Tag Archives: Champion

A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS

On peeping the Nike archive in Beaverton late last year, I made so many mental notes that my memory seems to have crashed since, fragmenting the amazing things that I was shown. I remember Air Trainer Max with a 180 unit, some sketches of the Air Safari, with it looking more like a loafer of some kind and some BWs that looked like they were built for a memory — those are just extracts of a blur. One thing that leapt out was that Nike’s apparel was strong from the early days — I’d been led to believe from books like ‘Swoosh’ that apparel was a weak point until the early 1980s. Incorrect. Displayed in lockers, there were some pristine examples of excellent design.

The morning before visiting, I put my camera to the side, assuming I would get it smashed to smithereens if I so much as aimed it. On arrival, Dan (who does an excellent job of looking after the Department of Nike Archives) asked me where my camera was. That’s one error I may take to the grave. If my spirit has to tread mournfully through corridors, I want it to lurk in that vast, dusty, shoe-stacked space.

In that maelstrom of geekery that was the Nike archive tour, I managed to forget something significant. Champion x Nike pieces. Of course, I’m overstating the nature of the garments, because Nike were — quite rightly — focusing on footwear to start, in the mid 1970s, they printed a few (presumably rush made) designs on Champion Reverse Weaves, tees and polos. They did the same with Hanes and Russell Athletic too, but it’s bizarre to see two brands so close to my heart in a solitary piece of apparel. It was ‘Lightning’ magazine’s peerless ‘Nike Chronicle’ issue/book/bible (shouts to Russ and Koba) that reminded me of that sighting. It’s the greatest (sweatshirt) story never told.

If you haven’t checked out isysarchive.tv yet, then you’re slipping. Yeah, everyone’s making a blog about trousers or retros of retros of reissues, but very few are getting to the crux of the cultural context or even reflecting what anybody in the real world actually wears beyond clusters of circle jerks in beige and khaki single-gear hotspots. These folk are doing a good job of trying to capture the realer stuff. I need to get off my arse and write something for them, because they’ve asked me nicely loads of times and I keep stalling. They just upped an interview with Matt Wolf, who directed the impending ‘Teenage’ documentary based on John Savage’s excellent book.

I have to shout out Sharma from WAH for creating a format I copied for this blog when she dropped knowledge on Raiders caps many years ago and for giving me an uncorrected press copy of Savage’s opus back in 2007 — it was an education, and I loved the image of a “typical” Mancunian hooligan in the late 1800s, with “narrow-go-wide” trousers, an elaborate belt buckle and a peaked cap in an early example of sensationalist scaremongering with regards to the younger generation. I would love to see a “professional scuttler” on SBTV spitting bars about their crime life.

My people at MOTHERFUCKING Patta have relaunched their website with a little blog to accompany the e-commerce and other good stuff. Patta and Precinct 5 man dem are family, and it’s worth noting that they just upped a link to the first ‘Luffie Duffie’ from DJ Edzon. I hope they up the old Patta Mix Tape from the same year too. People need to know that there was once a time – not too long ago – when sneaker references on a freestyle weren’t the corniest shit ever.

While we’re talking about real gs on the European side of things, Thomas Giorgetti gets shit done. If you haven’t seen the screwface he administers at the mere thought of a Jordan II that isn’t made in Italy in the ‘Sneakerheads’ documentary, you’re missing out. That’s the sneer of a connoisseur. From graffiti to creating something that’s more than another workwear line or fey facsimile line, Bleu de Paname keeps with the power moves and this Visionnaire video is good. I like how Thomas ties graffiti to the most prominent of his current occupations. ‘Lil’ Tyler’ magazine doesn’t get the recognition it deserved — the father of many styles.

THE HATE LIST 2010

I love Christmas. This blog might paint me as a curmudgeon of sorts, but Darlene Love’s on iTunes right now begging a lover to come home for the festive season, the radiator’s on and the tree is decorated. That still doesn’t excuse the amount of crap out there that’s aggravated me lately. I’m attempting a hate amnesty to prepare me for some uninterrupted joy these next few days. At the moment, there’s end-of-year polls everywhere….sometimes it’s nice to Grinch it out a little. What can I say? There’s a lot of crap out there that inexplicably gets some sort of pass somewhere down the line. Plus it’s Festivus—in line with Frank Costanza’s vision, it’s time for the airing of grievances…

1. PRs & Twitter: Bad Combination

You can just envision the smug schmoozers bamboozling some overpaid imbecile with a marketing budget that their tinpot PR firm can work the social media angle as well as making their brand look great in the “real world.” You see, social media is very important. You need to interact with consumers. This means an “RT” prefix or out-and-out forward of any mention of the brand by anyone…rich, famous…to quote Johnny Mathis on baby Jesus himself, “Black, white, yellow, no-one knows”…just as long as it ticks a box for the PR.

It fills timelines with the same old shit and frequently makes a brand that was desirable seem common as muck, even if the sales figures stay niche. There’s brand awareness and there’s splattergunning important things (please…never interrupt my WorldStar Hip-Hop updates) with the same press release in a new minimized URL or even a solitary mention of the brand/store/record in question. I swear I’ve seen some individuals converse with themselves under two accounts—one with their name and the other as a brand. Remember that Diana Ross TV-movie where she had voices in her head? This was even better.

2. Brands & Stores Getting Too Familiar

Social media can be excellent for engaging with customers, but like (and presumably connected to) the ruinous slew of overeager PRs mentioned above, does anyone find some previously aloof brands and retailers have become ultra-chirpy online? Go to a one-day seminar and some guru will tell you to befriend those customers and babble about a positive online experience. This is true; a friendly line of communication with an entity can make me a customer for life, but too much engagement, talk and worst of all, the dreaded! exclamation! mark! online can make me feel like you might have lost your edge. There’s a certain aloofness that might secure longevity. Now stores that sneered at you on entering are electronically-hugging you. Probably best to check your wallet and make sure you haven’t been e-pickpocketed.

3. The Collaboration That Isn’t

It’s not enough to twin with a brand anymore…now the very thing you’re printing on is a partner. Those old Supreme sweats and Electric Cottage tees on Champion or Very Apes on Camber always seemed incidental. Now if you print on Champion, it’s a bonafide collaboration. I suspect the Supreme Hanes hookup came out of jokes about a similar subject. Where’s the Fruit of the Loom and AAA dual-brand pieces? The anonymity of a de-tagged shirt seems to be a thing of the past. Now it’s a custom one or a half-baked colab. Only last week I chatted with my buddy Nick Schonberger aka. Paul Wall, who maintained that once upon a time a Pendleton collaboration would have just had a “wool” prefix.

4. When Heritage Goes Wrong

You can’t pop too many shots at what’s ultimately well-made gear. Should you look in the mirror and realise that you look like a rag and bone man rather than Jack on campus in ‘Carnal Knowledge’ you can always dismantle that brown, wool and beige ensemble in the knowledge that it’ll stay wearable in years to come. But brands launching heritage lines which never existed is just odd. What should have carried a certain resonance from man hours of manufacture just ticks a box. I love Ben Sherman’s old shirts…they were a clever reaction to a homegrown desire for Brooks Brothers shirting back in the day. I don’t understand why they needed to release a “modern” heritage collection of Albam-lite instead of dwelling on the classic stuff. “Photo essays” of men in the country on a tie-in blog? Check. “Select” retailers? Check. Apathy beyond a circle of sycophants? Check.

5. Addressing Rumours

Having grown up hearing about rappers punching journalists, each other and putting record execs in headlocks, shootings outside HOT97…even R&B dudes snuffing Q-Tip at industry shindigs, it’s hugely disappointing to see rappers “addressing” things on video uploads for anything. Rap loves gossip, but when mean-looking dudes are talking about their reaction to a mild affront on Twitter, something’s gone very wrong. Hastily compiled “reactions” via Twitter are the downfall of good rap journalism, but the hip-hop world needs to take it to DM or pay the supposed protaganist a visit with some heavy metal in hand. Stop this soft behaviour. When Jeezy claimed that Twitter “sounds a lot like snitching,” he wasn’t wrong.

6. Stop the Sneaker Prefixes

My Scandinavian and Australasian friends know this isn’t directed at them, but I saw several awful cash-ins on the sneaker collecting ship that sailed a long time ago with “sneaker” prefixes this year. Sites, events apps…gimmicks that people emailed me about and I ignored. I love shoes more than I’d probably like to admit, but I saw some of the corniest contact messages I’ve seen in half a decade. The notion of a standalone “sneaker personality” for personality’s sake is odd to me. But looking at YouTube views I suspect I’m in the minority.

7. Please Criticise Something

I appreciate the wave of blog and Tweet positivity, but it can get a little too cheery. I don’t want to see unfocused rants (like this one) everywhere, but too much dead-eyed press release copy-paste is a bad thing. Mediocrity triumphs when good men do nothing. If you’ve got the apparent insight and self-promo savvy, why aren’t you criticising and contextualising? If you want to leap out of bed on an irritating god-bothering “Let’s get this money!” Diddy-lite tip, bear in mind that Sean assaulted Steve Stoute and apparently beat down Positive K before he became so damned positive himself. You need to earn that right to be cheery. You might lose out on some free crap, but be honest once in a while—it feels good.

8. I Hate Your “Video Lookbook”

Put some bland looking men in duck canvas coats and backpacks. Film it. Edit it to the sounds of something experimental. Next to blogs featuring videos of any gathering of more than three people that had free alcohol, “video lookbooks” are the worst. Good idea, but just as “viral” became a misunderstood byword for shitty commercials to amateurish to run on TV, the moving lookbook ended up being some wankers wandering about looking shit because just as anyone with hi-def on a camera could film the things, anyone who could do up a zip became a stylist this year. Videos of magazines being flicked and free things being unboxed were also infuriating.

9. I Hate Your Tumblr

Nobody cares about this blog and nobody cares about the artful collection of images you found in an overpriced second-hand magazine. Type Gianni Agnelli into Google. Click “Images.” That’s basically your shit Tumblr, but better.

Here’s what I envision your Tumblr to be before I click the link—McQueen looking moody…a quote by Edward Tivnan on the perfect suit…a jpeg of a constructivist Norman Carlberg piece. Whoopee shit. Go tell your mum what you’ve achieved.

Fuck Yeah Menswear clearly can’t stand you. If your effort isn’t as good as Uncomfortable Moments With Putin or Eye on Springfield, give up.

10. Homogenized Style Blogs

There’s a lot of the same content with the same copy. Sometimes it’s faintly rewritten or butchered for SEO purposes. Sometimes there’s a faintly bemused selection of padded-out paragraphs for the sake of differentiation but it’s all the same. I don’t understand the PR mouthpiece blog onslaught. If you see it elsewhere, why bother? Some site even started something called the “Cravats” which seemed to nominate anything that ever mentioned a tweed tie for some kind of award. “I’m staying up late and getting the popcorn in! It’s Cravats season—the most important night in the men’s style website calendar.” It all blends into one fawning WordPress.

As well as wishing all of you a very merry Christmas (and non-denominational greetings to everyone else), just to counteract the negativity, the new ‘Proper Magazine’ just arrived. Where I’d simply enjoyed the level of content that Mark and Neil compiled with each issue, the look and feel was always pleasantly slapdash—the lengthy interviews and sense of humour (in a realm where humour is hard to find) compensated for that. With ‘Proper’ #10, there’s more pages and it’s perfect bound too.

A good complement to Oi Polloi’s highly amusing ‘Deck Out,’ the photos of Great Yarmouth took me back to my time at Hemsby’s  Sundowners Club as a kid, but the articles on Ian Paley, Takeshi Ohfuchi and Richard Gill’s extensive collection of old jackets (the Mountain Equipment Fitzroy is serious outerwear) are excellent. Increased irreverance to match the bulkier content includes a quiz to see how seriously you’re taking the blogs that’s startlingly on-point. Defiantly clobber led, there’s a vast market for the niche team ‘Proper’ has carved. It’s a far more fully-formed publication and I’m looking forward to where it’s taken in 2011. Good work chaps…

RUDEBOYS

We’re all guilty of living in the past, but the point when you developed a fashion awareness seems to leave an indelible mark on the psyche that means regressive revisits are an inevitability. That’s what seems to have put us in this retro rut where we just keep going back to the point where we’re rocking olde world railmaster attire. We’ll be in Dickensian garms before long. Beyond sports footwear experiences as a young ‘un, it was Def Jam patches on MA-1s, Suicidal Tendencies caps, Vision Streetwear and some regrettable lurid grails in the clothing stakes that really set me off. Then a Stüssy preoccupation and the rumours of Troops costing £150 followed by unwarranted racism allegations that effectively put that brand to sleep. The rudeboys round my way were the true style masters who really activated my preoccupation with apparel and footwear.

We’d had the piss-trickle of shit Le Shark, bad Hi-Tec Micropacer knockoffs and pastel trousers that casual culture instigated (the Italian Paninaro crowd played their part there too), but the terrace-inspired gear hit harder with a generation above me. I was transfixed by the ragga-inspired pinroll, Burlington, vast Chipies (or for us Bedford dwellers, Chipie copies from the market) and Chevignon (or as before, a knockoff with an appropriately Euro name) and the footwear oneupmanship. This rudeboy look never really seems to get the reverence it deserves beyond smirking “Do you remember?” forum threads, or regrets over hefty purchases that were immediately robbed or out-of-favour. I think it’s one of young Britain’s (alright., it’s a London thing) greatest looks. The parallels with so-called casual culture —the cost, the dole money, the rivalries and the swagger are there, but while it might not have sustained like a Massimo Osti masterpiece, at the time it seemed more youthful rather than teens dressing beyond their years. Rather than damage in an organized tear-up, the fear here was getting jacked on the shop doorstep after handing over colossal amounts of amassed coin.

Being a towny, by the time we got any trends, they were long gone in London. As a 13-year-old you could only gaze helplessly at ‘The Face’ and ‘Sky’ and see what you were set to get the arse-end of after it was onto the next one in the big city. Only kids as school with shotta bothers or guilty absentee fathers came close to keeping up, and that was sporadic. They’d be wearing the same Filas and puffa jackets for a few months too as a result and the awe would wear off. but still—and this is certainly the case on the trainer front—this was a peak. We never really moved on, and the ’94 Jordan reissues paved the way for us to churn out variations on a theme to the present day.

In the ensuing years we reverted to suede basketball shoes that harked back to 1968 and rocked check shirts, but boundaries blurred and subcultures seemed to merge. I’ve not seen a youth style as defined as the rudeboy look of 1990/91 emerge again. The worst casualty was oneupmanship, where wearing the same or even similar gear was frowned upon, and oddball choices would either win respect or crash and burn. But at least you tried.

Kevin Sampson’s piece on casual gear from ‘The Face’s August 1983 issue marked a turning point in the culture’s documentation (and the ensuing letters pages for articles on the topic were always hilarious), but ‘Ruder Than the Rest’ from the March 1991 issue, a Chipie-centric 14-page article written by John Godfrey, Derick Procope and Kark Templer, with some excellent location photography by Nigel Shafran was incredibly enlightening. Each postcode prided itself on their progressive style. Hammersmith kids dissed the South Londoners for tucking rather than pinrolling. Nobody was telling where they got their Vikings from. We were informed that, “If you’re into rap, if you’ve got a hi-top haircut and live in Harlesden, you’re known as a pussy.” By the time the article went to print, all-involved had almost certainly moved on in terms of lusted labels.

It makes me nostalgic for something in which I was never involved—something I merely admired from afar. I still feel it warrants more documentation.

CHAMPION JAPAN’S TEES

Fig. 4A. The label of the Champion Reverse Weave T-shirt

Stung by allegations of being a “sneakerhead” and a fashion blogger—both things I’d rather not be, I’m inclined to blog about nothing but Italian cannibal films for the next few months. But there’s actually better sites out there covering ‘Jungle Holocaust’ and other flicks where Me Me Lai does her thing. Additionally, I’ll be damned if these tees aren’t worth an unnervingly close look. Just when I thought I’d written my last entry pertaining to Champion apparel, they pulled me back in. Even more predictably, I’m blogging about a new acquisition. This is the kind of behaviour that makes me want to punch myself. Heritage preoccupation is getting stale, but those obsessives in the Far East who birthed this kind of lunacy keep unveiling things that get me excited. Like replicas of old Champion apparel.

Lest any allegations of being stuck in the past when it comes to Champion, I once got unnecessarily excited here about the purist-baiting big ‘C’ crewneck, and Champion products readily available in the UK and US are often undone by dimensions so odd, that only Brock Lesnar could fill out a sweatshirt. The tees are very, very poor on the whole. I’m prone to wearing the $7 jersey tee, but it’s an odd size. Long. Boxy. Big neck. Pretty piss-poor. I know what I’m getting with those neutral embroidered chest ‘C’s too. But the general fetish is for that little white/blue/red attached ‘C’ on the sleeve of a sweat or tee. And the quality there is a fucking minefield. As a rule of thumb, I don’t mess with anything that isn’t Japanese or US-made, bearing that branding. Glued-on ‘C’s are the worst.

My good friend Grace Ladoja went to Tokyo to do something with Carri of Cassetteplaya fame. Because I’m rude, I didn’t ask her what, but I’m guessing it was Swatch related. I don’t get to go to Tokyo very much, and I’m too mean to shell out my cash to fly there. Thus, I miss out on the pieces that shipping/taxes and Rakuten’s occasionally confusing nature block. I’ve said it here, and I’ll say it again. Japan still has things that slip under the radar sat on shelves there. Not even the all seeing blogsphere picks up on some good stuff.

But the jewel is still their branch of Oshman’s, a US retailer that was, like Tower, ailing in the States, yet somehow happily exists in Tokyo. Curious that Tokyo’s Tower and Oshman’s might be my favourite stores in the world, and they’re both imports, bolstered by some local obsessiveness. As an extra factoid, Oshman’s bought Abercrombie & Fitch in the late ’70s after they went bankrupt. It’s got some of the best Champion pieces on the planet, and the prices, even when the Yen’s got the Pound in a headlock aren’t too ludicrous. Grace brought me back a couple of tees I requested.

I never thought a t-shirt from Champion could tussle with some personal favourites, but I’ll say it right now— provided you can take the weight (RIP Guru), their Heavyweight Jersey MADE IN USA marl grey tee is the best grey shirt on the market. It weighs almost twice as much as a bog standard polyester/cotton mix one. You wouldn’t wear this as underwear unless you were looking for a heat stroke. But hey, different strokes for different folks. Why is it good? The marl patterning is more dramatic, the inside seems brushed for a softer feel than the outer, there’s at least some stitching visible beneath the ‘C’ (thicker and slightly more chubby than the pointier version on current Mexican-assembled gear) to stop it dropping off in a hot wash, and the neck is a laid-on ringer style one. It’s neither too tight, nor is it loose around the neck either. Being Asia-only, XL is an L equivalent, and it’s surprisingly non-boxy, with a relatively slim cut, but arms that aren’t up by your shoulder. ’50s style, but with some early ’70s style branding, it’s a thing of beauty.

It was actually Mr. Michael Kopelman, wearing a navy version of the same shirt, who put me onto the MADE IN USA variant. That ringer style neck is also present on Costa Rican assembled shirts, often used by Japanse streetwear brands in the late ’90s and early ’00s but they were wiiiide. And the fit was, like current sweats, Herculean.

Then there’s the other acquisition. What works for a sweat doesn’t necessarily work for a shirt. Take loopwheeled tees? I’ve got a couple. Overpriced, shrunk after a wash and the lesson was learnt. Actually it took a couple of disappointments to truly learn my lesson. But I hadn’t seen a Reverse Wave t-shirt before. Is it even an original Champion item, or some showboating using the Reverse Weave manufacture process? Until now. Presumably made in Japan (it’s unclear), this black shirt doesn’t have some of the finesse of the grey MADE IN USA— the neck, the stitching beneath the branding, but it is, in its own weird way, a triumph.

Almost…very, very nearly, a short-sleeved sweat in weight and curious details like ribbed side panel (on a tee?), you can see some interesting patterning in the cotton, and again, the underside is slightly softer, like half-arse fleece effect. It’s strange, but pretty appealing. The fit is borderline smedium, even in XL, but it fits nonetheless, and if “fitted” tees are your thing, that side panel gives it an effective look. I’m fairly certain it’s made in Asia because it isn’t theatrically boxy, and the neck is snug rather than hanging off the shoulders. I’d heard about the mysterious Reverse Weave tee in passing and by jpeg, but now I’ve got it in my hands, it’s another win for Champion Japan, while other regions seem to squander the heritage more than a little.

And as an unrelated finale, go check out the Palace feature at TMI. Not just because I wrote the intro, but because Lev is the greatest of all brand frontmen.

Fig. 1A. Made In USA label

Fig. 1B. Made In USA grey marl T-shirt

Fig. 1C. Made In USA grey marl T-shirt material

Fig. 1D. Made In USA grey marl T-shirt branding

Fig. 1E. Made In USA grey marl T-shirt, under the branding

Fig. 1F. Made In USA grey marl T-shirt, neck detailing

Fig. 1G. Made In USA grey marl T-shirt, inner and outer fabric

Fig. 2A. For reference, the material on a shitty 10% polyester mix Champion T-shirt

Fig. 2B . For reference, the neck on a shitty 10% polyester mix Champion T-shirt

Fig. 2C. For reference, the branding on a shitty 10% polyester mix Champion T-shirt

Fig. 2D. For reference, beneath the branding on a shitty 10% polyester mix Champion T-shirt

Fig. 3A. For reference, a ringer neck on a crappy Champion T-shirt

Fig. 4B. The side panel on the Reverse Weave T-shirt

Fig. 4C. The branding on the Reverse Weave T-shirt

Fig. 4D. The material on the Reverse Weave T-shirt

Fig. 4E. The Reverse Weave T-shirt (Apologies for camera quality)

WE NEED MORE INTEGRITY

Integrity. Where do you start with that one? They’re both the band that couldn’t play the game, go major and keep on giving the fans the same. admittedly ace album, and they’re something that at this moment I most certainly am lacking in. I’m currently writing a page for a magazine filled with bad brand shoes (not quite Gola, because that would be a step too far), because a Submariner won’t buy itself. That my friends, is a lack of integrity on a grand scale. I like to think this blog, in a small way, might restore my karmic balance for the former monthly deed.

So I’m devoid of it today, but INTEGRITY still carry that heavyweight reputation as the most progressive of hardcore bands – opening minds since 1989 while much of the scene degenerated into a sound that’s not too far from Durst and company’s rap/rock dreck, the 7″ vinyl packages that carry the band’s name this last month are impressive – the UK’s own Thirty Days of Night records is taking orders for a split-band release themed after the kids’ book and record sets of old, with a new INTEGRITY and Rot In Hell track on record one, an 8-page hardback children’s book written and illustrated by the mighty Dwid Hellion and another record of the man himself narrating it. Again, like the Freeway Rhymesayers release last month, if you want to move me from MP3 right-clicking, that right there is the way to do it.

It doesn’t stop there either. Organized Crime Records just celebrated the 20th anniversary of Integrity’s debut ‘In Contrast Of Sin’ with a beautifully packaged reissue – clear vinyl with the option of an additional cover reinterpretation from the mind of Stephen Kasner, a genius artist in his own right, and the supplier of the incredible sleeve art for SUNN O)))’s ultra-intense ‘ØØ Void’ and its glorious drone. It isn’t the first limited reissue of the record, and it won’t be the last, but it is the most legit to date. There was something the water around the Cleveland area. There still is. In coming months, ‘Those Who Fear Tomorrow,’ ‘Systems Overload’ and ‘Seasons in the Size of Days’ get the same packaging, with download codes for those picking ’em up for the packaging rather than play.

Music seems to have a calculated viral marketed, music blogged lack of edge at this moment in time, and Dwid’s work still doesn’t file those edges away. Pitched between recluse and an accessible figurehead of the scene, active on eBay and on related messageboards, he’s a talented artist himself, and having steered himself from quasi-jock rocker to something altogether stranger and darker, there’s no way of pre-empting where he’s taking Holy Terror Records.

In its current form INTEGRITY and affiliated acts like VVegas cause me a glorious confusion, with their Holy Terror gospel of individualism at any cost, deifying the likes of Charles Manson, Anton LaVey, Jim Jones, Shoko Asahara and Robert Degrimston, whose Process Church of The Final Judgement has provided plenty of iconography and philosophy ties with my preoccupation with these oddball outsiders. As a kid I was obsessed with an aerial photograph of the Jonestown Massacre in a Reader’s Digest book my grandpa gave me. Yeah, I was an odd kid. I think Dwid probably was too. Videos like this are just disturbing – cult propaganda doesn’t get much bouncier than this:

I never was a fan of the Psywarfare side-project, but the imagery was pretty astounding – Dwid still sells patches of his oddball Holy Terror Church MANSONFISH design and Process Church logos on his site. In many ways, I suspect I’m an enemy of progress though – as with most things, I seem to be set on returning to 1995, where, during the ‘Systems Overload’ tour, Dwid was resplendent in Jordan 1 reissues from the previous year and the tie-in t-shirt used Champion as the base. in fact, on the INTEGRITY merchandise thread (one of the most merchandised indie acts in history?) on the B9 board, forum member Mike Apocalypse recalls,

In 1995 INTEGRITY toured the U.S. for their “Systems Overload” record. When Dwid printed the shirts an error occurred. The shirts he used were Champion T-shirts and to get a fair price on them he had to got to a Champion outlet store. While picking up tons of T-shirts a XL muscle shirt, with a small tear in the back, found it’s way into one of the boxes by mistake. Dwid got back to the Den Of Iniquity and began to print shirts. When he got to the bottom of the box he spotted the muscle shirt. Not being one to waste things he printed it up, and tossed it in with the other shirts and then headed off on tour with the Melnick Bros, Frank 3Gun, and a fat dude. When GEHENNA played in Reno with them Dwid took notice of my impeccable sense of style and offered me the muscle shirt, and told me the story.

Thank fuck for INTEGRITY. Rejecting prescribed notions of sXe before it became a tiresome, regimented plague, bringing the experimentation without compromising the powerchords, and still harnessing enough energy to make you feel like running amok. Best of all, I still don’t quite understand their point-of-view. That’s part of the charm. By the time I do, I’m sure Dwid and company will have moved on. That’s why they stay vital. Love Bunni Press has got some great Clevo HC resources, including the first interview they ever did, from 1988, where they seem exasperated with the state of the scene,

Dwid –Let me say on the straight-edge tip, what I see it as, straight-edge was exploited, it was raped. It’s nothing now, it’s a joke, it’s a way to dress, it’s a haircut, and it’s a way to have generic beats.
A Double- I’ve seen bands where all they do is wear Champions and Nikes and are considered straight-edge.
Dwid – I’m ashamed to be straight-edge now.

There’s also an accompanying one from the following year where they express some Slayer and Cro-Mags admiration amongst the griping. Holy Terror’s got the albums up for download absolutely free. A lot of their contemporaries sound naive now, Judge excepted, but on a Judge-related tip, to quote Reinhold in ‘Fast Times…’ get acquainted with those MP3s – learn it, know it…live it.

NO MAS APPEAL

Edit – This Chris Isenberg interview by A Silent Flute’s Nat Thomson is worth your time.

Somebody make it stop. More PR blurb bouncing from blog to blog like a paragraphic echo over a 48 hour period, with loving descriptions of leather goods and other such gentlemanly matters, and the new spurt of non-groundbreaking sites pointlessly telling you how to dress in a shirt and a nice coat could have someone reaching for the Baxter of California Double Edged Safety Razor with thoughts of an afterlife.  Did some kind of poison gas leak causing mass delusions of stylist-credentials? Saddled with information to the point of apathy, stockpile your Rogue Status and Campbells tins, lock yourself away and pray for the next coming of the all-over print. Seriously, it’s no less excruciating from the outside looking in than those dark days. The “cool kids” are putting a time-limit on timeless. Yet some lines get slept-on in hypesville, but just keep on bringing it in terms of solid product, intelligently executed – like No Mas.

American sports that aren’t pugilistic can be a tough global traveller, undeniably exciting, but so steeped in stats and history, that they can prove impenetrable to an outsider looking in. The gear, megabudgets, the lurid presentation, glamour and frequent rap references make it hugely appealing though. There’s an aspirational quality to US sporting activities, from seeing Lil’ Wayne in human ESPN mode to the humble sweat in a generous jock cut. No Mas embrace sport culture, and at a global level, in all its forms. Scandal, rap references, the next generation, true legends treated with non-ironic reverence…all of it.

Like the west coast’s UNDFTD, always consistent on the design front, team No Mas channel their locale’s legacy, attitude and aesthetic perfectly. They had gems on Digital Gravel, but during a trip to the Union sample sale in L.A, where Chris Gibbs knew what time it was with the sample Stussy world tour varsity at £44 in UK money, seeing the No Mas ‘Former Champion’ project in the flesh, instantly created a No Mas fan. The brand’s name, seemingly riffing on the second Duran and Sugar Ray bout was cool, but stitching disgraced sportsmen’s names on the back of US-made Champion Reverse Weaves and  hand stitching  ‘Former’ before that familiar lettering felt like the fruits of a high-five laden bar conversation brought to life. They even added their spin on the original Champion tag. Now that’s dedication. The Dee and Ricky assisted collection of bags made from old ‘Starter’ jackets, retitled ‘Finisher’ was  clever too.

For the most part, we tend to skirt around the sporting origins of those grey fleece garments you’re rocking now by looking too close under the microscope (guilty as charged here your honour) at the direction of the stitch, the collar the cut and the authenticity or recreation rather than the utilitarian reason for being of, say, a sweatshirt, or a t-shirt…dwelling on day-to-day lifestyle instead of ever breaking a sweat seems to lose sight of the bigger picture. Chris Isenberg and Dan Larzelere founded the brand in 2004 based on pure passion for the subject matter, and the No Mas brand has grown into a media outlet too, whose updates are always worth your time – more on that later. Oh yeah – have a look at their guest-edited Frank151 from a few years back too for the ‘Illustrated History of Recreational Drugs in Sports.’

Like Supreme, the tracking down of relevant figures and official licensing dodges the cheapo pitfalls that left most streetwear brands floundering a few years back – currently, their use of the Wiffle Ball licence (an item recently marvelled over by a limey contingent in a Cleveland-based Dick’s store for its striking logo) on tees looks great, a collection of Ali shirt reproductions in association with Worn Free that aren’t tainted with the Superdry-style wack of so many other cotton garments bearing the man’s name, shirts dedicated to stubborn refusals to accept new ground names, and their sponsorship of Golden Gloves winning heavyweight Tor Hamer means tie-in gear too. Even after recent events, it’s tough to beat a ‘TYSON VS. GIVENS’ lettered zip-up.

The haymaker in the collection is the hookup with Everlast NY, and the reproduction of the EVERLAST NY t-shirt worn by the legendary Floyd Patterson during training. This isn’t bullshit nostalgia – this is a labour of love, seemingly made for the handful who know the deal with both fighter, and a legendary brand. It’s a shame it seemed to go under the radar, as it’s one of the most perfectly executed collaborative creations in some time.

Before this blog entry hops off the dick, back to the visual treats; the No Mas ‘Rumblevision’ project let James Blagden, David Rathman and Jerome Lagarrigue interpret key elements of the “Rumble In The Jungle” through animation. Victory is celebrated as often as misbehaviour in Isenberg and Larzelere’s world, but even the most non-sporting can appreciate Blagden’s visual interpretation of Dock Ellis’s LSD-addled antics. Seriously, just check out their YouTube channel.  If you were a fan of ‘Ben Younger’s fine debut, ‘Boiler Room’ aka. ‘Wall Street’ with added O.C. on the soundtrack, watch his ‘Hammer Of Tor’ Hamer documentary for Playboy TV in association No Mas. If your boss calls you up on it, just say you were clicking on it for the sporting documentaries.

www.nomas-nyc.com

SWEATSHIRT VALHALLA

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.

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PATENTS ARE A VIRTUE…

In recent months, Google’s LIFE image archive has been e-manna from e-heaven for lazy bloggers like myself enjoying a spot of search engine research. Given its prolific amount of images from throughout the decades, just picking at the bones of any assignment prior to 1969 in Europe or the States exposes some sharp looks and iconic images. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. The same applies to Google’s Google patents service – recently upgraded for easier retrival of imagery and a simpler summary of the filed, and ultimately issued, innovations incorporated.

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CHAMPION USA


Borrowed from http://xshirtsx.blogspot.com

Blog post from March 2009.

Champion apparel (even including locally, in early 1991, suede mid-cut footwear) is something I could eulogise about for a long, long time. Before you make the assumption from this and previous blog post, that I’m stuck in the past, honestly, I’m not. Not too much anyway. I’m not firing screwfaces at everything that’s released in terms of shoes, music and apparel either, but we are living in an age of mediocrity, elevating the mundane and poorly executed way beyond its deserved position.

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