Nothing to see here tonight, but if you’re strange like me, you should head over to Jonathan Gitlin’s Flickr account and look at the tenth anniversary Bond International “magalogue” from 1997 for a little primer on how things were in London back then. The product offering at the 10 Newburgh Street (pre 17 Newburgh Street) spot was ridiculous — Pervert, Gimme 5, Droors, Pervert before it exited the shelves, Union and their forgotten Polo tribute, Union Sport plus some brand with a box logo — phoning up back then to ask about the box tees and good Zoo York stuff always used to be fruitless, because that stuff seemed to fly out. With the passing of The Hideout, this is a welcome throwback to time when Soho was a destination to take that student loan money for the purposes of spending it on things that were two sizes too big and I wanted DC Clockers as much as I wanted some Humaras. Shouts to Mr. Gitlin for taking the time to up those images.
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.
I love what the Acronym brand stands for — defiantly progressive during a decade of staring back, never cheap, but (I’m guessing) not the most profitable of enterprises due to a zero-compromise approach to design which defiantly incorporates everything that a man in a suit and tie (rather than an overbuilt yet ultra lightweight asymmetric zipping GORE-TEX shell) would demand removed. Season after season, their videos have been as much a highlight as the product, with wearing the clothes becoming its own martial art — Acronymjutsu. Errolson’s graceful way with those straps, accessories has been the ultimate moving lookbook since he broke out the Blade II soundtrack for that ’04, realmadHECTIC affiliated promo. The VHS fuzz and Blade Runner reference on the last showcase was good, but Errolson being joined by director Ken-Tonio Yamamoto mid-way to a sample from Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza has made other Vimeos from brands trying to dress up gear look even lamer. The Yakuza has a place in my heart because my dad taped it for me back in the day and it imprinted finger-cutting, honourable goon stereotypes of Tokyo’s underworld into my mind at a fairly early age, with the soundtrack by Dave Grusin (who, in his career, was sampled many times — the best being Biggie’s Everyday Struggle) and tremendous opening titles. It aged well too. In subsequent years, Ridley Scott’s Black Rain would do the culture clash a little more crudely to warp me some more and when I finally got to see Kinji Fukasaku‘s Hiroshima-based Battles Without Honor and Humanity series, I got a little more insight into that thing of theirs. Then Chris D’s 800-page Gun and Sword (highly, highly recommended to my fellow inquisitive weirdos), an encyclopedia of the Japanese gangster genre, opened up a whole new world (cue the song from Aladdin) for me. But, as per usual, I digress — Acronym have the best lookbooks out there right now. Salutes to Errolson Hugh, Michaela Sachenbacher and Ken-Tonio Yamammoto. Check out the tech specs here.
I spoke to Supreme HNIC James Jebbia for issue five of Hypebeast Magazine. Don’t expect a sprawling conversation — from an informative one-hour+ chat we settled at about 1,500 words. When it comes to putting an interview on paper, James speaks with his brand, but there’s some jewels in there and it all looks pretty good.
At least three times a year for the last five years, I’ve been sent an enthusiastic email with the Powell Peralta SUPREME campaign tee attached as a jpeg. It’s a weird coincidence that somebody was throwing the Supreme name around in a box on the skate side, but, as far as I know, not an inspiration for the skate brand that’s going to break the internet on Monday morning. Above is an ad from early 1990 from Powell Peralta, which showcases the SUPREME name in stickers — as far as I know, this was just an ad campaign and showcase for some of the squad who appeared in 1990’s Propaganda rather than anything major. Having only ever seen 1991’s Video Days in VHS format, was the young Guy Mariano wearing the SUPREME shirt in that Jackson 5 soundtracked opening? It’s likely, given his Powell pro-status pre-Blind, but it’s also amusing, given the Powell-Blind feud that was brewing and how tapes like Video Days were nailing the coffin for the big brands. You could connect the Powell team from the 1990 era with the Supreme brand with ease given how many skaters were on the squad (eg. Billy Valdes-Menace-Javier Nunez-Supreme), but then again, you could connect any skater with another skater or brand in three steps or less.
The good folk of Goodhood (who have been very supportive of this blog since day one) just launched their Goods brand, which delivers the premium basics in its inaugural rollout (if you can consider a UK-made backpack with a digital pyramid, palm tree and cactus print a basic). I know everyone’s launching a brand right now, but Kyle, Jo and the team have real design experience and can nail the print tee to make it appealing to people like me who’ve given up on life and rock the same blank day in, day out. There’s some great pastel bucket hats in the collection too, which, when worn by somebody that’s not me, will look amazing, plus a yo-yo too (beautifully packaged enough to make you think you’ve needed a yo-yo for some time), but the t-shirts caught my attention the quickest — the Dazed design with the appropriately Confused flipped ’78’ on the rear is a solid execution in terms of typography, illustration and the little details (given their self-confessed love of brands like Neighborhood, it’s no surprise), while the tie-dye creations make sense among the confusion, given the late 1970s cues. And if all that’s too fancy and you’re a drop-out like me, they’ve custom created their own blank shirt too. I’m looking forward to checking the hand feel of the Goods soft interpretation of vintage jersey. On your average rag trade cash-in brand, the, “A Well Made Product” blurb would be the same old bullshit, but the Goodhood crew really mean it.
Be careful what you wish for. I know we’re all getting nostalgic in our old age (and there’s some young folk suffering from premature nostalgia right now), but I should know better than to wish for a brand to return out loud, just because I was thinking about the late Tony Wilson rocking the Travel Fox with a suit (and making them look crap) and tried to chart the history of the company. Those of us of a certain age might remember the Nappa leather and strange use of colours on this Travel Fox shoe, plus a £100 price point back in the 1988-era — it was a shit shoe, but it had status for ten minutes. Thanks to benski oner, for the heads up, I found out that the ‘Travel Fox Troop’ (I’m guessing that the Troop was added to up the nostalgia profits for another brand?) is at Sports Direct for £29.99. No Nappa and a crappier sole unit too. And that’s the end of that. Travel Fox was done by 1989, but now, thanks to Sports Direct, the memories are diarrhea-tinted. Remember The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, or the adaptation of sorts in the 1972 Tales From The Crypt movie or — best of all — Bob Clark’s Deathdream? The moral of the stories was this: be careful what you wish for. I know I’ll be more careful in future.
I’ve been transcribing too much this week so text here will be at a minimum tonight (though you can click here for a one-hour conversation about shoes with my friend Gary Aspden). When it doubt, revisit Thrasher for those ads that had me primed to spend on gear I couldn’t find and send cheques for sticker packs that never arrived. With the Fuct book imminent, it’s worth following up this post of post World Industries ads for the brand with even more examples from 1995-1997. Now, for all the skulls and cod-Satanic imagery, streetwear wants to be your buddy and the presentation is lookbook-based. The print ad is well and truly extinct. It’s a testament to Brunetti’s marketing savvy that he nailed ads back in the day and makes your look book look like the afterthought it is in 2013 too. Those brands that looked like they wanted to smash your face in drew me in like the lamp junkie crane flies I’ve been slaughtering en masse during these sticky summer nights. I wish I wasn’t so addicted to retrospect sometimes, because it reminds me of companies making an effort and makes me prematurely cynical. Now there’s an epidemic of retweets, #weouthere selfies and that 100 emoji from blokes at brands.
What’s the situation with these (scrapped?) Supreme x Nas images? Looks like a photo shoot that should have happened a long, long time ago and something that could cause a hype situation if it appears on cotton sometime soon. There’s a lot of rappers out there who don’t look at home in that kind of gear — they’re on that Karmaloop trolleydash non-steez or (insert Zumiez stocked brand here) surprise box anti-swagger. Nas looks at home in it.
The ad above is another late 1990s Small Earth ad (I posted a sumo wrestler in XIs one here a couple of years back) dating back to 1998. French-made adi, a selection of Jordans and a handful of cult 1985-era Nikes were worth money to Grand Rapids, Michigans buy and resell to Japan enterprise. Chuck Vander Hoek and his business partner capitalised on the Japanese kids coming into their vintage clothing stores to set up this targeted business — some OG American resellers. Anyone shifting their Hawaiis to them for $63 was probably jumping for joy. If only they knew…
I never got down with the whole toy thing because I’m old, every release was more expensive than I ever anticipated and because some dickhead decided to call them things like “urban vinyl” to justify being over the age of 11 and still buying action figures. That doesn’t stop me needing the new life-size Medicom Gizmo, complete with puffballs of potential mayhem caused by a clumsy Corey Feldman. I still kick myself that I never got hold of the Medicom Bride of Chucky era Good Guy doll replica, so despite the $300+ price tag (nostalgia is an expensive industry), I need Medicom’s latest foray into the Mogwai species in my life. Gizmo is the pet I always wanted and ownership doesn’t mean the fear of having a dubious stereotype knock at the door to claim him back, or the potential annihilation of my hometown.
Bobbito Garcia’s Where’d You Get Those? is the greatest book on sports footwear ever written by a long, long way. There’s a few books on the topic en route, but nothing touches this 2003 tome’s authority and sense of actually being there and hoarding AF1s at least a decade ahead of the majority. By cutting off at 1987 (bar his section on slept-on classics) to avoid the influx of gimmickry that dropped in the years that followed. The Where’d You Get Those? 10th Anniversary Edition drops in November after being out of print for a few years and it looks like Bobbito has wisely avoided any temptation to go beyond the cutoff year for this one. However, that proposed cover, is an abomination compared to Brent Rollins’ masterful work on the original release.
A while ago I wrote an interview with the mind behind SOTech. It’s pretty detailed and worth reason if you’re inclined toward military gear and tired of milspec’s misuse of late. My eagle eyed partner-in-hype Charlie Morgan spotted the SOT-BLK gear crop up in Union — the fruits of SOTech’s work with Rob Abeyta Jr (who has a military background and is who I would want on my side in a brawl situation) — with the near-invincible baggage that’s created for battle conditions is tweaked slightly for everyday use. If you’re going to protect your blank Moleskine and copy of Monocle you never got past page 17 on, it’s good to know that if those parachutes drop en masse, your MacBook will be protected during the subsequent fight for freedom. The SOT-BLK Mactac bag is a tweak on a design originally created post 2008 Mumbai attacks for anti terrorism gear to be kept in a single bag. It’ll be interesting to see how the recent moves to get the U.S. military share a single camo pattern affects contractors and manufacturers, but this is perfect baggage for the disorganised and accident prone. Built to survive the world’s worst and ideal if you wake up and you’re the last living blogger on the planet.
While I keep hunting the rest of this W)Taps GRIND shoot, I recommend listening to this William Friedkin interview, where he discusses throwing out some Basquiat paintings, meeting Darby Crash and naming Sorcerer after Miles Davis’ 1967 album (which is also discussed in his fine memoir, The Friedkin Connection). Sorcerer is a slow burner, but that exposition and slow-burn tension pays off, so it’s good to hear that one of the most underrated films of the 1970s (a notorious flop) is coming to Blu-ray in remastered form. Friedkin’s approach to audio is something deserving of more than the current bare-bones, half-arsed DVD release. Despite his reputation for rages on set, Friedkin’s opinions, co-signs and evident passion for the craft are admirable.
I’m in Nuremberg and I just got back from eating dumplings in the woods (not a euphemism), so there’s only a sliver of blogging time available. I recommend checking out my German friends at Being Hunted (as mentioned here several times, a huge influence on this blog) and their rewind to the Kate Moss tee leak of 2004 and the line sheets it was taken from are worth revisiting. That whole incident preempts the blog boom of 2005. As an apology for my slackness, I’ve accompanied this with a photo of Guru and Heather B from a 20-year old Spin piece. Was this some kind of official Champion photoshoot? Champion jersey dresses, tees and backgrounds, plus an GFS hat on Guru’s head captures the era nicely. I want to know more about this.
Before you waste your energy here, on the assumption that you like the same stuff I do I implore you listen to this podcast on the porn industry and its mafia ties back in the early 1970s. There’s a film to be made here regarding Larry Revene’s experiences with the mob (including the infamous Roy DeMeo). Sure, there’s some technical talk here, but the anecdotal content is gold, Ashley West is an excellent interviewer and Revene’s book is full of some interesting facts if you’re intrigued by the business before it became a billion-dollar industry (and that Linda Lovelace loop they’re talking about is not something you want to be Googling in the workplace).
This is such a rush job of a blog entry that I never bothered to look for whether the contents has been upped on other blogs, so I apologise in advance if it’s a repeat or a repeat. I know I spotted a blurry image on Flickr and while my copy is more creased than discarded park pornography (and I’ve already put up scans of the photoshoot on this site before), I Love Labels from summer 1999 is one of the last memorable features I can recall from The Face (actually, the Larry Clark piece a couple of years later was a good one too, so I’m talking shit), which came from an issue with a good Air Jordan retrospective by Fraser Cooke. The union of Silas, Inspiral Carpets tees, Le Shark and Moschino, plus Supreme (“…a kind of Gap for Mo’ Wax fans…”) is memorable and the use of the letters from the logos to set off each paragraph in the intro was a nice touch. (Insert paragraphs of “I miss The Face” nostalgia here, even though it would be a paler imitation of its old self than it was before cancellation).
Watching the BBC4 Bowie documentary at the weekend, the early 1980s footage of David Bowie’s Japanese appearance showed quote a few copies of David Bowie Black Book being wielded. A visual bio that’s got a few images you don’t see too often, Miles and Chris Charlesworth’s book is being reprinted for the first time (I think) since the updated edition from 1988 in July. There’s a lot of Bowie books out there, but this is one of the better examples. On that topic, one of the best pieces unearthed from the archives for the David Bowie is exhibition was a World Industries Corporation patch from The Man Who Fell To Earth — a great piece of cinematic corporate logo design.
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.
James Hyman is the guy who resisted the voices telling him to get rid of his magazine collection. I’ve been weak and thrown away my favourites and, contrary to tech prophets, never seen the content that’s slowly fading from my memory, like a paperback on the windowsill, anywhere online. As a testament to Hyman’s hoarder mentality, his archive contains 450 crates and 52,004 issues of 2,448 unique publications. There’s titles in there that the internet doesn’t even mention once. I could spend a long, long, long time just browsing old Sources and Faces to bring some colour back to those eroded psychological snapshots. Check out the Hyman Archive right here (and I’m not just saying that because I’m quoted at the start of the video.
Kelefah Sanneh’s profile of Daniel ‘Dapper Dan’ Day in this week’s New Yorker (complete with a Louis Vuitton ad on the back cover) is tremendous. It places what Dan created in a greater context, discussing the (il)legalities of his work, talking to Tyson, breaking down the infamous ‘Alpo Coat’ with the gun pocket, the connection between the audacious hustler outfits and Africa, the previously undocumented part of his career where he bootlegged Timberland and Guess, Fat Joe’s status as a longtime customer and how Floyd Mayweather Jr. still works with him. It’s the reason magazines are important and it’s tremendous that they gave it 8 pages — a story that needed to be told given the position it deserved. The Man Who Dressed Hip-Hop is up there with some of the great articles on the subject. Go buy it if you’re trapped outside their paywall (Calvin Tomkins’ When Punk Becomes Art piece is good too). It’s a shame that the blogsphere lacks the attention span or reverence to put out something this comprehensive that celebrates a figure whose contribution to the streetwear and high-end collision that causes queues today. Hyman’s horde is proof that print still has an aura and depth, and this is proof that print is still extremely relevant.
While we’re on the subject of entrepreneurial New Yorkers who inadvertently spawned strains of hip-hop fashion that built empires, it’s worth (air)brushing up on Phade of Shirt Kings (who’s putting out a book next month) and his work via this 6 minute documentary. Dues are being paid and it’s better late than never.
Fast-forwarding to hip-hop style in 2013, Gunplay’s Allhiphop weed-addled post-house arrest video shows him wearing a Supreme-style tee that’s Tumblr fake in its brazen knockoff status. I don’t now who Specials are, but I know that’s not a Terry Hall or Jerry Dammers collab right there. Even that bellend from Made in Essex buys his own stuff from the store. The expression on Gunplay’s face indicates that he probably doesn’t know what it says anyway. Homages of homages are weak— like when Bobby Davro used to parody Smashy and Nicey on Rock With Laughter (I’m glad he smashed his face open for that one). Does anyone else remember the glut of fake Supreme tees in TK Maxx circa 2003 with the box logos on the back? Smedium Exploited shirts next to the Full Circle garms, plus knockoff Bounty Hunter and Recon. I’ve always wanted to know where they came from.
Finally, shouts to Jian from Four Pins for the shout in this interview right here. I like how haunted menswear blogging is by the realisation that it’s just an ordered cluster of natural shouldered jackets, denim, leather accessories, technical runners, NATO straps and factory tours. It tries to skip from menswear to fashion but then it’s all lost like Marcus Brody at the fair in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s like getting upset because other people like wearing trousers. As long as men wear stuff, then menswear will probably be quite a popular thing.
I find that if I look too far into how facile my lifestyle is, I find myself staring into the abyss and realize that every aspect of my existence is an irrelevance. So to all the worriers — just keep posting lookbooks and don’t think about it too much. I read about some guy going crazy from studying quantum mechanics because it rendered all he knew irrelevant and I heard talk of post-menswear can do that too. Just wear your gear and accept that the post-apocalypse world will not require stylists, writers or curators.
Jian, Jon Moy and the Four Pins squad do an excellent job of writing in a learned snarky manner that I respect, making it one of the rare sites on its chosen subjects that I return to (I tell everyone else that I do, but I don’t). I hope it spawns a new wave of blogging on shoes, clothes and related matters, because most people are still covering stuff as if they’re describing it to their grandparents. In an age of unauthoritative authorities, Four Pins is one of the few voices that’s on point. /enddickriding