Tag Archives: inventory



I’ve never ever considered myself a journalist, because I’m not qualified to be one and I generally write about the same topic, using the same words and phrases, again and again and again. I write as a hobby, and it’s always an honour to be asked to write for magazines I pick up — especially when they actually engage in an editing process, rather than hurling my semi-proofed copy straight in there. Participating in the back and forth of a good edit session is part of the pleasure as far as I’m concerned, because I’m prone to drop a typo or ten. INVENTORY — whose attention to detail is something that I admire —asked if I wanted to speak to Erik Brunetti about his career for their new issue, and he was more keen to talk art than dwell on Fuct. Which is fair enough. Plus I spoke to him about clothing and controversy for ACCLAIM a couple of years back. Because it’s Erik in conversation, he drops plenty of quotables on several subjects, plus there’s some great Tim Barber photography to accompany it.


LAW just dropped an excellent short video on Slipmatt (who was part of SL2 — the kind of act XL used to sign back in the early 1990s). This electrician/hardcore DJ legend embodies an era and is still putting in the hours today. There’s something admirable about the British subcultural characters who carve a niche that they persist in, whether it’s considered cool or not. Shouts to the Bedford crew who were buying the cassette packs from Not Just a Ticket back in the day, while I was haunting Andy’s Records for rap tapes.

Seeing as Slipmatt embodies the spirit of 1992 like few others can, it’s worth noting that Ian Powell upped a Dance Energy from Monday, November 23rd 1992 in its (almost) entirety, from the House Party era of the show, complete with a comedy subplot where Vas Blackwood schemes to earn some money for some trainers and Normski executes the laceless Huarache look with a certain panache. The performances by Secret Life and Reese Project will smear that nostalgia a little for you by reminding you that the good music was generally a one in three affair on this programme.



Can I lapse into promotion mode for a minute? It’s good to get my name in magazines I actually read and after the INVENTORY Nike online piece from a couple of months ago, the print piece is in the new issue (which has great chats with Shin from Neighborhood, gloriously reckless soundbites from A.P.C’s Jean and plenty of detailed material talk with Paul “Jacket Ninja” Harvey) — an article with chats with Mark Parker and two VPs that I conducted during my last trip to Beaverton with some phenomenal photography by Dave Potes. It was interesting to see just how fastidious Simon, Ryan and the crew are in getting the magazine together and it was great to get the opportunity to geek out over a few thousand words, rather than the usual two hundred word PR pieces. I was excited to get the opportunity to write a little something for 032c on HTM for the new issue, but I’m keen to reiterate that Jonathan Olivares wrote the article and I wrote a shorter supplement as a supplement to it — I wouldn’t want to be stealing credit for Jonathan’s great work, because it’s one of the best articles on Nike I’ve read in recent years. Still, as a big fan of Joerg Koch’s vision, getting my name in there was an ambition fulfilled. Especially as someone who never went out with any aim of being a journo.


I know that it’s something that did the rounds a couple of weeks back, but I still find myself returning to We Are Shining’s The Wheel video — Acyde, Morgan Zarate and Carl Addy killed it here. Friends making music can be a problem (with plenty of white lies told when prodded for a reaction) but I’ve been listening to a zip file of Shining recordings regularly for a couple of years and The Wheel feels like the evolution of that — controlled chaos and a migraine for muso WordPress pigeonholers. Addy’s visuals match the madness and the mode of delivering it on a USB after a Soho viewing session in it entirety as well as GIFs and Instagram/Vine friendly chapters was interesting, with attendees urged to upload it ourselves in the event that copyright issues from that relentless montage meant that it was pulled from YouTube. As of this moment it’s still standing and you should give it 3 minutes and twenty-eight seconds of your day.



I have an aversion to laceless shoes. I think I tried to wear Pump Furys once and I liked the HTM2 Run Boot to the point that I wore it for a few hours. There was a phase of Huaraches without the strings too, but on the whole, the slip-on shoe — from loafers to Chelsea Boots to Wovens to Aqua Socks — can’t grace my feet. Laceless shoes make me feel itchy. Maybe something happened that I blocked out involving them, but it seems to be an irrational thing. I don’t dislike them — it’s just if they were on my feet I would end up acting out-of-character. I wish I could wear cowboy boots or Air Kukinis.

2000’s Nike Air Kukini is an important shoe because it represents the 2000 era when Spine Magazine let me write for them and jump started the career I have now. I used to read Chris Aylen’s pieces there and a pivotal feature was the Kukini one, which captivated me with a breakdown of colourways of this shoe with a rubberised web instead of laces, but beyond the Coca-Cola and Junya Watanabe collaborations and co.jp collector stuff, I never really got the lowdown on the shoe’s purpose until recently (all the good insight seemed to be in Japanese publications). Vibe pushed that shoe hard in early 2000 too.


After a trip to Portland, the good folk at INVENTORY let me compile a feature that talks about some shoes I’ve loved over the years, (including the Kukini) which you can read right here. It’s sort of a prequel to something else on paper. During the interview stage, I got the opportunity to get some background on this cult classic from the man who designed it — Sean McDowell (who you can also thank for the Air Max TN and Mayfly). He’s a good guy and the role of the sole here reiterates why the recent Free version missed the aesthetic and functional purpose of the shoe.




“The Kukini started with Picabo Street. She was qualifying for the Winter Games and she was sponsored by a company that had a huge spider web on the side and seeing it on my television screen you could see it from miles away. It was the most bold, incredibly interesting thing, so I wondered if you build a shoe out of a spider web.

I started putting it on the sides of shoes with a web here and there plus a normal lacing system. Then I decided to pull that out and start making the web a stretchy material then connect them and tape the web to the top of the shoe and have the circles coming out from the centre. We tested it and you have a lot of protruding bones at the top of the foot so it becomes really irritating. At the same time, we started to get a lot of briefs on how we’d bring the shoe to market and triathlon was starting to become really popular.

We had just signed the Iron Man triathlete Mark Allen and we thought it would be a good shoe for him. I took the early prototypes and flew down to Texas and met with him, talked through the project. He told me, “Well, I kind of think of myself as an amphibian — I’m in and out of the water.”

I thought that was great and so I went and did all of this research on amphibians and changed the pattern completely, working with the NSRL (Nike Sport Research Lab) to change the pattern completely and map pressure points and we wound up spacing out those bars to distribute that pressure and still support — wrapping around the tooling.

The original had tons of holes in the bottom — tons. One of the big insights from Mark was that he would pour cups of water over his head and it would run down his body and pool in his shoes, so we put holes in there so the water would drain out. Then we had a long discussion about how we would build the midsole for him. He’s running after about six and a half hours of competing, in the water, on the bike and into the run. We looked at his biomechanics and he started getting pretty sloppy — anyone would, right? You’re running a marathon after five hours competing! So he’s tired and he’s starting to break down, so we switched to a polyurethane heel which is a much more stable heel system and we added the Max Air in the heel which is a good long-term cushioning system for him.

We kept Phylon in the forefoot and we made the whole outsole Duralon so you get blown rubber that’s very, very soft for a comfortable sole. On the first versions, the spiderweb came over the outsole and there was a small adjustment system so you could micro adjust the forefoot, the midfoot and the heel. There’s several prototypes there and that was on the first one — the little tabs were flies! They had little wings and little heads and you’d peg them. It became very stiff, very heavy and totally didn’t work and so we stripped the whole thing out, redesigned it and went over the midsole instead.”



The amount of boot talk on here is pretty monotonous, to the point where I considered creating a spinoff site called Shitkickers, that was solely dedicated to them. But I never got round to it. The reason for their ubiquity here as a topic is that there’s too many great brands out there with amazing ads to ignore when we’re talking about matters of design and construction. My respect for the Italian boot industry is substantial (as the preoccupation with La Sportiva and Vasque demonstrates) and Montebelluna is the town that matters when it comes to that artform (it’s also where Nike gets certain football boots made too) to the point where it houses the Museo dello Scarpone aka. the Museum of the Boot which looks very interesting indeed. Aku is one of those brands with plenty of performance cred up to the present day, but one that actively sought an urban consumer when it launched Stateside circa 1997. It’s an interesting case study in delivering two very different messages for their Timberland-clad trend consumer and the climbing and hiking communities — presumably via a U.S. licence holder.

The blacked out ads in urban outlets like ‘Vibe’ and ‘The Source’ highlighted cost and style, while brushing on the performance side and mentioning the all-important GORE-TEX while the ads for hiking press are dense with facts and figures. Launched around 1990 by boot boffin with innovative inclinations Galliano Bordin as the successor to his workshop’s Dinsport trekking and ski boot brand that ran from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, Aku is a classic Montebelluna brand. I never saw much more advertising this extensive after these March 1997 campaigns (maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough), but while it’s not the stuff of rap lyric references, I know a few New Yorkers who still get misty-eyed for the $220+ priced pieces of the line from 15 years ago that date back to a time when they were losing it over Italian off-roaders.



Related to the above through its nationality, the appearance on the Rizzoli site of the ‘Thirty Years of Research in Style: WP Lavori in Corso’ book, with a publication date of April 16th is a reason to be happy this year. If the Massimo Osti and Stone Island tomes didn’t deliver enough documentation of Italian impact on the way we dress, here’s some more for you. As you can see above, I can look at old ads old day, and from the preview on the WP Lavori site, it looks pretty heavy on the ad archive front. With WP Lavori and its creative director Andrea Canè being a cover star on ‘Inventory’s sixth issue, that relationship seems to have expanded, meaning the book is an ‘Inventory’ co-production. I like Philip Watts and Leanne Cloudsdale’s writing, and the ‘Inventory’ aesthetic means a certain clarity and quality control that I respect. WP Lavori have been putting it down for a shedloads of classic brands since 1982, acquiring, licensing and crucially, treating the companies in question with a certain respect that guarantees longevity, long before there were blogs or carefully rehearsed artful layering for Pitti Uomo tradeshow camera coverage on said blogs. This book is likely to be good.




Can we tenuously link this to the above via Tom Penny’s Columbia boots? No? Okay then. Ged Wells’ Insane brand has been mentioned here before but the history page on the relaunched brand’s website is worth reading to learn how the brand grew, from Andy Holmes giving Wells’ work a name, Hiroshi Fujiwara introducing it to Japan, Jesus Jones’ role in boosting the brand’s popularity, Sophia Prantera’s work that evolved it significantly and ’30 Days of Night’, ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ director David Slade being the director of the Insane skate video back in the day. Basically, it’s all the stuff I managed to not mention when I blogged about Insane a few years back, but it reinforces the significance of Ged’s creations and reminds me of the days when Curtis McCann was that dude.



In recent years there’s been a dearth of good magazines that aren’t aimed at high fashionistas or plummeting the depths of lad mag high street payola. Beyond the Far Eastern publications you’d be hard-pressed to find anything particularly wearable.

Mr Kan’s recent blog post about the possibility of some background dealings in relation to column inches in those magazines raises some interesting points, but still, I’d sooner have access to publications with that kind of content, payola or not, than the increasingly scant newsagent shelves. I live for print.

I used to want to forge a career in print, but realised I lacked the written skills to make the necessary mark to pay rent (though some wannabe scribes get by regardless), many of the senior staffers were upper-middle class twits rather than the grizzled journos I’d expected, talking about their press pass visit to Creamfields is if they were Michael Herr on assignment and that clearly that monitor I was gawking at rap news, porn and footwear on all day was going to obliterate paper one day. Thus the dream was over.