Apologies for the lack of good updates on the site right now. We started 2014 so well then tailed off into rush-jobs. I’m currently working on a book project and some other things so I apologise for the dearth of anything substantial here (and an increase in nostalgia on what was already a pretty nostalgia-heavy slice of the internet). I would be too scared to ever submit my day-to-day goods to Hypebeast (apologies to Rav) for the scrutiny of the angriest men on Disqus. But if I put up the selection from a late 1999 issue of Vibe, they’d all fall back. Nobody should leave home without a Sega Dreamcast, Helmut Lang sunglasses, some adidas fragrance from Target, a T18z Ericsson phone and accompanying Ericsson Mobile Companion Flightposites, Sony Minidisc and some Joel Schumacher Batman & Robin looking Prada boots, all carried in a big Samsonite case. Beats a MacBook with a box sticker, token Submariner and Goro feathers, but that entry-level Vuitton bill holder was obligatory 15 years ago too.
Completing a week of being on the campaign trail, here’s a quick conversation between me and Hypebeast about a shoe. That’s the promo bit over and thank you to everybody who wrote nice things about that project. Now it’s done, we’re onto the next thing.
My dude Maxime Buchi has had the aesthetic of Sang Bleu jacked a few times in the last couple of years and nobody else is as qualified to peddle a curiously gothic, hip-hop, high-end clusterfuck as amicably as he can. Everyone’s on the skulls, Caravaggio, Jordans and black-on-black, but Mr. Buchi remains one of the few who manages to pull off the look without looking awkward. This is because that look is a perfect manifestation of his life’s work thus far. What he puts on paper and skin works just as well on cotton and after some dips into tees earlier this year, the SB London sweats and tees tie in with the London studio. If you’re gonna buy apparel with gothic typefaces and moody graphic design, go Sang Bleu rather than any toy post-Givenchy hype startups — Maxime contributed to Damir Doma, Balenciaga, Mugler and Rick Owens’ branding, plus he put Rick Genest on. You might have seen Kanye West clutching a copy of Sang Bleu recently too, so when Mr. West breaks out some SB clothing, all you Damir-come-lately types are going to hop on board. Plus it’s tattoo-related clothing that doesn’t look like Afflication and that’s something to celebrate — I’m glad to see one of the architects of a look is putting something out there.
Following on from the recent love letter to Oshman’s on here, Mr. Glenn Kitson kindly grabbed me the greatest socks ever on a holiday to Tokyo. Unnecessary, excellent packaging and all the details that make things from Japan inexplicably desirable makes these the antithesis of those three-packs for £5 they used to shift at Sports Direct.
I love what the Acronym brand stands for — defiantly progressive during a decade of staring back, never cheap, but (I’m guessing) not the most profitable of enterprises due to a zero-compromise approach to design which defiantly incorporates everything that a man in a suit and tie (rather than an overbuilt yet ultra lightweight asymmetric zipping GORE-TEX shell) would demand removed. Season after season, their videos have been as much a highlight as the product, with wearing the clothes becoming its own martial art — Acronymjutsu. Errolson’s graceful way with those straps, accessories has been the ultimate moving lookbook since he broke out the Blade II soundtrack for that ’04, realmadHECTIC affiliated promo. The VHS fuzz and Blade Runner reference on the last showcase was good, but Errolson being joined by director Ken-Tonio Yamamoto mid-way to a sample from Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza has made other Vimeos from brands trying to dress up gear look even lamer. The Yakuza has a place in my heart because my dad taped it for me back in the day and it imprinted finger-cutting, honourable goon stereotypes of Tokyo’s underworld into my mind at a fairly early age, with the soundtrack by Dave Grusin (who, in his career, was sampled many times — the best being Biggie’s Everyday Struggle) and tremendous opening titles. It aged well too. In subsequent years, Ridley Scott’s Black Rain would do the culture clash a little more crudely to warp me some more and when I finally got to see Kinji Fukasaku‘s Hiroshima-based Battles Without Honor and Humanity series, I got a little more insight into that thing of theirs. Then Chris D’s 800-page Gun and Sword (highly, highly recommended to my fellow inquisitive weirdos), an encyclopedia of the Japanese gangster genre, opened up a whole new world (cue the song from Aladdin) for me. But, as per usual, I digress — Acronym have the best lookbooks out there right now. Salutes to Errolson Hugh, Michaela Sachenbacher and Ken-Tonio Yamammoto. Check out the tech specs here.
I spoke to Supreme HNIC James Jebbia for issue five of Hypebeast Magazine. Don’t expect a sprawling conversation — from an informative one-hour+ chat we settled at about 1,500 words. When it comes to putting an interview on paper, James speaks with his brand, but there’s some jewels in there and it all looks pretty good.
Hype makes the industry tick. No blog buzz within 24 hours of launch? Disaster. Nothing gets time to breathe. I find myself laughing at peers picking up on something that went wall-to-wall on Facebook 48 hours prior, and it’s not something that I’m proud of. I’m convinced that the downside of this quick hit, tentacled notion of “street culture” is that while it might snake out far beyond printed tees (and my friend Mr. Marcus Troy made an interesting point on Hypebeast regarding the possibility that too many brands might be dwelling on an “over it” audience at the expense of an audience who want to wear caps, tees and hats, rather than washed-out, button-down blues), it doesn’t seem to take time to create any roots.
I also think that exposure to everything that goes down globally in ten minutes of browsing is homogenising local scenes. I still the joys of information overload provide benefits that outweigh that issue, but I felt it was something worth discussing, because when you turn into a miserable old fuck like me, you cease to create, and commence with utterly unnecessary introspect. Eugene at Hypebeast was kind enough to let me vent a little on the site about a lack of movements (though the title accidentally invokes my lazy way of life and approach to my career too), complete with a little disclaimer too for the site’s Op-Ed experiment.
Lest I look too much like an ageing hipster doofus, I wrote it a short time before the OFWGKTA movement truly went mainstream with the Kimmel and bug-chewing and I realised that nearly every hip-hop blog had become a redundant Johnny-come-lately. So please allow for the token trendy dad reference point. It’s the kind of unfocused ramble you might find here – mostly BlackBerry written and bearing my trademark cavalier approach to grammar. But the aim wasn’t another tiresome things were better in 19_ _ or 20_ _” rant, rather a query as to how cultures might progress in the abundant information age. You can find it here. The next Hypebeast crossover with this self-indulgent corner of the internet will be more focused, but it’s a fun opportunity I appreciate.
Any talk of HYPE also reminds me of the excellent 1989 Sports Illustrated article of the same name, talking about the relationship between sport and hyperbole, using the white leather jacket with “Don’t Believe the Hype” in gold and black across the back that Mike Tyson was fetching from Harlem’s Dapper Dan store at 4 in the morning when he ran into Mitch “Blood” Green and left him needing expensive sunglasses.
Just as the Lo-life gang’s illicit efforts popularized Polo, Hilfiger Nautica and The North Face in such a way that they altered street style forever, Dapper Dan deserves similar status — Gucci, MCM and Louis Vuitton can’t have been too pleased to see themselves bootlegged to the point where folk thought they might be making the madcap items taking pride of place on record sleeves sailing up the Billboard charts, but they created a brand loyalty and aspiration that’s made these houses a fortune. The Louboutin Swizz hookup and Kanye Vuittons are the by product of what “Dapper” Daniel Day was capitalizing on when he stayed open 24 hours for an audience of celebrities and the criminal minded back in the day.
Exclusive Game clothing are following that lineage with their gear for Jadakiss, Rick Ross and Diddy (check the custom MCM piece in the ‘Another One’ video) and anyone crying “FAKE!” might be missing the point. I only recently noticed that DJ E-Z Rock is wearing some customised Louis Vuitton monogram Air Force 1s in Janette Beckman’s 1988 photo shoot for the ‘It Takes Two’ album. Maybe I’d always been too distracted by the early Uptown sighting on an artist’s foot as well as that Dapper Dan tracksuit to pay full attention to the swoosh and heeltab. I always thought the designer fabric Air Force was a late 1990’s phenomenon, but this was Harlem style in full effect.
PHADE and the crew’s Shirt Kingz empire that ran relatively concurrent to the Dapper Dan movement with their printed sweats and tees deserves its props as part of the bigger contemporary picture now too. Mr. Paul Mittleman posted up some images of the crew’s heyday (I love the Safari sighting and some shots reiterate just how popular the Air Force II was — there’s some Assault action beyond the Fat Boys too) recently and it was clear that while the west had its own surf and skate culture for new brands to gnaw on, hip-hop’s golden age informed the east coast’s streetwear — Jamaica Coliseum Mall, where the Kingz had their retail operation apparently has a stall selling airbrushed shirts up to the present day, but PHADE, NIKE and KASHEME helped form a uniquely hip-hopcentric apparel and an industry that’s worth billions.
Shit, even the cheap artist photo tees that followed (usually incorporating a deceased artist) inspired Supreme’s teamups with Raekwon, Jim Jones and Juelz, plus the rest of those eBay-friendly releases. That lineage makes the sight of a sullen Lou Reed on a shirt even more entertaining.
It’s an aimless blog post, drifting like a boat without a skipper this sunday, as I’m in the midst of writing a lengthy piece about something for someone. All might be revealed. But still the lure of OCD lures me back to WordPress to publish at least something.
It’s been a weird weekend, with the Bespoke I made with the assistance of Mr. Wainwright and Magdi aka. Madgi in NYC’s Mercer Street space getting some E-coverage. Attention is a motherfucker. I was just amused to make an Air Force 1 somehow related to my fixation with Chopper City’s bad suit. It briefly, thanks to the homie Eugene at Hypebeast caused some stirrings. Any plaudits are like getting a high-five for executing a paint-by-numbers with a certain level of proficiency. Any criticisms that I wasted $820 are, ummm… interesting. Gloating is unbecoming so I’ll shut the fuck up. Colourways are fun, and Nike Bespoke is the shit, but we shouldn’t mix colour-ups with actual design skills. One feels like a game of symmetry and the other requires education and/or an innate skill. Still, I’m happy to have made the AF1 I always wanted. Which is kind of the point. Shouts to Nike.
Earlier in the year, Eugene fired some questions my way and I answered them on my BlackBerry (RIP). Eugene is definitely someone whose opinion I respect, and Hypebeast is a juggernaut. With Mr. Kan’s involvement, there’s a superior level of content creation at work. It’s a far cry from the days when I used to make digs at hype sites in news posts. Shit done changed. The interview is here, and if you can make it to page 11, I’ll give you a prize. I frequently bore myself. A good conversation nonetheless. I’m blaming Eugene for the length of it. He opted against a hefty edit and his questions were deeper than crap interrogations.
My opinion on iPads has changed a lot since then. My then-office partner-in-rhyme has defected to Vans Europe and my announcement that I wanted more corporate gigs pretty much came true. It’s pleasantly dated. Like an episode of ‘Tomorrow’s World’ from 1988. This entire industry moves in hamster-years and a lot has changed in mere months.
As this ghost ship sails along, I feel obliged to recommend the new thriller, ‘Burning Bright’ if you get the option to rent it on the cheap. With Meatloaf as a seller of black market big cats, who ends up causing headaches for a beautiful girl and her severely autistic younger brother stuck in a boarded-up house overnight with a psychotic tiger while a hurricane rages outside, the lack of CGI and some solid set pieces, plus a title that references a William Blake poem, makes it a good use of 85 minutes. As is now-customary, there’s a tactically “vintaged” poster for the film too.
I like a bad situation flick on a budget. ‘Frozen’ and ‘Stuck’ came through. ‘Red Eye’ and ‘P2’ faltered, crumbling under the sheer vertical drop of their high concepts. Anyone else remember the 1981 flick ‘Savage Harvest’ with the lions putting a house under siege? Or the production headache double-act of Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed in 1981’s ‘Venom’ with the robbery and black mamba snake on the loose (kind of cloned in the crappier 1988 film ‘Fair Game’)? The bad situation thrills of the claustrophobic and downright nasty Mario Bava thieves-in-a-vehicle vehicle ‘Rabid Dogs’ is a masterclass in fucked-up, no-budget tension. On the creature-on-the-loose tip, hopefully ‘Piranha 3D’ will deliver the thrills as well as the leaked levels of salt water gore next week.
Some dickhead called Specter got “up” in the fruitiest way by covering a beautiful old hand-painted sign in east London. Sign painting is an art. Creating “happenings” like this isn’t. It’s just embarrassing.
I hate Specter’s art. I hate wheat poster pricks sullying my view with cut and paste horseshit, haplessly justified by flimsy A-level sociology explanations. If you support this shit you too are part of the problem. Fuck you Specter. Go and risk your life in a train tunnel and cause some real destruction without the art-twat “manifesto”. Or go get educated, then classical on some canvases. Then fuck off. This generation of post-Banksy scum is the art equivalent of a Superdry t-shirt.
Thank god for the good folk of wheatpaste and stencil street art hating superblog HurtYouBad and their crusade against this kind of fuckery. They kindly blessed me with one of their new t-shirt line by the mighty FINSTA, not to be mistaken with the semi-legendary Finsta of grimy rap underdogs Finsta & Bundy. This design reminds me of the lunacy you could get from a local spot via an ad in RAD, and appeals to my love of GHOST and Robert Williams’s handiwork. They’re launch their 5 designs with a fine photoshoot next week, so I’ll leave the full details to the HYB team.