I’ve looked up to Amsterdam’s Patta squad since they were putting out mixtapes featuring Non Phixion — their convergence of shoes, music and art, plus their admirable crew mentality has made them a movement (the existence of a Patta Talk group on Facebook, featuring almost 5,500 members is a testament to that. I have an ever-changing list of missions on my mind at any given time, but doing something, anything, with my friends at Patta has been a constant. We had discussions, but projects can vanish or switch repeatedly, so it never happened. Seeing as Lee and the squad have long been supporters of what I do, and I’m a fan, i wanted to put a tick by it. The 10th anniversary Converse project gave me the opportunity to write something more substantial than the 400 words a magazine would probably allow about their intentions, the role of hip-hop in Amsterdam and, most importantly, Edson’s steez, that eclipses any pitiful pocket square wearing, cancer stick posing Pitti tourists right now. It’s in the Today Was a Good Day ‘zine that Patta and Converse (it helps that the Chuck Taylor, which was the collaborative canvas for this project, is a personal favourite too) put out late last month alongside plenty of art and photography by the formidably talented Vincent van de Waal. I had a good couple of days working on this one — salutes to Team Patta.
Kickstarter culture, an anniversary celebration of no significant number for pretty much everything important, hunger for content and anyone coming of age during the 1990s getting their expendable income together means that things I’ve discussed here before are the subject of movies, documentaries, big books and exhibitions. It’s a great thing too. The current Larry Clark print sale at Simon Lee Gallery meant that I could grab a piece of the shoots that informed how I dressed back in the day but it was also an excuse to buy some smut too (which Instagram’s all-seeing eye snatched from my feed). Apparently there’s still a few good shots up for grabs in that wooden crate. I read about The Kids Film a few weeks back – Hamilton Harris‘s documentary on the making of the film and its aftermath (encouraged by the popularity of Caroline Rothstein’s Legends Never Die), with Clark helping as a producer and The Screen Feed ran an interview with Harris about the project last week that’s worth reading.
Soon, orgies of unofficial branding on tees will be fully played, but Boiler Room and Young Turks went in with this collection of logos akin to the late 1999 labels feature from The Face. That grid depicts plenty of Sports Direct favourites — once exotic and prized, but now licensed out for twenty two quid a pop. There’s a couple of ones that kept the flame burning in there too. If you caught the Budgie episode of Boiler Room’s Collections broadcasts then you’ll know that this 45 King episode is going to be heavy too.
Edson is the connoisseur’s connoisseur when it comes to music and clothes and he’s out to cause a baby boom with Luffie Duffie 3 — the last two instalments went in with the slow jams and this one is MOP inverted — smooth never rugged. That Parra cover art is serious too. This goes out on the 5th and you know the Patta squad will christen it the right way.
Patta is ten years old. That’s quite an achievement, because between 2004 and the present day, plenty of stores and brands have fallen by the wayside and the squad have proven that Amsterdam, like Paris, can do the hip-hop thing — from leather goose downs to two-finger jewelry — and maintain the culture’s sense of style without lapsing into herb territory. Edson, Lee, Gee, Tim, Danny, Malvin and the rest of the family are folks I look up to. Except when I see them I always look homeless by comparison, because their swagger is unholy, so I should keep it strictly digital to avoid them highlighting my lack of style. Just as their own brand started popping, Precinct 5 and Patta closed in 2012, but they promised a return and reopened. To do what they’ve done and not sell out (and I know all about selling out — it never ends well) is impressive and this year is going to be big. After the London pop-up, they took it to NYC this year. Setting it off with Stüssy and Pigalle, plus Italian-made running shoes (which sits perfectly with their worldview — they too once looked up to the guys with illicit dough and the obscure, expensive shoes). I believe that there’s a lot more coming too. Does anybody else remember the 2005 mixtape that called in some old Fat Beats affiliates? Shoe related (nearly) everything can eat a dick, but that Non Phixion freestyle over the Run beat that makes a lot of references to running shoes still works. Happy birthday Team Patta.
Watching the Drew Struzan documentary at the same time that I’m writing this, I was reminded of Mr. Charlie Morgan‘s compilation of shoes as they appeared on Struzan’s poster art. There’s Vs, Terra T/Cs, Reeboks, Airwalks and the Sk8-Hi in the mix. Drew knew shoes.
I’m slipping in life. I missed this video of Riff-Raff and Harmony Korine playing basketball over a month ago and I only just saw the Kickstarter page for the Dust & Grooves book. Both are significant additions to the internet.
Being involved in retail (though it’s not secret that my heart lies in marketing and communications), I know it’s ruthless — a world ruled by a handful of innovative spots and a ton of copycats who are perpetrating. I’m not sure whether rules regarding perpetrating and biting were overruled a few years ago but it seems to be the case. My brothers at Patta aka the Dutch Masters are the realest dudes in the business as well as longtime supporters of my crap and the recent temporary downtime for the store proves that goodwill and being legit doesn’t make you bulletproof. It’s rare to meet dudes who walk it like they talk it, but Edson, Lee, Tim and Gee and the rest of the team are those guys — definitely a rare breed.
While we wait for the physical store to return, this MC Theater video of ‘The Patta Story’ is anecdote central, even if some tales are lost in translation, taking it back to the Fat Beats and grey import era (and you know, in your heart of hearts, that grey import was the most interesting part of Euro trainer retail — now those electronic and real-world shelves are exactly the same, give or take a few release dates). They had Parra on some design duties, they made the Air Max their own (who else was going to notice the power of the mini forefoot swoosh?) and put out a mixtape with Non Phixion rapping about New Balance and Spot-bilt over the ‘Run’ instrumental. That’s deep. Even when it’s not open, it’s still my favourite store. After a friend mentioned an encounter with a buyer who hadn’t heard of Sal Barbier, I fear the industry is being assailed by corny “all the shoes but not a clue” type folks – it’s that snapback and AM1 goldrush, yo. But that’s transient nonsense and Patta is forever.
Here’s the obligatory “Look what arrived in the post!” addition to this post — salutes to my friends at Nike for these 2012 iterations of the Hyperdunk. As the worlds of shoe and gadgets clash, it makes these visually incredible with the Flywire strands (originally called Magwire, fact fans), but incredibly hard to wear for casual use. But having messed around with the shoes with the Nike+ Training system I’m keen to use them for lounge workout use with the iPhone and improve my hapless jump height to make myself less of a failure as a man. I saw this version in LA recently and this WLF GRY/FRBRRY-DYNMC BL seems to be some NRG spin on the WBF version that dropped recently with some fancy extra packaging. I like this shoe.
If you haven’t read Paul Gorman’s ‘The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion’ you should have done, because it’s the best book on music and fashion ever written and Gorman has dedicated a whole book to a living legend who was one of the subjects of that book — Tommy Roberts and pioneering his Mr Freedom (not to be mistaken for the Mister Freedom vintage empire, though I always assumed that Christophe Loiron and Tommy Roberts were inspired by William Klein’s film of the same name) store. I’m only a few pages into it, but the cover is proof that Jeremy Scott wasn’t the first to get playful with winged shoes and Roberts ran one of the first clothing brands to collaborate with Disney (in a curiously sexualized way) back in 1969. All with an interest in clothes and the culture of clobber should pick this one up. This and ‘Dream Suits: The Wonderful World of Nudie Cohn’ by Mairi MacKenzie are superior documents of the relationship between a musician and the clothes that define them.
Ah, 1999. Mo’ Wax releases were unlistenable with nice covers, denim was expensive and had Tippex style ‘E’s on the pockets, wallets had chains and Nikes looked like HR Giger designed them. Anyone else remember LEVEL magazine? It seemed to survive from 1999 until 2000, and represented a little Brighton-based moment in UK publishing to complement The Face. Back then I felt that print was on the wane, but I was unaware of the implosion that would leave W.H. Smiths barren bar the trashier mags and the style publications with ad-spend sugar daddies. To go visit the cornershop and grab a magazine with Nigo in it back when English language quasi-otaku antics were seemingly confined to an online Illuminati was surprising and I became a regular reader until LEVEL came to an abrupt end in November 2000 — it’s a shame on a number of levels, not least because the worlds of art, fashion and music it promoted collided in grander style the following year.
Now if I saw a magazine with Shepard Fairey’s work on, I’d be unlikely to even browse it, but back in August 2000 it was genuinely dizzying to see a reference staring me from the shelf. George P. Pelecanos profiles before ‘The Wire’ became the Johnny-come-lately liberal newspaper TV show of choice? Nice. Of course, nothing from the year 2000 can come away looking entirely fresh – Psycho Cowboy Brand garms, “electronica” scored first-gen Playstation games and skate shoes a mile wide were never destined to age well — but the layout is certainly not some over designed attempt to out-Neville Brody the pages and LEVEL came off like the smartest millennial Channel 4 youth show that never was and a less breathless ‘Grand Royal’. I lost my copies to overzealous parents during a move, so shouts to Nikolai of another of 2000’s heroes — Rift Trooper HQ — for hooking me up with some back issues last summer. But nobody told me that LEVEL still exists in online form until I spotted this online (there’s another nice little tribute here too).
Everyone’s a bloody “online magazine” but barely anybody normal I know owns an iPad yet. I still think there’s mileage for something in the vein of LEVEL or France’s Clark from these shores.
I’m a late adopter, yo. Nobody told me that there’s a Patta TV show either. Well, not exactly, but Tim and Mr. Lee Stuart’s presence on Amsterdam-based LetitrainTV (shouts to Gee for hipping me to the site’s existence) makes it very Patta-affiliated indeed. Tim visiting Smit-Cruyff — a pioneering European sports store that broke plenty of brands in Holland — is informative and talk of Prodigy’s autobiography, Eli Porter and running shoes makes this well worth a watch, because these chaps know what the fuck they’re talking about. Best of all, somebody’s kindly subtitled the whole thing too. I love LetitrainTV.
Remember when we were a laughing at that wacky Charlie Sheen earlier this year? Yeah, me neither. But watching Penelope Spheeris’s forgotten masterpiece, ‘The Boys Next Door’ which seems to be ignored when Spheeris talk skips from 1983’s ‘Suburbia’ to 1988’s ‘The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years’ and then ‘Wayne’s World’, I remembered what a powerful screen presence he is. It also reminded me that Maxwell Caulfield — last seen in ‘Emmerdale’ of all places — can be a remarkable actor, who gets to go psycho in this tale of two buddies who go killing for something to do. George Clinton on soundtrack duties, shades of ‘Badlands’ in that aimless malevolence and a genuinely foreboding atmosphere makes this the brooding brother of the Brat Pack flicks of the same year (1985) and the cold-blooded precursor to Tim Hunter’s ‘River’s Edge’ — Crispin Glover actually screen tested for Sheen’s role in ‘The Boys Next Door’ but according to Spheeris, he was deemed “too psychotic”. I need to see that screen test. The opening credits alone indicate that we’re not in John Hughes or Cameron Crowe territory.
I’m unpacking from Berlin. My respect for Vans’s Syndicate line has been mentioned here an awful lot, as has my disdain for both the state of collaborations and physical retail spaces. If every footwear brand had the US/UK facilities that New Balance has as well as a top-tier project as strong as Syndicate, life would be a better and sneakers wouldn’t be as stale. Forgive the stereotyping, but the Germans are thorough. Berlin’s Firmament and Civilist went in this week, offering the antidote to Bread & Butter’s vast denim stands, chambray and Polo shorts and the popularity of Iron Fist clothing.
I love Germany’s ability to throw itself into a sub-culture with an obsessive zeal that’s almost unmatched beyond the otaku types in the far east, and their approach to skate was unhampered by the Berlin Wall before it began to fall on 9 November 1989 — they simply adapted to that existence and used the imagery, surplus and restricted landscape to forge their community. While we were swanning around in fluoro shorts and applying Rip-Grip all over our bulbous boards, East and West Berlin’s youth faced an adversity that strengthened their scene and necessitated a DIY approach. Shouts to Mr. Charles Morgan for the hookup on Civilist’s Syndicate pack — a set that leaves most other dual-label projects in the dust. The leather Chukka Low’s smartly executed, but the pin badges, military-themed Velcro badges on the bag and even the pocket tee that accompanies the set are pitch-perfect in their design.
Some people base a shoe on their favourite ironic ’80s film. Civilist opted to use the Berlin Brigade, the Allied Army unit based in West Berlin and culled from the units already in Berlin made of British and American troops as a result of post-WWII rulings. Brought together for the Berlin Wall crisis in 1961 and disbanded in 1994, the US Army’s Berlin Brigade badge, with its flaming sword, is a key identifier in this project. It’s a striking piece of imagery.
The Morganator put me onto last year’s ‘Transit: Berlin Skateboarding Retrospektive’ ‘zine too, providing some excellent background information and imagery on the scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Tied with an in-store exhibition, Civilist and Vans created the best thing I saw (or put on my foot) this week. Team Civilist are also the minds behind the mysterious Aspekt Ratio — a newspaper-size publication which I assumed never had a follow-up after issue #0 in early 2007.
A few years on and Aspekt Ratio #1 is out ( I think it dropped much earlier in the year), shitting on much of the print competition. I admired the preview issue for its sprawling interview pieces, but issue #1’s pieces on clubbing, Australian youth movement, the Sharpies (particularly enlightening) and interviews with Mike Mills and C.M. Talkington are very much my “thing” if that “thing” could ever be defined. I’ve seen a lot of attempts to put this thing of ours onto paper after the gradual cancellations of several key magazines that educated me during the ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s (are those rumours about the return of ‘Mass Appeal’ true?), but this is among the best thus far. Did I mention that it’s free? There’s a website (www.aspektratio.com), but don’t expect some cuddly abundance of detail on their. It’s worth the hunt.
I did another list for my buddies at Complex on the top 50 sneaker moments in movies – well, it’s more ’50 interesting appearances by shoes in films’ than anything comprehensive, but that wouldn’t bring in the click-throughs. I didn’t check the feedback because I assume it’s all, “You missed XXXXXXX you fucking idiot” and “This shit is lame, Complex fell off” etc. etc. Funnily enough, I couldn’t care a fuck – I’m onto the next one, though I am livid at myself for forgetting the PF Flyers in ‘The Sandlot Kids.’ Check out the list here. Shouts to Russ and Joe for getting me involved again.
Props to Mubi for risking his liberty to bring back these Patta mini-penknives that are a preview of their work with KangaROOS. Victorinox products are the promo products of kings. Shouts to team Patta for arming us.
I respect Kenneth Grange’s design savvy, with a portfolio that included trains and pens, and no signifier that they’re Kenneth’s work other than the fact each creation is very, very good. With an inspirational work ethic, the man’s a genius. In a world where you only have to change the colour of some buttons for some sycophant to bellow “GENIUS” on Twitter in the hope of earning an Retweet that doesn’t sound like much, but Kenneth Grange is the real-deal. To coincide with the ‘Making Britain Modern’ exhibition of his work at London’s Design Museum (bafflingly, the first Grange retrospective), there’s a book dropping in August too. It’s probably worth investing in.
The “I found it while I was looking for something else” argument for finding porn is shit, but it’s still used by husbands, boyfriends and sons globally, but I found the downgirlz.com (NSFW) site entirely by accident while I was working on a project on outerwear. I wasn’t complaining — not because I’m some kind of fetishist for feather filled jackets on females, but because, it was half-naked women and North Face. Then I realised that it’s a paysite and that some of the bondage content is a little creepy. Good titles though — “Betty is layered in 3 XXXL Nupste jackets” “Betty frogtied in Marmot” “Betty in Mountain Equipment Co-Op Expedition down jacket”
I had no idea that a North Face down jacket fetish actually existed but it seems I’m not worldly enough. It takes notions of jacket porn to a literal level.
On peeping the Nike archive in Beaverton late last year, I made so many mental notes that my memory seems to have crashed since, fragmenting the amazing things that I was shown. I remember Air Trainer Max with a 180 unit, some sketches of the Air Safari, with it looking more like a loafer of some kind and some BWs that looked like they were built for a memory — those are just extracts of a blur. One thing that leapt out was that Nike’s apparel was strong from the early days — I’d been led to believe from books like ‘Swoosh’ that apparel was a weak point until the early 1980s. Incorrect. Displayed in lockers, there were some pristine examples of excellent design.
The morning before visiting, I put my camera to the side, assuming I would get it smashed to smithereens if I so much as aimed it. On arrival, Dan (who does an excellent job of looking after the Department of Nike Archives) asked me where my camera was. That’s one error I may take to the grave. If my spirit has to tread mournfully through corridors, I want it to lurk in that vast, dusty, shoe-stacked space.
In that maelstrom of geekery that was the Nike archive tour, I managed to forget something significant. Champion x Nike pieces. Of course, I’m overstating the nature of the garments, because Nike were — quite rightly — focusing on footwear to start, in the mid 1970s, they printed a few (presumably rush made) designs on Champion Reverse Weaves, tees and polos. They did the same with Hanes and Russell Athletic too, but it’s bizarre to see two brands so close to my heart in a solitary piece of apparel. It was ‘Lightning’ magazine’s peerless ‘Nike Chronicle’ issue/book/bible (shouts to Russ and Koba) that reminded me of that sighting. It’s the greatest (sweatshirt) story never told.
If you haven’t checked out isysarchive.tv yet, then you’re slipping. Yeah, everyone’s making a blog about trousers or retros of retros of reissues, but very few are getting to the crux of the cultural context or even reflecting what anybody in the real world actually wears beyond clusters of circle jerks in beige and khaki single-gear hotspots. These folk are doing a good job of trying to capture the realer stuff. I need to get off my arse and write something for them, because they’ve asked me nicely loads of times and I keep stalling. They just upped an interview with Matt Wolf, who directed the impending ‘Teenage’ documentary based on John Savage’s excellent book.
I have to shout out Sharma from WAH for creating a format I copied for this blog when she dropped knowledge on Raiders caps many years ago and for giving me an uncorrected press copy of Savage’s opus back in 2007 — it was an education, and I loved the image of a “typical” Mancunian hooligan in the late 1800s, with “narrow-go-wide” trousers, an elaborate belt buckle and a peaked cap in an early example of sensationalist scaremongering with regards to the younger generation. I would love to see a “professional scuttler” on SBTV spitting bars about their crime life.
My people at MOTHERFUCKING Patta have relaunched their website with a little blog to accompany the e-commerce and other good stuff. Patta and Precinct 5 man dem are family, and it’s worth noting that they just upped a link to the first ‘Luffie Duffie’ from DJ Edzon. I hope they up the old Patta Mix Tape from the same year too. People need to know that there was once a time – not too long ago – when sneaker references on a freestyle weren’t the corniest shit ever.
While we’re talking about real gs on the European side of things, Thomas Giorgetti gets shit done. If you haven’t seen the screwface he administers at the mere thought of a Jordan II that isn’t made in Italy in the ‘Sneakerheads’ documentary, you’re missing out. That’s the sneer of a connoisseur. From graffiti to creating something that’s more than another workwear line or fey facsimile line, Bleu de Paname keeps with the power moves and this Visionnaire video is good. I like how Thomas ties graffiti to the most prominent of his current occupations. ‘Lil’ Tyler’ magazine doesn’t get the recognition it deserved — the father of many styles.