It might have been online for a couple of years, but this video by Eli Morgan Gessner that edits together footage from 1986/1987 is a tribute to much-loved OG Shut crew member Beasley who passed away in the early 1990s. Loads of New York legends, Beasley street planting wearing the Iowa Dunk Hi and the Mr. Magic premiere of Nobody Beats the Biz blared from a boombox around the time it happened makes this footage priceless. I was slack with the updates this week. I promise I’ll try harder this weekend. Just watch this instead.
Nothing to see here tonight — I’ve been too busy to hunt anything worth upping and working on a book and an exhibition has eaten up my evenings this week. Please accept my apologies. In the meantime, here’s a link to an extract of my chat with James Jebbia — Supreme just put out a Timb workboot with a shot on their Instagram of Javier Nunez skating in them. Talk of skating in Timberlands is always cause to up grabs of Kyle James and Brian Wenning in their wheats. Years after I blogged on that topic, I still can’t find that Pepe Martinez Timberland footage from the True Mathematics (coincidentally, I’m sure that shoe god, Chris Hall who owned that brand did some work for Timberland in the last few years) VHS. Who needs iPath when you can skate in something wildly inappropriate? Anyway, seeing as we’re talking interviews with industry kingpins, I interviewed Erik Brunetti for the new issue of ACCLAIM.
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.
There’s nothing wrong with resurrecting a brand, provided it was an interesting one in the first place and Life’s A Beach sits with brands like Town & Country and Maui & Sons which were gateway drugs in the 1980s into the current wave of post surfwear lines (Stüssy always seemed almost high-end to me with those M-Zone price points on jackets, so it sits out this discussion). The drug analogy is appropriate here, because Life’s A Beach was all about the gear — bikegear, surfgear and skategear — and there was a lot of gear going around during the decade in which it flourished.
Where the brand has been during the last 21 years is a mystery — did it do the rounds as a license in other territories? There doesn’t seem to be a definitive archive to explain where its been and we know that the L.A.B. Bad Boy Club skate spinoff is actually still in use as an MMA line, which somehow links motocross, skate, surf, BMX and beating the shit out each other. As of this week, Life’s A Beach is officially back in business.
First, some history: Life’s A Beach started in 1984 as the project of non-professional but competing motocross riders from Chicago — Jeff Theodosakis and brothers Mark and Brian Simo who had no real background in the rag trade. Having spent time on beaches between bike riding, they saw an alternative to Spandex minimalism with baggy, colorful shorts which they created from tablecloths and curtains. Selling their Life’s A Beach shorts to a Florida store, after a slow start, spring breakers popularised the brand. Realising there was money to be made, Theodosakis and the Simo brothers relocated to California in 1985. The legendary Doze Green was involved in the designs and it’s said that the trademark neon-goth bone pattern, among other things, is his creation.
Initially sponsoring motocross rider Rick Johnson, who stood out in both his riding skills and stylish ways (motocross being a hotspot of sartorial no-nos back then), wore the shorts over conventional MX attire, the L.A.B. sponsorship also included surfers like the temperamental but brilliant Sunny Garcia and BMXer Brian Blyther, famed for his vertical feats. I believe they also had judo champ turned boxer Pierre Marchand on the books too (preempting that MMA connection). Once skaters entered the fray, Life’s A Beach had created an extreme sports lifestyle line before anyone seemed to have tied the pastimes together under that name and hell of a long time before X-Games ever came to pass.
If you grew up reading skate magazines circa 1988 then you’ll recall the irreverent Life’s A Beach ads that pre-dated the World Industries marketing strategies that followed. Both Life’s A Beach Surfgear and Skategear ran ads with the legendary Bill Danforth (a tattooed skater back when shoulder ink seemed rebellious and the type of guy to skate in DMs before Matt Hensley) and Mark Gonzales rocked those gaudy pants and garms in the press — skater’s skaters seemed to be the criteria and as the B.B.C. Bad Boy’s Club L.A.B. board division emerged, a young Mike Vallely wore his branded beret with pride. Texan legends like Jeff Phillips and Bryan Pennington were faces of the line too. Shouts to Mike Garcia, Ron Allen and Monty Nolder too.
Beyond boards, on the music side, members of The Accused and Anthrax wore those shorts and it even seemed to be infiltrating the growing snowboard scene. Looking back at images of the Swatch Impact Tour, it’s a sign of an industry at its vertical limit waiting to get squashed by a bigger focus on street. While B.B.C. offered street and vert options on their decks, they couldn’t compete with skateboarding’s complete aesthetic switch into the 1990s. Those neons, bum bags, all over prints and letters down the sleeves defined a decade, but they didn’t define the 1990s. Reading the September 18th, 1990 Los Angeles Times look at a sports retail tradeshow, things look doomed: “Life’s A Beach will replace Day-Glo colors with two different color schemes. Its main line of clothing will feature “basic bright” colors, including turquoise, blue, yellow and red, Theodosakis said. An “underground” line, which is aimed largely at skateboarders, “will be drab olives and muted colors, like grays and blues…”
The business partners would split in 1990. Bizarrely the company’s last boomtime was when the aggressive looking Bad Boy Club character (drawn by Mark Baagoe) experienced a strange boom as a sticker on car windshields that reached epidemic levels. There was a sale of the business in summer 1991 and by 1992, Life’s A Beach seemed to vanish. The late motocross rider Marty Moates would recruit the Blyther brothers to turn an earlier design that read ‘NO FEAR’ into a full-fledged brand in 1989, which, while never as cool as L.A.B. (to quote Canibus when he had quotables rather than pseudo-mathematical gibberish, “Blow up the planet with No Fear like them clothes white boys be wearing”), was incredibly successful. Theodosakis founded the yoga-centric company, PrAna with his wife in 1992 and the partners reunited to found the SPY Optics sunglasses company in 1994. For the original Life’s A Beach team, it seems that there were happy endings, whereas for onetime team riders like Jeff Phillips, things would come to a sad end in Christmas 1993.
It’s good to see that my friend Greg Finch (who as a skater, knows a lot about Life’s A Beach) and art don Fergus Purcell are heading up the brand’s resurrection. Fergadelic was key to the Holmes and Silas aesthetic, has put in work for Very Ape, Hysteric Glamour, his Tonite brand, Stüssy and probably created your favourite Palace prints too. He makes no secret of the fact he’s a Life’s A Beach fanatic, to the point where multiple L.A.B. identities are drawn on his skin permanently:
“I first saw Life’s A Beach in the pages of R.A.D, Thrasher & Kerrang and I fell in love with it. It was worn by sick skaters as well as by the thrash and crossover bands that I was into — the stuff was out of order! It had a bad attitude and a killer sense of fun. This look and feeling had a big influence on my own aesthetic — to this day I hope that my work includes those two qualities!
I’m so obsessed with the brand that I have five homemade tattoos relating to it and I am super stoked to now be involved. I’ll be bringing some of my designs to the party, but the archive of original designs is incredible — and very timely — so we’re mainly going to feature them. It’s all about the shorts, baby!”
Looking at Ferg’s influence on the industry and taking into consideration that L.A.B. inspired him to that extent, its reappearance is very relevant. Skulls, bones and long-sleeve print tees (Canada’s Skull Skates deserves a lot of respect too) seem to be standard issue right now, so it’s good to see an OG brand back with some OG folk behind it — this was just the surface scraped on the Life’s A Beach story. A rebirth is welcome and while the nostalgics might struggle, because neon can be a young man’s game, there’s plenty of simpler stuff in the mix that just keeps the lairy stuff to the backprint where age doesn’t matter. Go check it out at spots like PRESENT and Slam City right now.
The weekend’s work (more on all that at a later date) and my catchup with some documentaries and films I missed have completely ruined anything of substance going up here. I never cease to be a little freaked out to be involved with brands, objects and aesthetics I grew up obsessing over.
One day I’ll probably have to sell out entirely (I still don’t think I’ve sold out quite as much as I could do) and take on everything that’s sent my way, but for the time being, I get to pick and choose — it’s a beautiful thing. Notions of reviews, features and integrity get systematically abused in the blog world, but the minute you accept a freebie and say something nice about it, you’re a walking advertorial — that’s how it is. This blog is often brand affiliated on my own terms, but I’d like to think that I can bring a little of my own obsessions to dilute the PR speak. I’m too old to agonise over integrity — there’s not a lot of room for that if you’re obsessed with big company product and stricken with the cataract vision that brand preoccupation can inflict. It’s strange when an organization asks for the sort of thing I throw up here for commercial purposes, but if I’m into the company, I’m fully down.
Public Domain changed my life and that summer of 1988, I was obsessed with patterned Chuck Taylors. That black and white street skate segment is frequently mentioned her, so when my friends at Converse (on that subject, I’m sad for Pappalardo after this interview late last year) asked if I wanted to write a little love letter to the Chuck Taylor and skating for the Trocadero Days publication that Grey magazine put together to coincide with the video and push of the CTAS Pro, I was in full yes man mode. Pontus Alv is a genius and Grey is great. Naturally, we couldn’t talk about key Converse characters like Gator, Mullen and Mariano, but fortunately, Anderson and Jessee are on the team, so they could get a mention. This is available free at your local skate shop and I’m very pleased to have been involved.
Everyone loves to gossip, and watching beef unfold digitally is an undeniable pleasure. Spectating on Splay back in the day or witnessing Superfuture rumour mongering and being a voyeur to some TMZ-esque talk of Downtown scandals was entertaining. Long before that, I liked the litigious post-exodus angry Steve Rocco era of skating, where Simon Woodstock could seemingly be erased from being through legal threats from a man who once worked those first amendment rights to the absolute limit.
The streetwear and men’s style blog realm frequently has slow news days — that means closer looks, a GQ photoshoot, another generic lookbook or a teaser for a summer blockbuster. So it’s understandable that the recent Supreme and Married to the Mob legal talk, claim and counterclaim has been dissected in order to get that precious traffic. I’ve been a little perplexed at the amount of people rooting for MOB in this situation though, painting a curious picture of the oppressed women against “the man” dwelling in his vast box logo covered corporate headquarters, because that’s not the case.
I respect Supreme a great deal for their ability to stay relevant and capabilities for keeping it thorough — that’s not to say that everything they put out is relevant to my interests, but they’re operating on so many channels right now that the old GAP for skaters summary is fully deaded in favour of a bigger picture. So I can understand why they’re trying to stop a trademark. If someone tries to jack your logo with a dose of witless misogyny at the end, you’re probably going to get a bit litigious — it’s a case of battling direct appropriation re upped to make some quick cash. Was Barbara’s name mentioned when the original Supreme Bitch shirt was put together? I wouldn’t know, but it only ever seems to get thrown around when things get negative.
Get popular by doing things well and schadenfreude is an inevitability at any perceived stumble. The problem with not talking too much is that it breeds assumption. Googling Supreme will bring up a mass of message board lore. Mythmaking is an inevitability, like the tale of Shortypop being paid off for the box homage (contrary to the occasionally distributed cheque image, that apocryphal payoff never happened) or Supreme not having the Supreme trademark, which dates back to a remark made in an Interview piece — since then they’ve obtained trademarks. Part of having a trademark is that you’re obliged to defend it — failing to defend it can result in losing it. Then there’s America’s right to common law trademark ownership. So what’s the big problem here?
Supreme have recently filed an answer to the counterclaim from Married to to the Mob and it makes for more interesting reading. Married to the Mob has put out some strong work solo and alongside KAWS, ALIFE, Colette and Nike (those Chanel references on that shoe are homage done very right) over the years. A female-centric streetwear brand is still a part of the market that could be taken by someone willing to be as fastidious as the luxury lines we like to ape, but it’s a market that has only been partially tapped. The Supreme Bitch tee was funny nine years ago for its “is it or isn’t it?” collaboration status (see also, Zoopreme) back in the Retail Mafia era when the online hype sector seemed significantly more niche than today’s big numbers and mass appeal. As its own line, it’s just a Supreme bite, eating off of the Supreme brand’s popularity. If you’re granted one loose collaboration, are you allowed to make a ton more on your own several years later and go to get the trademark for both labels?
People can raise the Barbara Kruger reference all they like (for she is the queen of Futura Bold Oblique and the key influence on the Supreme logo, though Paul Renner deserves a mention for creating the typeface in the first place), but when the majority of bland brands drop that font into a rectangle, they’re riffing on Supreme — if the assumption is that Supreme was entirely built on a bite then it’s worth taking one of those tiresome trips back to 1994 and recalling that the aesthetic of the brand and its pick of reference points was something very different when it debuted. That logo future proofed the brand and acted as a (probably inadvertent — over analysis is rife when you don’t give too much away) visual manifesto of sorts with regards to Supreme’s appropriately Downtown merger of skate and art.
Kruger is an artist, while Supreme trade in clothing, accessories and skate hardwear. MOB deals in clothing and accessories too, so their appropriation is something very different. The Levi’s Red Tab device was also an inspiration (later the subject of some legal issues over its inclusion on denim) on Jebbia’s pick of that red box — it’s an effective logo created on the back of plenty of retail experience. In 1994, plenty of skate gear and store branding was doomed to go wild with the graf letters or bigger-is-better literalism. That’s why they’re not around any more. It was some fortuitously out-the-box but in-the-box thinking.
I’m surprised that nobody has started bleating about the SUPREME in a red box Powell Peralta tees and stickers circa 1990 from the days when Billy Valdes was on the squad (who went on to join Menace alongside Supreme family member Javier Nunez and design for Stüssy and X-Large too). But nobody seems to remember that because we’d started to stray toward the new wave of street-orientated companies by that point that helped build Supreme in the first place.
Supreme has traded in the flip — that’s undisputed. But when the cease and desists or lawsuits came in, there was no righteous web rants or pseudo “Attica, Attica!” rabble rousing. LVMH, Levi’s, Coca-Cola and Calvin Klein and the rest weren’t the subject of us against them fury. All parties came to amicable agreements that even led to future projects in a more official capacity. Nobody claimed it was a Class War issue or elitism. If Condé Nast came a-calling over Eustace Tilley’s appearance on cotton, the matter would have been dealt with without a battle speech. If Supreme had ignored a warning and attempted to trademark an image of Tilley engaging in a sexual situation or wielding a weapon, then there would have been a court case.
The longevity of Supreme has been down to a professionalism and approach that treats it like a world-class brand. That requires a certain cold efficiency. The hand-wringing hustler thing might be effective in the short term but it’s a 24-month hype life at best. 19 years is a long time to survive and it’s not down to fluke — the shouty blogroll brand approach is the spirit of the 2005 era when everyone had a formula and worked that formula again and again until the screenprint faded to a blank. Supreme’s decision to put the red box logo tee on ice around six years ago to avoid the one trick pony pitfall was a smart one. After the hype is gone, the bitching begins.
Back when Married to the Mob was married to FUBU (and I’m not gloating because I know the feeling of the corporate water down and fake promises pretty well), it seemed to slip off the map a little. 2012 was the year when the flipped logo became quick cash again and it was good to see SSUR get some money (after all, their weed trefoil flip in the 1990s has made a lot of loot for street corner vendors shifting adihash shirts) with the sudden burst in COMME des FUCKDOWN popularity that sparked some discussion on the subject. A lot of people have been getting some internet shine from bringing Canal Street to the digital realm lately. The COMME flip was smart (even if you’re too familiar with it now) as is the Channel Zero Chanel one, while the currently popular Brian Lichtenberg Hermès/Homiès and Céline/Féline shirts and sweats at least display a second’s contemplation over coffee in their execution. Nobody at SSUR would be crazed enough to attempt to trademark Comme des FUCKDOWN though, because it would end badly and contains much of the parodied logo within it.
Supreme Bitch? Not so smart. It’s a one-shirt deal in terms of appeal. It includes the Supreme name in it as a standalone and it makes the aforementioned Zoopreme rip seem downright cerebral in its wordplay, and sure as hell makes the old I like the pope, the pope smokes dope tourist staple of old seem like a satiric masterpiece. It seems more like a hop on the brazen bite bandwagon to get quick cash rather than playing the long game of brand evolution. Contrary to the counterclaim that Supreme turned a blind eye to seven years of Supreme Bitch, in the answer, it’s mentioned that it returned after a six-year absence with a little more detail on the discussions that took place:
(From Supreme’s recently filed answer to the counterclaim) “107. Counterclaim Defendant denies the allegations contained in Paragraph 107 of the Counterclaim except admits that it filed a litigation seeking damages and injunctive relief and further admits that in 2004, James Jebbia understood that McSweeney would be making a onetime sale of only a t-shirt bearing the words SUPREME BITCH and design. (See Exhibit 3 true and correct printouts of Counterclaim Plaintiffs’ lookbooks which show that Counterclaim Plaintiffs offered for sale SUPREME BITCH t-shirts in 2004 and 2005 and then not again until 2011. These lookbooks support Jebbia’s understanding that McSweeney did not offer for sale the SUPREME BITCH t-shirt in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 but instead had a one-off, limited production in 2004-05.) Counterclaim Defendant admits that Jebbia first became aware of the re-release of SUPREME BITCH items (which had now been expanded to include a coffee mug, a knit hat, a cap, a mouse pad and a beach towel) in December of 2012 when he saw photographs posted online of pop artist Rihanna wearing a SUPREME BITCH hat. McSweeney had not sought approval from Jebbia for either the re-release of the t-shirt or the expansion of the SUPREME BITCH product line. At that time, Jebbia also received inquiries concerning whether the SUPREME BITCH items were affiliated with or made by Supreme. At that time, Jebbia also first learned that McSweeney had filed a trademark application for the SUPREME BITCH mark (see Exhibit 1 showing application for word mark was filed on January 1, 2013) and that she was selling the branded items through national online retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Karmaloop. Shortly after receiving these calls and learning this information, Jebbia personally reached out to McSweeney who assured Jebbia that she would cease manufacturing and using the SUPREME BITCH Logo and agreed to provide information about her inventory. While Jebbia waited for that information, and in complete disregard of her representations, McSweeney filed a second trademark application to register SUPREME BITCH in a design form that wholly incorporates the famous and distinct SUPREME Logo (see Exhibit 2 showing that the SUPREME BITCH design application was filed on March 1, 2013). Thus, Jebbia did not “sit idly by for nearly a decade” but instead acted shortly after he learned of the re-launch and expanded use of SUPREME BITCH by the Counterclaim Plaintiffs, received customer inquiries and learned of the trademark filings. Jebbia also tried to avoid litigation by amicably discussing his concerns, personally with McSweeney and not through lawyers, that would have allowed her to not only sell her remaining inventory but also to use “SUPREME BITCH” in a design that was distinguishable from the SUPREME Logo.”
Playing the misogyny card and shouting about free speech and feminism suddenly is a little trite. If Barbara found herself sighing to see a red box housing the output of hefty average basket values after her stabs at consumerism, to see her cited in a case where Bitch equals empowerment must have been a real eye-opener. The Want me, Hold me, Fuck Me, Hate me Kruger homage is interesting too. Throwing down the misogyny card because Supreme used Terry Richardson, Tera Patrick and an extract of Courbet’s L’Origine du monde is made moot by the imagery cited in Supreme’s response documents — Cunt, Cunt, Cunt? Bitch Better Have My Money? Bitches Get Stitches? Will Fuck For Chanel? Come on. It’s fun, loud, shock factor gear, not some profound statement. Skateboarding as a boy’s club? Nothing new and a strange thing to be discussed in a court of law.
Much of the current court documents talk about MOB as the female Supreme, but a swift Tumblr search reveals that a lot of ladies like to wear (frequently fake) Supreme gear, regardless of its gender intent (Supreme’s answer also discusses Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Chloe Sevigny’s recent involvement).
Misogyny is a heavy allegation — in a world where Malala Yousafza is shot for attending school, depicting a common-sense legal response to a novelty t-shirt as an act of oppression seems like a bizarre, tasteless bid for some P.R. What would Emily Davison or Marilyn French have made of this? Care to get Gloria Steinem or Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim to chime in on the power of a Will Fuck for Chanel shirt? Does it fit into a second-wave, third-wave, or some fourth-wave of sex-positive feminism? Dining off the work of a male-owned brand without a particularly smart subversion feels like the antithesis of feminism.
(From Supreme’s recently filed answer to the counterclaim) “121. Counterclaim Defendant denies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations contained in Paragraph 121 of the Counterclaim. See Exs. 4 and 5 reflecting offensive merchandise offered for sale by Counterclaim Plaintiffs which plainly degrade and marginalize women rather than send a feminist message. The merchandise reflected in Exhibits 4 and 5 use shock value phrases that are not feminist but rather statements 6 that objectify women and perpetuate negative stereotypes (i.e. “Will F*ck for Chanel” and “Want Me Hold Me F*ck Me Hate Me”).”
It’s a prevention of one big mall grab. Just as the infamous truck clutch is derided, James Jebbia has disregarded the prospect of real Supreme being stocked in a shopping centre alongside perceived market rivals several times before. Avoiding the box logo’s spread beyond a controlled distribution has been beneficial. Married to the Mob is hunting that Urban Outfitters dough though, and that could dilute what’s been carefully steered over two decades. Why can’t Supreme Bitch operate without the box logo?
Through a favour turned into some spurious excuse to build a brand by alignment, not only is this case trying to place the Supreme Bitch as some kind of semi-official work, but it misleads idiots into thinking that Supreme is on sale at Karmaloop and does a spot of brand dilution in the quest for somebody else’s contact credibility and the dollars it entails. Letting too much slide isn’t the actions of a well-run company — it’s the actions of a fly-by-night streetwear brand that ends up wanking for change. That’s why the industry is paved with “whatever happened to?” chat about companies that were killing it before falling off and disappearing into the abyss.
Shit maybe I’m wrong and this will end up being made into a Silkwood or Erin Brockovich style flick in a decade’s time. This case has given publicity to a brand that had it going on, but it reeks of manicured nails clawing at a past glory in a competitive marketplace. “Because right now, it’s about more than just a t-shirt!” shouts Leah’s official statement and rallying cry. Yeah, it’s about mouse mats and mugs too. I’m keen to see Married to the Mob return to the status it had in 2008 without building the business on a novelty knockoff and fortunately, Supreme is also about more than a t-shirt after almost two decades (otherwise maybe they’d be scrabbling for attention too right now) — that’s why kids are still queuing for it.
If anyone out there is looking to copy anything from Supreme, steal the work ethic.
I’m sat in a Portland hotel room watching CNBC documentaries on Whole Foods, Costco (kings of the white t-shirt) and awaiting the J Crew documentary on personal hero, Mickey “Helloooo” Drexler — one of the greatest micro managing CEOs ever, before heading out to order a burger from an eatery staffed by people in thick framed glasses, bearing knuckle tattoos. In the time zone confusion, I forgot to update this blog with things. Other than watching retail-based TV, there’s a few other things I’m into at the moment. The gents at the increasingly bootlegged Palace brand are making power moves of late and their whole Fall lookbook has a VHS fuzz that’s appealing — I was amused to see the Palace Surf “sub brand” within the range, complete with the all important colour fade in the script and stonewash cotton fleece to evoke an appropriately surf-centric look. I think the crew are amusing themselves with memories of the lurid gear we used to break out back in the day — surfwear birthed street and skate wear as we know it anyway. That Tri logo is slowly taking over and I’m looking forward to seeing the less lurid shirts and trousers too when they eventually materialise.
On the subject of Londoners making power moves, Kyle and Jo at Goodhood’s ‘Unloveable’ lookbook is a winner too (as is their ‘How Soon is Now?’ women’s collection shoot). There’s no men in OBEY sauntering round a local park here — good food and beverage accessories, crisp photography, black and white and apparel picks worn right. I’ve mentioned it a lot here, but the R Newbold and Goodhood gear is some of the best collaborative clothing on the market. This season’s college football shirt gets a look right — something that can get a little too Superdry in the wrong hands. Crucially, this imagery makes me want to go and buy shit from them (which is kind of the point of the project) rather than feeling like some obligatory action to get a couple of thousand apathetic blog impressions and significantly less click-throughs. This is the kind of thing you get when designers are in charge rather than copyists. Cassavetes’ letting his team roam free might feel a million miles from Drexler’s tightly run retail empire, but both visions are quintessentially American in their own unique, driven ways. There’s lessons to be learnt from both characters.
Now Cassavetes, Gazzara and Falk are all improvising together in the afterlife, it’s always worth taking another look at a ‘Life’ magazine issue’s shots of the production of ‘Husbands.’ I’m a Cassavetes fan, but I’m not a huge fan of this film, yet I love the documentation —1970’s ‘Omnibus’ on the movie and this May 1969 collection of photos capture John’s emphasis on creativity and personal expression. Now when an actor juggles mainstream movies and their own indie flicks, it usually signals kooky self-exploration and tedious soul-searching, but Cassavetes did it with an unsurpassed integrity. What a guy. From suits to sweatpants, the mid-life crisis addled trio look cool between the yelling and drinking.
The year’s 1993 – hip-hop is horn-led, R&B choruses are frowned-upon, shorts are big, athletic footwear is rugged, with outdoor courts in mind, and if they’re too much for you, the boom in plain retrospective suede models is in full swing. In the following year, the resurrection of the earlier Jordan models will slowly but surely infect sneaker releases, arguably to the industry’s detriment. But that’s enough of the scene-setting (and bitter digressions) – if you didn’t get into the big smoke much in the early ’90s, a magazine like ‘Phat’ was a glossy-papered oasis of subcultural information and a break from then-waning publications like ‘i-D’ and ‘The Face’ who were too busy covering Courtney Love and ‘The Crying Game’ to focus too much on street fashion, giving us our very own British take on the then-great ‘Big Brother’. ‘Sassy’ spinoff (via Andy Jenkins, Mark Lewman and Spike Jonze) ‘Dirt’ also achieved cultdom Stateside, with a similar gung-ho, irreverent spirit before cancellation, but over here, and available in your local WH Smiths? We had a lot less to go on. ‘Phat’ was a mine of information.