Tag Archives: la gear


Nothing to see here (again) but I feel compelled to draw your attention to TheTapeToday’s YouTube channel for this short documentary on the LA Gear/Nike rivalry. LA Gear will always lose for its Jordan copy MVP series and Reebok Twilight Zone imitation Regulators and, with Robert Greenberg leaving to found Skechers, that habit of creating some shoes ever-so-slightly similar to existing bestsellers remains. Of course, after this Sneaker Wars documentary screened in 1990, LA Gear didn’t topple Nike. Reebok would falter a couple of years later and after filing a lawsuit against Michael Jackson for not supporting their collaboration with a video or album (to which MJ countersued and the matter was settled in 1994), LA Gear’s Flak line — which seemed to be a response to Nike’s Raid and Ndestrukt offerings — would brick, while a controversy about mercury in LA Gear Lights caused extra PR problems. LA Gear will always be a bad look — don’t let any revisionist reissues or PR firms tell you otherwise. There’s a fair bit of describing kids as “Urban Street Warriors” here, down to billing MC Hamlet (who I believe is the same MC Hamlet who appeared on Malcolm McClaren’s 1990-era remixed output) with that job title, plus some insight from Ron Hill from Nike’s marketing department at the time, who was Tinker Hatfield’s nemesis when it came to product (in Tinker’s own words, if Ron liked it, he felt he was doing something wrong). Gotta love those stay in school and anti-drug ads with Bo and David too.

TheTapeToday also upped this 1990 sportswear showcase in a boxing ring which looks like it was from The Clothes Show or DEF II with Public Enemy and NWA on the soundtrack. That bootleg-looking Nike long-sleeve would shift plenty of units in 2014. Footage of Normski demonstrating an array of handshakes that same year brought back extra memories.

I see a release date for Contemporary Menswear: the Insider’s Guide to Contemporary Men’s Fashion. While the name of this book would make me want to hit myself in the eyes if this were in lesser hands, the fact that longtime supporters of this blog (and good blokes) Steven Vogel, Nick Schonberger and Calum Gordon are behind it means it will be decent.


Farewell Ralph Lauren Rugby. You confused me a little, with your slightly cheaper takedowns of Polo pieces that seemed to be simultaneously on sale at the Polo store, but your skull-embroidered shorts were the truth. Just as one division winds down, RL Vintage gets a push. This wing of the Ralph empire brings back some old pieces in vintage form including the Flag SSweater that Lauren had specially made for his LIFE cover in 1989 as well as a wild hand painted lambskin jacket (price on enquiry). What’s in the store at the moment is old west-themed (a familiar reference point) but where it goes thematically is anyone’s guess. There’s also the promise of some fan voted reproductions of classic Polo too, with the return of the Polo Bear sweater looming and the opportunity to pick from a quartet of well-dressed beasts. The street-level fandom of that particular piece almost certainly fueled that decision to retro it, but the collector profiles (showcasing some interesting gear) and the shots of New Yorker Divine Bradley — who starred in a 2003 Polo Jeans print campaign — and his “suicide” ski jacket, P-wing gear and Snow Beach jacket might be the closest I’ve seen to an acknowledgment of those pieces and the urban audience who popularized them. Are we going to see Snow Beach sold as a vintage piece through an official Ralph Lauren site? Will we see a retro of those coveted designs? Incidentally, I root for the bottom right bear that’s currently losing the vote and is doomed to stay dusty and never return from vintage limbo. Did somebody at the company clock the blog love for unturned stones in the Lauren archive? They’ve even started an official Tumblr that seems to be a response to the volume of Polo fetishism being pumped out via that mode of blogging. It’s interesting to see where this project goes.

That wasn’t enough to justify a Sunday blog update — I’m embroiled in Nike and Complex matters. As an apology for that, here’s a couple of strange celebrity sportswear endorsements from 1987. New Edition could have done a lot better than mess with the always-terrible LA Gear (those ‘Can You Stand the Rain’ outfits have aged better than any LA Gear effort), but that Le Coq Sportif Kool & the Gang co-sign was too unexpected to criticise. Who brokered that one?