Tag Archives: the face

LABELS

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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).

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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.

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POSING

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I’ve been waiting for adidas to open up the Herzo archive as an asset after that site they had up that was full of rarities vanished for no good reason. Fortunately, adidas seems to have seen the light and launched a site — adidas archive is a nicely collated mass of shoe images, rare prototypes and samples (complete with notes on the uppers) and old ads. There’s a 1989 TV ad in there that’s incredibly Germanic and indicative of its era, a rare adicolor spot, ice hockey boots, a 1961 catalogue, some insanely rugged looking 1934 hiking boots and plenty more. It’s the sort of thing I could spend a great deal of time browsing. I never knew the Adilette flip-flop dated back to 1972, but now I do. Folks right now are on a quest to eat up information like a fatso inhales biscuits and regurgitate it like they’re supermodels, so the more brands can put up there to showcase their histories and stories, the better.

My first ever copywriting jobs were for adidas, and back then I was disappointed that the brand’s incredible history was only being hinted at beyond some great little ZX, Originals apparel and tennis shoe campaigns. This site is great and if you don’t respect this company’s legacy, there’s not a lot I can do for you. While I anticipated great things from the RL Vintage Tumblr and website, very little has been updated at time-of-writing. I hope the adidas archive gets the updates it deserves. While I knew that Dikembe “Who wants to sex?” Mutombo’s adidas line was bigger than just some shoes, looking at a 1993 catalogue on the archive site, I had no idea how much apparel and accessories bearing the big man’s print were planned — it was an Air Jordan-scale exercise and 20 years on, with a retro of the shoe looming, I wonder if — in a world dominated by animal prints and throwback looks – that apparel will make a comeback too?

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On the print topic, Japan’s Minotaur brand (who, with their mastery of technical outerwear and bookshop, leave me pleasantly befuddled, as the best brands always do) are continuing their long-running relationship with JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to put some satellite imagery as all-over prints on jackets. What? You never wanted a reversible jacket with a picture of a Belize coral reef shot from space all over it? What’s wrong with you? Actually, it had never crossed my mind, but this is an amazing creation with a high concept (literally) applied to it. Salutes to brands like Minotaur for creating the alternative to another poorly executed camo on a coat.

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Remember — ridicule is nothing to be scared of. Check out the characters frequenting Kings Road in this footage from 1980’s Posers — the New Romantics of Rock N’roll Fashion documentary that had fashion and sociology mastermind Ted Polhemus involved and Gladiators‘ commentary king John Sachs on narration. I’d seen the punks at BOY London footage before, but not this documentary in its entirety. Plus it has European Man by Landscape blasting, men in mascara moving like robots and some very rare club footage from Philip Sallon’s Planets spot in Piccadilly where Boy George used to DJ. It’s a good way to spend 23 minutes. Salutes to WL1964 for the upload.



Byron Crawford’s second book, the Rick Ross baiting Infinite Crab Meats, is on Amazon for £1.99 in digital form. In a world where rap journalists are more shook than ever about dismissing anything, dedicate videos to discussing a solitary MP3 and seem to be facing their own mortality by hopping on music that’s for an audience half their age 3 months after kids get into it, Byron writes like a man who has nothing to lose. Rumours, facts and discussions of blogging for a living, scandal, indie rapper encounters, Chief Keef, podcasts, rapey hipsters, the state of journalism and more is pleasantly reckless couple of hours’ reading. Somebody actually having an opinion is a novelty and Crawford applying common sense (as well as some incendiary opinions) to a strange and stupid world makes this book pretty fucking compelling.

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Steve Bryden and Sofarok have reminded me how powerful the imagery within the The Face‘s November 1991 (Vic and Bob cover) is, via Norman Watson who also shot the greatest Wu Tang session ever for Vibe. When the cold snap ends, the streets will be awash with Nike Air Huarache reissues. The New Skool shoot featured Chrome Angelz’ Zaki Dee showing everybody how to wear some laceless Huaraches properly as well as some folks in Pervert and Hysteric Glamour. Somebody really needs to put out a book of The Face‘s finest moments, because moments like this were pivotal street style moments for outsider townies like me rubbernecking via magazines rather than being involved.

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BOOTLEG

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“I might have been in my Shazam mode or something and shit. I just wanted some bangles, ‘nah mean?”
Ghostface, from this excellent Juan Epstein interview.

I’ve never known exactly why the brand knockoff tee or sweat seems to be marginally more tolerated than the knock off trainer. Maybe it’s because as kids, we didn’t have access to fake Jordans (unless you counted those godawful Abdul-Jabbar LA Gears), even though there was plenty of access to terrible Nicks and Matchstick releases that feigned fanciness and failed. My first exposure to designer garments was a t-shirt from some sunburned-Brit riddled part of Spain that featured Nike, BOSS, adidas, Cerruti and Lacoste on the same garment in rainbow fade reinterpretations of the recognisable logos. SCAT on Bedford town’s High Street shifted fake swoosh and Futura font pendants a year or so after i-D’s 1987 ‘Bootleg Fashion’ shoot with Barnzley in the fake Hermes tee and the fake Chanel shirt in the mix. Stüssy taught me the power of the linked ‘C’ homage shortly afterwards and Dapper Dan was giving rappers some defiantly fake gear that dared to go where the brands wouldn’t officially go aesthetically and locating itself at a spot where the average high-end consumer would be scared to visit.

Some of the best shirt (Duffer did their ‘Ducci’ and took a bite from Hermes too) designs over the years have been none-too-subtle designer rips and there’s a certain joy in the brazen thefts that don’t even feign legitimacy with phony holograms and bullshit disclaimers on everyday leisurewear. While I want the ’88 era MCM tracksuit that Tyson wore more than anything (which I believe is authentic), the spirit of loungewear with logos lives on in the Marriani sweatsuits with some phony Givenchy, Versace, Hermes and Chanel looks, with multiple branding to evade any semblance of subtlety via the mythical “Marriani Sampelle.” The tank tops and sweats homaging boutiques and fancier department stores (the Neiman Marcus releases are particularly fun) create a garment that never actually was and, in a curious way, they feel more legit than the logo gear the brands bang out specially for the outlet stores. Like Ghostface’s legendary truck jewelry (and as that interview reveals, you can thanks bags of wet for his finest moments) this gear is some Shazam mode apparel.

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Elsewhere online, go check out the trailer for ‘We Out Here’ (an annoying phrase when it’s uttered by middle class kids, but hard to knock if it’s the mantra of kids from Brownsville) which looks like the best thing Airwalk have bankrolled since the Jason Lee pro model, this list of Nikes at Complex that will probably anger the kind of people who write more than 100 words in blog talkbacks, this piece on Western European basketball I done did for some obscure sportswear brand and LTD’s quick chat with April Walker of Walker Wear (who also schemed to start a Team Tyson line with Mike). Did April put the Air Pressures and Shirt Kings gear on Audio Two during her styling days? Fair play. This piece on brand authority by multi-brand veteran Bob Sheard that man like Glenn Kitson just sent me looks like the start of a fine series too.

THE SECOND COMING

I’ve moaned about Fila on here and the impending resurrection of Ewing has made me a little thirsty for the gear that got away. Fortunately David Goldberg and his team bringing Ewing back have done things the right way, but maintaining the packaging and the extras that made those shoes so desirable. Goldberg and the crew also seem to be aficionados of that shoe too. A couple of years prior to Ewing debuting, gaudy sportswear from rebel brands seemed to be sprouting up everywhere, but unlike Patrick’s indie endeavour, the product hasn’t aged particularly gracefully. There was a point when I would have gladly pressed a button to kill someone somewhere in the world to lay my hands on a pair of Troop Cobras and the fame I would have obtained for one school term in 1988, but the shoe with the ‘Cooling System’ hasn’t held up particularly well and the Ghostface-endorsed early 2000s retros bricked. Travel Fox’s mooted comeback never happened, British Knights was always terrible and SPX was always sub-Troop to me (endorsing Lennox always seemed like a bland move too) – something that the reissues with the terrible boombox packaging reiterated. The late 1980s sportswear boom is something that’s probably better left as a hazy overpriced memory I remember with a certain fondness, rather than anything I’d actually wish to revisit at a product level. This piece from February 1989’s issue of ‘The Face’ about the “second coming” of sportswear has some gems in it — it plugs fake Troop, import Filas, Junior Gaultier and talks of a time when Slam City Skates sold Converse Cons and LA Gear apparel. AXO BMX trousers, Aquaboy and God sportswear don’t seem to have opted for a resurrection. The guy in the Stussy sweat and Haring hat got lucky.

The new ‘Proper’ is out and it’s another departure for the magazine in terms of looks after its recent perfect-bound redux. A new logo, extra sheen, Eoin MacManus on art direction and plenty of ‘Hikerdelia’ themed content makes it one of the few proper (sorry, that was actually unintentional) magazines worth tracking down. ‘Proper’ has a voice (plus a fuckload of good puns) and it’s a very rare thing these days. Plus, it’s a little-known fact that only northerners can write about parkas and rucksacks properly. Interviews with Fabio Cavina from The 12th Man on the subject of Paninaro fashions and best of all, a piece by Bruce Johnson, the man behind the History of Gear site. If you don’t live near any fancy shops, you can buy ‘Proper’ #12 here.

‘Rocky V’ is a crappy film, but watching it last night, as well as being a little more moved by the conclusion than before after Sage Stallone’s passing, I was reminded that it has some of the greatest graffiti of any big Hollywood production. I put that down to Stallone handing directorial reigns back to the man behind the first film. This is when nepotism goes very right. Not only does JA have a cameo in the film, but he’s turned loose for the set of the final conflict. Did he get to bring Sane and Smith on board or did he pay tribute to them by himself? I’ve never known. Sane’s untimely passing would have been several months after the film’s production would have ended.

BOOSTED

That London RRL store on Mount Street has got me wanting to spend. The navy dip dyed stuff, deerskin hunting vests, Cordovan shoes which — like many Japanese repro merchants — make use of boxes of deadstock Cat’s Paw heel units, and an awesome N-3 snorkel parka made with Buzz Rickson are all expensive but beautiful. Somehow everything on this blog manages to revert to Polo talk. Last week I heard somebody remark that Polo had gone “commercial.” It was curious to see a complaint like that leveled at a billion dollar business, but we’ve all had that moment in time where a brand feels like our own cosa nostra, oblivious to its history and just how many folks got there before we did. One thing’s for sure – with the Independent and Guardian Facebook apps spitting out old articles and dry snitching on the reader via that loose lipped little column on the right, the British broadsheets only got round to discussing the Lo Life “phenomenon” this summer. Then that UK Lo-Life documentary embarrassed the nation.

Going back almost twenty years, ‘The Face’ was there relatively early, typifying what made the magazine so essential under the Sheryl Garrett administration with the October 1992 (when in doubt, pillage ‘The Face’ archives — please, please, please can somebody make a DVD set of issue scans or a pay-per-view database of that magazine’s halcyon years) feature, ‘Living The Lo Life’ by Steven Daly. It’s a memorable feature for a number of reasons — the gear is fresh rather than tinged with not-as-good-as-it-was nostalgia, the footwear isn’t reissue and it answers and creates a few questions along the way. Young veteran Superia is an interesting focal point — dismissive of Lauren himself, applying a sense of activism to his crusade for fresh rather than reverence for Ralph and annoyed at Harlemite group Zhigge’s Polo gear until it’s revealed that they’ve got a Brooklynite in the crew.

We find out that JanSport is out and that Boostin’ Kev has been discredited too. Beyond that, the photography is excellent — David Perez Shadi (who’s worked with Supreme, BBC and ALIFE as well as being the man behind House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ video) took some incredible shots (the bandana is particularly memorable). What was shot but left out the feature? I’m keen to see the out takes.

The list of brands mentioned is interesting, with Tommy, Guess and Nautica joined by Duck Head – presumably only in vogue for a minute, but a curious brand that started life in the late 1800s as O’Bryan Bros workwear, selling union-made Duck Head overalls in the early 1900s, kitting out several country music artists in the 1960s and ending the 1970s with a surplus of 60,000 yards of khaki fabric that was bought by a mill operator, leading to the preppier incarnation of Duck Head that rose in popularity throughout the 1980s and early 1990s with a middle class audience, offering a kind of Polo-lite. They closed a Monroe, Georgia factory in 1996 and shifted manufacture abroad, floundering a little under new ownership and being purchased in 2003, leading to its current position as a merchant of fairly nondescript, low price dadwear. Still, it’s interesting that it once shared racks with Carhartt — another company given some unexpected innercity reappropriation at the same time Polo gear was sneaking past security.

I try to offset nostalgia here, but it seems we can’t avoid 1992’s tractor beam of bold labels and powerful pricetags. It seems to aggravate a few purists that rap’s golden era is a subjective thing — kids losing their mind to ‘Shot Caller’ right now wouldn’t want it any other way, no matter how many times you bang on about ‘Funky Child.’ Consider it a work in progress. But hip-hop attire always seems to hark back to exactly what Superia and his boys were preoccupied with. I’d love to see a publication with ‘The Face’s knack for prescience. Shit, I’d like to see a Friday night show that had segments like this James Lebon filmed piece on Shyheim for ‘Passengers.’

STANCE

Forget that never not working mantra. I’m not working this week and it feels good. It’s nice not to be writing an excess of shoe-related talk for a change, but guess what? Even during time off, I’m drawn to the subject. It’s a curse. Mr. Jeff Staple wasn’t lying when he mentioned that sleeping giant of footwear addiction that can’t be shaken off, even when you’re no longer in a brand’s target demographic (face facts, my over-30 brethren — you know that’s true). I even found myself making plans for Nike-related projects unconsciously on my BlackBerry earlier today, but it doesn’t feel like work — it’s normal, forgettable no-brainer behaviour.

Putting on a jacket and leaving the house isn’t something notable  either — it’s something I just tend to do thoughtlessly, though I do see increasing numbers of photo shoots wherein a shirt and jacket combo as lumpen and ill-fitting as the clothes I throw on every morning is apparently “styled.” And lest we forget, I’m just a sagging shitbag when it comes to my dress sense, Styling is a noble artform (the attitudinal and brash trickle down of Ray Petri and associate’s Buffalo work fired my imagination as a kid and continues to be a pinnacle aesthetic in my eyes), but just putting some everyman attire on dudes with public school hairdos doesn’t look that difficult. Doing something different seems tougher.

Maybe these folk are doing it so well that they just make it look easy. Maybe I’d sever a finger buttoning up a shirt, or break a leg adding a millimetre to a turn up I know a few photographers who get a little touchy about the fact a license to do events and product shots seems to come free in the box of any SLR, so I imagine that plenty of stylists with a vision are a little perplexed about the tidal wave of chancers. I guess everybody has to start somewhere, but would it too much to ask to see bland
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Seeing the video for Neneh Cherry’s ‘Buffalo Stance’ again at the V&A’s ‘Postmodernism: Style & Subversion 1970-1990’ exhibition reminded me of how besotted I was with her and her whole swagger when I was a kid. I’m sure I recall entering a competition on BBC 1’s ‘Going Live’ to win a signed pair of adidas Metro Attitudes (the rare-as-fuck ones with the reptile print). Capturing a brilliant collision between high fashion, high art and popular culture and laced with brash branding that caught the eye of a new breed of expensive label magpies, drawn to anything they couldn’t afford that screamed its price point with every wear. What a lady. It’s an endlessly repackable style too, from the bolshy videos, to her lack of pregnant pause when it came to performing live.

In 1992, her seemingly non-styled (but nicely shot by Jean Baptiste Mondino) ‘Homebrew’-era (the album with ‘Buddy X’ as remixed with a Biggie appearance that led to Neneh getting a shout out on the ‘Ready To Die’ sleeve) is proof positive that Jordans look better on ladies. As the week ticks by with internet hype stripping the Jordan III’s cool away, let’s not forget how amazing a Jordan can be when it’s worn without giving a fuck, minus the tiptoes and twitpics. Neneh’s Military Blue IVs were old by the time this issue of ‘The Face’ went out (it’s dated October 1992), but the look of them is enough to make me forget that they were easily available in a plastic replica form for as little as £17 a couple of years ago. We’ll have forgotten about the reissues when they’re released again next summer, but the Jordan IV in that shade of blue hasn’t aged as well as Neneh.

I also forgot about Neneh Cherry recording with Hiroshi Fujiwara in 1994. You can hear ‘Turn My Back’ right here and it sounds like 1994 had a tendency to sound.

Inspiration and nice guy Nikolai put me onto Melbourne-based www.itsonlyatshirt.com who are putting out officially licensed horror film related tees in old style VHS box packaging. If the name ‘Patrick’ rings a bell, then you’ll probably lose your mind over this project. The frequently screened Oz b-movie about a terrifying telekinetic boy in a coma used to be a BBC late night staple, but I haven’t seen it in a while. I recall a jump scare at the film’s conclusion that once made me scream in a cowardly manner. In the Ozploitation stakes, ‘Patrick’ and ‘Long Weekend’ seemed to crop up with a certain frequency (often around holiday periods, when bedtime wasn’t a concern) and to see it celebrated like this is tremendous news. In this interview, it’s alluded that a ‘Raw Meat’ (aka ‘Death Line’ with the amazing soundtrack) shirt, based on the equally troubling 1973 classic is at brainstorm stage with this brand.

Look at these early 1997 Wallabee options that were featured in ‘New York’ magazine. Was that a post Ghostface reaction? The oranges are beautiful. It’s a shame that they were probably the post-87 North American market ones that were China made. Still, nice colours and composition. And if anybody knows who was behind the Killa Shoe Co. Padmore & Barnes made Wallabee-alikes from the early 2000s, I’d love to know.

This Erik Brunetti interview on the Heavy Mental is awesome, “Los Angeles, at least to my knowledge, is too caught up in ‘street art’ and hype-driven openings, which produce the worst piles of shit I have ever seen. Just dreadful to look at.

Lest I forget, the homie Frank has just upped some of my musings on bags and outerwear history on Boylston Trading Company’s site to coincide with the Lexdray drop. My stuff is typically meandering, but I suppose if you’re talking about the outdoors, you’re allowed to ramble. It’s split into two parts and I think the second part is going up at some point this week. Good peoples and the Boylston Forums that are dropping in early December are killer.

Emptying the contents of a memory card, I found more images from the New Balance Flimby trip a while back. The original 670s are tremendous and the Kawasaki 993 is interesting. It’s still not quite as amazing as the Harrods New Balance M1700 from many years back (those Harrods NB images are swiped from homework4h38.blogspot.com and Parisian New Balance collector par excellence, Jay OneTwo’s images). Those shelves of UK-made goodies caused a few flashbacks and there’s a few samples there that bore striking differences to the production product. The mita croc skin 1700s from 2007 are underrated.

INSANE: VERY BRITISH “STREETWEAR”

This blog was actually meant to be about British things. Back when Acyde asked if I wanted to contribute, it awoke some kind of blog-demon within me and I tried…really, really tried to keep it British as a point-of-difference from all the other blogs out there, but I got bored and my yankophile tendencies got the better of me. I’m not trying to be a flag-burner, but a lot of British stuff (note the fact I said, a lot — not all) at street level is fucking corny. If it’s good, the minute you’ve covered it, you’ve wrecked it — like one a well-meaning missionary introducing a remote tribe to western confectionary and soft drinks, and managing to destroy their way of life in the process. Of course, America and Asia is riddled with corniness too, but we’ve condensed corniness.

Plus – if we’re talking “streetwear” — the good, aspirational stuff is meant to be on the cool kids, not the gimps. But now the tough kids wear black hoodies, vast tracksuit bottoms and Fila F13s or Air Max 90s, not the eclectic, expensive garms that led me to my “career” path. Nerds wear all the pricey brands – hardrocks probably aren’t paying more than £25 for a hoody. I used to assume that if you saw someone in a Supreme box hat, they were — in some idiotic, cliquey generalisation — one of “us.” I don’t even know what constitutes “us,” but the box is so ubiquitous, that I and most wearers are estranged. We’d have nothing to say. Supreme is still one of my favourite brands, but I can’t assume that I share an affinity with each and every wearer any more. It’s probably a good thing.

So I can’t be bothered to rep the UK specifically any more. It’s too limiting. Alas, this entry was written on a PC, where Photoshop and something as simple as Grab don’t exist. Even the card from my camera isn’t compatible. As a result — until I visit a Genius — the imagery here is just pilfered from elsewhere (with credit, of course).

I don’t feel that there’s enough history on UK streetwear pioneers on the internet. There’s a certain Brit-mindset that’s keen not to blow our own trumpet too much, doubly downplayed by avoiding blasting those brass instruments in a realm where to enthuse too much is uncool. As a result, things just disappear. We had to get to where we are now somehow, but after the popularity of the raggamuffin style blog entry here last year, I thought I’d take a look at skate culture in the UK and a key brand. Brit-publication ‘RAD’ (that neon sticker that ‘SK8 Action’ tried to bite was kind of the box logo of its day) taught me a lot. it had me hunting for Slam City Skates and M-Zone (the UK’s Stüssy spot of choice, where jackets seemed to price hike from £50 to £200+ between 1987-1991), and it introduced me to some British skate brands like Poizone and Anarchic Adjustment, but it’s Insane Ironic Skate Clothing that evokes the fondest memories. Ged Wells is a UK pioneer.

Looking back at 1980s skateboarding, Americans seemed to be in two camps – the neon, hair metal rockstar idiots or the gnarlier, tattooed Santa Cruz kids. The British contingent seemed to have merged the two to look an awful lot like squatters and crusties. I find it hard to get misty-eyed looking back at old ‘RAD’s (BIG UP DOBIE and check www.whenwewasrad.com for scans of old issues) in terms of fashion, but Insane was something far ahead of its time. Skate style in the UK isn’t something that could come effortlessly — we’re not really a print tee kind of nation, so that look would always seem imported and as a result, extremely posey and awkward. Not Insane. It seemed to take few cues from the States and channelled that oddball charm that makes British skating so evocative with its cartoons, fluid, bouncy fonts. It was strange-good.

Insane was the forefather of Slam City affiliated brands like Holmes, Silas (with artist James Jarvis providing their unique character-led world) and Palace. The romanticized notion of all skaters as artists is of course bollocks, but Ged could switch from foot planting in a pair of Visions (or were they Pacers?) to creating these weird garments. I’m sure Insane was inadvertently responsible for a fuckload of awful clubbing-related brands too — the kind that would be bunched together in distributor ads at the back of ‘i-D’ magazine (with whom Insane actually collaborated for tees), but it’s not the brand’s fault that people were and are idiots.

Circa 1989, Insane seemed awesome and underground. Before Insane, there was talk of the Jim-Jams brand that led to the Ironic Skate Clothing’s genesis. It was on tees, bum bags, sweats, shorts, hats, jackets, videos (‘Mouse is Pulling at the Key’), stickers and tracksuit bottoms. The adverts in themselves were mini-masterpieces. There was even an Insane Skate Supply store in Camden in the mid 1990s. It could be displayed alongside Stüssy without shame or any allegations of lo-fi imitation — the strawberry graphic tees and shorts were particularly good. Insane was very much its own entity. How many other brands could claim that? Ged’s work was present on skateboards for Slam City, but they distributed Insane too, doing a fine job of getting it into spots like Glasgow’s legendary Dr Jives.

In many ways, Insane’s ascent occurred at the point where vert died and the freestyle kids got the last laugh (well, the ones with business minds anyway) so it’s popularity in 1991/2 ran adjacent to an exciting, progressive time for skating. Having launches at the Wag Club in 1989 just conferred the merger of the era’s most well-regarded spots and subcultures. ‘Face’ and’ i-D’ photo shoots placed the gear alongside Nike and Stussy too in a raggamuffin style. The surreal imagery even captured some of that Native Tongues hype of the time. Over a decade before Robin Williams got kitted out in UNDFTD and BAPE, he could be seen sporting Insane around the time of the underrated ‘The Fisher King’s release.

Nothing gold can stay and Insane ultimately left us, but Ged’s still active as an artist and designer. He’s exhibited fairly recently and remains progressive and innovative, but (refreshingly) he doesn’t seem to shy away from his Insane work. He has something to do with Trisickle magazine too, but I’m not sure what happened to the plans to resurrect Insane and retro key pieces in 2006 (was that inspired by the nostalgia tsunami ushered in via Winstan Whitter’s ‘Rolling Through the Decades’?). A Japanese audience obviously took Insane (and Slam City Skates) in as one of their own, embracing the overseas authenticity of these legit Brit reinterpretations of a Californian artform — just as that R. Newbold ‘Monster’ tee Slam City colab seemed to arrive from nowhere, it was refreshing to see Japan’s Tokishirazu team with Insane for an anniversary collection a couple of years back.

All the Insane images here are pilfered from Ged Wells’s Flickr account
www.flickr.com/photos/gedwells — go have a dig there for some classic ads, shoots and apparel, plus information on how some imagery came to be. His website is www.gedwells.com.

As a sidenote, ‘RAD”s letters page actually had an email address in 1988, using British Telecom’s complicated-looking Telecom Gold service: 72:MAG90459 from a time before @’s were the in-thing.

Slam City Skates logo designer Chris Long’s online portfolio (www.chrislongillustration.com) has an excellent ‘Relax’ cover from winter 1996 he drew that captures a very UK style.

NOSTALGIA OFFSET

Taking pictures from a Facebook account is a lowblow, so I’ll avoid it, but the homie Thomas Giorgetti (who knows more about sneakers and graffiti than you or I) is making power moves with the Bleu de Paname brand alongside partner Christophe Lepine. The line just gets better and better, defying the preconception that it could just be another denim brand, or another workwear renaissance. It’s far more than that. The pocket tees and sports jackets were killer and Thomas premiered a sample of a Comme des Garçons collaboration on his Facebook the other day. Great line and an astonishingly quick ascent in such a short time. Gun fingers to the sky for Thomas. That and ‘Crack & Shine’ #2 are two things worth looking out for over the next few months.

NEDS, BAPE, MURO & MORE MAGAZINES

NEDS

I grew up watching teen gang-related films. Some were credible and some of my favourites (the Sean Penn ‘Bad Boys’ being a strong example) were downright daft. Whether it was ‘Boulevard Nights’ or ‘Quadrophenia,’ there’s been a fair degree of melodrama. The best examples are coming-of-age creations, but too often there’s too much lofty talk and angst. I always found being a teen in a provincial town to be bollockings in the classroom, boredom, the occasional contraband amusement and senseless blasts of depressingly memorable brutality delivered with a casual ferocity. That’s what Peter Mullan manages to capture with ‘NEDS’—a final entry in the unofficial trilogy of masterful misery he started with 1997’s ‘Orphans’—and it’s underpinned with a strong narrative

Most things in the 1970s looked grim, but Glasgow looks notably dreary, meaning teenage kicks give way to teenage stabbings, bottlings and teenage paving slabs to the head. There’s a curious mix of surreal flourishes and total realism at work here too. First timer Conor McCarron’s performance as John is a hard-faced evolving study in simmering rage—one of the best performances in years, while Mullan is a repulsive drunken father with a deathwish who brings an extra depth and deftly avoids the self-pitying pitfalls of hard life cliché. From recognisable menace to dreamlike oddity, ‘NEDS’ is a masterpiece. It’s not about using the accuracy of the wardrobe’s team aptitude for obtaining synthetic fabrics of the era as a selling point – this is truthful, terrifying cinema.

The scene of a fatalistic two-fisted knifing spree to eerie electronics alone confers a viewing. Scottish period gang cinema is hardly a subgenre, but this impresses as much as Gillies MacKinnon’s ‘Small Faces’ did back in 1996 – that in itself was a poorly promoted film, dropping in the opiate haze of the excellent ‘Trainspotting’ and with a more deliberate pace compared to Danny Boyle’s kinetic approach. There’s room in my heart for this solemn, joyless treatment of teen war as well as the gleeful silliness of Kim Chapiron’s ‘Dog Pound.’

BAPE

What’s up with folk gloating about the BAPE situation at the moment? The streetwear industry owes much of its existence to the house that Nigo built and many would do well to have taken tips from BAPE’s plus points rather than biting the more lurid elements. I would sold vital organs to have laid my hands on an ‘APE SHALL NEVER KILL APE’ tee. James Lavelle seemed to have the hookup, but £50 for a tee if and when one cropped up made it out of my league. Prior to that, does anyone remember the BAPE windbreaker in ‘The Face’ circa 1994, with a gloating write up that indicated this would never be in your personal possession?

It was a tiered acquisition mission—after succeeding in identifying the item, where on earth were you meant to obtain it from? And when you found the fabled spot, would it time with a drop date? And thus, a legend was born – western influences honed, gloriously repackaged and sold back to us in a fetishistic style we could never match. Shawn Mortensen’s fabled shot of Biggie in a borrowed BAPE camo or the short-lived Gimme 5 Very Ape spinoff were a huge inspiration to me. Best of all, on laying your hands on some BAPE apparel, the thickness of material, tiny two-sided tab and build with shrink resistance in mind seemed to justify the hunt. Every brand could learn a lot from BAPE’s approach to marketing and product. The majority seem to imitate the more obvious elements of the company’s output.

This article is very interesting indeed.

DJ MURO x AVIREX x STAX MA-1

DJ Muro isn’t just one of the greatest DJs on the planet—he’s the man behind some of the most bugged-out collaborations on the planet. I’ve bored of most double and triple acts, but Muro and King Inc. (plus SAVAGE! too) has maintained my interest by creating the sort of thing that would blow my mind on a Tokyo visit as I attempt to understand how it came into fruition. I’m loving the latest creation—the resurrection of Avirex outerwear in conjunction with Muro and, just because two partners isn’t enough, Memphis soul kingpins Stax. It looks like the imagery of the Memphis Sound has been applied to an MA-1 style design. After the North Face x SAVAGE! pieces, Muro x UCS x Porter 7 inch box and SAVAGE! x Carhartt x Stüssy Active Jacket, this is another unexpected creation that’s up there with the A Tribe Called Quest x Gravis x X-Large output in the XXX stakes.

MORE MAGAZINES IN LONDON

The new ‘GQ’ is a marked improvement on recent issues and the rare interview opportunity with Dick Gregory makes March’s issue very necessary. But with the new issue comes some significant news—I welcome any new spot for magazines in London, and around February 21st, Condé Nast Publications are opening Condé Nast Worldwide News—a store located in Vogue House on London’s St George Street promises 130 different Condé Nast titles from 25 countries. Designed by Ab Rogers to display the magazines like a museum in a carefully lit white and yellow environment, I’m looking forward to seeing the output. More technical types can browse digital editions on some wall-mounted iPads and hopefully it’ll sell Vogue Nippon at a more reasonable price than the usual £17 fee. But I doubt it.

RUDEBOYS

We’re all guilty of living in the past, but the point when you developed a fashion awareness seems to leave an indelible mark on the psyche that means regressive revisits are an inevitability. That’s what seems to have put us in this retro rut where we just keep going back to the point where we’re rocking olde world railmaster attire. We’ll be in Dickensian garms before long. Beyond sports footwear experiences as a young ‘un, it was Def Jam patches on MA-1s, Suicidal Tendencies caps, Vision Streetwear and some regrettable lurid grails in the clothing stakes that really set me off. Then a Stüssy preoccupation and the rumours of Troops costing £150 followed by unwarranted racism allegations that effectively put that brand to sleep. The rudeboys round my way were the true style masters who really activated my preoccupation with apparel and footwear.

We’d had the piss-trickle of shit Le Shark, bad Hi-Tec Micropacer knockoffs and pastel trousers that casual culture instigated (the Italian Paninaro crowd played their part there too), but the terrace-inspired gear hit harder with a generation above me. I was transfixed by the ragga-inspired pinroll, Burlington, vast Chipies (or for us Bedford dwellers, Chipie copies from the market) and Chevignon (or as before, a knockoff with an appropriately Euro name) and the footwear oneupmanship. This rudeboy look never really seems to get the reverence it deserves beyond smirking “Do you remember?” forum threads, or regrets over hefty purchases that were immediately robbed or out-of-favour. I think it’s one of young Britain’s (alright., it’s a London thing) greatest looks. The parallels with so-called casual culture —the cost, the dole money, the rivalries and the swagger are there, but while it might not have sustained like a Massimo Osti masterpiece, at the time it seemed more youthful rather than teens dressing beyond their years. Rather than damage in an organized tear-up, the fear here was getting jacked on the shop doorstep after handing over colossal amounts of amassed coin.

Being a towny, by the time we got any trends, they were long gone in London. As a 13-year-old you could only gaze helplessly at ‘The Face’ and ‘Sky’ and see what you were set to get the arse-end of after it was onto the next one in the big city. Only kids as school with shotta bothers or guilty absentee fathers came close to keeping up, and that was sporadic. They’d be wearing the same Filas and puffa jackets for a few months too as a result and the awe would wear off. but still—and this is certainly the case on the trainer front—this was a peak. We never really moved on, and the ’94 Jordan reissues paved the way for us to churn out variations on a theme to the present day.

In the ensuing years we reverted to suede basketball shoes that harked back to 1968 and rocked check shirts, but boundaries blurred and subcultures seemed to merge. I’ve not seen a youth style as defined as the rudeboy look of 1990/91 emerge again. The worst casualty was oneupmanship, where wearing the same or even similar gear was frowned upon, and oddball choices would either win respect or crash and burn. But at least you tried.

Kevin Sampson’s piece on casual gear from ‘The Face’s August 1983 issue marked a turning point in the culture’s documentation (and the ensuing letters pages for articles on the topic were always hilarious), but ‘Ruder Than the Rest’ from the March 1991 issue, a Chipie-centric 14-page article written by John Godfrey, Derick Procope and Kark Templer, with some excellent location photography by Nigel Shafran was incredibly enlightening. Each postcode prided itself on their progressive style. Hammersmith kids dissed the South Londoners for tucking rather than pinrolling. Nobody was telling where they got their Vikings from. We were informed that, “If you’re into rap, if you’ve got a hi-top haircut and live in Harlesden, you’re known as a pussy.” By the time the article went to print, all-involved had almost certainly moved on in terms of lusted labels.

It makes me nostalgic for something in which I was never involved—something I merely admired from afar. I still feel it warrants more documentation.