I botched this blog entry. Earlier this week I wrote a piece on Run-D.M.C. and their relationship with adidas, their sweatshirts and the Fleetwood/Eldorado/Brougham/Ultrastar release. Then I got annoyed because I didn’t get any shelltoes in the post so I shelved it and upped something else. I decided to chuck it on here tonight and I found that I deleted it rather than saving it as a draft. 1,200 words — gone (but images saved). So that’s that. Is there a moral there? I’m not sure there is. Instead, here’s the cover image from the Ghetto Boys’ overlooked Be Down single that Mr. Dan Greenpeace kindly forwarded me for its heavy Champion content. Before they dropped the ‘H’ they repped the big ‘C’. This was the 1988 Geto Boys lineup that lacks Scarface and Willie D, but Bushwick was there (not the star of the show as he would be a year or so later) — orange Champion tees were a big look, but Bill’s black shirt, tracksuit bottoms and matching Champion shoes hint at a boom for the brand in Houston at the time. Incredible.
Can somebody send me some cans of the AriZona Richard Prince Lemon Fizz collaboration from late last year please? Watching the ESPN Arnold Palmer mini-documentary, with its footage of the AriZona production line has reminded me that my aborted NYC trip meant I never got round to handing over 99 cents to get some. I have to concede that the post New Year downer is in effect and that sugary concoction looks like some much-needed sugar assistance to jumpstart my enthusiasm again.
The industry is boring, but only boring people get bored. However, I suspect the time has come for me to slowly shift from sports footwear retail (unless it’s for brands who want to pay me a decent sum to write about it) into other subjects. It’s a young man’s game and selling shoes is not something I have much of an interest in. I also suspect that not working with the damned things day in, day out would probably re-up my interest too and improve any work I’m involved in pertaining to sportswear. That doesn’t stop me feeling the urge to throw shoe-centric matters up here alongside the other stuff, because I’m too far gone (Dostoevsky’s, “It seems, in fact, that the second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half” quote is applicable here without seeming too much like tinpot intellectual showboating) on that topic. I can’t resist 1989 newspaper ads like the one above, with their ridiculous lineups, images of Eric Dressen, my childhood hero and current Epicly Later’d subject matter oozing 1988 style in the Nike Court Force for a ‘Thrasher’ shoot. If you’re interested (and I would never be able to listen to my own voice), there’s a phone conversation with me over on the Sneaker Fiends Unite podcast (shouts to Dallas Penn and Pete).
This nonnative jacket is needed. The majority of the SS 2013 line is impressive (the pig suede Laborer Jacket is serious), but the Trooper Jacket with the overdyed treatment and Windstopper treatment reworks a military standard and makes its mark on it without getting too fussy. That pick of the purple and the button-down lapel give a basic some extra identity without getting unwearable or overdesigned. At Yen/Pound translation, it’s approximately £440. Add on taxes and shipping and that price probably doubles. I really need to wrangle a Tokyo trip somehow that’s based around a pilgrimage to Tsutaya Books and exploiting the lack of Parcelforce depot visits buying direct from the source can entail.
After the pre-Christmas talk on here of bootleg tees and sweats, ‘Slogan T-Shirts: Cult and Culture’ by Stephanie Talbot was released last week and it explores the culture of bootleg shirts in far more authoritative detail than anything I could muster. DisneyRollerGirl (a contributor to the book) upped the piece where Barnzley breaks down how he saw the real tees, banged them out as bootlegs, then felt infuriated at seeing his idea bootlegged. Well worth a read. Seeing the Palace Versace design copied and sold in a Camden marketplace is not dissimilar — a copy of a copy that still feels like a violation.
According to a Complex.com rundown, I’m one of the top 25 influential sneaker Twitterers. That was a nice surprise. Shouts to the Complex famalam, but I’m definitely not influential, unless being strange is considered aspirational. Still, it’s fun to be acknowledged in whatever form, even if it appears just after you Tweet than sneaker culture is just a load of old men in colourful hats and big shoes. Like all lists it also had some folks acting all “How come he don’t want me, man?” Will Smith too. Between the brands and the consumers, I still think the whole sports footwear cycle is in a dark, dark place right now. Blame the egos, their ’97 mindsets and forays into blog reliance. There’s good shoes out there — in fact there’s some amazing stuff out there — but we in the UK seem to be denied them in favour of some dreck.
Take the Zoom Huarache TR Low for example. Most updates of shoes are a letdown — the Platinum Dunes remakes of the sneaker world — but this shoe somehow channels two years of Huarache running designs and brings it up to date without being anything close to terrible. The Mids seem to be a more popular choice Stateside, but we Brits always loved the runner — from Derek Redmond’s old man (“Have You Hugged Your Foot Today?”) to Olympus sale racks and the Foot Locker and JD Sports high street resurrections.
Thus I’m baffled as to why this model — one of the few pre-Presto times when something so progressive got road wear before popular footwear on these shores went defiantly retro in white-on-white or black-on-black. This model debuted late last year but I’ve not seen any pairs over here. That’s a Bozo move, and with the subtle change in textures and Knicks colours, a bargain at $69 in NYC. Admittedly some other variations feel a little too plasticky, but this is a classic in the making. It’s fun that you can still saunter through ‘Nothing to Declare’ at Heathrow with a gem in tow, but I can’t help but feel that it’s an opportunity wasted over here. These were a breath of fresh air amid the city’s spectacular humidity.
Other online appearances this week included an interview with ‘Crack & Shine’s Freddie for the excellent new site, ‘The Heavy Mental’ that operates from Australia and launched quietly with a wealth of features on talented folk like Lev Tanju, Fergadelic, Luke Meier and Shaniqwa Jarvis. Even Union’s Chris Gibbs — a style king in a realm populated by herbs — is involved. It’s a great start and props are due to Ed for putting it together. It’s worth your energy and a fine antidote to padded paragraphs for SEO’s sake or the shackles of 140 characters.
It was also good to see Allen and the 12ozProphet crew making big moves at site and agency level at the moment. There’s evidently some huge things in the pipeline that they’ll be rolling out soon, but their meticulous approach to digital, paper and cotton product is an inspiration. There’s never a pixel of half-step on display from these guys and their appreciation for graffiti in its hardcore form manifests itself in the meticulous rather than cliche drips and arrows. I was privvy to some amazing, energising and inspiring work that’s all too rare these days, left as it too often is, in the hands of a head designer with a grip of Thames & Hudson tomes and precious little else. 12oz are role models and I need to get these stickers up by any means necessary, having seen the logo throughout both Berlin and New York these last few weeks. The amount of detail in the labelling and packaging of the tees is appropriately uncompromising.
The late, great RAMMΣLLZΣΣ may have decried the ‘SNEEZE’ logo as “toy” but for $2 (those import charges are a motherfucker) from that Lafayette vending machine, issue #12 is a banger. The almost jizzy, translucent cover lettering over Kate Upton, a big Prodigy fold-out from the Supreme shoot and an interview with the perennially wavey French Montana are all breaks from the bullshit. The Downtown broadsheet delivers time and time again — there’s some insightful content amid the gloss.
As a kid I hated sudden bangs—hated them. No amount of explanation that everyone else was equally as startled would stop me losing my mind on fireworks night or any balloon-riddled birthday celebration. One of my earliest memories is ruining some kind of swimming gala by having a Damien-level tantrum because a starting pistol had the audacity to go off while I was in the building. My mother says it was instigated by me sitting on a balloon—which promptly went bang—as a tiny idiot. If you’ve got a fear, everyone knows you’ve got to overcompensate. And overcompensate I did via a lifelong preoccupation with cinematic carnage.
But Russian roulette scenes still make me sweat. It’s the guaranteed mark of a crazy film character—there’s some staggeringly obvious examples out there, but Geoffrey Lewis’s character in the underrated ‘Way of the Gun’ gets an effective debut playing the game. It gets under my skin. As a six-year old I recall hearing about Jon-Erik Hexum dying after playing around with a gun loaded with blanks and I became grimly fascinated. The recent bizarre footage of a guest being brain-damaged at a Russian wedding during an impromptu game that utlilised rubber bullets had me ruminating on the topic too. It beats Chris de Burgh and rope lights, but it was still an unfortunate move.
When my friend and trusted source of cinematic recommendations, Calum, put me onto a French film called ’13’ (which is more commonly known as ’13 Tzameti’) a few years back that contained something so grim that reviewers merely alluded to an unfortunate situation, I took the tip seriously. He was pretty wild-eyed about the movie and rightly so. Using a microbudget, local actors, family members and making good use of gloomy black and white plus some hugely imaginative touches, Géla Babluani made a classic bad-choice thriller that’s one of the most intense films ever, laden with hairpin trigger tension. And everyone knows that a good foreign language film means a minority view that’s ripe for a US remake. Sad but true.
But wait! The American ’13’ has Géla behind the camera too! How can it go wrong? Never forget that George Sluizer was responsible for the awful 1993 revisitation of his masterpiece, ‘The Vanishing.’ Then the concern begins. ’13’ isn’t a terrible movie by any means, but it makes a point of justifying the existence of a slew of familiar faces with back stories that split the narrative from the original’s cold jumpiness. Another wasted Mickey Rourke convict role feels like ‘Iron Man II’ overspill, 50 Cent is predictably bad and Jason Statham is no fun when he’s not walloping bad guys—instead he’s scowling, growling and wearing a pork pie hat here…because he’s British and that’s expected of him. Michael Shannon is an annoying ringleader who contorts his body and face, shrieking his way through the murderous proceedings. Even Sam Riley’s innocent who made a dodgy decision becomes less sympathetic too early on.
Inevitably, Ben Gazzara is excellent and Ray Winstone’s angry turn works in the high tension surroundings. Chuck Zito is a welcome face, just because he seems like the sort of man who would attend a real-world clubhouse in the vein of ’13’, but when you know the faces in the room, a fair proportion of the fear is distilled. The film switches between quiet contemplation, bickering and the main event; headshot by headshot, and it’s a bore. The final act is stretched out to tearing point too. If you’ve never watched the original, you might enjoy the remake, but the inconsistent pacing gives you too much time to trip in the plotholes where its predecessor never let you exhale enough to stumble.
At least the redux makes good use of that chilling circle of lost souls stood gazing at a lightbulb (now with added spider logo). It’s an arresting visual, but it’s the custom t-shirts for each unfortunate participant (presumably debtors, addicts and suicidal types) that make the most impact. The jagged duct-taped numbers on t-shirts are retained. Of course, if some won’t survive the first round, and if brain matter is flying through the air, there’s no point getting a shirt custom-printed, though the tapers kindly put a smaller chest number on too. It’s a striking image that captures the anonymity and disposability of these human lives, but it looks very, very cool indeed. In the new film it’s grey on a black shirt. In 2005 it was black tape on a grey marl shirt. The original wins again. But as Miss Claw Money agrees, someone needs to remake the tees in an official capacity with optional bloodstains…the nihilistic aesthetic is amazing.
The first stylist to arm thirteen models and kit them out in thirteen hastily numbered styles of grey tee or sweatshirt, gets my full, undying respect. Live ammo is optional…but preferable.
It’s an aimless blog post, drifting like a boat without a skipper this sunday, as I’m in the midst of writing a lengthy piece about something for someone. All might be revealed. But still the lure of OCD lures me back to WordPress to publish at least something.
It’s been a weird weekend, with the Bespoke I made with the assistance of Mr. Wainwright and Magdi aka. Madgi in NYC’s Mercer Street space getting some E-coverage. Attention is a motherfucker. I was just amused to make an Air Force 1 somehow related to my fixation with Chopper City’s bad suit. It briefly, thanks to the homie Eugene at Hypebeast caused some stirrings. Any plaudits are like getting a high-five for executing a paint-by-numbers with a certain level of proficiency. Any criticisms that I wasted $820 are, ummm… interesting. Gloating is unbecoming so I’ll shut the fuck up. Colourways are fun, and Nike Bespoke is the shit, but we shouldn’t mix colour-ups with actual design skills. One feels like a game of symmetry and the other requires education and/or an innate skill. Still, I’m happy to have made the AF1 I always wanted. Which is kind of the point. Shouts to Nike.
Earlier in the year, Eugene fired some questions my way and I answered them on my BlackBerry (RIP). Eugene is definitely someone whose opinion I respect, and Hypebeast is a juggernaut. With Mr. Kan’s involvement, there’s a superior level of content creation at work. It’s a far cry from the days when I used to make digs at hype sites in news posts. Shit done changed. The interview is here, and if you can make it to page 11, I’ll give you a prize. I frequently bore myself. A good conversation nonetheless. I’m blaming Eugene for the length of it. He opted against a hefty edit and his questions were deeper than crap interrogations.
My opinion on iPads has changed a lot since then. My then-office partner-in-rhyme has defected to Vans Europe and my announcement that I wanted more corporate gigs pretty much came true. It’s pleasantly dated. Like an episode of ‘Tomorrow’s World’ from 1988. This entire industry moves in hamster-years and a lot has changed in mere months.
As this ghost ship sails along, I feel obliged to recommend the new thriller, ‘Burning Bright’ if you get the option to rent it on the cheap. With Meatloaf as a seller of black market big cats, who ends up causing headaches for a beautiful girl and her severely autistic younger brother stuck in a boarded-up house overnight with a psychotic tiger while a hurricane rages outside, the lack of CGI and some solid set pieces, plus a title that references a William Blake poem, makes it a good use of 85 minutes. As is now-customary, there’s a tactically “vintaged” poster for the film too.
I like a bad situation flick on a budget. ‘Frozen’ and ‘Stuck’ came through. ‘Red Eye’ and ‘P2’ faltered, crumbling under the sheer vertical drop of their high concepts. Anyone else remember the 1981 flick ‘Savage Harvest’ with the lions putting a house under siege? Or the production headache double-act of Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed in 1981’s ‘Venom’ with the robbery and black mamba snake on the loose (kind of cloned in the crappier 1988 film ‘Fair Game’)? The bad situation thrills of the claustrophobic and downright nasty Mario Bava thieves-in-a-vehicle vehicle ‘Rabid Dogs’ is a masterclass in fucked-up, no-budget tension. On the creature-on-the-loose tip, hopefully ‘Piranha 3D’ will deliver the thrills as well as the leaked levels of salt water gore next week.
Some dickhead called Specter got “up” in the fruitiest way by covering a beautiful old hand-painted sign in east London. Sign painting is an art. Creating “happenings” like this isn’t. It’s just embarrassing.
I hate Specter’s art. I hate wheat poster pricks sullying my view with cut and paste horseshit, haplessly justified by flimsy A-level sociology explanations. If you support this shit you too are part of the problem. Fuck you Specter. Go and risk your life in a train tunnel and cause some real destruction without the art-twat “manifesto”. Or go get educated, then classical on some canvases. Then fuck off. This generation of post-Banksy scum is the art equivalent of a Superdry t-shirt.
Thank god for the good folk of wheatpaste and stencil street art hating superblog HurtYouBad and their crusade against this kind of fuckery. They kindly blessed me with one of their new t-shirt line by the mighty FINSTA, not to be mistaken with the semi-legendary Finsta of grimy rap underdogs Finsta & Bundy. This design reminds me of the lunacy you could get from a local spot via an ad in RAD, and appeals to my love of GHOST and Robert Williams’s handiwork. They’re launch their 5 designs with a fine photoshoot next week, so I’ll leave the full details to the HYB team.
I’m part of the problem when it comes to plugging things that are hardly revolutionary, and thus aiding and abetting the slow, sludgy flow of mediocre ideas, but by god (bar the excellent social life) I’m glad I’ve evaded the summer’s tradeshows. Just as dogs supposedly see in black and white, only when I leave certain areas of London am I aware that I see in more than just light blue and beige cotton. We’re flooded with it. The heritage lines are in full effect. If your ailing brand is more than 30 years old, start a heritage line. If it’s new, make it look like a heritage line anyway. Bread & Butter is generally awful, but this year’s sneakily shot offerings were total Emperor’s New Clothes (the emperor’s attire in this case being the same tiresome bunch of collaborators on bland brands and brands good enough to know better, and some once-great lines reacting to blog attention and playing themselves by losing that charmingly oblivious aura).
Naturally, the good people of Pointer and Wood Wood are excluded from vitriol as their offerings are looking excellent.
But how much post-Albam crap can we possibly take? Albam make excellent gear, fairly priced, but the slew of Albam-alikes pumping out button-downs, chinos, denim and totes makes a man want to self-harm. Regardless of the material weights, painstaking treatments, sourcing or manufacturer who’s within walking distance, a substantial amount of feverishly WordPressed product looks like Blue Harbour by Marks & Spencer. Ignore my quest for the perfect blank for a second. Bring back the print tee.
Print t-shirts never feel fully British — neither does the tee itself as an article of clothing, seeming more like a sought-after import that arrived and never left. John Lydon’s gleefully defaced Pink Floyd effort, Malcolm McLaren aided graphic output and Katherine Hamnett’s sloganeering seem like rare examples that made a significant impact. There were skate brands in my wardrobe that were keepers, but it took Holmes, Silas and Barnzley-era Zoltar or Tonite to really match the Shorty’s, Stussy and Supreme preoccupation. I think Gimme 5 was an underrated brand with graphics are worthy of a retrospective too. Can’t forget Carri’s Cassette Playa imagery either.
My respect for what Palace is doing doesn’t need require reiteration (Incidentally, Lev’s TMI quote pertaining to Fergus Purcell, “Loads of people try and bite Fergus’s shit as well…he’s the OG guy…” carries some weight) and the Ferg-Tour tee is a great piece of design, and T-Shirt Party, who I’ve enthused about before are still fulfilling their shirt-a-week mission, currently on number 21 with an England backpiece image. Just as they made their ultra low key arrival, Mr Andrew Bunney — a walking encyclopedia on a number of matters and a man who knows a fair few things with regards to subcultures and apparel has started a small brand with artist Daryl Saunders called British Remains for a simple reason – they couldn’t find the kind of t-shirts they wanted.
T-Shirt Party and Palace are channeling a certain Britishness that’s alien to or US cousins but easily accessible. To convey UK imagery without descending into mockneyisms or tiresome levels of nationalism is tough. I remember a streetwear brand called Artful Dodger, never my particular cup of PG Tips who were presumably (I certainly hope they were) American, and their awful ads in Frank151 that bordered on Dick Van Dyke chimney sweep patter. We don’t want to go there. But the Britain I love is a mixed bag, and I love to see our grimmer side showcased. And boy, do we do bleak well. Andrew seems dedicated to researching and unveiling the country’s treasures and oddball elements, and mixed with a keen eye for aesthetics, that means some nice shirts (plus totes too if that’s your thing) that play with some localised elements, some as common as W.C. cubicle signage, the glorious London Brickworks (which operated near to my hometown) and some class matters.
Just for riffing on the Hambert and Deverson’s ‘Generation X — Today’s Generation Talking About Itself’ study, familiar to a certain generation of sociology student as being, alongside Dick Hebdige’s ‘Subculture: The Meaning of Style’ a rare moment of interest in an otherwise tedious curriculum on the ‘Generation X’ design, the brand impressed me more than most on first impressions. I look forward to seeing where this line goes, as I’m in no doubt it will confound any presumptions that printed white cotton will stay the sole medium. I love the type on the press release/statement of intent too.
As you may have gathered, I really like t-shirts, and London is making me proud at present.
Go get British Remains and Palace from www.hideoutstore.com
The quest for the perfect plain tee continues. It’s a quest that’s doomed from the start. Some are too thin…others feel constrictively thick (as a young ‘un, a Karl Kani shirt was purchased that could literally stand, phantom-like, if positioned correctly) – the expensive repro brands for a whitey are out the budget. Fil Menange make cotton-spun works of art, but still, art that’s going to end up with ‘pits like the Turin Shroud after a single summer in rotation, and all the Mitchum Smart & Solid in the world can’t save them. No luck finding treats like deadstock Oneitas with reinforced collars. Since this piece was upped, there’s been at least 4 voyages to the States, and pickings have been slim. Quality and quantity are the key factors. Naturally, fit is fairly important too.
As every bellend deems themselves enough of a tastemaker to air their dull fashion picks openly, it’s nice to champion something that appears to be legacy-free. Made in the USA but defiantly no-frills. In 2001, when Uniqlo made its first appearance on these shores it was pitched as the tee spot. All colours, low, low prices. a crewnecked spectrum. That seems to have fizzled out in favour of plastic packaging and prints, plus those fits aren’t what they used to be. Just as there’s denim-specific stores, how about a t-shirt retailer in the same vein? All brands, all plain – no logos. Japanese, US , UK and Portugese efforts…all colours, from slimfit to knee length, XS to XXXXXXXXL. Who doesn’t like a crispy tee on their back? Hanes Beefy has been the pick in recent years, but they get boxy fast – if you’re paying some ludicrous markup on them as imports, they’re far from perfect. If you pick a colour it fades after 2 washes too. Time for the ProClub Heavy Weight.
Pre-shrunk, meaning they keep their shape without becoming belly tops after a handful of spin cycles, and clocking in at 6.5oz where Beefy manages 6.1oz, ProClub’s not some heritage line. That logo is ugly, but it’s still one hell of a shirt. Luxe-T make a heavy shirt that’s soft too if you’re in the market for something more sub-sub-sub-substantial. Is there much of a ‘Club backstory? Not really. The site doesn’t reveal a lot about the brand other than their ‘Comfort & Style’ mantra, and apparently they’re California’s bestselling plain tee.
The ProClub Heavy Weight isn’t too long and is loose enough without compromising the dignity of anyone over the age of 20 – their Tall Tee is popular too, spitting in the eye of the new generation of moody sartorially focused folks. If you’re looking for an undershirt, fall back – the Heavy Weight will just make you look like you’re gaining pounds, but for external wear, they’re a strong hot weather pick – not heavy enough to prove constrictive. The downside is you’ll need to bulk bay from the ‘Bay to grab some beyond the USA. The pick of 20 colours is a positive though. Hanes’s bruiser is being put on hiatus in favour of these bad boys. The anti-heritage movement is in full motherfucking effect.
And some recent holiday snaps on the homie Maxime’s Sang Bleu blog of the visit to the SA headquarters just off LA’s Skidrow. For a couple of Euro left coast rap disciples it felt like a pilgrimage. Too much good stuff. Go check the site.