Tag Archives: monocle


So, print’s demise was down to most publications turning terrible these last few years? I can buy that. It’s a theme that crops up a couple of times in the new ‘Gym Class Magazine.’ I won’t pretend I’ve picked up this magazine before – I’d seen the covers of earlier issues, assumed it was a gay-themed magazine and then paid more for something perfect-bound and defiantly hetro that I never actually read. Stupid me. I was wrong about the theme of the magazine (but as Jerry and George were keen to maintain, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”) and I suspect I’ve missed out on some print fanboy masterpieces.

This magazine sits alongside ‘Manzine’ and ‘Proper’ as a fanzine-style affair that get more reading time from me than ad-heavy creations 10x bigger. Issue seven’s George Louis homage cover drew me in and the subsequent interview is excellent. It’s good to see former Pointer designer Rose dropping knowledge and the chats with Rich Boat of House Industries, Guy Andrews from ‘Rouleur’ and Simon Mottram of Rapha are non-fawning, deeply informative affairs. The whole publication is affiliated with the very necessary magCulture site and while there’s extensive talk of design and papery matters, it’s far more than that – once underlying them is the precision and obsessiveness of those highlighted.

The chat with ‘Monocle’s Andrew Tuck provided enough background and enlightenment on Tyler and the crew’s business model to bring back March 2007’s level of enthusiasm with regards to a publication I’d been stacking but barely reading. There’s plenty of ‘Monocle’ coverage, whether it’s jabs at the ideal of a perfect shopping precinct where an aged craftsman proffers a wave and update on the progress of your bespoke breakfast table as you wander towards a local coffee shop that serves jet-black espresso shots in a very specific kind of cup (I have been known to grimace at the monied twee-ness of it all) or fawning about the fucking podcast. But this certainly upped my appreciation for what’s clearly a lot of work – and the imitators miss the point somewhat.

Still, while the magazine is back in my life, the “Monocle man” in all his Aryan woodcutter finery and grooming can fuck right off.

A brilliant magazine worth supporting…and for once, you may find yourself actually reading something you’ve bought, rather than solemnly nodding at a picture of a coat. Those behind it obviously spend a lot of time preoccupied with monthlies, weeklies, quarterlies, bi-annuals and those strange labour-of-love publications you assume have gone under that reappear all-of-a-sudden with little fanfare. That preoccupation seems to have fueled some superb writing, editing and design.


Shouts to the Platform crew, Mr. Stan Still of T-Shirt Party “e-fame” and Nina Manandhar for being the sort of folks who put an idea out there and come through with a polished final product. Video lookbooks make me want to vomit up a lung and they feel the same. As a reaction they’re trying to bring back the street style video, with a nod to the olden days of that one good look on ‘The Clothes Show’ or the outfit that got the Mr. Normski co-sign on ‘Dance Energy.’ I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the project, entitled ‘I Saw You Standing’ but it’s certainly placing an emphasis on those who – unlike me – don’t spend their time twatting about on WordPress babbling about cultural pointlessness. Those are the people who make for interesting video portraits.*

Jacket and big boot season is officially here. Not a moment to soon. Fools complain about southern England’s light dusting of the white stuff. For anyone who’s been waiting to replace canvas and cotton with something a little gnarlier, it’s time to justify all those strange excuses you bandied around before breaking out the credit card. I’d like to salute Arc’teryx Veilance on the Patrol Insulated Coat for having some glorious contrast between GORE-TEX gloom and the burnt orange lining. The attention-to-detail is, as with all their output, unnerving yet unfussy. Even the removable lining makes for an excellent jacket in itself. Jackets within jackets is some cold-weather flamboyance. No matter how many different hikers come and go, the Danner Mountain Light as bought for £75 in the Danner factory store remains king. Even if the suede changed texture dramatically between left and right shoe. That Mr. Viberg himself lent Danner his Hiker design to make the Mountain is some old-fashioned industry buddydom too.

*On topic, if you want to see the increasingly ubiquitous merger of bearded man and expensive outerwear done correctly, check out ‘The Rig Out’s ’30th Century’ Man’ video online this Friday. It’s very good. Unless Glenn put in CGI robots and sorcerers during post-production. As with the above trailer, the soundtrack goes HARD.


No longer being a lefty idealist fixated on the glamour of hurling petrol bombs against “the man” and supporting causes despite the most rudimentary of research, it’s harder to atone for the fact that ’70s terrorism maintains a certain chic. True freedom might belong to those willing to get their hands dirty, but there’s plenty who’d rather keep ’em clean but admire the outfits from afar.

It’s a sad fact, but watching the ‘Battle of Algiers’ nowadays, we’re more inspired to bust out some referential quasi-rebellious screenprints or riff on the attractive spirit of late ’60s Parisian brick throwing in an art gallery environment. Kenneth Mackenzie’s excellent 6876 referenced that imagery nicely on its debut and Unabomber had their moments. Revolutionaries seemed to have nice outfits before the influx of those thick stripe crewneck sweaters and white dreads. In the western world, they’ve forsaken style altogether. Elsewhere it’s all facial hair and wild eyes, no finesse. It’s not going to make the catwalks.

This isn’t some dissection on the distinction between terrorism and freedom fighter. It’s just about the aesthetics. There’s a certain beauty in the ’70s utilitarian uniform of tactically executed mayhem. Back before the Manic Street Preachers morphed into Mondeo music, James Dean Bradfield’s balaclava-wearing Top of the Pops appearance performing ‘Faster’ was some invigorating post-dinner TV. James knew. FUCT’s Symbionese Liberation Army sweatshirt and tee knows that Donal DeFreeze had swagger. Another brand stocked in the Hideout (all answers to what the mystery brand was in the comments here are welcome) created a nifty spin on the BMW logo using RAF. If you grew up in an era where the news dwelled on Belfast murals, Joe Strummer wore a Brigate Rosse t-shirt and the Democratic Revolutionary Movement for the Liberation of Arabistan getting the SAS treatment at the Iranian Embassy, terrorist attire is probably embedded in your psyche.

Then there’s Ilich Ramírez Sánchez aka. Carlos the Jackal. Strangely iconic in that puffy-faced mugshot, with the goggle glasses and hefty sideburns, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member seems to fire imaginations more than most. It’s the length between capture and that nickname that does it. His face seems to represent a certain era of global terrorism with extra tales jammed weaponry, some heavy scheming and a lot of globetrotting.

On film he’s been the villain, but Olivier Assayas’ 5 hour plus epic ‘Carlos’ fleshes the character out a lot, albeit with a fair amount of fiction. Having watched the first episode, charting the lead up to the OPEC raid, it’s slick, well-crafted television. If you’re expecting lots of side partings, sweating, set pieces, bungled raids, vintage cars and squealing getaways, you won’t be disappointed. Whether Ilich changes in attire and mannerisms over the next few episodes remains to be seen, but for all the violence — and this is frequently bloody — it makes the Jackal look very cool. Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez is appropriately intense in the lead and thanks to Francoise Clavel’s work in the wardrobe department, she makes this vicious individual look almost aspirational in appearance.

If you saw Uli Edel’s ‘Der Baader Meinhof Komplex’ laden with beautiful people wielding assault rifles, zipping around in collectible Beemers, consider this a companion piece. There’s a message here, but it’s easy to get lost in all the nihilistic glamour on offer. Women nibbling on grenades? Berets looking good? It’s here. The first few minutes, where the besuited subject exits a plane and then a motorbike, with a holdall slung over his shoulder could be a ‘Monocle’ shoot in motion. This entire episode, the first of 3, could have been some bloody, politicized video lookbook.While there’s a German film-length edit of ‘Carlos’ in existence, the mini-series, at least on first impression, is well worth your time. Curious how we can be drawn to those we should fear, like some stylistic Stockholm syndrome.

It’s not just the clothes. It’s the banners and typewritten manifestos. Take the time to read it and you’ll find cowardly rhetoric steeped in narcissism and flimsy justification for cold-blooded slaughter. To admire the clothes of killers is pretty much the apex of twattery, yet it’s a tough habit to break. Despite the flattering looks, Sánchez himself is livid, fuming at the portrayal, and claiming it’s harming his defence in the recently reignited trial over a series of bombings. You can’t please everyone, all the time. While the real Carlos is looking a little less iconic these days, Ramirez restores the look to the point of sartorial distraction.


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.



This blog was originally formed as a place to compile blog posts I’d written thus far. I omitted this piece on Sang Bleu because it’s a publication and organization that’s documented in superior fashion elsewhere online. Then, while surfing for information surrounding the release of issue five – which incidentally, is February 2010, and is available for pre-order right here and promises to be another 500 page monster, I stumbled across my own SlamXHype blog entry. Skim reading it, I noticed that the three paper publications I’d championed (TAR, +1 and FACT) are defunct. All in the space of nine months. Wow.

In its irrelevance, it became relevant, so I opted to reprint it here.

Of course, in that time, several magazine startups have appeared. That’s a positive move, but I still don’t think any can topple Sang Bleu’s approach. I’m not saying that the majority attempting to document what’s pertinent to me are perpetrators…actually, ignore that – yes, that’s exactly what I’m getting at, but knowedgable characters like Maxime Buechi are few and far between. Never underestimate the power of people knowing their shit. It should come as standard, but in the current climate, many are winging it. Mixing luxury goods, typography, extreme body modifications and lifestyle with graffiti and bonafide hip-hop knowledge, and making it gel is no small order, but Sang Bleu pulls it off. That’s why it’s the best out there. I don’t know whether they’re in the market for it, but those looking for collaborative partners beyond the usual game of soggy biscuit sychophancy that hurls out the same characters time and time again would do well to watch what Buechi’s up to.

I’m looking to expand on the subject of print press elsewhere very, very soon (with a piece of writing that requires amends every other week given the wretched state of the industry), but I strongly recommend heading to Sang Bleu’s website for strong, regularly updated blog content, and press links to interviews that discuss print press’s current crisis, and why Sang Bleu isn’t going to fold (literally, given its phone book size, or in the metaphorical business sense) any time soon.

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