Documents of what built London’s street culture (for want of a better term) seem to be dropping as if an embargo on nostalgia just got lifted. You can expect a couple of films on the city’s role in creating fashion cliques that dipped into hip-hop, skatewear and high fashion with Zelig-like ease (well, the magazine coverage made it look effortless) and a couple of books on related topics too. Another series of spots I read about in The Face time and time again were the Cuts hair salons (that name seemed to switch with each successive move) — Kensington-based until 1984’s Soho opening, where shifted three times, resulting in its current Dean Street location. Cuts founder James Lebon’s contribution to the culture is colossal (this obituary offers an overview of his achievements) from celebrity hairdresser status to early retirement from the scissors to get behind the camera and make films and music videos (trivia: if you watched Channel 4’s Passengers, then you definitely saw his work at some point). Now there’s film made of archive footage of Cuts’ history — which includes a heavy role in defining Buffalo style and creating the much imitated and maligned ‘Hoxton fin’ in the early 2000s — with the in-production Cuts the Movie documentary by Sarah Lewis. Taken from 18 years worth of film, and with access to Mark Lebon’s archive, it should show the changing face of Soho (which managed to alter significantly in the few short years I worked there) and, with Crossrail’s Godzilla steps, seems to be rapidly changing for the worse. In Cuts the Movie’s late 1990s footage, it’s pretty much a different world (bar the invincible Bar Italia). I can’t wait to see this one and the obligatory crowdfunding appeal (this time using London’s Phundee) kicking off in mid-April.
I horde books on sports footwear for both work and my personal curiosity. Some are good. Most are wasted opportunities. Largely it’s down to the writer not knowing anything about the subject matter and covering what a cursory Google search would yield, or a lack of any cultural context and academic approach. As somebody whose vision of brands and their output is completely clouded by years of obsession, I’d love to read something that really told the history of the performance shoe from the beginning to the billion pound industry we see today. I’d go nuts for a 128 page book on the history of designer brands and their forays into sportswear to be honest. I know I’ll end up grabbing Out of the Box: the Rise of Sneaker Culture, which releases via Rizzoli this July for completists sake, but I’m expecting something a little better than the same old same, because shoes have been shot from Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum (where the original Out of the Box exhibition ran from April 2013 until June last year), the objects on display date back to the 1800s and it promises some all-important (provided you didn’t sign up to look at the same set of Jordans and Yeezys that everyone owns). As the writer of the best book on this topic ever, Bobbito Garcia knows and Elizabeth Semmelhack knows about footwear to a scholarly degree. As obnoxious as the cover is, it seems like a fair reflection of the horrible state of things right now.
Happy new year. Hold off the social media threats of impending greatness and triumphant/anti-hater sloganeering for a minute and realise that you’re not going to be as successful as Ralph Lauren in 2015. Still, it’s something to aim for in the long-term though, and this interview on YouTube with China’s Oprah-esque media mogul Yang Lan (I originally, excitedly, read the title as, Yung Lean One on One with Ralph Lauren) at his NY home is worth a watch to extract some tips from. There’s nothing too insightful here if you’re already a fan boy or fan girl, and the sound inexplicably turning mute 30-minutes into both one-hour segments isn’t too helpful either, but it’s interesting nonetheless. Incidentally, am I the only person who finds the new label in Polo gear deeply disorienting?
If you’re looking for ideas to borrow this year because you haven’t got your own, you could do a lot worse than get the retrospective of former Junya Watanabe turned solo innovator Chitose Abe’s Sacai brand from Rizzoli when it drops in April. Sacai: A to Z compiles 16 years of experiments in fit, material and design from a Japanese label that’s acclaimed but seldom explored in any great depth with essays from people who know what they’re talking about like Tim Blanks.
After over a decade of Champion as a licensed brand putting its name to some total crap in the UK, a trip to Jacket Required revealed that the brand was coming back in a big way. Whether this deads the brand as a cult object of desire or elevates the power of the C across the board remains to be seen (without Supreme’s co-sign at a collaborative level I’m guessing that this probably wouldn’t actually be happening — I recall meeting dead ends helping a friend try to release a similar collection over here before the Supreme store opened in London), but the (non American-made) product is good — Reverse Weave sweats with the chest and sleeve branding in the orange I always wanted, plus some bold colours that tap into the casual/Paninaro nostalgia as well as the usual skate and hip-hop cues, script sweats with the stripes on the cuffs and waist, plus, controversially, a crew with a vast C that reminded me of the medium-sized tees I was ogling in the nanamica store in Tokyo a couple of months back. My good friend Nick Schonberger hates the latter (which is dropping in five colours) — I’m into it at the moment, but I wish it dropped in Modell’s rather than the spots that might be stocking it alongside generic struggle streetwear on these shores. Looking at the IG debate when size? announced their Champion offerings, it looks like there’s still some damage control needed to give the brand the status it once had and sell sweats around the 80 quid mark. At least this product (which I believe is being distributed by the same company that’s putting the Canadian-made Todd Snyder pieces into top-tier stores) ticks a few boxes on a few wish lists in terms of details. Not bad.
If you pretend that nothing New Order-related has happened since early 2005 and ignore the beefs, the DJ gigs, the new lineups and the kind of person who won’t stop telling you how ace they were live at the The Haçienda or wherever they changed their life, they’re still a great, great band with an incredible visual identity. The 2010 Rizzoli Joy Division book that compiled Kevin Cummins’ images of the band was pretty good and next year they’re releasing New Order, a book of Cummins’ New Order photographs. The last book had Jay McInerney on intro duties and this time they’ve drafted in Douglas Coupland to pen the introduction. Nice cover.
The Hiroshi Fujiwara fragment retrospective on Rizzoli is pretty good. If you grabbed the Sneakers Tokyo and Personal Effects books, surprises are going to be minimised, but if you haven’t, it delivers the goods. Over the years I’ve heard the, “Hiroshi Fujiwara of (insert country/city)…” mentioned whenever it comes to isolating cool guys, but the majority exist as alpha individuals who are still followers who made the most of a digital world. Hiroshi laid down roots through an obsession with exploration and isolating personal picks and his taste is impeccable — more a McLaren-style figure than a blog-wonder. That’s what makes the difference, and for all the use of taste maker in the industry, there aren’t a great deal of them out there. The Faderarticle from 2000 is a good complement to this one and much of his travels outlined in this Interview piece help fill some gaps which aren’t fully explored in this publication — I’m still fascinated by the trips to London and NYC (and there’s some good examples of his Seditionaries and Westwood archive pieces at the close of the book), Soul II Soul connections, Tinnie Punx/Tiny Panx Organization, bearing witness to the Wild Style tour and all those Last Orgy articles (an English translation of Masayuki Kawakatsu’s biographyTiny Punk on the Hills would have cleared up a lot of that period from 1982 onwards). I want to know about the things that don’t necessarily translate, but the man behind the brands is fully aware that too much information can ruin the bloke as a brand. It’s good to be able to isolate the genesis years of Goodenough, Electric Cottage and A.F.F.A. and John C. Jay’s intro is a particular standout— as long as folks are calling themselves influencers on Linkedin, we’re unlikely to see another character make an impact like this. Not bad.
Northerners are the reason a lot of us fetishise coats and sportswear like we do — Oi Polloi’s progressive approach to something that started on the terraces is a great deal truer to the original energy than strutting around in a replica track top. Looking like you just got out of prison after 31 years in solitary confinement or dressing in a gang bang of anachronistic retro garments defeats a hard-to-define purpose. The new Pica~Post (free) and Proper (seven quid) put most competition to shame: a long discussion on sweatshirts with the Good Measure team and talk with an elderly ultra marathoner are the kind of content I mess with.
This edit from Dan Magee of a ton of classic and rare footage brought back memories of skateboard attacks at the end of the Right to Skate tape as well as some happier recollections. It’s a good use of two hours and seeing as my day began listening to Kid Capri tapes on YouTube and ended with this, my post about shutting the fuck up about 1993 a few years back has reached new heights of hypocrisy.
I’m backing any brand that does outerwear right and ALL THAT IS LEFT has a good pedigree. I know this new line will be putting out a full range beyond jackets that seems to include denim and leather goods, but this orange GORE-TEX shell creation with a Pertex shelled lining that contains Canadian Hutterite down looks bananas (read here for a primer on fancy feather insulation). It looks like it launches in September and my expectations are sky-high.
Yeah, Kirkland Sagnature have been discussed on here a lot but if you can’t be bothered with the brain drain of choice every AM, you can’t go wrong with a 6-pack of the white tees from Costco. In my eyes, for accessibility and replacement in bulk, this is the best white shirt on the market. You can hurl your suggestions at me (and my soft spot for the thick Pro Club and Hanes Beefy is still functioning, but they’re very different shirts — Hanes loses points for the wacky pricing after some store applies VAT and Pro Club seems to need a west coast hookup) with Kirkland, you’ve got the perfect summer weight — light without being blouse-thin to the point where your nipple hair is visible, a neck that my giant head doesn’t leave wave-like stretch marks in and the correct length on the arms and waist, with minimal shrinkage and no sense of smedium after three washes. And if you’re still prepping an argument against me, they’re £2.66 each, because a six-pack is £16. I always liked Puffy’s late 1990s cheap, throwaway white tee, all-white adidas Superstar and Rolex President combo and I can’t get down with any brand’s proclamation that they’ve created “the ultimate white t-shirt” as if they’ve found the cure to cancer – any white tee that’s over a tenner should be treated with suspicion. I want something that I don’t fear spillage on — in fact, in the event of a Ribena indecent or hot rock drop, you can live out your Dame Dash pre-bankruptcy fantasies for £48 and not even bother washing tees. Just throw them shits away. But if you choose to wash them, I can testify that Kirkland comes through too. Shouts to Sean at Urban Industry for having the cash and carry hookup.
While Costco are the kings of white t-shirts, Edwin PHADE Sacasa and the Shirt Kings crew are pioneers of the hip-hop print, If you wanted your blanks decorated with a firearm-wielding Roger Rabbit, you know who to call. More pictures from Dokument‘s Shirt Kings (complete with an intro by MC Serch) by PHADE and KET are out there to coincide with the book’s release and I can’t get enough of documentation of their custom creations. Mother and daughter Dapper Dan gear is particularly good. If you want to understand the foundations of street style, there has never been a better time.
Shouts to Adam Welch for putting my quotes into this Independent piece on high-end sports footwear. It was good to talk up Gucci Tennis 84s and Dapper Dan in a national publication — Adam did a good job too. The New Balance number nerds waiting to tell me that Kanye wore 997.5s need to fall back, because the message in this article was well handled and nicely written. Despite my strange cat analogy, it’s probably the first newspaper article I’ve been interviewed for that didn’t make me want to punch myself in the temple immediately after it went to print.
On the Gucci Tennis topic, I spotted this photo for sale on eBay a few months back, shot for a Miami newspaper in 1984. Wish I could find the article it was written for.
What the fuck is up with rappers and singers wearing Superdry? Gunplay’s pick of Supreme-biting brand was bad enough, but look at the images above, then look at what some rappers have elected to wear now. Ice T wearing it is kind of sad, Jay Sean is a Superdry kind of guy, so I’m not surprised. Pos from De La Soul broke out the wack polo, but it’s all good because he’s Pos and can do what he damn well wants with immunity, but the younger generation? The Martorialist pointed out the tragedy of A-Mafia wearing it late last year, but Mr. Pete Williams pointed out a sighting on Lil Durk’s latest 52 Bars chapter. Superdry does not belong on a Young Chop beat. There’s no excuse for wearing this stuff in a video — if it’s meant to match your shoes, then you may as well be wearing PUMA Discs on your feet. The only amnesty in the Superdry rap video situation is this model in Fat Joe’s Pride n Joy. She still would have looked better without the lettering. Rappers looking like they did a Karmaloop trolley dash is a good argument against streetwear on rappers, but high streetwear on them? Very strange.
Erik Brunetti’s Instagram is always interesting, taking in animals, artifacts, artwork and other awesomeness. He just upped the cover of forthcoming Fuct book (release date is September 3rd). Looking forward to picking this up.
With the Evil Dead remake ready for a UK release, it’s a shame that there won’t be any low-budget spots like this Evil Dead II one from 1987 that featured Sam Raimi and Jonathan Ross. I recall seeing this on Channel 4 early one evening and becoming immediately obsessed with Dead By Dawn. Ross, like Alex Cox, educated me in several matters of cult cinema. ThisIncredibly Strange Film Show Sam Raimi episode was a game changer for me and these ads seemed unlike anything I’d seen for a movie on these shores, delivering a nice dodge from showing any of the controversial content pre-watershed.
The amount of boot talk on here is pretty monotonous, to the point where I considered creating a spinoff site called Shitkickers, that was solely dedicated to them. But I never got round to it. The reason for their ubiquity here as a topic is that there’s too many great brands out there with amazing ads to ignore when we’re talking about matters of design and construction. My respect for the Italian boot industry is substantial (as the preoccupation with La Sportiva and Vasque demonstrates) and Montebelluna is the town that matters when it comes to that artform (it’s also where Nike gets certain football boots made too) to the point where it houses the Museo dello Scarpone aka. the Museum of the Boot which looks very interesting indeed. Aku is one of those brands with plenty of performance cred up to the present day, but one that actively sought an urban consumer when it launched Stateside circa 1997. It’s an interesting case study in delivering two very different messages for their Timberland-clad trend consumer and the climbing and hiking communities — presumably via a U.S. licence holder.
The blacked out ads in urban outlets like ‘Vibe’ and ‘The Source’ highlighted cost and style, while brushing on the performance side and mentioning the all-important GORE-TEX while the ads for hiking press are dense with facts and figures. Launched around 1990 by boot boffin with innovative inclinations Galliano Bordin as the successor to his workshop’s Dinsport trekking and ski boot brand that ran from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, Aku is a classic Montebelluna brand. I never saw much more advertising this extensive after these March 1997 campaigns (maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough), but while it’s not the stuff of rap lyric references, I know a few New Yorkers who still get misty-eyed for the $220+ priced pieces of the line from 15 years ago that date back to a time when they were losing it over Italian off-roaders.
Related to the above through its nationality, the appearance on the Rizzoli site of the ‘Thirty Years of Research in Style: WP Lavori in Corso’ book, with a publication date of April 16th is a reason to be happy this year. If the Massimo Osti and Stone Island tomes didn’t deliver enough documentation of Italian impact on the way we dress, here’s some more for you. As you can see above, I can look at old ads old day, and from the preview on the WP Lavori site, it looks pretty heavy on the ad archive front. With WP Lavori and its creative director Andrea Canè being a cover star on ‘Inventory’s sixth issue, that relationship seems to have expanded, meaning the book is an ‘Inventory’ co-production. I like Philip Watts and Leanne Cloudsdale’s writing, and the ‘Inventory’ aesthetic means a certain clarity and quality control that I respect. WP Lavori have been putting it down for a shedloads of classic brands since 1982, acquiring, licensing and crucially, treating the companies in question with a certain respect that guarantees longevity, long before there were blogs or carefully rehearsed artful layering for Pitti Uomo tradeshow camera coverage on said blogs. This book is likely to be good.
Can we tenuously link this to the above via Tom Penny’s Columbia boots? No? Okay then. Ged Wells’ Insane brand has been mentioned here before but the history page on the relaunched brand’s website is worth reading to learn how the brand grew, from Andy Holmes giving Wells’ work a name, Hiroshi Fujiwara introducing it to Japan, Jesus Jones’ role in boosting the brand’s popularity, Sophia Prantera’s work that evolved it significantly and ’30 Days of Night’, ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ director David Slade being the director of the Insane skate video back in the day. Basically, it’s all the stuff I managed to not mention when I blogged about Insane a few years back, but it reinforces the significance of Ged’s creations and reminds me of the days when Curtis McCann was that dude.
Every now and again I get an email asking me about how to break into the “industry.” I don’t even know if I’ve broken into this mysterious industry, but I know one thing — a specific course isn’t necessary. You can learn a fair bit if you’re willing to work around some very strange, insecure and duplicitous individuals. The majority of people you go to are going to tell you that blogs are dead in favour of social media outlets that reward glimpse attention spans — if that’s the case, how do you shine? Most blogs on the fashion and streetwear side are pretty piss-poor — yep, there’s a couple of blogs re-blogging the same cookbook for every human being on this planet, but if you deliver quality writing or at least something smart-arsed (and the whole self-congratulations for rewriting a press release rather than copy-pasting it is a little Chris Rock “…you low-expectation-having motherfucker!” routine) you’ll get noticed. You don’t need to have some wild online magazine that causes you to crumble under your own imposed duties and you don’t need to drop some manifesto that promises the second coming — it’s liable to go shit-shaped. Don’t send the link to a blog you update once every two months because it renders you instantly unemployable – just submit some work blindly and see if you get some feedback (you’d be surprised how few people actually do that —they usually email for tips because they’re losers in the making “thinking” of starting something). Don’t be excessively thirsty on social media or there’ll be Google evidence of your corny past.
Once you’ve started writing, hate the last thing you wrote and try to get better — ignore any positives from serial retweeters, friends or family and hunt the approval of people that hate everything instead. Be aware that making colourways of sports footwear is basically as easy as doing a NIKEiD, albeit with maybe quarter of an hour of market consideration preceding it. You don’t need to create some crazy notion of having a team or a vast office (the “GWARIZM team at GWARIZM HQ” is me scratching my balls on a sofa with ‘Heat’ playing on Blu-ray in the background) — just be you. Having a crew can be overrated, so go solo — you don’t need bells and whistles. Here’s where there’s a fork in the road — you can make like Robert Greene and follow rule #40 “Despise the free lunch” to keep your integrity (I’ve failed on that count) or use your blog to sap up freebies by PRs and brands who are thirsty for coverage to send to an international HQ staffed by the clueless regardless of quality. Oh, and read as many books as you can — not those magazines we get sent and have to pretend to like because it’s such a tiny little circle of backslappers, but proper books. Then you’ll be able to render jaded old chancers like me unemployable and dominate the “industry” you were keen to be part of. It’s all one big game, but follow the above and you’ll get at least one free pair of shoes and/or a t-shirt within 3 months. I should be charging for some kind of diploma in being a chancer.
Mr. Erik Brunetti has a ‘FUCT’ book coming out in April 2013, and he kindly let me write a little bit of stuff for it. That brand changed my life as a kid, back when Erik was Rocco affiliated and I still don’t think Erik’s art skills and the excellence of the brand’s archive has been sufficiently celebrated. It’s more relevant than ever when the world is claiming that “streetwear’s back” and brand owners are all huggy and want to be buddies with you. A lot of people took ideas from FUCT and I think this book will deliver exhaustive evidence that they broke plenty of ground. On the Rizzoli site it lists me as a “streetwear icon” alongside Aaron Rose. Rose is far, far more talented than me and I’m neither iconic nor streetwear. Like I said, I’m just some dude on the sofa, scratching his balls and watching ‘Heat.’
This Jil Sander Men’s Cardboard Sandwich Bag for £175 (“Made in the same fashion as a paper lunch bag”) at oki-ni is strictly for fashionistas to hyperventilate into now they know the Raf Simons/Sander connection is kaput. This seems like one big amazing in-joke — I triple dare you to explain this to a parent. It makes me feel like my dad did the first time I showed him a pair of Jordans and told him the RRP. You could keep your £600 visvim book in it. Or you could go to a local Yates’s and make it rain for 20 minutes to Jessie J and the ‘Grease Megamix’ — I think the latter might be a wiser investment.
Another MacBook is unleashing the spinning wheel, so I’m using an Acer that doesn’t have PhotoShop and doesn’t seem to want to accept the card from my camera. So you can make do with over stylised, untrustworthy Instagram shots with the filters that make terrible things look acceptable. I’m grateful that as yet, no magic haze has made writing look much better, though we hobbyist copywriters were hit by nobody actually reading anything over two sentences any more and people trying to tell us to write with Google in mind, so I think we’re all equally screwed by social media in 2012. I visited Jacket Required on Friday and got to wander around a tradeshow devoid of men who look like Zucchero and the guy from Nightcrawlers wielding multiple Wrangler and Superdry goodie bags. There were plenty of beige and camo things on display, plus lots of people seemed to be doing animal printed Y’OH-alikes without Kara’s reference points, but highlights came from Wood Wood’s technical-looking, sporty stuff, Our Legacy’s athletic pieces and Soulland’s Versace faux house of Soulland style sweats.
Lots of colour, lots of embroidery and a look of diffusion line that should set of something in the head of multiple generations who grew up desperate to amass labels. Soulland make beautiful, brilliant clothes and Silas Adler just gets it – I would have thought this brand was amazing for collaborating with Jacob Holdt a few years back, but for continually evolving, surely it’s due to blow up imminently? The orange sweat in particular had me bugging out the most. The blogs are about to go wild for technical apparel (which only a handful of factories in the world can execute properly) and food, but these sweats hit the sweet spot between older brother wear nostalgia and simply being bold and brilliant and confident in those tonal embroideries. US men’s magazines are all over Scandinavia at the moment, but they make it sound like little more than blonde women, slicked back hair, beards and rolled up pants, which I suppose it is, but additionally the clothing coming out of there leaves your heritage brand sprawling by evolving into the perfect mix of basics, avant-garde and detail.
What also had me hyped (though it wasn’t necessarily on display) was the UK-made Palace gear. Being a non-skater doofus who still wears the shirts, I was accosted with regards to the source of my Palace shirt during my recent NYC holiday and the brand seems to have gathered hype at an alarming rate. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch either. See those eBay prices for the Chanel tribute sweats? The way the Trail Blazers snapback is everywhere and how the afterthought New York Giants tee became a bestseller? Crazy. Now the brand has been bootlegged multiple times, people seem to think the comedy surf line is a fake too, but they’re mistaken. British made shirts (are we allowed to use that term “cut and sew” with its visions of gun print tee brands switching to preppy chambrays and chinos really badly?), jackets, plus trousers and other stuff is a nice expansion of the Palace brand and a nice Tango slap to anyone who thought it was just about bolshy screenprints. That’s’s something to look forward to over the next month.
If you know central London, you know that Camissa & Son does the best sandwich in the area at a good price. My friends at Slam City know that and they’ve contributed that recommendation to Vans’ Syndicate newspaper, ‘These Days’. I’m on Syndicate’s dick because it always gets things right. That LXVI stuff? I’m not convinced yet, but Syndicate’s packaging, risky choice of collaborators and hard-core approach to distribution is always appreciated. Their paper (supplied to me by Mr Charles Morgan) reminds me of Berlin’s fine ‘Aspekt Ratio’ in its broadsheet execution, but the lengthy Jason Dill and Anthony Van Engelen interview, guide to making your own tattoo machine, W(Taps’ TET on his first Vans (a pair of Sk8 His), an Ice-T interview (bringing the whole $YNDICATE thing full circle), chat with skate ‘zine legend Gary Scott Davis and a Mike Hill Alien Workshop design retrospective are all tremendous. I know creating a tangible piece of print media is this year’s equivalent of the dull video lookbook and teaser, but this is absorbing, passionate content that should resonate with multiple generations.
Lots of people hate Byron Crawford, but you can’t deny that his musings are the perfect antidote to a world where everybody’s toadying with hip-hop so they don’t get locked out the listening party. He’s just put out a Kindle book, ‘Mindset of a Champion: Your Favorite Rapper’s Least Favorite Book’ charting his rise from proto-blogger to-day jobber and internet, sorry, internets, star. It reads like one vast, sprawling, semi-proofed blog entry, but it’s a fun read. Crawford has a knack for capturing mundanity that matches his appetite for controversy (“KRS-One himself has never been on crack, as far as I know. he’s just crack-ish. he used to be homeless. He’s know for making off the wall statements.”) and there’s tales of rap board wars, talkbacks and hip-hop journalism that justify the £2 outlay within just a couple of chapters.
This interview with Brent Rollins is excellent. Like me, he wishes he came up with the UNDFTD logo, but unlike me, he’s a design genius and it’s revealed that he’s the Jordan IV and orange sock dude on the ‘Do the Right Thing’ poster. On a Complex-related note, this rant from the perspective of some chisel toe shoes is also worth your time.
The Kate Uptons of this world will come and go, but people will still get excited about Kate Moss. Yayo footage couldn’t stop her and neither can any number of sket upstarts. There’s a whole book about her called ‘Kate: the Kate Moss Book’ dropping in November via Rizzoli delivering a full retrospective of her career thus far. Jefferson Hack and Jess Hallett editing, plus an $85 pricetag and 368 pages indicates that it might be pretttttttty good.
Everything’s a preview these days. We know what’s coming out years in advance, and in the age of Instagram, everyone’s a secret agent. No idea’s original and nothing’s particularly surprising. That doesn’t stop 2012 from shaping up to be an interesting year — ignore the Mayan killjoys predicting our collective demise, because there’s some good stuff on the horizon. Here’s some stuff I’m feeling that may or may not drop this year. Usually when I attempt these things, 25% is good, 25% turns out shitty and the other 50% never happens. That Herno Laminar sub-brand, taking Herno’s old world outerwear and giving it some Errolson-aided progression, the Jordan IV black/cement/grey colourway’s return, Sarah Silverman (who I’ve loved since she played Kramer’s girlfriend) naked onscreen in ‘Take This Waltz’, and maybe, just maybe, the much-touted Neville Brody and Kez Glozier magazine project, ‘THE NEW BRITISH’ are guaranteed to instigate buzz of one kind or another, but I decided to list 12 other impending things that could be good:
1. KING LOUIE’S ‘DOPE AND SHRIMP’
Blog favourites keep on blowing up, and Chicago’s King Louie’s mix of gangsterism, sleep-deprived wooziness and sci-fi production is cold enough go huge, after 5 years of local cultdom. Man Up Band Up Remix’ is still effective and LoKey’s production is strong. His ‘Work Something’ video appeared then vanished from YouTube early this week. The ‘Dope and Shrimp’ album drops this month, and it comes out on Lawless Inc, which is co-owned by former Kanye manager John Monopoly. The cover art, as premiered on Fake Shore Drive last summer unites both shrimp and dope in an almost Daniel Johnston or Seth Putnam way, really sold the project to me.
2. ‘CROSSED: BADLANDS’
Comic books can be dull, but when some Garth Ennis is involved, ultraviolence and a certain sense of despair that he’s honed since the ‘Crisis’ days are guaranteed. This time he’s created an even bigger crisis – he first ‘Crossed’ series was a black-hearted complement to the zombie epidemic across popular media when it debuted in 2008. These infected are closer to the madness of Romero’s ‘The Crazies’ than Romero’s zombies, and they’re the kind to forcefully fornicate and bludgeon you with a human appendage rather than simply eating you alive. So is it murder porn for trenchcoated comic book guys? Not really — it occasionally offends, but Ennis is in control of an uncontrollable scenario. The follow-up series’ sans Ennis have become progressively worse, so his return for ‘Badlands’ is a welcome one. Issue #0 is fairly unremarkable, but my hopes are still high —it’s ‘The Walking Dead’ on angel dust, and while I’ve heard rumours, I doubt it can be tethered enough to become a TV series or film. The French method of promoting ‘Crossed’ is particularly impressive. I don’t think they’d get away with that in the UK.
3. T-SHIRT PARTY’S RETURN
The original T-Shirt Party was fun, with Stan Still dropping 52 shirts with accompanying videos over one year. I never thought he’d make the final stretch, but he did it. Mine shrunk fast, so I need more. Thankfully, in an act of masochism, he’s starting the project up again after a year out. There was something very British about the project, without resorting to the obvious, despite little diversions like the excellent Lisa Bonet design. Those raised on an era of yoof TV know what time it is. The last one started around February/March 2009, but I’m not 100% sure if it’s 52 designs again. I hope it is. And I hope there’s a Chris Eubank design in the mix this time.
4. CAROL CHRISTIAN POE DOES SHOE FITTINGS WITH A HAMMER
I like the madness of Carol Christian Poe’s Poell’s designs for men and women. Alas, I could never wear any of it, but for utter innovation, he can’t be stopped. Luxury fabrics, a you’ll-get-it-when-you-get-it approach to fashion in a seasonally regimented world and more ideas in a single garment than anyone else makes C.C.P. creations something special. At its most accessible, it’s like H.R. Giger meets Massimo Osti and this cryptic little video that appeared on the Carol Christian Poe Poell website with a wedge heeled shoe that fits by being beaten with a hammer is some brutalist elegance — I hope it catches on and we have to beat the shit out of our footwear before we can leave the house in it. Custom high-end violence.
5. MOVIES WITH SOME 1970’S GRIT?
I know very little about ‘Drift’ or ‘Duke,’ but I know that the former — a true story of Jimmy and Andy Fisher becoming surf entrepreneurs in Australia circa. 1972 and getting mixed up with bikies and drug dealers and the latter — with two dysfunctional brothers cleaning up the streets with one pretending to be John Wayne and the other pretending to be a cop, sound like the kind of 1970’s films I’d fixate over as a kid. Surf action? Morally ambiguous vigilante heroes? At least the concepts are intriguing. ‘Drift’s marketing materials are significantly shittier in appearance than ‘Duke’s, but it’ll be interesting to see a trailer for either film some time soon.
6. MORE ‘THRASHER’
As a kid I had ‘Thrasher’ covers coating the wall, and now that the magazine’s 30 year anniversary is up, the ‘Thrasher: Maximum Rad: the Iconic Covers of Thrasher’ book on Universe that’s set for a February release gathers them all and adds anecdotes and information about each image. There’s been a few ‘Thrasher’ books before, but every cover in one place is an appealing proposition. A fair proportion of those images remain mind-boggling, and the amount of bones broken in imitating as part of the quest to get a cover one day must be in the billions. John Gibson’s May 1985 pipe cover stays amazing.
7. LIGHT UP NIKE RUNNERS?
Trawling the patents, there’s a technology logged that I haven’t seen in action yet. As a kid I sketched weird light-up shoes in the back of exercise books, but the reality of the situation was those atrocious L.A. Gear Lights for kids. So I put that one on the backburner, because shoes that illuminate was more liable to look like the rope lights on the DJ booth at a relative’s wedding reception than something even remotely futuristic. Seeing the Air MAG with its charged lighting had me pondering as to whether a design for night running could carry a more subtle sense of illumination. “Article of Footwear Incorporating Illuminable Strands” is some sci-fi sounding footwear that seems to keep the light-up stuff looking Flywire-esque on those illustrations. And I don’t even know how a “Fluid-Filled Bladder for Footwear & Other Applications” works, but I’m into it. Will they ever come out? I have no idea.
8. MORE COURTNEY LOVE YOUTUBE COMMENTS
Courtney Love is good for soundbites, but she’s especially good on a name dropping spree as shellylovelace on YouTube. I only clocked the quoted comment here, which somehow links Courtney, Martha Stewart, Jodorowsky and Yoko Ono while looking for images of Phil Spector’s khaki shirt, studded wristband, sunglasses and presumably, a concealed firearm outfit in the studio with John Lennon. Watching John and Yoko on the Dick Cavett show from a link on the Featured Videos section, I came across this mini-anecdotal gem. I think there’s probably more to come, and the most recent made unfavourable comparisons between Nickelback’s lead singer and Dave Grohl. Courtney and the internet is a winning combination.
9. STONE ISLAND’S 30th ANNIVERSARY
Some brands are so progressive that even when they’re being retrospective, they’re still far ahead of the rest. It’s Stone Island’s 30th birthday this year and hopefully that means anniversary releases old and new, plus that rumoured book project. Some brand book projects are a crushing letdown on their release, stylised, but offering little new information or the product archive listings that the geeks want. Stone Island could put out something on the ‘DPM – Disruptive Pattern Material’ level that fellow obsessive Hardy Blechman created. Hopefully they will. Let’s hope the presentation is as innovative as the content.
10. CRITERION DOES HOLLIS FRAMPTON JUSTICE
Hollis Frampton, deep thinker, photographer, digital experimenter and filmmaker always struck me as a solemn kind of chap, but I’ve always found his work abstract but fairly accessible. While his work could easily have fallen into the frivolous pitfalls that make so many artists slip into self-parody, his work seems stuctured with reasonings that, in the mind of Frampton, seem utterly reasonable. And he was eloquent enough to make me feel dumb for dismissing a lemon artfully shot in the shadows. The slow burning of (nostalgia) is oddly engrossing and I love the ‘Screening Room’ footage with him (“Without wanting at least to sound pretentious…”) chatting very, very seriously at a time when people could smoke in television studios. Criterion have compiled and restored his body of work into high-definition digital, and are putting it out in April.
11. THE RETURN OF MASS APPEAL
Having spent a substantial amount of my life hunting down issues of ‘Mass Appeal’ from Tower Records (R.I.P.) during London, Edinburgh and Birmingham trips, and it being one of the few graf publications that warranted more than a cursory read for a toy like me, I was sad to see it disappear in 2008, after becoming increasingly elusive, but still being extremely readable (one of the last issues I read had a good piece on the Decepticons and another fine R.A. the Rugged Man movie feature). Before the ailing days and before publisher Patrick Elasik tragically passed, ‘Mass Appeal’ was my pre-blog information carrier, and offered some of the best cover design of any magazine. The homie Russ Bengston’s shoe column was excellent too. Four years on, the website indicates it’s coming back. Good. There’s unfinished business to attend to and room in the market for ‘Mass Appeal’ to step back into the arena.
12. ADAPTIVE CAMO
I’m not a man of science by any means, but reading this month’s ‘Popular Science’ there was some mind-boggling talk about camouflage that can be customised to your surroundings, with the material containing a display that can be made to adjust to your location for accurate concealment, as well as thermal and radar suppression capabilities for some state-of-the-art sneaking. That sounds like ‘Predator’ in real-life, right?
Special Operation Apps are already developing applications, like CamoScience that can work with site-specific Photographic Camouflage. According to the blurb, the CamoScience app “uses augmented reality to test and create images in real time in the field.” Snap your locale on your iPhone and make it a “wallpaper” on what you’re wearing, or the vehicle you’re in? That sounds outlandish, but K. Dominic Cincotti’s patent contains a diagram of a six-layer “Multispectral Adaptive” technology that looks complicated. This, and quick change deception camo concepts make those battle pattern jackets in your wardrobe look pedestrian.
What’s the point of getting up in the morning? You could get thrown over the dashboard of a speeding car on the way to grab provisions, go into a coma for the rest of the year and not miss a damned thing. That’s pretty frightening. It’s also a grand overstatement —there’s lots to look forward over the next year. Put down those pills and close that tab that’s open on alt.sucide.methods. Get involved with these things…
MIKE TYSON & THE ANIMALS
Iron Mike’s autobiography might be MIA at the moment, but Tyson’s sounding mighty healthy on both Twitter and in the real world. He’s looking a little leaner and he’s got an Animal Planet show; ‘Taking On Tyson’ which seems to be a pigeon racing reality show, with Tyson traveling the world (including Scotland) to discuss his feathered friends. If that doesn’t appeal to you, we’re not on the same wavelength. Kudos to whoever pitched it in to the network too…it probably wasn’t an easy sell. This show debuts on TV Stateside in March.
BIG BROTHER’S BACK
While the Dave Carney ‘Boob’ book is still inexplicably hard-to-obtain, there’s a whole documentary on Big Brother magazine in the making. ‘The Big Brother Memoir: A Stupid Skateboard Magazine’ may well be an extension of the footage posted on the Jackass site a few years back and it’ll probably disappear into the 24 month limbo that skate-related documentaries have a habit of slipping into but it’ll be worth the wait. There’s a lot of magazines dropping these days, but which ones have any personality? Big Brother in its heyday was absolutely untouchable and an arguable influence on the next wave of pretty much everything for those who experienced it. You already knew about these PDFs, didn’t you?
THE SOUND OF araabMUZIK
The current wave of rap-related viral videos seems to be built on addressing rumours and interview arguments. Boring. araabMUZIK videos are hypnotic. The MVP of the MPC is the most interesting to watch at work, and while he isn’t the first to make similar sounds (he sounds like the hyperactive child of Mannie, Justin and prime Heatmakerz), Lex Luger seemed to be…ummm…”inspired” by his work when he gave Jay and ‘Ye a track over which they inexplicably opted to rap like they’d had a Lemsip overdose instead of the requisite H.A.M. levels (at least it caused Busta to drop his annoying date rape flow for 2-minutes). araabMUZIK’s thrash metal team up was the least excruciating hip-hop and metal union since Faith No More & Boo-Yaa back in 1993, another recent video sees him tearing through live beat making with a nifty black-on-black Dipset piece around his neck—at 08:37 he unleashes the kind of drama music that’ll make you want to strike a stranger. What exactly is in that cup?
ANOTHER DEF JAM BOOK
Stacy Gueraseva’s book on Def Jam five years ago was a must-buy, and on a glossier and officially licensed level, the Rizzoli ’25 Years of Def Jam’ effort should be great too. Reuniting Dan Charnas (writer of the essential ‘The Big Payback’ ) with old mentor Bill Adler, there’s no cover or in-depth information as of yet regarding cover art or content other than its hardback status and September release date. Will it have a whole chapter on Jayo Felony? Highly doubtful.
LARRY CLARK IN LONDON AGAIN
Larry Clark’s ‘What do you do for fun?’ exhibition opens at the Simon Lee Gallery on February 10th. It should make up for missing the ‘Kiss the Past Hello’ show in Paris last year, and from a preview on the Simon Lee site, it’s significantly more wide-ranging than the ‘Los Angeles 2003-2006’ offerings at the same space in early 2008. It’s unknown as to whether the newly unearthed silent ‘Tulsa’ 16mm film will accompany it (supposedly, the movie was recently limited to a run of 5 DVD copies).
Vasque never really went anywhere, but for the fans, there’s two versions of this boot—the current old man hikers and weird trainer hybrids and the ones you used to eye up in the Source. The preoccupation with hiking gear is unlikely to go anytime soon so we might as well have the best and I suspect my homie Mr. Ronnie Fieg—a Vasque boot superfan and the David Z frontman for special projects—will do something with the Sundowner or Super Hiker, even if they’re not Italian made any more like they were in the early ’90s. The brand’s attempt to break the UK market a few years back via some brash lad-mag ads remains an odd move.
PORT LOOKS INTERESTING
Big name magazine launches can be sheer wankery, but ‘PORT’ looks promising. Editor Dan Crowe’s Zembla literary magazine was a superb effort, and while Port’s emphasis seems to be style, there’s plenty of substance promised for its March launch. My days of reading magazines cover-to-cover seem to be numbered, but hopefully this one might restore my papery OCD. I just want to pick up something authoritative. It has a poetry editor and Daniel Day-Lewis writing an essay on Gaza. That’s enough to confer investigation, and it launches at a point when iPad compatibility is more than a rushed afterthought too.
This picture from the new Palace line is straight swaggerjacked from the Hideout’s site. I remember happy days of local skate shops stocking a rail bought seemingly at random from New Deal or Shiner, and simply buying the most eyecatching tee, complete with a barely concealed Hanes (or far, far worse in the thickness stakes). This New York Giants style effort is some no-nonsense branding that harks back to happy days of Holmes and many that went before.
Yes, that really was the name of the chimp taught a form of sign language decades ago, who apparently unleashed the 16-word sentence through these gestures, “Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange give me eat orange give me you.” Mired in debate, it served to reinforce our relationship with our simian neighbours. ‘Project Nim,’ directed by James Marsh (the man behind ‘Man on Wire’ —a documentary that left me cold), tells the story of the monkey raised as a human, and the byproduct of the experiment. As a chimp superfan, I can’t wait to see it. After showing at Sundance days ago, HBO swiftly picked it up.
TAKAHIRO MIYASHITA CAN’T LOSE
Just when outdoorsy screwfaces prove they’re here to stay temporarily, former Number (N)ine kingpin Takahiro Miyashita’s The Soloist project keeps on innovating in a weird way and the S/S 2011 collection is somewhere between woodland hipster buffoon, Victorian tinker, Hoth reconnaissance, the twins from ‘Rad’ and something far more innovative. Accompanying gear with New Balances, teaming with Oliver Peoples and using some very luxurious fabrics is a winner—as is Takahiro’s leisurely pace. While everyone else has let the cat out the bag for the whole year. Who knows what he’s got planned for the colder months?
SLEEPLESS NIGHTS STORIES
Avant-garde film director, writer, musician and artist Jonas Mekas is 87 years old and he’s still got more ideas and vanguard spirit than you. Don’t feel bad. He’s a genius. ‘Walden’ is a sprawling, brilliant headache of a film and he’s back after six years with an 8MM film experiment and ‘Sleepless Nights Stories’ which seems to have Björk and Harmony Korine involved too. That’s as much as we know.
Adam Kimmel’s been peddling terrifyingly expensive workwear that’s actually very wearable, plus something significantly sharper for a while now, so his alliance with Carhartt sounded pretty natural. A.P.C. and SOPHNET have done big things with the brand (though in the case of the latest SOPH, I’m not looking to dress like a train driver from the 1920s), but from shots on the Hideout’s blog, it looks significantly more cohesive and wearable as a total look. There’s pocket tees, three cashmere versions of the watch cap, but the jacket in the picture here is the one for me. It’ll terrorise your credit card when it drops, but if you slept on the Junya jacket early last year this might cheer you up. Initial reports indicate that the line is non-smedium.
MORE BOILER ROOM
Boiler Room is awesome on a number of levels. As I drop out the loop, FACT magazine and Boiler Room’s transmissions are something of a lifeline. USTREAM is often misused. For every transmitted sexual act, live suicide or other watchably grand gesture, there’s a drivel tsunami on the broadcast front. Team Boiler Room keep the strong lineups coming every Tuesday at 8…you too can experience Dalston as you imagine it to be, without having to deal with the everyday reality and twattery of the area. The SWAMP 81 label gets a showcase on Tuesday and I’ve been told there’s some serious guests booked for the rest of the year too.