Sometimes an image is so good that it renders any text obsolete. Snoopy in the legendary Gucci Tennis from the book to coincide with 1984’s Japanese Snoopy in Fashion exhibition is a perfect case study. Idea Books Instagrammed it this morning and made my day. Even better than Donald Duck in Timbs. Speaking of wheat workboots, a couple of good promo print projects arrived in the post this week — Oi Polloi’s always excellent Pica~Post is back with some extra metal, an interview with Patagonia Alpine Outerwear Christian Regester and Mr. Gary Aspden (it’s heartening to see the low-key looks of the SPEZIAL Ardwick become an object of desire in a world where the same old Technicolor yawns get eBay bids) who really, really went on the campaign trail for his labour of love after years of not doing too many Q&As — Next’s role in casual culture, a picture of Gary with a spaniel and a Preston b-boy crew called Mystic Force makes this amazing. The increasingly prolific David Hellqvist (aka. the Baron) has done a good job with the Document project on the Timberland topic — there’s fashion talk in there, design talk and a really good conversation between my friends Nick Schonberger and Ronnie Fieg on the topic of the brand and its connection to NYC that I loved (sample quote: “Chris Webber used to buy 15 pairs of Timberland at a time”). That’s the kind of insight I want to read when we’re talking about brands that I’m smitten with.
I was happy to help out on some stuff for Will Robson-Scott’s The Best of adidas tribute to the adidas Equipment range. The end result is an 18-minute documentary (you can see part one here) that features a few folk I respect that you don’t see on video too often — Peter Moore (who, between the adidas performance logo, Air Force, Jumpman and McEnroe logos defined the look of sportswear from the 1980s to the 1990s, even if he’d concede that he’s not much of shoe designer) is a hero of mine for his branding and marketing skills, and seeing behind the scenes at mita in Tokyo is pretty cool too. It all goes out next week to coincide with the reissue of the fan favourite EQT Guidance (the 1993 version, not the 1991 edition.) I’m super impressed with Will’s work. I genuinely hate a lot of modes of marketing footwear these days. I understand that attention spans are precious and that long-form copy isn’t the solutions, but a lot of comms folk would do well to understand why their brand is excellent, rather than some corny crap in the name of engagement or because a budget needs to be blown. You don’t need to be regressive to stay true to your strengths. I like this video because it feels adidas to me — it isn’t the same fucking faces pretending they ever cared about the shoe in question and I think there should be a documentation of the EQT project’s essence, because most bloggers and advertorial magazine dudes aren’t going to tell it. Speaking of pure adidas attitude, this Oi Polloi piece where Nigel breaks down his favourite adidas trainers is excellent — Hans Bitzer’s Viennas are probably the best bit.
It’s a testament to how hard I’ve fallen off that I miss things like this on the Internet. Having said that, why isn’t the rest of the hypesphere picking up on this? We’ve become lazy. By Such and Such‘s 13-minute conversation with Supreme creative director Brendon Babenzien is well worth watching for some little insights into how he entered the industry and his take on style versus fashion. As Animal Farm/Pervert (working on the post-Don incarnation of the brand) alumni, it’s a nifty segue to this great Oi Polloi interview with Louis Loizou, director of How Can I Be Down: a documentary about Pervert and its founder, Don Busweiler, who opted to leave society with a collective called The Brethren in the mid 1990s. The parallels with the cult of prints on clothing and the kind of cult that makes you grow a beard and drop out are presumably not coincidental. This eight minute preview includes chats with Erik Brunetti, Eric Haze, Rick Klotz, Alyasha Owerka-Moore and Ian MacKaye, with more promised if Loizou gets full finding via Kickstarter. The connection between Pervert, Supreme, Gimme 5 and pretty much every other key entity from the era, all the way up to its influence on Miami based brand Stray Rats (who, like Pervert in its early days, work plenty of hardcore mentality into their work), means that this story deserves to be told in the depth that this film is promising to tell it in. The underlying theme of Don’s story is about false prophets, but he makes some pretty prescient statements regarding where that street wear thing of theirs would be a couple of decades down the line.
A couple of things drove me to think about the Nautica jacket era this evening — old Gino Ianucci coverage (if you take the Chris Hall Champion homage, the Salvador Barbier Polo graphic and the Ianucci Nautica bite, you’ve got a holy trinity of sorts) and this great Proper interview with Steve Sanderson from Oi Polloi that dabbles in discussion of classic nautical gear. It seemed fitting to chuck this 1993 Yachting magazine piece on technical windbreakers up here (surprisingly devoid of Helly Hansen, though that might have been considered a weightier, more traditional sailing option.) This model is killing it — you can keep your normcore irony and pay tribute to this guy’s array of expensive outerwear, because he looks like the sort of guy who really would own a yacht and blast Hall & Oates from a Bang & Olufsen system as he glides across the water, quite rightly without his tongue in his cheek. And naturally, this stuff got reappropriated brilliantly.
There’s a piece on Champion sportswear on the size? blog because I was asked nicely and if you’ve read this blog more than three times, you’ve probably realised that it’s little more than a Champion fan site, so why not whore myself on the subject completely? It’s plenty of facts and guesswork that has already been on here, so you’ll have seen it before (I’ve officially run out of words to write about Champion or Timberland as of today). It was interesting seeing comments on Instagram regarding the UK relaunch of Reverse Weave too — a whole generation seems to have written it off as budget clothing in the Lee Cooper vein and I can’t blame them, because those licensing deals in the UK hardly made it seem like a premium brand during the last decade. Between Champion and Fila, I wonder whether those dirt-cheap dadwear connotations can ever be reversed. This was an attempt to reinforce that Champion isn’t Lonsdale and you can read it right here.
The good people of Proper put me onto this short Oi Polloi (another Champion stockist) documentary. Steve and Nigel make some good points here — the evolution of terrace style is present in what they’ve built (with plenty of nods to the past, like the deerstalker and Henri Lloyd gear) and not the world of reissued tracksuits and gear that specifically tries to target that audience. I still don’t understand the appeal of wanting to dress up like it’s a 1980s hooligan themed fancy dress party but each to their own. Some want to dress like Jack in Five Easy Pieces and others want to dress like an extra from Green Street. Such is life.
If you can’t find the sweatshirt you want, take matters into your own hands and make the damn thing yourself. I’ve been enjoying Concepts’ Canadian-made fleece creations lately in some seasonal colours and patterns, but it’s good when the UK represents and as the man behind The Original Store, Spiv Agency and as one half of the S London tradeshow squad, Carl Burnham knows his stuff. Seeing as The Original Store championed (pun unintended) Buzz Rickson and Champion Reverse Weaves, with their polar opposite fits — jock body or smedium, but undeniable merits, Burnham has taken his favourite parts of an everyday classic, from the loopback cotton to flat locked seams, ribbed side panels to the Dorito-like ‘V’ neck. Best of all, as the Good Measure name of his sweatshirt brand suggests, it’s cut fairly wide, slightly high and with a neck that doesn’t hang off the shoulders. It sounds like the man responsible has spec’d out the kind of crew sweat we’ve loved and lost over the years. As a bonus, they’re made in England too. The idea of a perfect fit is open to endless debate until a Gattaca style uniformity comes in to play, but Good Measure seems to be aimed at a sweet spot for those hunting sweats that can be worn to the death. Oi Polloi’s got them in right now and the Dirty Yellow is a strong look.
That’s a GOOD segue to this very brief video (via Cameron McKirdy) of Tinker Hatfield, who very briefly addressed the Kanye West/Nike situation during a presentation a few days ago. Tinker doesn’t bite his tongue on certain matters and with either Air Yeezy being built on two platforms that are his babies (Air Jordan III/Revolution and Air Tech Challenge II) he’s entitled to respond — “…and then there’s this other side of the coin where we take retro sneakers and we allow people to just design their own versions and that’s really style and sometimes those lines, they blur — they cross — and that’s how you probably end up with this Kanye situation…” There’s probably a lengthy think piece to be written paralleling sampling to using Hatfield’s existing creations for a new form, but life’s too fucking short to write it and it probably exists somewhere anyway. Tinker jokily expresses concern regarding Kanye sending goons his way for his comment, but an Anchorman-style DONDA vs. Innovation Kitchen style lunchtime rumble could be an incredible thing.
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.
Schemed a blog entry on the train then found out another better blog had done it already. I was going to blog about the Nike & Stüssy project but there’s about 3,000 things about it on the internet already — needless to say, I’m extremely grateful that Adam and Jorge (a phenomenal designer) let me write some stuff and Eric Elms was kind enough to put me in touch with those guys. I missed out on the opportunity to work in a period of advertising I worship and they retroed an aesthetic beautifully in #the #hashtag #era. But you can Google that and see better coverage. As I wait for a Rizzoli Dapper Dan retrospective to sit alongside the Hussein Chalayan book, I’ve been looking back at a couple of gems that capture the naivety of Euro teen hip-hop obsession as well as a time when you weren’t so jaded that you didn’t look at your new shoe/track top/cap/t-shirt last thing before the lights went off at night. Now we’re all scheming the next purchase before the email confirmation of commerce even arrives. That’s why I loved Dokument Press’s ‘Cause We Got Style!’ last year, laden with plenty of pasty faces pulling off b-boy poses in gear that almost certainly required some fraternal hookups and pen friend behaviour as well as complicated – and perilous — modes of payment by mail. European hip-hop posing in 2012 doesn’t seem as fun.
‘Cause We Got Style’ was a fine supplement to the Cold War East Germany hip-hop scene documentary, ‘Here We Come’ — further proof that Europeans rival our friends in Japan on the obsession front and manage to make good use of scant resources like some sub-cultural survivalists. Dokument are dropping something equally exciting in April 2013 with the release of ‘Shirt Kings — Pioneers of Hip-Hop Fashion’ by Edwin “PHADE” Sacasa and Ket. PHADE and his NYC crew’s contribution to the print t-shirt, hip-hop style and as a result, street style as a whole is substantial and 144 pages of Shirt Kings is a serious prospect, given how popular a mere scattering of images from blogs and PHADE’s MySpace of happy Shirt Kings’ customers proved. I’ve always wondered how many of the shoes in those shots came from the legendary Mitch’s shoe spot near the Shirt Kings set up and Eddie Plein’s OG gold grill location. This is a promising publication — salutes to Dokument for putting out this kind of thing.
That was an anaemic Wednesday entry — I promise I’ll make it up to you.
In the meantime, go read the new issue of Oi Polloi’s Pica~Post here. On the subject of re appropriation and style, there’s a good interview with Olmes Carretti the man behind Best Company in there — a brand worn by some top boys as well as Russ Abbott in the ‘Atmosphere’ video. Carretti’s own website is a treasure trove of Euro ads for his brands, including a ton from ten years of Best Company. Is that coke or snow on that guy’s nose?
If in doubt, just pillage a magazine archive for ads. I like to ramble on about morphine-addled authors and the like, but it goes quadruple balsa in terms of visits (still, all of you who read that stuff are quadruply appreciated), so every now and again it’s good to conform to typecasting and up some old Polo stuff. Anyway, if you haven’t already been to Oi Polloi and checked out ‘Pica~Post’ No. 3, I feel bad for you. And if you’re a rival retailer, I quadruple dare you to beat that photo shoot of people bearing fish. Today I mentioned somewhere that 2Pac in the Karl Kani ads beats pretty much all photoshoots bar the Staple X book and Chimp’s canine cap project, but that one’s a winner too. The Andy Votel piece in there about a collector mentality and the birth of Oi Polloi (plus steel-toed adidas Shelltoe obscurities) is also excellent. I wish I could answer his decade-old film query. I’ve got one of my own — a late 1970’s/early 1980’s sci-fi horror that involved a paralysed man with a robot assistant that turned bad. It involved a decapitated head in a washing machine and no, it’s not ‘Demon Seed.’ If you know the answer it’ll be rewarded. I managed to solve the mystery of what the film was where a man went down a mystery hole to hell and went insane (‘Encounter With the Unknown’) or the film where a boy with an aging disease was cast as an alien (The Aurora Encounter’) but this is the only film from my childhood that I just can’t name. Anyway, on the northerners who know their stuff front, ‘The Rig Out’ No. 5 launches tomorrow. A good time for paper coverage of clobber. I wish I could use the term “madhead” in conversation, but as a southerner, it doesn’t work. Anyway, go check those things out. To pad out this blog entry, here’s a slew of Polo ads from between 1979 and 1986, taken from ‘Texas Monthly.’ That big money region was evidently a Polo hotbed. There’s some repeats between this and the ‘Ralph Lauren’ book, plus the handful of Polo-centric Tumblrs, but that illustrated ad above, depicting the Lauren life an overblown cinematic style is amazing and warranted inclusion here. And is there much call for wild knitwear in Texas?
Every time my commitment wavers with regards to anything, I look to the berserkers who carved Slayer onto their skin for inspiration. Unwavering in their dedication, not led by trends and keen to go one louder than a mere tee with deodorant stained pits, the lack of curves in Slayer’s logo letterforms really lend themselves to sharp objects and skin. This is what separates metal fans from the H&M bought pre-faded replica.
This blog entry has been hindered by my escalating addiction to Hypebeast’s Essentials section and the wild comments it attracts. Good to see Mr. Masta Lee from Patta in there too, repping for Lexdray, a brand that makes bags with so many pockets and secret compartments that those of us without a sense of direction are liable to get lost in their own baggage during the packing process. I want to see a book of the images by the end of the year, provided that they include the talkback remarks too. S95s, MacBooks, firearms, Goyard goods and lots of Supreme box logos have all featured, but the layout, with the rollover crosses for extra detail, is impeccable. It sates a certain hypelust for details and gives keyboard Conans something else to vent about.
I haven’t seen anybody break out an Acer netbook yet, but it’s good to see that there are still some BlackBerry users out there — can people really type as fast without keys as they could with them? The sole thing stopping me from grabbing an iPhone is the way in which it would hinder my copywriting missions on the move. Typing anything substantial on my iPad is like trying to play a concerto on the FAO Schwartz floor piano. Scale that down and I can barely tap beyond the perimeters of a text message length before tapping out entirely. RIM fell off in a major way, but the vinegar faces of concentration on my friends, once so deft on the tactile keys of their Bolds, as they try to Instagram a wacky dog they just saw with an accompanying witticism puts me off entirely.
Eureka’s Blu-ray release of Alex Cox’s ‘Repo Man’ is further proof of their commitment to cult, and their newly remastered edition of the film ports some US special edition details over, but also includes the near mythical TV version, shorn of all swearing (like the legendary ITV ‘Robocop’ edit) as well. It’s such a sweary and peculiar film, that it’s perplexing that anybody would think to clip its wings to the point where “Melon farmer” would work as a suitable insult (word to Charles Bronson in ‘Mr. Majestyk’ though, because he’s one bad melon farmer). Just as Criterion block us when it comes to regional limitations, this is a Europe-only release, but at least Eureka had the good grace to put up a nifty little screen when it comes to failed loads for global ‘Repo Man’ fans.
While we’re talking 1984 punk attitude, this old ‘South Bank Show’ on Malcolm McLaren as his ‘Duck Rock’ phase went classical/R&B with ‘Fans’ is worth an hour of your time. The irritated interviews with Steve Jones and the beautiful Annabella Lwin, juxtaposed with remorseless quotable from Malcolm makes it classic, plus it reminded me of just how odd his solo work was, as he sauntered from zeitgeist to zeitgeist, letting the last movement burn as he threw himself into the next big thing.
Trying to remind myself of the joys of vinyl during a central London record shop visit, a costly Red Ninja promo in Reckless had me wondering what became of the mysterious Red Ninja? He was an act who had brief cult fame at my school with the dancehall and hip-hop fans alike. Red Ninja and Kobalt 60 were part of the soundtrack to a Fila F-13 and faux Chipie era in my hometown. I had no idea that there was a Red Ninja video, with a £100 budget that had a brief outing on ‘Dance Energy.’ Raggamuffin British hip-hop with dance moves stays winning.
Oh, and shouts to SAS and the Eurogang movement for the shout out on their ‘Tiffy’ freestyle. It took me back to days amassing CDRs of Dipset mixtapes. Props to Mega for that one.
Before the new issue of Oi Polloi’s excellent Pica~Post arrives, this interview with Shinya Hasegawa of Brooklyn-made Batten Sportswear, a former Woolrich Woolen Mills man who assisted Daiki Suzuki and has Woolrich chambray curtains in his home is worth a read. He namechecks the pioneering GERRY brand, as founded by Gerry Cunningham, rucksack and tent pioneer (read more about him here). Their ’70’s ads were amazing in terms of imagery and copywriting. Several who worked for GERRY spawned their own brands, including co-founder Dale Johnson, who went on to found DIY goose-down brand, Frostline. Somebody needs to bring the art of the homemade goose-down jacket kit back.
Lifted from a 1950 ‘LIFE’ feature, this image of a tattooed human skin, removed from the body (purported to have belonged to a gangster) by Dr. Sei-ichi Fukushi and put on display is both grotesque and amazing. the work looks amazing though. Knuckles and neck pieces are everywhere now, but at that point in time, it was a truly outsider artform and a mark of commitment. This picture makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’d like to see an exhibition of Fukushi’s supposed acquisitions.