Tag Archives: fila


ufuW3TK - Imgur

Streetwear loves Wu-Tang. Over the last decade there have been tributes of varying quality that rarely come close to what Oli “Power” Grant and the crew did do help redefine rap merch with Wu Wear—complete with no less than four physical stores—as much as they did the hip-hop record deal. Wu Wear was pretty much played by the time it hit Virgin Megastores to coincide with Wu-Tang Forever, but that I hold it in similar status to a slew of pioneering black-owned brands of the era rather than mere tie-in is a testament to the Wu brand’s clout. These are hyper referential times and every cultish nook and cranny of rap culture has been cleared out and beamed into a broader spectrum. C.R.E.A.M. branded dairy products or a Liquid Swords washing up liquid complete with the ‘W’ logo wouldn’t surprise me right now, and that 1992 snowboarding pullover that Rae rocked is being rinsed. It’s the reappropriation of memories of one of the greatest reappropriated style moments ever. It might be considered quite meta in one way or another. It’s well documented—and I’ve probably upped at least 10 Wu-centric posts here before—that, in their day, the Wu-Tang were style kings who rolled en masse before the dissent kicked in. They were innately fly. In a world where collaborations are an increasingly tiresome currency and many rappers dress in various levels of shitty (awkward in leather, Karmaloop gift voucher, or 1998 called—it wants its denim back), it’s something of a lost art.

King collector DJ Greg Street is a man who seems to own everything, and a week or so ago, he made the video above where he showed Raekwon an array of merchandise from over the years. It’s entertaining stuff, but two things stand out—Rae seems completely unaware that most of this gear ever existed, and the man can fold a tee like a pro. Does he have a retail background*, an obsessive compulsive approach to his gear, or is this a habit borne of constant touring? The man could be working in Supreme with this commitment to keeping a shirt in order.

*Big up Ross Turner for noting that it’s a packing fold rather than a retail fold.



If you wanted to see bad iPhone images of book pages then you came to the right place my friend. I couldn’t be bothered to hunt anything new/old down tonight and because it’s nearly Christmas, books seemed relevant.

Joe Mansfield’s Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession didn’t disappoint — rather than trying to play completist, it picks the most interesting pieces of Mansfield’s collection and delves from there. The scattering of essays and interviews makes it a richer read, but those ads, old logos, typefaces and mentions of significant records made on each machine are an education alone. I never knew what a BOSS Dr. Rhythm DR-55 was until I picked up this book, but now I hear it all the damn time when I’m in new wave mode on iTunes. I’m looking forward to seeing what Get On Down publications puts out next — niche subjects presented perfectly are the stuff essential books are made of.



I know the Schott — 100 Years of an American Original book came out earlier this year, but I only got round to getting my hands on it. Anything Rin Tanaka is always worth hunting down, even if it always involves a hapless — and oft fruitless — bargain hunt to find it at a normal price. This is top five brand endorsed retrospectives of all time. A lot more brand would benefit from getting Tanaka to delve through his/their archives, but most don’t have the legacy of the Schott Perfecto. If you go around poking at your peers jackets and pretending that you know what you’re talking about, then you need this. The gallery of celebrity Perfecto wearers at the close of the book is a reminder that Schott’s period as a vaguely pricey nylon shelled jacket of desire for kids followed by a stint served on TK Maxx shelves was an unfair representation of the brand.




adidas’ 10 Years of Y-3 is one of those books that could have been phenomenal but ended up decent — with Yamamoto’s role with adidas looking like it’s deeper than ever and given his personal perspective is always deeper than the majority of other designers when they’re on the mic, the lack of dialogue from him was initially disappointing, but on a purely visual perspective, it’s proof of what happens when someone who can actually design gets free rein at a sports brand and there’s plenty of imagery of the shows going back to the beginning. Bar some comments from celebrity admirers and peers at the rear, it’s virtually wordless, but after the initial deflation, I have to concede that it suits the line’s approach. One day, everyone will look beyond the expensive slimline shoes that blokes used to wear with Armani denim round my way and concede that Y-3 was very influential indeed.




To conclude, here’s a picture of Stevie Wonder wearing a Fila tracksuit top, possibly during a British leg of the promo tour for Songs in the Key of Life. Even without sight, Stevie knew what time it was.




British skaters are getting it bad this week from the press. The week started with the usually likeable Billy Bragg defending the Southbank against those pesky kids and turning it into a class war (and getting himself thrown out of Slam City Skates for causing a scene) situation as part of the Southbank Centre’s decision to win a debate by rolling out people who incite you to flick to QVC when the crop up on the BBC’s Glastonbury coverage. To end it, the Evening Standard‘s ES magazine unleashed its own awkward take on skate chic, with puns in the header and a miserable looking model awkwardly clad in high-end and low-end cluelessness. A mall grab would have been the perfect finishing touch, because fake skater is very in right now — I haven’t seen these levels of grommet fashion section infiltration since the 1980s. This is the outfit that an undercover cop might sport to bust a skatepark weed dealer. Don’t be surprised if Julian Lloyd-Webber disguises himself in it for the next round of Southbank/skater skirmishes.

You can actually unsee the outfit above by spending some time reading this excellent Red Bull Music Academy piece on the Zoo York Mixtape and checking out the FWDMTN/Forward Motion auctions for Heart Research UK in memory of king of the North-East, Steve ‘Bingo’ Binks. If, like me, you eat off skate culture, but you don’t want to come off like the Evening Standard’s idea of a skater, then you owe it to yourself to click here or on the image to see the auctions, where there’s some Nike SB hype, Vans Syndicate rarities, signed reissue decks and some Supreme goodness to bid on. Salutes to all who put this together and contributed. This kind of thing is what pointless polemic in a broadsheet will always omit — skateboarding is one of the few activities where everybody knows somebody who knows somebody and in that can be used to raise some money for a good cause. R.I.P. Bingo and Bod.


Why is the Slam City affiliated Holmes brand that Russell Waterman, Sofia Prantera, Ben Sansbury and James Jarvis brought to life pre-Silas pretty much excluded from the internet? Looking for some of the old Jarvis Holmes catalogue reminded me of how much better the now defunct Select magazine’s Greed section was in showcasing gear that Slam City stocked. Back in summer 1994, this spread had me scheming ways to get hold of this shirt.


This guy’s 1989-era multiple brand bootleg sweatshirt is a crime against authenticity, but it’s so blasphemous that it reminds me of a happy time when Fila and Troop were way out your price range and this kind of thing was peddled in some fly-by-night retailers. The do-it-yourself pirate collaboration to end them all got phased out beyond holiday resorts eventually, but the brand gang bang prints went harder than most of the contemporary apparel from sportswear brands.



timdog1 timdog2

Farewell Tim Dog. I wrote excitedly about your Dateline appearance last summer and now you’ve gone. I know Tim never had too many lyrical smarts (the majority of the very poor Do Or Die album exposes them), but for we Brits, his 1991 debut and those Ultramagnetics affiliations made him a significant source of fascination. No disrespect to Dilla’s output and his legions of post-passing Stans, but the DJ Quik Beatdown Skit and the ram raided intro of Penicillin on Wax may have had more impact on my life than his entire output. Like some prime Rap-A-Lot of the era the album had it all — some smart sequencing, an appetite for beef, good production and the sexually explicit Secret Fantasies (that blew my pubescent mind and made me see Cindy from En Vogue in a different light) all made it a classic. Reinforcing my faraway vision of the Bronx as that grim locale that even Paul Newman couldn’t save, the album’s goon-laden sleeve shots and the artist’s jewellery-draped, sunglassed, flat-topped, stone-faced portrait in black and white is a classic.


Tim’s decision to call out NWA and even heist their NIGGAZ4LIFE opening was inspired marketing — before we had hashtags he had a campaign of burning Compton hats and tees with Fuck Compton that flipped the classic old English font (worn by his boys in Huaraches while he stood in a Giants Starter jacket). Calling out the west coast, Kwame, Vanilla Ice, Kid-N-Play and anyone with a pop inclination, Tim’s first album sounds like it’s about 150 years old in 2013, where the subliminal is excitedly dissected by sycophantic rap journalists and the crossover is no longer taboo. The Dog gets extra love for causing Compton’s Tweedy Bird Loc (they don’t make them like that any more) to let of lyrical shots in both his and NWA’s direction — a hip-hop bar brawl. After ducking out of a celebrity boxing bout prior to his disappointing follow-up, Tim’s Fuck Wit Dre Day response, Bitch With a Perm took two years to materialise and was barely listenable, followed by Make Way For the Indian a deeply forgettable duet with Bhangramuffin sensation Apache Indian. And that was pretty much that.

The last Tim Dog track I paid attention to was the strange and amazing 29 second A Visit to the Zoo skit from his Big Time album with Kool Keith…then nothing. Until he appeared on MySpace trying to sell a 5-CD Greatest Hits compilation, despite possessing an EP-length quantity of hits (and that would be pushing it), before getting his Madoff on with gullible, lonely ladies. He also promoted his book, Who Killed Hip-Hop on his site (“Pre-order the book now and get 3 TIM DOG Mixtapes for free”). I had no idea that he recorded two more albums either. In some ways, Tim deads that myth that lyrics were the only way to get ahead back in the day — he just seemed to get fame through knowing some talented artists and having a propensity for greasy talk (criticisms which could be leveled at several contemporary acts), but there was something about him that captured the era where every artist had to have a “thing.” Tim’s “thing” was uncut ignorance and that’s what made us love his work. Salutes to Ruffhouse and Columbia’s art department for coming correct with Pencillin on Wax — the early 1992 ad above has some of my favourite copy (The Source was full of ads with phenomenal, bombastic wordplay between 1991 and 1993) — in fact, it’s campaigns like this that made me want to be a copywriter. Rest in peace.


Once again (this entry really is a rehash of last July’s writeups), can Fila take a look at their 1986 tennis output and being back their premium status after over a decade of being dragged through the bargain boxes by bad licensing decisions? These designs are still phenomenal. Most brands trying to come back were barely there in the first place, but you wore. Actually, seeing as Fila would almost certainly be dragged into the lure of collaboration blog inches by some marketing dude who just heard of this really cool thing called “sneakerheads”, maybe it’s best if they didn’t.


The T-Shirt Party project with photographer Tom Beard includes a shirt with some Notting Hill Carnival goers wearing the Air Max 90 properly. Even the forbidden mix of stripes and swoosh looks better than any carefully structured streetwear “fit.” All the minds behind the project have a strong idea of London style — the kind that doesn’t seem to get much blog shine in favour of some synthesised perceptions of what kids actually wear.



Recycled material from the hard drive today, with a Tyson-centric theme incited by talk of Roy Jones Jr. scheming a bout with Kimbo Slice, thus devaluing boxing to the point where it might as well involve kangaroos like a 1950s British fairground. If I had my way, the majority of posts here would involve Kid Dynamite anyway. ‘Spin’s January 1991 meeting between LL Cool J (on the back of ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’) and a post Douglas-defeat Tyson is excellent. The “Neither of them have ever heard of Morrissey” line in the intro is a nice start and the topics discussed are pleasantly incendiary, linking boxing and hip-hop and scattering it with a few choice bits of trivia along the way. It’s a bit like classic ‘Source’ meets ‘Playboy’ in terms of content. The ‘Wild, Wild Haircut Craze’ piece from a 1989 ‘Ebony’ uses Mike’s ‘Killer 1’ cut as the starting point to talk step-up flattops and “channel cuts.” The images of Tyson (wearing a Fila track top) and Ali, Tyson being congratulated by Eddie Murphy (who’s at a career point between the mild flop of ‘Another 48 Hours’ and the resurrection that was ‘Boomerang’) and an older shot of Mike proving that espadrilles are for players if you’re built like a brick shithouse and wear a chunky anklet with them. TOMS wearers are still bellends though.


If I had to single out one moment that sent me down the curious route of amassing sportswear with a certain intensity, it was a moment in the late 1980s where I stared in amazement at a kid walking out of a parked Rolls Royce with a man in full baller Saudi Sheik attire and two presumed bodyguards into onetime stronghold of premium sportswear, Lillywhites and stacking up at least fourteen Fila tracksuits with a £170 youth size RRP for each set. At the time, it may well have been the single most powerful display of wealth I’d ever witnessed. Fila was powerful. I don’t recall seeing anyone wear Fila in my hometown (though terrace culture revisionism seems to have several people claiming to have owned pieces) during the early 1980s, but it was a brand spoken of in reverence. It even had a car, in the shape of the Ford Fila Thunderbird from 1984 (not as premium as the MCM Jeep, but pretty impressive nonetheless, with the ‘F’ displayed as a badge at the rear and those classic colours.

Those bootleg tees with the rainbow fade that incorporated a cluster of illegally boosted logos always had the Fila logo next to BOSS and Valentino – this was something that seemed to be a tier above the Nikes and PUMAs; something completely unattainable. Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Cerruiti, and Valentino made sweatshirts and tracksuits for rich James Spader-esque jerks to play tennis in or wear to the alps because they were too damned rich to bother with cheaper workout wear – Fila was as close to a high-end brand as I ever saw sportswear get, just as the likes of Gucci were dumbing out in 1984 with athletic offerings for the wealthy. Bjorn and Boris were the right guys to be repping it, but less legal co-signs elevated it.

Appropriately, Fila became some top-tier hustler gear, but while ne’er-do-wells have endorsed some crap over the years just because it was expensive, Fila’s designs were strong (the T1 is untouchable). The DOC got his break in the Fila Fresh Crew before the NWA affiliations, Bed Stuy based Jaz O and Prince Markie Dee affiliate Fresh Gordon of the Choice MCs was a Fila fan who dropped ‘My Filas’ as a Run-DMC diss that popped shots at the shelltoe and stole their branding for his album cover, while Lo Lifers Fi-Lo and Ant-Lo wore Fila rarities religiously. The ads at the time brag about the price, with some Stella Artois ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ elements to the campaign, but press reports of kids being maimed and killed for T1s meant that some stores pledged not to restock. I doubt it was detrimental to the brand. The Fitness was another superior shoe too.

By 1990, colourful suede and nubuck F-13s and leather Trailblazers soared at pricetags we could nearly afford, and after a few months of wear in my Johnny-come-lately town, around May 1991, they were done and we were Jumpman preoccupied once again, hunting for the apparel to match the shoes. During that pinrolled denim and corduroy period, there were some Fila oddities on the market, like convertible aerobic looking silhouettes, and the Mindbender, Larry Johnson endorsed FX-100 and 1993 Cage basketball shoe were all interesting. Grant Hill gave the brand a spot of extra longevity, but they just seemed to fade away. Terrible ads for a White Line vintage range with Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan — patron saints of mockney mediocrity with a voiceover — in the adverts, oddly timed Wu hookups, more Borg retro work with blokes trying to pretend they were “casuals” once upon a time and the South Korean takeover in 2007 seemed to dead the brand’s premium aspirations entirely.

Looking at the JD Sports and Sports Direct positioning of the brand, licensing has rendered it as a budget offering. That’s not without success —the F13 and £14 Foggia Hi in lurid colours are a popular shoe round my way among the younger generation, which is more than a lot of more well-known shoes have managed in market penetration, but it’s a long, long way from the brand’s late 1970s and 1980s industry clout. Brands like Ellesse (though that Wood Wood project did a good job of channeling the brand’s older essence) have been killed by mistreatment and careless licensing, but I still think Fila have a legacy that can be salvaged at some point. On my visit to NYC this week I was a little disappointed at the lack of shoe variety on display — nothing but retro Jordans and the rare, refreshing glimpse of LeBron Lows and Nomos. I reckon if I’d clocked a pair of T1 Mids on some feet during the heatwave days, I would have lost my mind. I’m sure from a profit angle, Fila’s doing fine, but I’m sad to see the aspirational ambience stripped away to end up on the bargain bucket list — fallen luxury at its finest. Fila was not meant to be the people’s brand — that was for the Golas and Hi-Tecs. Fila needs to get snobby again.

‘Brooklyn Bound’ magazine looks like a pretty interesting project. Focusing on the borough that dwellers swear is the centre of the universe, itself part of a city that residents adore, it seems to be a celebration of everything Brooklyn with former ‘Vibe’ and ‘XXL’ man Benjamin Meadows-Ingram as editor (who I believe, hails from Memphis) and Jeff Staple as creative director, plus Sophia Chang on art direction, the subject matter could yield strong results. Everyone seems to be hopping onto print at the moment, but a central regional concept might give this a point-of-difference from every other attempt to make the paper thing work.

Harold Hunter in Filas in Zoo York’s ‘Mixtape’


“You’re pint-sized, I’m Mike’s eyes with the gladiator tattoos on it.”
Nas, ‘Nazareth Savage’

“I freak beats, slam it like Iron Sheik/Jam like a Tec with correct techniques.”
Nas,’It Ain’t Hard to Tell’

This post is dedicated to the memory of the MacBook Pro that just passed, taking away imagery for a planned post and making me improvise with hastily cobbled together entries like this. Iron Mike‘s Instagram image of the big man stood alongside the Iron Sheik at the end of last week was — and I’m not being ironic here — one of the best pictures I’ve seen in years. This was a meeting of two of my favourite people who’ve grown up but not lost their capacity to entertain. The Sheik’s wild threats via twitter live up to his wild image of old, namechecked by Nas and authentically unhinged in a heavily rehearsed realm, and Mike Tyson is a man who seems to have emerged from the darkness, the family tragedies and the apparent catharsis of James Toback’s ‘Tyson’ documentary a changed man — less the rent-a-thug or genuinely unnerving thousand yard stare of his appearance in the Wu-Tang heavy mess of ‘Black and White’ and more of a controlled presence that seems to be in on the jokes. I’m not a Tyson apologist, but I’m a fan of his fights, his respect for boxing history and willingness to bare his soul. He’s a complicated character and the current woeful state of heavyweight bouts has me nostalgic for the Mitch Green scrap outside Dapper Dan and even contemporary Mike meltdowns like the Lennox press scrap (now that’s how you brawl at a press conference — it isn’t a real brawl unless legs get inexplicably bitten) and the threats at journos. That’s the raw side of a warrior mindset, but the Haye and Chisora dust up’s use of props was straight-up WWE behaviour.

In fact, I’d rather watch WWE than watch the aforementioned pair fight. At least I’ll respect the fighters more. Long after Mike’s 1990 WWF refereeing replacement for a Hogan and Randy Savage bout in favour of an unexpectedly victorious Buster Douglas, and several years after his wild post-jail antics seemed to be an influence on the Raw-era he was given WWE Hall of Fame status at the weekend. And it was here that two legends met. That image of them together is a classic Mike image beyond the ring — up there with his meeting with Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1991 clad in flamboyant knitwear, his late night Wheaties run in a particularly fly Fila tracksuit, ‘LIFE’ magazine ‘s shot of him in an MCM and Rolex combo, plus the entire ‘Sports Illustrated’ shoot from 1985 (note the Etonic Mirage on his feet in the pigeon coop) for the January 6, 1986 cover story (which you can read here), where a 19-year-old Kid Dynamite greets well wishers and chills with his pigeons. A hero meets a hero. I’m just surprised that when these two legends met, the universe didn’t implode in honour of them. There’s a few personal favourites below, plus a heavily watermarked picture of Webster in Air Jordan Is from the 1987 ‘Webster’ episode with the Tyson cameo.

Continue reading IRON MEETS IRON


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.