Nothing to see here (again) but I feel compelled to draw your attention to TheTapeToday’s YouTube channel for this short documentary on the LA Gear/Nike rivalry. LA Gear will always lose for its Jordan copy MVP series and Reebok Twilight Zone imitation Regulators and, with Robert Greenberg leaving to found Skechers, that habit of creating some shoes ever-so-slightly similar to existing bestsellers remains. Of course, after this Sneaker Wars documentary screened in 1990, LA Gear didn’t topple Nike. Reebok would falter a couple of years later and after filing a lawsuit against Michael Jackson for not supporting their collaboration with a video or album (to which MJ countersued and the matter was settled in 1994), LA Gear’s Flak line — which seemed to be a response to Nike’s Raid and Ndestrukt offerings — would brick, while a controversy about mercury in LA Gear Lights caused extra PR problems. LA Gear will always be a bad look — don’t let any revisionist reissues or PR firms tell you otherwise. There’s a fair bit of describing kids as “Urban Street Warriors” here, down to billing MC Hamlet (who I believe is the same MC Hamlet who appeared on Malcolm McClaren’s 1990-era remixed output) with that job title, plus some insight from Ron Hill from Nike’s marketing department at the time, who was Tinker Hatfield’s nemesis when it came to product (in Tinker’s own words, if Ron liked it, he felt he was doing something wrong). Gotta love those stay in school and anti-drug ads with Bo and David too.
TheTapeToday also upped this 1990 sportswear showcase in a boxing ring which looks like it was from The Clothes Show or DEF II with Public Enemy and NWA on the soundtrack. That bootleg-looking Nike long-sleeve would shift plenty of units in 2014. Footage of Normski demonstrating an array of handshakes that same year brought back extra memories.
I see a release date for Contemporary Menswear: the Insider’s Guide to Contemporary Men’s Fashion. While the name of this book would make me want to hit myself in the eyes if this were in lesser hands, the fact that longtime supporters of this blog (and good blokes) Steven Vogel, Nick Schonberger and Calum Gordon are behind it means it will be decent.
Please excuse the rushed nature of this blog entry. I was going to move servers to make gwarizm.com the official home of all this claptrap but strange domain redirecting issues meant I actually ended up having the time to chuck something up here tonight after all. My relationship with printed matter is a tempestuous one — for much of my life I dreamed of being a scribe for one of the fancy magazines that broke the £2.50 mark in WH Smiths, but once I actually wrote for one, I realized that most of the content was advertorial (even the stuff without “advertising feature” on the top of the page). That culled my buying habits significantly.
While putting out a publication seems to be a new norm as some reaction to people thinking bloggers are chancers, doing it well is difficult. After all, the big magazines are spreading their pages for advertisers for a reason — survival. Just starting a magazine for the hell of it is as tedious as calling your blog an online magazine, so I’ve slashed my purchases to a handful of regular and when-they-can-be-fucked-to publications. Being lazy and odd (and not actually living in London) I never made it to Goodhood’s launch for the new issue of LAW, but I feel guilty about it, because it’s something worth supporting — continuing the history lesson, when I was putting out strange blog entries for Acyde’s The Most Influential site a few years back, I was determined to keep it UK-centric.
As a Brit, i felt it was my duty to talk about local matters and not my yankophile leanings. TMI actually changed before I could run out of ideas fully, but I was definitely running on fumes. I feel a certain guilt for not representing Britain fully on here, but – as I’ve mentioned several times – I think the ISYS squad, Rollo Jackson and LAW do it better than I ever could. There’s a certain Britishness that barely translates abroad and it’s part of the urban and suburban everyday existence — it’s all sportswear, mild eccentricity, inadvertently odd design touches and scowls. Most of the time we take it for granted and don’t document it (I’ve hunted some imagery for a couple of projects in the last 12 months and was shocked at how little documentation there was). LAW goes in to log it with a keen design eye that affords everyday objects and lives a certain elegance.
LAW #3 is out now and the use of Goodhood’s interior with the magazine’s driving slogan was a nice touch (all LAW-related imagery here is swaggerjacked from the Goodhood site). You can buy it right here for £12.50.
Another magazine that gets a lot of deserved shine here is Oi Polloi’s Pica~Post. You need to know your stuff to actually have fun with anything and everything in this free publication – from the typography to the product pick is on point. This beats any bullshit slow blog-baiting lookbook (and those Anthony Crook Engineered Garments shots in here are a nice example of how a lookbook can be done) and you can read this online right here but the way it’s printed as an object gives it a purpose beyond the screen. Shouts to Eóin and the whole Pica~Post mind squad.
In addition to the above, the Joe McKenna profile in Fantastic Man #17 is excellent too. But you’d expect them to deliver on a feature like that, wouldn’t you?
Cheers to Nike SB for letting me do some writing about the Koston 2 shoe for the Nike Inc. site. Anything that lets me interview Eric is the sort of thing that would make the 15-year-old me do an awkward dance in public. Now I just do it in private. There seems to be a quick glimpse of an interesting Lunarlon-aided Koston 2 golf shoe sitting by Tiger Woods’ shopping bags in the behind-the-scenes footage.
On the shoe topic, now that every hip-hop related documentary of my youth is available on 2-disc DVD or on YouTube, where are the British trainer documentaries? The first time I ever saw Tinker and company was on the excellent 1992 BBC program Trainer Wars. I know that was far better than any recent effort to document sports footwear. Where can I get hold of a copy of it? Back in the day, you paid someone like Dave the Ruf to send you a 240-minute tape of tenth-generation dubs of everything you needed. I need Trainer Wars and the 2001 Sneaker Freaks documentary that Channel 4 aired as part of the Alt.TV series with Jeremy Howlett sitting on top of Howlett’s. OG Air Max 95s being sold for insane money at Meteor Sports and Will Self pulling a gasface at the notion of anyone hoarding Nikes. In fact, I believed that Trainer Wars never happened until I found this footage of the commercial for it from when it showed on Discovery Europe.