Paul Gorman knows a lot about British subcultures. If you’ve looked for anything particularly niche online that pertains to London’s forgotten boutiques or obscure publications, you probably stumbled onto Gorman’s blog. For instance, his site houses the only details I’ve seen on Rivington Street store Modern Classics. He’s a good match for Nick Knight’s SHOWStudio, and he just opened his enviable magazine archives as part of the Print project on the site. Alongside articles on important publications like Cheap Date, it’s set to up features on Scott King and his Sleazenation work, plus an analysis of Peter Saville’s work on 1989’s New Order Untitled book — a tour programme that Saville barely finished in time for the tour’s conclusion. For many of us, youth culture and memorable magazines tend to fall into the same list — 1970s and early 1980s NMEs, Rolling Stone at its peak, Blitz, Interview, i-D and The Face. Gorman sidesteps the obvious to talk Lou Stoppard through some barely discussed gems — West One, Rags, Street Life, 19 and Ritz being just a few. Who would have thought that a jazz mag like Club International started with such strong artistic inclinations? The accompanying discussion gives some important insight regarding the role of the magazine as leader, then follower when it came to youth movements. Take 54 minutes out to watch this video, then check out all the features on the Print pages of the SHOW site. Afterwards, I recommend hitting up eBay to discover just how obscure and tough to track down some of Gorman’s gems are. A real education — just in case you thought you knew it all.
Given the current craze for multiple brands on a garment by illegal means with almost as much gusto as the bootleg boom of the late 1980s and the strange period when Boss, Nike and adidas shared shirt space with a neon rainbow fade connecting rival or disparate logos. This shirt from Oshman’s celebrates their extended family of outdoor brands (with an appropriately bouncy typeface) but omits Patagonia and Arc’teryx from proceedings despite their key positions in the Harajuku store. That’s a whole lot of big names in one place on the back of this t-shirt and while Merrell might have kicked back and become a laceless dad shoe of choice without any semblance of Free & Easy’s rugged paternal style, those with a longer memory might recall Merrell having some staggeringly expensive, Italian-made hikers like the Wilderness on the market back in the very early 1990s that rivalled Vasque. They definitely managed to kill that credibility on these shores, but in Japan they seem to be in good company. This brand orgy is excellent.
Paul Gorman is one of my favourite writers and while I wait for his books on The Face and artist Derek Boshier (check out this Clash artwork) I read a brief stopgap in the new GQ with Gorman’s feature on British photographer and fashion editor of Paul Raymond’s Club International, David Parkinson. It’s an education if you want to find out more about a forgotten legend who did a lot of things worshipped now several decades earlier, but took his own life before he could capitalise on it. On the subject of British subcultures rarely explored, the Dean Chalkley and Harris Elliott curated Return of the Rude Boy exhibition looks like it’s going to be a necessary visit when it opens in mid-June and this Guardian piece offers a quick overview of the look’s origins. It looks like Barrie Sharpe’s book has been successfully kickstarted too, meaning the Duffer story — and a lot of London’s clubland moments from a pivotal time — will be told.
I worked on a little project — Genealogy of Innovation that includes around 200 shoes — for the Nike Football Phenomenal House project that opens in London tomorrow at the Sorting Office on New Oxford Street. Lots of football boots from the past and a few other important shoes (with a few underrated gems in the mix) and it’s on until Saturday. There might be some more discussion regarding that exhibition on this blog next week at some point.
The debt I owe to The Face for at least providing me, the reader, with the perception of being in the loop is immeasurable and it’s something that completely changed how magazines looked, from costly tomes to free supplements. While a Rolling Stone or New Yorker style digital archive would be tremendous (and I wish Vice would do the same for i-D), a book on its rise, reign and slide is a good idea and with Paul Gorman — the man behind the excellent Reasons to Be Cheerful, Mr Freedom and the classic The Look: Adventures In Pop & Rock Fashion — writing it, Legacy: The Story of The Face (Thames & Hudson) is going to be a necessity when it arrives in 2015. As a hint of what’s coming, the talk of it being made with the participation of founder Nick Logan (to whom any appreciator of perfect print owes a significant debt) is previewed in Gorman’s conversation with Logan in the 20th anniversary issue of Arena Homme Plus. To commemorate two decades in the business and having the credibility capital and creativity to outlive its parent publication, that issue really delivers — provided that you can deal with the abundance of male nudity that it defiantly throws in the mix, it engages in some champion shit talking, with shots fired in i-D and Morrissey’s direction, Jean Touitou giving a typically good interview (complete with comedy accents), MA-1s, my friend Gary Aspden’s essay on the misappropriation of sportswear and the rise of the real deal, plus some other things. There’s a lot of substance between the glossy stuff and pics of dicks (innuendo unintended but inevitable).
Shouts to Long Live Southbank, Hold Tight films and all involved (Ben Powell really nails it with every comment he makes to the camera) for Long Live Southbank: The Bigger Picture, a measured response to the famed undercroft’s threat. As the Southbank Centre celebrates the 40th anniversary of this skate spot by deciding to shut it down entirely, this puts the case across for its preservation with contributions from famous faces and the activists and volunteers putting in work to try and keep it alive. No stick it to the man ranting and no hysterical retaliation.
In a world where we want to talk about past triumphs and educate from indoors, nobody in power wants to understand the psychology of skating. There’s nothing like promoting creativity by stamping it out in its purest form and nothing breeds apathy like people in charge dismissing creative activism as small-mindedness. I’m inclined to think that those 64,000 petition signatures would have hit 100,000+ if everybody rocking a five panel cap and weed leaf patterns on their socks in the city had signed it.