in America’ are readily available, ‘Lay Down Old Man’ has never reached DVD.

That Crip talk made me think of the Glen E’ Friedman photo session from South Central Cartel’s 1994 LP ‘N Gatz We Truss’. It’s not the guns which grabbed my attention (seriously, what was the odds of ANOTHER group having a Havoc and Prodeje in?), it was the customised Ben Davis work shirts, including the Def Jam West variation that blew me away. I’ve even put it in mood boards, blissfully ignorant of the heavy metal in the foreground. What can I say? I’m stupid like that. That in turn had me pondering the mighty Ben Davis. Seeing as the blog logo (courtesy of Sofarok) is a Ben Davis tribute, I’ve never done the brand justice on this site.

All you really need is O.D. Wolfson’s 1995 interview with Benjamin Franklin Davis and Frank Davis from ‘Grand Royal’ #2 — that offers some excellent background on the brand and how it started. I’ve upped a scan of the page here, but there’s a few other interesting morsels that make for an interesting supplement to the answers Mr. Davis provides.

Beyond the handful of store photos, painted ads and newspaper promotions from the late 1940s and 1950s, it’s interesting that Davis mentions that while the shirt is a Ben Davis creation, their pants were based on a design that was an acquisition (the Ben Davis brand started in 1935) from the then defunct Neustradter Bros. and their ‘Boss of the Road’ line — the gorilla was a reaction to mascots like the ‘Boss of the Road’ bulldog. I found some of their old advertising (dating back to 1901), and it’s notable that the ‘Boss of the Road’ brand was bought and resurrected by Lee in the late 1930s with added Lee branding, but that familiar jowly pooch is still present.

Continuing Ben Davis’s link to other denim powerhouses, Ben’s grandfather Jacob W. Davis’s patent for his invention – the copper pocket rivet for jeans — filed on August 9, 1872 is available too. That started with duck pants before the transfer to denim. That patent was half-owned by a certain Levi Strauss, and it’s a hugely significant moment in denim evolution — Jacob worked with Levi by developing the manufacture of the resulting pants and he sold his interest in the patent to Levi Strauss in 1907, just before he passed away.

Ben Davis passed away on February 19, 2009 — a pioneer and inadvertent father of streetwear in many ways. But that’s a whole different story…

UK/Euro heads should tap up the good folks of www.theoriginalstore.co.uk for your Ben Davis needs.

Ben Davis store photos taken from this page right here.


It’s time for another of those film posts that nobody looks at.

Back on the blog and I didn’t prepare anything to up today, so I’m working with whatever I’ve been looking at online over the last 24 hours. Motherfuck content creation, because there’s a strong recycled video streak today.

The homie Jeff at Selectism reminded me how much I love Gary Weis’s classic documentary ’80 Blocks From Tiffany’s’ yesterday, and I’ve discussed the greatness of Rita Recher and Henry Chalfont’s ‘Flyin Cut Sleeves’ — both dealing with the topic of New York street gangs of the 1970s, but there’s another contender too. Firstly, as someone who grew up a long way from the United States, I was a child of the video shop, fooled into renting anything that promised bloodshed.

I digested a fair few films that were ‘Mad Max’ knockoffs — Enzo Castellari’s ‘Bronx Warriors’ trilogy plays a prominent parting my psyche, with its fusion of post-apocalyptic lumbering action, lo-fi stunts and unintentional camp, but gang films like the cheap but fun ‘Warriors’-does-splatter fun of ‘Future-Shock’, the faintly racist yuppies-in-peril antics of ‘Chains’ and my favourite — ‘Enemy Territory’ with a younger Tony Todd and his vampiric posse (plus graffiti from Chico Garcia) causing trouble for the denizens of a project building. I love that movie.

These cultish b-flicks had me believing that on stepping foot outside an airport in New York, a multi-racial gang of ruffians in fingerless leather gloves would slice me up, or set me alight. There’s precious few good documentaries on the crews that fuelled the tabloid myths to inspire the following decade’s cheapo cinematic urban nightmares, but fortunately those that were made are fairly easily attainable. One of the best isn’t even English language — German journalist and filmmaker Max H. Rehbein’s 1978 documentary ‘Lefty — Erinnerung an einen Toten in Brooklyn’ (which I believe, loosely translates as, ‘Lefty — Memory of a Dead Man in Brooklyn’ won a couple of prestigious awards after its debut television screening.

Max and his crew get an astonishing amount of freedom to film the punishments, beatings, arrests, politics and beliefs, debates and even shoot during the infamous New York City blackout of July 1977 (and miraculously escape unscathed) resulting in some phenomenal footage of the titular Lefty and his Sex Boys gang (apologies to any left-handed typers who ended up on here by Googling those words in a non-gang context), the Crazy Homicides (who wore giant cavalry hats) and lots of Coney Island footage, long before Swan and the boys incited fights in cinemas via Walter Hill’s opus. The synth soundtrack is awesome too and if you’re even vaguely interested in the subject matter, check it out.

This classic first chapter in Rehbein’s ‘New York Trilogy’ (screened between 1978 and 1980) is on YouTube at the moment in what I believe is a 60 minute cut shown in 1990, as opposed to the 88 minute original version that continues to elude me. This is early street culture in full effect and a pretty absorbing watch. The director is still alive, and given his wartime experiences prior to ‘Lefty’, New York’s gang culture may have been a walk in the (Central) park by comparison.

Another thing that made me enthuse during the last 24 hours was the official announcement of Edzon from Patta’s ‘Luffie Duffie’ mix from 2006 getting a sequel in 2011 that should coincide with a significant release from the overlords of the sneaker “game” — everyone at Patta knows their shit back to front and Edzon’s soul-laden follow-up will be very necessary.

ATG are killing this blog shit. Looking forward to seeing the byproduct of their partnership with Carhartt.

Speaking of Carhartt, Detroit’s Bo$$ needs a kidney transplant. This lady rapper talked pure gun talk until she was exposed as a middle-classer. But we don’t care about authenticity any more, and while the ‘Born Gangstaz’ album is crappy, ‘Deeper’s Bobby Womack, Gwen McRae and Eddie Murphy samples are still my shit (Curtains murdered a similar beat, sans Gwen and the silly cod-ragga stuff a few years back). I wish her all the best, and I recall reading a lengthy regional newspaper piece on her prior ill health too.

Mr. Chris Aylen brought this eBay auction to my attention. Just as a Tribe Called Quest’s demo (from the same seller) ended at around $800, DMX’s demo (in some no-frills studio biro aided packaging) came to a close with a final hike from around $100 to $625.29. I’ve heard plenty on rarities CDs, but there’s some bits on the tape samples that the seller provided that I’d never been exposed to. This man’s style changed a lot over five years or so.


Every now and again, I become preoccupied with a piece of branded hip-hop apparel. For the most part, rap’s current aesthetic is pretty piss-poor — it’s either plain tees, borderline UFC apparel audaciousness or high-end worn badly.

I haven’t lusted after a label’s merchandising since Fondle ‘Em’s masturbating alien tee or Fat Beats lanyards. I wanted a Jeezy Snowman tee for a minute, but those heavily faked BBC tees and polos and N*E*R*D trucker hats were adopted by imbeciles before I could take an interest. The glow-in-the-dark Liquid Blue Skull Pile tee that Juicy J wore in the ‘Stay Fly’ promo wasn’t necessarily a label item, but, bar Champion’s big ‘C’ on Noreaga, it represents the last time I lost my mind over a rapper’s wears.

This image is taken from www.oldschoolheadwear.blogspot.com

My two benchmarks would be Ice-T’s Rhyme Syndicate apparel from the early ’90s. Occasionally spotted on these shores before ‘Home Invasion’ dropped and ruined everything, Rhyme Syndicate offered a photocopied catalogue, but it was the stark white lettering on a tee or black snapback hat that was reputedly Starter-made loooooong before everyone hopped on the throwback bandwagon recent years. It just go the job done and represented the best of the group’s aesthetic — my good friend Mr. Charlie Sofarok showed me an unreleased Vans Syndicate snapback cap with black SYNDICATE on white in the same stark font that seems like an opportunity wasted.

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo and bumbled into one of the many hip-hop clothing stores only to be bemused by the mixture of licensed labels, Old Navy clothes, Champion and lurid tribute tees, you might have spotted Rhyme $yndicate out there (“Since 1990”). The licensed Japanese wing offers those staple designs with a bonus dollar sign. It’s not particularly good either — but you can buy some of the worst button-down shirts I’ve ever seen, or a Donald D tee if you’re in the market for one.

We’re in the midst of a Carhartt boomtime, but the Tommy Boy Carhartt jackets with the HAZE logo and Shawn Stussy logos were killer. There was the retail variation (which seemed to be a more commonly seen in an Active Jacket form), while the “Staff” Detroit Jacket was almost mystical in its appearance around 1991. If anyone has the 2006 Stussy/Haze/Muro/Carhartt Savage variation, I still need it in my life…

Young Money Cash Money Billionaires (YMCMB) have my new favourite piece of rap apparel. A crewneck sweatshirt with the letters placed across the chest in a no-frills style. One might assume that Baby and Weezy’s conglomerate would lead to something that’s unnecessarily diamonique laden, but this is clean. Like that SYNDICATE clothing or the lettering on those Kanye Good Friday leaks, it’s been seen in hooded form on DJ Khaled (who really seems to like his, judging on repeated wears) and new Young Money man T-Pain.

Baby rocked the black variation and Lil’ Wayne wore the grey version during a recent interview with Sway prior to the delayed release of the ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’ video. Drake wore a grey sweat which seemed to have green letters while throwing up some unconvincing gang signs alongside Wayne as he performed ‘Green and Yellow’ at a Super Bowl party, and a nervous looking Lil’ Twist had a brown take. Both Drake and Twist’s had a Champion Reverse Weave bulk to their fit. Predictably, eBay is awash with fakes, but you can actually buy the “real deal” from here for $49.99.

Now, where can I get a Bronald Oil & Gas, LLC shirt or headed notepad? Did Willie D ever have golf umbrellas or mugs printed for his iPod withholding eBay store?


What’s the point of getting up in the morning? You could get thrown over the dashboard of a speeding car on the way to grab provisions, go into a coma for the rest of the year and not miss a damned thing. That’s pretty frightening. It’s also a grand overstatement —there’s lots to look forward over the next year. Put down those pills and close that tab that’s open on alt.sucide.methods. Get involved with these things…


Iron Mike’s autobiography might be MIA at the moment, but Tyson’s sounding mighty healthy on both Twitter and in the real world. He’s looking a little leaner and he’s got an Animal Planet show; ‘Taking On Tyson’ which seems to be a pigeon racing reality show, with Tyson traveling the world (including Scotland) to discuss his feathered friends. If that doesn’t appeal to you, we’re not on the same wavelength. Kudos to whoever pitched it in to the network too…it probably wasn’t an easy sell. This show debuts on TV Stateside in March.


While the Dave Carney ‘Boob’ book is still inexplicably hard-to-obtain, there’s a whole documentary on Big Brother magazine in the making. ‘The Big Brother Memoir: A Stupid Skateboard Magazine’ may well be an extension of the footage posted on the Jackass site a few years back and it’ll probably disappear into the 24 month limbo that skate-related documentaries have a habit of slipping into but it’ll be worth the wait. There’s a lot of magazines dropping these days, but which ones have any personality? Big Brother in its heyday was absolutely untouchable and an arguable influence on the next wave of pretty much everything for those who experienced it. You already knew about these PDFs, didn’t you?


The current wave of rap-related viral videos seems to be built on addressing rumours and interview arguments. Boring. araabMUZIK videos are hypnotic. The MVP of the MPC is the most interesting to watch at work, and while he isn’t the first to make similar sounds (he sounds like the hyperactive child of Mannie, Justin and prime Heatmakerz), Lex Luger seemed to be…ummm…”inspired” by his work when he gave Jay and ‘Ye a track over which they inexplicably opted to rap like they’d had a Lemsip overdose instead of the requisite H.A.M. levels (at least it caused Busta to drop his annoying date rape flow for 2-minutes). araabMUZIK’s thrash metal team up was the least excruciating hip-hop and metal union since Faith No More & Boo-Yaa back in 1993, another recent video sees him tearing through live beat making with a nifty black-on-black Dipset piece around his neck—at 08:37 he unleashes the kind of drama music that’ll make you want to strike a stranger. What exactly is in that cup?


Stacy Gueraseva’s book on Def Jam five years ago was a must-buy, and on a glossier and officially licensed level, the Rizzoli ’25 Years of Def Jam’ effort should be great too. Reuniting Dan Charnas (writer of the essential ‘The Big Payback’ ) with old mentor Bill Adler, there’s no cover or in-depth information as of yet regarding cover art or content other than its hardback status and September release date. Will it have a whole chapter on Jayo Felony? Highly doubtful.


Larry Clark’s ‘What do you do for fun?’ exhibition opens at the Simon Lee Gallery on February 10th. It should make up for missing the ‘Kiss the Past Hello’ show in Paris last year, and from a preview on the Simon Lee site, it’s significantly more wide-ranging than the ‘Los Angeles 2003-2006’ offerings at the same space in early 2008. It’s unknown as to whether the newly unearthed silent ‘Tulsa’ 16mm film will accompany it (supposedly, the movie was recently limited to a run of 5 DVD copies).


Vasque never really went anywhere, but for the fans, there’s two versions of this boot—the current old man hikers and weird trainer hybrids and the ones you used to eye up in the Source. The preoccupation with hiking gear is unlikely to go anytime soon so we might as well have the best and I suspect my homie Mr. Ronnie Fieg—a Vasque boot superfan and the David Z frontman for special projects—will do something with the Sundowner or Super Hiker, even if they’re not Italian made any more like they were in the early ’90s. The brand’s attempt to break the UK market a few years back via some brash lad-mag ads remains an odd move.


Big name magazine launches can be sheer wankery, but ‘PORT’ looks promising. Editor Dan Crowe’s Zembla literary magazine was a superb effort, and while Port’s emphasis seems to be style, there’s plenty of substance promised for its March launch. My days of reading magazines cover-to-cover seem to be numbered, but hopefully this one might restore my papery OCD. I just want to pick up something authoritative. It has a poetry editor and Daniel Day-Lewis writing an essay on Gaza. That’s enough to confer investigation, and it launches at a point when iPad compatibility is more than a rushed afterthought too.


This picture from the new Palace line is straight swaggerjacked from the Hideout’s site. I remember happy days of local skate shops stocking a rail bought seemingly at random from New Deal or Shiner, and simply buying the most eyecatching tee, complete with a barely concealed Hanes (or far, far worse in the thickness stakes). This New York Giants style effort is some no-nonsense branding that harks back to happy days of Holmes and many that went before.


Yes, that really was the name of the chimp taught a form of sign language decades ago, who apparently unleashed the 16-word sentence through these gestures, “Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.” Mired in debate, it served to reinforce our relationship with our simian neighbours. ‘Project Nim,’ directed by James Marsh (the man behind ‘Man on Wire’ —a documentary that left me cold), tells the story of the monkey raised as a human, and the byproduct of the experiment. As a chimp superfan, I can’t wait to see it. After showing at Sundance days ago, HBO swiftly picked it up.


Just when outdoorsy screwfaces prove they’re here to stay temporarily, former Number (N)ine kingpin Takahiro Miyashita’s The Soloist project keeps on innovating in a weird way and the S/S 2011 collection is somewhere between woodland hipster buffoon, Victorian tinker, Hoth reconnaissance, the twins from ‘Rad’ and something far more innovative. Accompanying gear with New Balances, teaming with Oliver Peoples and using some very luxurious fabrics is a winner—as is Takahiro’s leisurely pace. While everyone else has let the cat out the bag for the whole year. Who knows what he’s got planned for the colder months?


Avant-garde film director, writer, musician and artist Jonas Mekas is 87 years old and he’s still got more ideas and vanguard spirit than you. Don’t feel bad. He’s a genius. ‘Walden’ is a sprawling, brilliant headache of a film and he’s back after six years with an 8MM film experiment and ‘Sleepless Nights Stories’ which seems to have Björk and Harmony Korine involved too. That’s as much as we know.


Adam Kimmel’s been peddling terrifyingly expensive workwear that’s actually very wearable, plus something significantly sharper for a while now, so his alliance with Carhartt sounded pretty natural. A.P.C. and SOPHNET have done big things with the brand (though in the case of the latest SOPH, I’m not looking to dress like a train driver from the 1920s), but from shots on the Hideout’s blog, it looks significantly more cohesive and wearable as a total look. There’s pocket tees, three cashmere versions of the watch cap, but the jacket in the picture here is the one for me. It’ll terrorise your credit card when it drops, but if you slept on the Junya jacket early last year this might cheer you up. Initial reports indicate that the line is non-smedium.


Boiler Room is awesome on a number of levels. As I drop out the loop, FACT magazine and Boiler Room’s transmissions are something of a lifeline. USTREAM is often misused. For every transmitted sexual act, live suicide or other watchably grand gesture, there’s a drivel tsunami on the broadcast front. Team Boiler Room keep the strong lineups coming every Tuesday at 8…you too can experience Dalston as you imagine it to be, without having to deal with the everyday reality and twattery of the area. The SWAMP 81 label gets a showcase on Tuesday and I’ve been told there’s some serious guests booked for the rest of the year too.



After a papery drought, there’s been some interesting publications dominating my floor space these last few days. I was recently pondering as to who actually buys some of the regular fashion titles. Can fashion students and the front desk of the capital’s agencies alone keep some magazines in business? The annuals, bi-annuals and some quarterlies are the ones I’m more prone to pick up because I’m an idiot who loves heavyweight page counts regardless of ad content and because I work on fuzzy logic that £16 twice a year beats monthly costs. And if my change from a £20 note is barely enough for a medium-sized meal at a junk food outlet, I’m likely to actually force myself to take an hour out to browse the fucking thing. As I type this I realise how odd my magazine habit is getting, and how flawed my justifications for purchasing are.

However, Carhartt’s increasingly good—and increasingly regular—Brand Book is avoiding the usual self-serving guff by offering some Carhartt-centric content that’s genuinely enlightening—particularly the article on the brand’s 1960’s approach under Robert E. Valade. It’s interesting to see that there’s a Carhartt streetwear store planned for NYC’s Crosby Street. Are we selling Americans their output back? Will it surpass the greatness of Dave’s? Time will tell. The Frenchies get their time to shine with some good A.P.C. collaboration imagery (as obvious as it is, that pocket tee is the best double-label pieces ever) and an excellent interview with Mathieu Kassovitz, who may have struggled with a ‘La Haine’ follow-up, but gets props over here for the ‘Munich’ performance and offering a pre-emptitive panning for his own movie, thus retaining my respect.

The image of the mighty JoeyStarr—once arrested for hitting a monkey but also a man who wooed Beatrice Dalle—crops up in the new Purple too. Purple remains a glorious Trojan Horse for anyone who wants to smuggle soft-core porn under the veneer of metrosexuality. For that, Oliver Zahm stays a hero. The Banks Violette, Brett Easton Ellis, Rick Rubin, Kim Gordon and Daido Moriyama interviews are cool, as is the Chloë Sevigny shoot, where James Ransone and Alex Olsen swing by, but the nude pictures of Paz De La Huerta are the killer application in issue 14. Again, thanks Oliver. You can trash talk bloggers from now ’till infinity for all I care as long as you peddle content like that.

Back when I upped my troubled magazine top-ten on this site, I pondered as to whether ‘Swallow Magazine’ made it past the Scando-centric debut edition. The good news is the second issue of this hardbacked labour-of-love is on sale now. This time it’s the ‘Trans-Siberian Issue’. Want to learn about Russia’s dairy products? Mongolia’s peasant foods? Cooking for oligarchs? Do you want a comic strip insert that doesn’t make you look like an absolute virgin if you’re caught reading it, unlike that nonsense at the back of ‘Monocle’? You need all these things – you just don’t know it yet. Combining the best photography with the best design, travel and food journalism, and much as the slow-food approach is making a pleasantly sluggish, full-bellied impact on the bigger picture gastronomically, the unhurried approach to publishing has generated the best food journal ever (there’s surely, 14 years after the ‘Loaded’ food spinoff, ‘Eat Soup’ flopped, a gap in the market for something similar). This will get ripped-off for impending lookbooks in one way or another once everyone tires of facial hair.

I’m glad I was never a writer in the graffiti sense. Cowardice, a lack of style and an innate lethargy meant I was destined to remain a no-moving spectator. But, as I’ve stated here, while I don’t know much about it, I know what I hate. Watching destruction unfold is a beautiful thing though. Graffiti documentations tend to be – because those deep in the culture are fucking oddballs – painstaking and brilliant. Utrecht’s WOW crew follow that tradition by collating enough images from 1990 to the present day to create a full colour newspaper, printing 1500 copies, then torching 1000 or so just to make a point about graffiti’s temporary nature, where hours of worked are swiftly buffed away. Missing the Morganator’s knowledge drops on a daily basis, he recommended I spent a prohibitive amount on the ‘War Of Words’ project and I complied—I regret nothing. I feel I’ve donated to a fine cause, and anything with an appropriately intense foreword by hood socialist Dumar Brown is wothwhile. SHAVE, WILD, YALT and the crew’s prolific output is logged here, and there’s a lot of trains in the mix. This is a glorious antidote to gloss, twats and stencils.

‘War Of Words’ had me hosting my own graffiti documentary festival—just as videos like ‘Video Days’ blew my mind, and DVDs like ‘Risky Roadz’ and ‘Practise Hours’ tested my patience and flipped my wig in equal quantities, ‘State Your Name’ stays epic. The final four minutes of the first ‘Dirty Handz’ video offer the most crazed punk rock moments of the last twenty years, ‘Fuk Graff’ is funny as shit too. But that soundtrack to ‘State Your Name’ just fueled a weekend of Diplomats re-visitation. Matthew Trammell’s Heatmakerz and Dips celebration on The Madbury Club had me amped, extolling the virtue of the seemingly disposable sounds with a timeless quality that defined Harlem.

Vado’s verse for BET shone…and that’s not just because of his lame company—that’s the second coming of Kool G Rap right there, and the man who’ll make the rest of the Dipset crew step their game up to the point where the reunion transcends a cash-in unholy alliance and brings the spirit of 2002 right back. Allied with araabMUSIK, my hope for east coast rap is restored, but Cam’ron’s ‘Fairytale’, produced by Heatmakerz is the most heartening part of recent events within the camp. I long for a time when JR Writer spat over high-velocity E.L.O. samples and Juelz Santana made magnificent use of Kiss’s ‘Only You’…we’re nearly there again. It’s a beautiful thing.

Ever on the lookout for some more visual stimulation, watching John Huston’s ‘Wise Blood’ in the early hour today, it became apparent that I should have mentioned the beginning titles in an earlier blog. To channel the film and book’s off-kilter sensibility, a child was drafted in to create that crude lettering and they misspelt John’s name as ‘Jhon”—it crops up twice on the credits, and juxtaposed with a backdrop of bible belt righteousness, it proves deeply effective.