Tag Archives: Champion

SOME STUFF I SAW THIS WEEK

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One-week between blog updates is bad form, but a trip to Nike’s WHQ for some Crooked Tongues and INVENTORY work got in the way of me and WordPress. In Portland I saw some interesting things – beyond the shoes that were being launched (and I can testify that Free Hyperfeel and full-length denim looks terrible, but the Flyknit Free is good to go with pretty much everything), I picked up some more trivia from wandering the campus and talking design out there. I learnt more about Kukinis (a shoe that reminds me of the earliest days of Spine and CT and the people I owe my career to) than ever before, I saw some Foamposite prototypes (presumable from a little later in the process than these and these), a display showcasing Tinker Hatfield’s first ever shoe design (a kid’s shoe for his own children from 1980, half a decade before he switched from architecture to shoe design), a prototype Nike shoe pre-swoosh with a bad-looking ‘N’ logo, an Inspector Gadget style experiment in Shox technology from 1984 that makes the Internationalist into something from Saw, Jordan’s injury editions of his first signature shoe. Thanks to Mr. Josh Rubin, I also visited the Portland outpost of Japan’s Snow Peak stores – one of those rare retailers that can make you want things you don’t need through beautiful packaging and dual purpose functionality. I never knew I needed a titanium coffee mug or spork until I set foot in the shop. Now I want all titanium everything.

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The fruits of my few days away should manifest over the coming months, but in the meantime, there’s a Reebok Classic collaboration coming soon (late September?) that was the brainchild of some friends and I. Having a personal connection with that silhouette, it was fun to create something using it.

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Southbank Centre Limited director (amendment: Nihal has informed me that this is wrong. He’s a governor of the board) Mr. Nihal Arthanyake’s wide-eyed and patronising plea for London’s skaters (video removed after this blog went live) to embrace their holy ground being redeveloped and relocated is excruciating. He’s keen to point out that the youth can visit the new facilities, “…not just to hang out, but to be actively engaged in the creative process – whether that be street dancing, whether that be theatre, whether that be circus skills…” While Mr. Arthanyake (usually a smart chap) purports to be a, “hip-hop guy” –after making skating sound like a supplement to street dance, he gives it an “urban” affiliation for extra faddishness – he fails to understand that sub-cultures need to defend their strongholds. The joy of the Southbank undercrofts is that they’re a piece of reappropriation. If Nihal understood hip-hop, he might grasp that. Some pre-graffed spot down the road defeats the object entirely.

He also sees skaters opposing the development as irrational. Those irrational kids taking an organised stand against their heritage being demolished eh, Nihal? It’s all about teaching the teens to get their big top skills up. Another suit who thinks a Supreme Being garment will act as a sign that they’re down – back when our man was presenting shitty Clothes Show segments on trainer hoarding, they weren’t above filming in the Southbank for credibility.

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Cannon Films has been mentioned on here several times for both their schlock and their rare detours into quality like Barfly. After the 1986 BBC Omnibus episode on the Golan-Globus empire, Electric Boogaloo: the Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is coming soon from Mark Hartley (director of the excellent Not Quite Hollywood and the impending remake of onetime late-night BBC staple, Patrick) – this will almost certainly be excellent and shed light on some B-movie gems.

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While we wait for Champion Europe to get it together, now Champion USA seems to have smelt the Nescafe and understood that they’ve got a powerful logo and realised that there’s mileage in fleecewear with a heavier pricepoint. Made in Canada, Todd Snyder + Champion has some interesting moments. The tees are a little too Euro for my liking, but a Reverse Weave crew that’s literally in reverse and the pocket sweats and cut-off shorts are interesting. That sleeve branding that unites the classic stitch-on ‘C’ with a 1950s Champion logo works well too.

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BACK SOON

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I’m in Nuremberg and I just got back from eating dumplings in the woods (not a euphemism), so there’s only a sliver of blogging time available. I recommend checking out my German friends at Being Hunted (as mentioned here several times, a huge influence on this blog) and their rewind to the Kate Moss tee leak of 2004 and the line sheets it was taken from are worth revisiting. That whole incident preempts the blog boom of 2005. As an apology for my slackness, I’ve accompanied this with a photo of Guru and Heather B from a 20-year old Spin piece. Was this some kind of official Champion photoshoot? Champion jersey dresses, tees and backgrounds, plus an GFS hat on Guru’s head captures the era nicely. I want to know more about this.

FAT FIFTEEN

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Earlier this evening I wrote something for this blog then found out it was on another site with a better writeup. After that Armin Tamzarian Billy and the Cloneasaurus moment I had to resort to something else quickly. However, don’t mistake that for integrity, because my plan-b was to up some more magazine scans and upping somebody else’s work in such a wholesale fashion is pretty much the opposite of integrity. Once this self-inflicted (what can I say? I’m a yes man, which ends up turning me into a no man when it comes to favours for a few months) freelance workload is over maybe I can start living in the now rather than the glut of nostalgia I’ve been unloading on these pages lately. There’s too many shoe-related (a lazy day job overspill) pieces on here and too much magazine scanning in lieu of writing anything over 500 words. Normal service will resume at some point in early summer.

One of The Source‘s greatest moments in shoe coverage was the August 1994 issue with The Fat Fifteen selection that has the Jordan 10, Fila Spoiler Mid, the underrated adidas Intruder (as worn by John Starks), Womens’ Allegra, Air Flare and the Jordan III reissue. I can remember seeing this and immediately scrawling down the names of over a quarter of the showcased shoes and scheming how I could raise the funds for them. Then there’s the Just Kickin It piece where rappers talk about their favourite shoes. Andre 3000 likes an adidas Forum and Big Boi shouts out the EQT range, while Phife and Da Brat co-sign the Nike Air Darwin. Shyhiem and Kurious show an affinity for the Barkley CB2. A few months ahead of the staff walkout, The Source still ruled my life as a reference point and stuff like this gave me all the information I needed to head to a sports shop armed with questions.

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When this blog was marginally more interesting, I pondered as to who draw the US poster for The Beastmaster that King Kase2 and the crew acted a fool over at the train station in Style Wars. Recently I discovered that it was C. Winston Taylor (aka. C.W. Taylor) was responsible for it. That’s one mystery solved, but I want to know who was responsible for the Champion Cheeba parody tee that was sold in Union circa 1993. Was it a SSUR creation?

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PROFESSOR

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I’m back in the UK and it doesn’t look like I missed much during my absence (I’m basing that assumption on the contents of my email inbox). New York was excellent and while there were several highlights, the carrot cake at Carbone and visiting Quad Recording Studios (and yes, references were made to testicular bullet holes in the lobby) with Mr. Nick Schonberger to see Large Professor playing Stalley some new beats from an iPod were two of the best moments. Many of the producers I’ve obsessed over in my lifetime have hit a decade-long dull streak but Extra P is still a beast. To be in the presence of genius or a really big fucking slice of dessert is always a privilege. Nothing makes me amplify my awkward Brit steez more than meeting my rap heroes as a fumbled iPod cable passover testified.

One of the few other rap dudes who would have me carrying on like that is Kool G Rap, with whom the Professor worked on classics like Streets of New York — looking at old issues of The Source, I find myself mourning the decline of the record label art department who put the incredible teasers that were scattered throughout that magazine. The release of Kool G’s 4,5,6 in 1995 was preceded by Epic paying for small ads with co-signs from Method Man, LL Cool J and — best of all — this quote from Biggie that sums up the ultra violent state-of-mind that the great man was capable of conjuring. Nowadays this would probably lead to a boycott of something somewhere and a mass of Twitter reactions. Back then, nobody seemed to bat an eyelid at this or the album when it eventually dropped.

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According to my friends at Proper, Champion is on its way back in the United Kingdom, but looking at their £65 sweats with the SuperDry style prints and how they’ve even flubbed the U.S. college gear, I’m not sure what to make of it all. It’s definitely a collection that had me pulling the Michel Roux Jr. faces. Recently I was discussing whether there’s actually a “real” Champion out there or whether it’s just a mass of regional licenses. How can it be that Nick and Stalley’s Blue Collar Gang BCG creation that’s printed on a middleweight Champion blank with the C on the sleeve ether an entire brand’s local output? Somebody somewhere really doesn’t understand the power of simplicity their company holds. I feel that the bin-shoe I spotted on Friday in Greenwich Village sums up my feelings on this situation, but I retain a single spec of optimism that somebody might get it right at some point in the next twelve months.

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Swallow Magazine takes its time with the rollout, having hit issue three in just under four years, but it’s one of the best food publications in terms of capturing the visceral pleasure of stuffing your face. Concept heavy with each issue, after the Trans-Siberian edition, the hardcover is gone in favor of different binding, more content and a scratch and sniff Mexico City theme throughout. The whole food obsession seems to have boomed since it last dropped, so publicity for the new Swallow Magazine installment has been more substantial than before. Protein ran a little show in their gallery to celebrate the release and this interview with the magazine’s founder and editor James Casey is pretty good. He raises some interesting points on print as an object of beauty and a method of administering experiences a digital medium can’t deliver quite yet.

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With the passing of both Chi Cheng and Jeff Hanneman this year, it’s a good time to reacquaint with some metal classics as a tribute to their work. Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman’s Louder Than Hell: The Definitive History of Metal is a reason I’m looking forward to my next birthday. This and the French Montana album are a good reason for me to not spend the day traveling to a Swiss clinic. Oral histories are addictive and metal is a breeding ground for anecdotes on anecdotes on anecdotes.

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THE OTHER RALPH

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The closest I could come to anything relevant to this time of the year is these Ralph Steadman illustrations for Nike from 1982, 1984 and 1991. One features a rabbit (actually, maybe it’s a hare, but that’s still relevant to March), so it felt right. Was Nike UK’s decision to use his art to promote their involvement in the London Marathon back in the early 1980s one of the earliest uses of an artist like that on a campaign? I always thought that the 1991 Nike 180 commercials with Industrial Light & Magic, Guido Manuli, David Cronenberg, Caleb Deschanel and other equally offbeat partner picks, plus Ralph on the print ads (as well as French satirist and cartoonist André François, plus graphic design dons like Alfons Holtgreve, Charles S. Anderson and Takenobu Igarashi) were the first time Nike had gone wild with it like that, but it transpires that British running magazines were riddled with unorthodox ads that fitted the irreverent tone of the time for the brand.

The man responsible for Gonzo’s aesthetic evidently liked drawing Nikes a great deal, because, while I’d like to put my frequent Nike fixation down to hip-hop or sports, it’s actually down to the aura of the swoosh back when I was becoming aware of what was on my feet and the shoes on the cover of Ralph Steadman’s 1986 children’s book, That’s My Dad, which I spotted in the school library and lost my mind over. Back when trainers were misrepresented in comics and books, Ralph went in — there were closer looks at dad’s shoes inside as well. Presumably, the recent Nike commissions meant the artist/writer felt comfortable drawing their shoes when the time came to draw trainers. I think this book (which was aimed at an audience half my age back when I first spotted it) might be one of the key reasons I talk about nonsense like this now — 27 years later.

Steadman’s ability to wallow in the mainstream as well as the murkier subcultural waters during his career is always something worth celebrating, but his contribution to fueling my sports footwear preoccupation is something I hadn’t thought about properly until a recent flashback. I mean, Quentin Blake was another personal favourite of the time, but he wasn’t arming his paternal depictions with strong shoes like Ralph was.

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Cheers to Exposure, Protein and Nike for letting me write a foreword for the Air Max Reinvented publication to coincide with the weekend’s exhibition of Max reinterpretations. I particularly liked the inclusion of the Dave Swindells triptych of a tripping man in Infrared Air Max 90s who’s on one at RAGE at Heaven in its proto-jungle 1990 heyday. Here’s two of the three shots they selected. That’s a strong tracksuit going on there in the background. Dave’s website has a great selection of his work, which is as essential as a document of British style as it is as history of club culture. I think this shot from Soul II Soul at Brixton’s Fridge in 1989, with Air Max Lights, Torsions and Coca-Cola clothing is equally tough too. This is the part of Nike Air Max history that hasn’t been fully explored for the current campaign. Maybe it will be in months to come.

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Taken from Dave Swindells’ site.

Reading Nicky Haslam’s Redeeming Features, which namedrops like nothing I’ve ever read before, I noticed that, in his digression regarding the Countess of Kenmare, he trumps the niche nature of the Hermès apple holder, with talk of the Countess’ bespoke Louis Vuitton creations: “…giraffe-shaped cases in which to transport her baby giraffes, regardless of quarantine, to London for her seasonal sojourn at Claridge’s.” Please bear that one on mind next time you feel the urge to write #swag after a picture of your Goyard card holder.

All praises to Tokyo’s Oshman’s store for their work with Champion. It’s undisputedly odd to find yourself begging friends who are Japan-bound to pick up some replicas of American college team tees for you while you’re there, but the new collection of the almost sweatshirt weight thick cotton of the American-made T1011 tee with the binding process that makes it less prone to stretch (though, as a word of warning, they fit pretty boxy) with an official UCLA print, plus AFA and United States Naval Academy editions look great. They’re exclusive to Oshman’s by the look of things and there’s no bad egg in the whole bunch. Converting to around £33, they seem affordable, until you consider the £20+ shipping, £20 import tax and Parcelforce’s £10+ processing fee — the murderers of many a bargain. These arrive at Oshman’s in April and if anyone’s heading there and back with suitcase space, all assistance is appreciated. Theoretically, at this time of year, heavyweight fabrics shouldn’t be too much of a consideration, but because spring has forsaken us, I’m taking no precautions.

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HOODLUMS

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24 hours late on the blog updates and still not much to say. The leather jacketed or vested ne’er-do-wells of old always fired my imagination in movies and magazines, but I can’t help but think that gangs were making more of an effort to dress back in the day. Juvenile delinquency looked particularly fucking cool in the 1950s and 1960s, back when the dawn of the teenager had “squares” bricking themselves at grease-slicked haircuts and tribal uniforms. These pictures from a 1957 LIFE feature on Upper Westside and Bronx gangs called Teen-Age Burst of Brutality make alleged thugs look like rock stars. An Egyptian Kings member looks cool calm and collected on the way to be quizzed for a murder, complete with fans peering in the window, and the crew shot of the Laughing Jesters in Manhattan makes them look like the best gang ever. People generally seemed to look more excellent 50+ years ago.

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While the gang jackets in this anti-hoodlum film from the 1950s are the worst thing ever, the gangs in the 1961 San Francisco based documentary Ask Me, Don’t Tell Me which has some kind of religious redemption overtones (and did the blog rounds back in 2009 when it seemed to go into public domain) has crews of dudes who are deeply stylish, until they start doing decorating and digging holes and being productive members of society because society asks them to be — it completely does the opposite of discouraging anyone from not wanting to stand on a street corner playing elbow tit (as depicted in The Wanderers). Even in the 1970s, the gang jackets on the cover of New York Magazine‘s March 27, 1972 cover story on east Bronx gangs (which can be read here) would almost certainly have a kid reaching for the marker pens to decorate a garment so he and his friends could rumble with neighbourhood rivals.



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Ralph Bakshi has drawn some great hoodlums in flicks like American Pop and Coonskin and given his escalating inability to work within the system, an initiative like Kickstarter is the perfect way for him to raise capital. He’s currently working on a series called Last Days of Coney Island with pledged voice work from folks like Matthew Modine and there’s some amazing incentives to pledge some dough here ($35+ for a Bakshi character doodle?). And I’ve talked about Ralph’s work here a lot of times, because Wizards, Fritz the Cat and Lord of the Rings, plus shows like his Mighty Mouse redux had such a big impact on me — if you don’t know who he is, educate yourself immediately by picking up a copy of Unfiltered and reading this interview with him from a year ago. The sketches and imagery from Last Days of Coney Island look pretty good so far.

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Does anyone else recall Champion’s Japanese licensee putting Champion on some extremely underwhelming hiking boots in 1995 to capitalise on a boom in hiking heritage? I thought I dreamt it until I pulled out this old ad again. They really did a number on the iconic ‘C’ right there.

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SLACKING

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Just a couple of days into New year and I’m already slacking. For that, I apologise. Blame my addiction to Christmas gift autobiographies and biographies. I’d sooner read Schwarzenegger’s tale of smashing a chair from the Napoleonic era to pieces while accidentally falling backwards as he took his trousers off, or discover that a 9-year-old Slash was taken to see Iggy Pop in a psychiatric ward by his mother and David Bowie than do much writing. When I’ve sated my ink (and pixel) lust, my work rate might be up again. Or I might put this blog to sleep for a while to proceed on another project.

I’m also trying to watch the atmospheric and deliberately paced ‘Berbarian Sound Studio’ (the fictional Italo-horror film opening titles, ‘Suspiria’-style witch impressions and studio logo alone makes it worth watching) while I write this. Something’s got to give. All I can offer you is a load of offcuts from a Champion-related post I put up here a couple of years ago — 1930s ads when it was Champion Knitwear, with the Champion Knitwear Mills store triumphantly talking of acquisitions from another sportswear store (the Gennessee Sportswear store from the same street), giving away a $15 Wilson tennis racket, optioning a suede wind breaker as a holiday gift and reminding us that, in their earliest days, Champion made leather jackets, plus a 1960s ad looking for a plant manager and a 1980 ad for the legendary Reverse Weave apparel.

There’s a lot of history to the brand, but in the brief interim between this blog and whatever the last entry about the brand was (and this blog was practically a Champion fan site), I’ve given up any hope of Champion mustering a modicum of integrity or sense of premium with its European licence. Miracles can happen on the brand front, but you miss heritage opportunities as well as a high-end preoccupation with all things fleecy, casual and cosy, that’s when you’re officially lost. At least Champion Japan knows what time it izzzzzzzzzz…sorry, I’ve repeated that point so often that I just dropped off.

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After years of throwing up scraps on Harlem’s own Dapper Dan up here, his Tumblr-based reappearance (perfectly timed, and I’m assuming it was down to his son’s realisation that his pop helped create a substantial slice of authentic street culture that even the brands he bootlegged have been eating off lately) has ushered in some more comprehensive information on the man and the store. We should be excited that ‘Cocaine Cowboys’, ‘Broke’ and ‘The U’ (plus the impending ‘Dawg Fight’ on Kimbo Slice’s former bodyguard, exploring the backyard fighting scene) director Billy Corben recently tapped him up for an interview.

The new ‘Sneaker Freaker’s more shoe-centric Dapper Dan conversation is cool, touching on some AF1-related topics, teaching me that the Fat Boys’ shoes on the ‘Crushin’ cover were commissioned Nike customs to match the Dapper Dan garms and that he reworked some New Balance 572s, the shoe that was huge in the UK for a minute in UK-made form circa 1998 alongside the 576. A strange choice for a custom shoe — maybe I need to investigate the origins of that model right here in a future post. Maybe my declaration of this blog’s possible conclusion was a little premature.

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WINDPROOF

This blog should probably become bloggingaboutchampiongearidontownagainandagain.com, but it’s my blog, so if I want to get stuck in the mud and dwell on one topic, I will. Nobody told me about the existence of this sweatshirt — I knew about last year’s Stussy collaboration on that slightly fussy M-65 style tracksuit employing Windstopper, but this ARMY Reverse Weave hoody in Oshman’s is the best Champion Windstopper design yet. Trying to give basic fleecewear technical properties is problematic. Angular, stiff fanciness defeats my primary purpose for putting a sweatshirt on. If a DWR treatment can’t sustain regular washes, it’s pretty pointless and if you can’t breath through the sweatshirt, it becomes a suffocateshirt. Water resistance has never worked for me on these garments, but Gore’s Windstopper protection layer makes sense and doesn’t infringe too much on the hand feel of a sweat. It’s good to see two technologies with over 50 years between them (I think this might be the Windstopper patent, a technology that officially debuted around 1992 while the 1938 patent here is a Champion one that seems to be focused on a Reverse Weave style technology). Pop fastenings on the collar, ribbed side panels, minimal vertical shrinkage, but annoyingly small Japanese sizing — everything that intrigues me about the work from a licensee that just does its own thing with a certain finesse.

The ‘Vintage Menswear’ book by Josh Sims and The Vintage Showroom’s Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett is good value for money. If, like me, you lay down £20 on a Japanese magazine covering similar ground just to gaze at the photos, the 130 items here and accompanying copy is a nice antidote to keep on the shelf. I’m still stuck in the military chapter, where reversible German mountain parkas, custom military greatcoats, eccentric footwear innovations, a truly remarkable Aero Leather company B-7 sheepskin flight jacket and a lot more deliver enough insight for an idea-free clothing brand to get at least 2 years of designs out of it. The notion that the British Army’s Paratrooper’s denison smock was painted with a non-colourfast ink so that it might fade in enemy territory and give the wearer a different kind of concealment by letting them blend in with civilians (though it’s just a rumoured innovation) fired my imagination. I had no idea that the reddish applications to brushstroke camo on the Indian Army paratrooper’s smock dated back to the 1940s — I thought they were a 1970s treatment to the (to tie it to the Windstopper talk, the Denison jacket design’s spinoff was the lighter Windproof smock) pattern. All of which goes to show that I know nothing about camouflage. Go buy the book and get educated — it’s bitesize pieces rather than an exhaustive history of anything, but the spotlight on the details.

Who else used to buy magazines for the tapes? ‘NME’, ‘Select’ and ‘Melody Maker’ seemed like better value for having them on the cover, even though I never listened to them. ‘The Source’ had a good Rush Associated Labels one attached in 1994 and on buying ‘Fantastic Four’ #376 in a mysterious polybagged pack for the tape, I was introduced to the mighty ‘Dirt’ magazine. Then dad-mags like ‘Q’ got all fancy and stuck CDs on their covers and by 1996, the cover cassette was done. Few genres justify continual use of a long-gone, labour intensive object like the audio cassette like doom metal does, and UK-noise bible ‘Terrorizer’ gave away a couple of CDs this month, but throwing Dorset-based stoner-doomers Electric Wizard’s new EP in as a tape was a glorious flashback to the newsagents of old. It was a shame that only select issues got it. It’s also a damned shame that I don’t own a tape deck any more.

STAPLE BRANDS

Pressed for time because of freelance work, so why not fall back on two failsafes — All Conditions Gear and Champion? ACG as a full subdivision may be gone (though every time you see a sealed seam jacket from Nike, the spirit lives on) , but it’s still part of of the footwear offerings at trend level. Here’s a few non-ad images of some interesting moments in ACG history — Trip Allen is a crucial part of the old ACG squad and according to legend, he was one of the pioneers in applying some truly insane colours to shoes that remain scorched into my retinas for reference in far too much of my work. I believe (looking at the sketch) that he was heavily involved in the Terra ACG design — a pioneering moment for the brand that may or may not have aided in the genesis of the non-ACG Terra trail running range you might have lusted after in the late 1990s. The Terra ACG’s speckles and wildcard orange and pink were decidedly peculiar at the time too. The packaging for the Nike Thermax Underwear that I believe dates back to the early days of ACG (I like the “Clothing as equipment” copy too) is well executed and captures the commitment to it at the time. Moisture wicking ACG underwear is a rarity nowadays, but these are some of the most aesthetically appealing thermals ever made.

Why does Champion’s Japanese licensee get it while the others don’t? Admittedly it’s a country where a heritage wing could actually prove profitable, but to see this brand plastered on tat in the UK is depressing. Like Fila, it’s an opportunity wasted and while Champion always was a fairly affordable brand compared to the Italian premium sportswear of the former, it seems the original point was lost in a variety of acquisitions and wheeler dealing. Even Russell Athletic seems to be slowly getting its shit together in this territory while former champions flounder. Pop-ups and spaces are usually a good reason to ignore an email invite, but the collegiate-themed Champion Bookstore in the Shinjuku branch of Oshman’s (itself a franchise of a mostly-gone US sporting institution that became Sports Authority — not dissimilar to how Shibuya’s mighty Tower store keeps standing) looks tremendous and captures the essence of what makes the brand great. Cotton fleece heaven with a history lesson worked in there. This kind of thing and the nanamica x Champion masterpieces of loungewear maintain this brand’s magic. Everyone else seems intent on sticking a ‘C’ on cheap accessories. Sadly, I can imagine what proves the most profitable.

BASICS

Blogging your blagging is the epitome of douchebaggery, but some things are too good not to mention. At an event earlier in the year, the OTW goodie bag wasn’t your average tote bag print-up. The tote bag’s become the norm, but I think I’ve stockpiled a complimentary tote for every man, women and child on the planet, which pretty much defeats the re-use purposes of a cotton carrier and almost certainly missed the eco-friendly point. I can’t carry one around casually either, unless it’s a post-purchase trip back — they still look like shopping bags for the fey or elderly to me — I need something that hangs from the shoulder. As a result, I have no qualms about rocking the man bag. Round my way, every ‘yoot’s getting all JJB-metrosexual with a tiny Nike bag containing whatever ‘yoots are carrying these days inexplicably near their armpit. This OTW bag > blog-dandies with camo tote. Everybody’s doing a camo now, so it makes sense to explore military build rather than the stealth aesthetics, which, through sheer ubiquity at tradeshows and on store shelves means camouflage is starting to become invisible to me — mission accomplished, I guess.

Vans win on two scores – implementing the work of Mr. Rob Abeyta of Dual Forces as part of an OTW project and — in a very Dual Forces move — ditching the anonymity of the tote in favour of some mil-spec, US-made army standard baggage. I believe this bag is a DF spec take on the SO Tech Mission Go Bag — a bumbag, shoulder bag and seemingly indestructible creation that acts as part of a modular system. Made to ride below armour, and from a design that seems orientated towards combat medics, but it also seems targeted towards (no pun intended), snipers and anybody wielding a tiny military Panasonic laptop. Big, idiot-proof zips and plenty of space, plus plenty of pockets (Lexdray still get my vote of most insane amount of pouches, compartments and hidden stuff — I lost my phone for an hour in one of their backpacks) makes it a fine camera case. Special Operations Technologies are the real deal (“Built to Survive the World’s Worst“), constantly reworking existing designs, deliberately overbuilding their goods, using heavy threads and not skimping on their Cordura deniers.

Los Angeles based and kitting out every Hollywood film of recent years with a military element, the brutal-sounding testimonials page on their site proves they’re not dropping their standards to get an end credit mention. Any brand that boasts of stocking, “the most obscure buckle designs” is my kind of brand. Salutes to Vans, Dual Forces and Special Operations Technologies. Other brands need to unleash the American-made mil-spec goodie bag too.

Whenever friends visit Tokyo, I always harass them to get me plain grey Champion US-made Heavy Weight Jersey shirts from Oshman’s. These are my favourite tees on the market and with Mr. Michael Kopelman being one of the first I ever saw wearing one, it’s good to see that London’s The Hideout will be stocking 6 colours of the plain shirt from tomorrow. With import tax and all the rest, they won’t be cheap (the Real McCoys Champion tees, with the even older style branding and fit were an expensive proposition), but these shirts last and wear in nicely. If I was balling, all my UK sunny day shirts would be these. For NYC heat they’re not so good, because that thickness and softer lining borders on a semi sweatshirt feel. On the Oshman’s topic, their US-made UCLA tees are pretty amazing too. The difference between these and the cheaper ones is in the fact that the former are nigh-on unwearable unless you’re built like a brick shithouse. Even if you were a man mountain, I suspect they might look a little too blocky.