LAW magazine’s visual direction and approach to the oft-undocumented everyday makes it one of my favourite magazines. The confident design and vision of Britain beyond the target areas delivers something that’s probably going to hold some cultural value in years to come; an antidote to any delusions of life in 2015 perpetrated by glossy aspiration bi-annuals. The new issue covers a few topics, from toilet attendants to Leicester streetwear and Scott King to tape-pack don Slipmatt. The magazine has also undergone a drastic price decrease of late—from around 12 quid to being completely free. Issue #6 is in a few of the city’s best stores, with Goodhood and Foyles carrying copies last time I looked. Nina Manandhar’s shot of a rabbit and Lacoste combination alone beats any look book concept I’ve seen this year. You don’t need to hear me rambling about it again, so I recommend just going on a hunt for it. If it wasn’t for LAW, I wouldn’t know about this Instagram project documenting corner shops either. On the topic of documenting shops, it’s worth dipping into 2 Berwick Street before Monday evening to check out the History of Vinyl in Soho exhibition that charts the 120 or so record stores that have opened and closed in that area—anyone who made the pilgrimage to Central London to be scowled at when asking for hip-hop twelves or reggae sevens, or those who recall that Berwick Street seemed to be home to a healthy amount of music stores until as little as a decade ago, will want to check it out. And yes, it coincides with national buy your one record of the year for eBay day, but if you’re tactical about it, you can avoid the foolishness, and anyway, Gang of Four are playing outside on Saturday, which should make any ordeal worthwhile anyway. The Price Buster Records bag is a personal favourite, but there’s plenty of other great designs on the wall there too. In times of change it’s essential that documentation from the likes of LAW and British Record Shop Archive exist to create a credible snapshot of the ephemeral.
Please excuse the rushed nature of this blog entry. I was going to move servers to make gwarizm.com the official home of all this claptrap but strange domain redirecting issues meant I actually ended up having the time to chuck something up here tonight after all. My relationship with printed matter is a tempestuous one — for much of my life I dreamed of being a scribe for one of the fancy magazines that broke the £2.50 mark in WH Smiths, but once I actually wrote for one, I realized that most of the content was advertorial (even the stuff without “advertising feature” on the top of the page). That culled my buying habits significantly.
While putting out a publication seems to be a new norm as some reaction to people thinking bloggers are chancers, doing it well is difficult. After all, the big magazines are spreading their pages for advertisers for a reason — survival. Just starting a magazine for the hell of it is as tedious as calling your blog an online magazine, so I’ve slashed my purchases to a handful of regular and when-they-can-be-fucked-to publications. Being lazy and odd (and not actually living in London) I never made it to Goodhood’s launch for the new issue of LAW, but I feel guilty about it, because it’s something worth supporting — continuing the history lesson, when I was putting out strange blog entries for Acyde’s The Most Influential site a few years back, I was determined to keep it UK-centric.
As a Brit, i felt it was my duty to talk about local matters and not my yankophile leanings. TMI actually changed before I could run out of ideas fully, but I was definitely running on fumes. I feel a certain guilt for not representing Britain fully on here, but – as I’ve mentioned several times – I think the ISYS squad, Rollo Jackson and LAW do it better than I ever could. There’s a certain Britishness that barely translates abroad and it’s part of the urban and suburban everyday existence — it’s all sportswear, mild eccentricity, inadvertently odd design touches and scowls. Most of the time we take it for granted and don’t document it (I’ve hunted some imagery for a couple of projects in the last 12 months and was shocked at how little documentation there was). LAW goes in to log it with a keen design eye that affords everyday objects and lives a certain elegance.
LAW #3 is out now and the use of Goodhood’s interior with the magazine’s driving slogan was a nice touch (all LAW-related imagery here is swaggerjacked from the Goodhood site). You can buy it right here for £12.50.
Another magazine that gets a lot of deserved shine here is Oi Polloi’s Pica~Post. You need to know your stuff to actually have fun with anything and everything in this free publication – from the typography to the product pick is on point. This beats any bullshit slow blog-baiting lookbook (and those Anthony Crook Engineered Garments shots in here are a nice example of how a lookbook can be done) and you can read this online right here but the way it’s printed as an object gives it a purpose beyond the screen. Shouts to Eóin and the whole Pica~Post mind squad.
In addition to the above, the Joe McKenna profile in Fantastic Man #17 is excellent too. But you’d expect them to deliver on a feature like that, wouldn’t you?
Cheers to Nike SB for letting me do some writing about the Koston 2 shoe for the Nike Inc. site. Anything that lets me interview Eric is the sort of thing that would make the 15-year-old me do an awkward dance in public. Now I just do it in private. There seems to be a quick glimpse of an interesting Lunarlon-aided Koston 2 golf shoe sitting by Tiger Woods’ shopping bags in the behind-the-scenes footage.
On the shoe topic, now that every hip-hop related documentary of my youth is available on 2-disc DVD or on YouTube, where are the British trainer documentaries? The first time I ever saw Tinker and company was on the excellent 1992 BBC program Trainer Wars. I know that was far better than any recent effort to document sports footwear. Where can I get hold of a copy of it? Back in the day, you paid someone like Dave the Ruf to send you a 240-minute tape of tenth-generation dubs of everything you needed. I need Trainer Wars and the 2001 Sneaker Freaks documentary that Channel 4 aired as part of the Alt.TV series with Jeremy Howlett sitting on top of Howlett’s. OG Air Max 95s being sold for insane money at Meteor Sports and Will Self pulling a gasface at the notion of anyone hoarding Nikes. In fact, I believed that Trainer Wars never happened until I found this footage of the commercial for it from when it showed on Discovery Europe.
Hip-hop style has evolved a lot, but in a world where you only have to make something basic in leather to be crowned king of the high-end crossover, it’s way dumber than the late 1990s Tunnel-era take on fashion was. Bright red leathers in XXL Tim Westwood sizes and canary yellow technical wear, with a Hype Williams fish eye effect and the Casio demo keys stays winning. Back when ‘Clef was pulling his weapon out on an editor rather than posing on a bike in his pants, people weren’t even looking for any pseudo-intellect in rap or hunting for messages in every line. I like where things are in 2013 (salutes to this guy for getting all crushed out heavenly, always entertaining me with his outlandish garms, infuriating people and giving his brand the name Luxury Excellence), but after that unofficial 1995 cutoff for purist-friendly major label work, rappers really got wild with the garms to create a goldrush of hip-hop clothing labels. Can I still buy a Mecca U.S.A. suit? Probably. Germany still fucks with some Johnny Blaze gear and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a 4-floor Sir Benni Miles store owned under license out there. This seemed to be a starting point for rappers to make an effort again after years of brown hoods, boots and army surplus. On the hip-hop wear subject, with their impending Rain Heat & Snow clothing line, is the U.S. Postal Service going to retro Danny Boy’s cap from 1992? It’s cold right now and I’m thinking about rap-wear, so that seems like a sign to post a classic magazine fashion shoot. In late 1995, Vibe magazine gathered an eclectic group of rappers for their Cold Chillin’ fashion piece where Junior M.A.F.I.A. Das EFX, Q-Tip and bizarrely, Kool Keith, all modeled the latest cold weather creations. The photographer, Daniel Hastings, shot pretty much every key hip-hop album/single cover shot between 1994 and 1996 and that summer, his work was present on the cover of Only Built For Cuban Linx.
As a bonus (I should really have chucked all this up on Tumblr rather than on here), nothing screams 1995-1998 quite like the Nike Air Max 95. Ghostface (Killer rather than Killah here) basically dressed like people do now 18 years ago in The Source and three years later Big Pun rocked that shoe and coordinated some food packaging with it rather than his actual outfit. Lil’ Kim wore it for press shots for Conspiracy too. Flamboyant but still a defiantly street shoe, it crops up time and time and again during the era described above.
In the midst of this late 1990s nostalgia, Cieron of ISYS has put together his own little video ode to a time dominated by Puffy and StarTAC phones for the launch of the third issue of LAW next month. It’s a good match. ISYS is keen on celebrating the unsung style that surrounds us, while LAW has a similar agenda in archiving something similar and capturing the kind of thing that’s near-impossible to explain to your American friends. yet so close to home that we barely document it.
What’s worse? David Guetta and Thierry “Mr. Brainwash” Guetta collaborating or the x Superdry Timothy Everest project? I can’t quite make up my mind but they’re probably pretty lucrative when it comes to tapping into the psyche of those willing to part with the beige pound and beige dollar. There’s a lot more to the world that the cool-guy realm that’s blogged so relentlessly.
Everyone’s into print these days, but not everybody’s built for it. I can’t see the value in the majority of editorials plugging product that just seem to be executed to keep paymasters who think that kind of thing matters happy with tangible proof that something is “working” but I still get a kick out of picking up a magazine that delivers something different. Standard advertorial can pale next to a well-timed Tweet, but good product is guaranteed goodwill. Recently I mapped out a plan for a publication but lost my temper over something unrelated and deleted the plan out of spite against myself. That self-sabotage was worth it though, because the contents list was tedious. Like I said, it’s not for everyone, I was very impressed by the Acid Rambler newspaper when I got a glimpse the other week and by uniting a Patagonia founder with a Beach Boy, it has a cohesion that’s only apparent to those who get the core concept — that’s some masterfully executed self-indulgence. The (sold out) Oi Polloi tie-dye tie-ins are good too. I like ‘LAW’ magazine too and #2 has just dropped.
Lives And Works magazine is the brainchild of John Joseph Holt, deceived me with its cover (I’ve developed an apathy toward £10+ fashion mags that sit artfully spaced on boutique shelves and never reach a second issue), but takes a close inspection at existing British tribes and characters rather than applying a buzzword to a non-movement. Estate agents with suedehead pasts, housing block signage, Playstation games, scooter shops, wetlook hair, newsagent workers and proprietors, plus Saturday night theme pub dwellers are in the portraits and personal accounts ‘LAW’ includes. That’s pretty much everything Danny Boyle forgot to chuck into the Olympic opening ceremony then. Come the apocalypse, when a new species of human sifts through 2012’s wreckage with their 13 fingered hands, I would hope they’d discover something like this as a document of where we were, rather than some misleading rag that makes us look like a bunch of, tech goth, Azealia Banks disciples haplessly grasping for “movements” who pretty much deserved to be eliminated. I would hope that ‘LAW’ would be cause for more compassion. John Holt’s work parallels team ISYS.TV and their love of everyday style that we seem to aimlessly aspire away from or demonise with chav allegations. ISYS are getting a spot at the Tate with NTS too and it’s a great platform for their work. Go get ‘LAW’ from Goodhood or B Store or get more information here.
Another place where print is relevant is in graffiti. You could argue that it’s the transient, fleeting nature of the artform that makes documentation so essential but it’s probably because graffiti has a tendency to attract massive geeks who like buying stuff and probably pretend that they racked it. ATG always come correct in a world where so many can profit from the legal side only and they get up in places that people can actually see from afar. Their blog also makes graffiti seem kind of fun, rather than being something dysfunctional sociopaths bang about on forums. ATG’s ‘Eye In the Sky’ book depicting some pieces with positive messages and plenty of eyes in prominent places is something different though. It goes on sale at Stolen Space after a launch tomorrow.
If there wasn’t a ‘They Live’ would we be subjected to OBEY nowadays? Was it worth it? Of course it was worth launching a tiresome street art career and streetwear for people who like Mr. Brainwash. That scene with Roddy Piper and Keith David’s battering each other in the alley way makes it all worth it. The soundtrack, that subversive subtext that can be enjoyed on a simple alien/human invasion flick level, that ending and the director/star commentary on the original DVD are all classic. It’s one of the greatest genre films ever. The impending Blu-ray release (set for November) has the kind of artwork (nice font too) that sold a VHS to me in 1988, even if the special features haven’t been announced. It’s a shame that there’s not a deluxe edition with replica truth-telling sunglasses/hater blockers, but there’s still time. You can tell a lot about a person by whether they’ve seen ‘They Live’ and how passionate they are about it. This art beats the OBEY poster from last summer’s Alamo Drafthouse screening.