Ditto Press are becoming an imprint whose books I buy on sight, without needing to browse. Niche topics presented beautifully makes their releases the sort of thing that’s sought after within a few months of release. You can dither with other things, but when you leave a book waiting, it’s inevitable that they quietly slip out of print. To coincide with the Ditto Gallery exhibition on the same topic, the Skinhead: An Archive book is a deep dig into Toby Mott’s stacks of zines, packaging, records, notes, newspapers and films with Jamie Reid on design duties. That gold hardback cover with a female take on The Last Resort’s logo embossed on the cover, plus an appropriately uncompromising spine font custom created by Reid and based on a skinhead piece from a 1987 Penthouse article on racist skinheads (reproduced in the book) sold it to me from the start, and it’s good to see that Mott gives room to every aspect of the culture — the original skins, the right-wing skins, the left-wing skins, the female skins and the gay skins, each split by that brutal typeface.
Those of us who never recall seeing a SHARP skin as a kid and just remember braces, sneers and Screwdriver tees will remember the shaven-headed wolf packs as a reason to cross the road, back when glue sniffing seemed to be a viable get-high option. It’s a subject matter that’s loaded both politically and in terms of personal experience, so a publication covering all angles needed to be equally full-on. How many other books are going to include essays by Garry Bushell and Bruce LeBruce? That’s why this topic warrants exploration. Even Weetabix (whose advertising included a wheaty bovver boy in braces threatening you with, “If you know what’s good for you…”) advertising plays a role.
Different paper stocks, Risograph printing, tipped in pages, metallic ink and a jarring switch to lurid colour towards the book’s close is a luxury approach to a hardcore topic, but even a cursory skim is a confrontational experience. When a friend or relative swings by and has an idle flick-through Skinhead: An Archive, it’s Russian roulette as to where they’re going to land and what they’ll make of you, but for those of us with insatiable subcultural curiosity, this project sets a standard with its thoughtful broad exploration of an oft-paradoxical world linked by a headbutt aesthetic and macho uniformity. An incredible book. Go buy it here and visit the exhibition before the 22nd of this month, where there’s a Martine Rose tie-in collection too. This Toby Mott interview at Vice and Jamie Reid conversation and gallery over at It’s Nice That are a superb accompaniment to this project.
Train cancellations meant that I never made the Soulland presentation at London Collections yesterday. I’m still stinging from missing out, because Silas and the team used technology the right way — using the Soulland app, the green backdrops behind each model came alive and let the iPhone shooter pick their background. Taking inspiration from the Happy Mondays, match day and Madchester, in the wrong hands, it could have been a car crash, but their strong prints, deliberately dishevelled fits and array of jacket cuts are great. I remember augmented reality being a buzzword back when I started my last job and most fashion projects using it regarding fashion being a shock and awe technique to distract from gimmicky garments. When technology is twinned with a strong collection and, appropriately, a simulation of the world through Shaun Ryder’s eyes circa 1990, it really comes to life appropriately. These Danish dons are doing content (another buzzword) right too: check out this chat with Mike Skinner on the site.