Books on athletic shoes are done to death. However, there’s always room for exceptions on the shelves and it was good to finally devour the contents of this particular one. A while back, before digital dominated, Nike commissioned some fascinating publications to coincide with campaigns. The world doesn’t need another bluffer’s guide to bestsellers with Q&As with the usual suspects. What it needs is untrodden informational terrain and Le Silver does the job. Written by Lodovico Pignatti Morano — editor of the flawless Ideas From Massimo Osti — the book is a 152 page anecdotal history of the Air Max 97’s role in Italy. I believe it’s culled from around 97 interviews and, curiously, despite its defiantly local nature, it’s published in English. Club kids, DJs, store managers, graffiti writers, rappers, stylists, editors, professional footballers, scooter boys and motorcyclists all break down the core appeal of Christian Tresser’s design between 1997 and 2003. Best of all is how the author retains the contradictions of any good origin story — there’s multiple accounts of different pioneers said to be the first to bring the shoe to Rome or Milan, some participants dismiss it as ugly, there’s tales of the shoe flopping initially before the sudden surge and plenty of corroborating tales regarding the impact that Georgio Armani putting it on the catwalk in early 1998 had locally. Very hardcore, very niche and beautifully designed by Munich’s Bureau Mirko Borsche, channeling that spirit of streamlined futurism that — according to some subjects — may well have driven the core appeal of this ostentatious entry into an already bold franchise. Incidentally, it also operates as a fairly comprehensive book on the popularity of the Air Max Classic/BW in Italy too. Well worth 22 Euros, even though that 16 Euro shipping fee is a little aggressive. Le Silver is the gold standard in shoe-related books. There are plenty more images of it and its contents right here.
Having spent many happy hours circa 1996 browsing the shelves of Rollersnakes as part of a regular retail wander that I could stretch over an entire day, I have some happy memories of that place. Back when the store was situated in Nottingham on the excellently-named Maid Marian Way, it had a solid mail order set up and, in a none-more-1993 move, they released a few VHS “catalogues” that included local footage from sponsored skaters, some sessions at local spots like Market Square, clips from the newest videos on sale and four minutes of staff posing in the latest clothing (plenty of Droors, Raggy and X-Large) and some shots of covetable decks, with a Zoo York Ryan Hickey or Girl Sean Sheffey running you 54 quid (decks might run you little more than a quid or so more 23 years later). Anyone in the market for Bitch slick? Rollersnakes upped the whole 1994 tape on their YouTube channel, but there’s some retail highlights in the video above and the entire 1993 volume one below. Rap with horns and big jeans aplenty.
Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I had to make a fourth return to SHOP TOUR CANAL OFICIAL and their abundance of 1990s’ retail wanders. You can’t fake this era of sport shops and those shelves are ripe with masterpieces that everyone took for granted at the time. Even the budget takedown crap has turned to gold. This is the kind of thing that makes YouTube better than any terrestrial or cable channel. It’s 1992 and 1994 embodied in a few minutes of grainy camerawork and excitable chat, but alas, A Sports USA of 148 E Flagler St, Miami is apparently a luggage shop nowadays. Continue reading MORE STORE
The problem (or possible blessing) with being surrounded by something all the time is that you don’t see time flying. Things from the early 2000s seem, rather paradoxically, done to death and recent. But many of today’s consumers of the very things we obsessed over and the ones who’ll succeed us, were toddlers when magazines were a viable thing rather than a thing to lay on the table neatly for social media. Sydney’s Refill was a good publication that ran from 2003 to 2005 and was occasionally stocked at spots like London’s Magma for fifteen quid. Created by Matty Burton and Luca Ionescu, it ran for five issues before coming to a close, managing to document some things lesser spotted on 2017’s digital channels along the way. It evokes an era of chasing this and early adopter of most things Raif Adelberg’s hardback Made Magazine. Issues #3 and #4 of Refill are on issuu to browse in their entirety — I recall that BAPE edition causing a brief mania with 2004-era hype types because it came packaged with an ape head poster and badges of some kind, which makes up for the brevity of the actual interview in that cover feature. Nostalgic for features on Devilock? Step right in. The piece on Will Bankhead’s work, with bonus design work from Bankhead, Ben Drury, Christian Petersen, Fergadelic and Ed Gill, is fucking fantastic — Park Walk (created alongside Emmet Keane) from 1998 was a pretty pioneering Brit brand seemingly solely sold abroad, and the later, more widely distributed Answer line was incredible, making up a solid chapter in UK streetwear history that’s a good link between Silas and what the Slam City residents would sire next.
For years, some of the brands I associate with a pivotal era of black British streetwear have been the ones that get away in terms of information and insight. Viking shoes? Informational dead-end. Click? Still something of a mystery. The Click suit was a dancehall staple during a time of ragga and hip-hop’s early 1990s crossover and an ostentatious, loose fitted uniform at events like Sting. In my hometown, it used to be used as a general term to describe contrast panelled, oversized patch cord or denim trousers and shirt-style jackets. Some of that stuff was even extreme stone wash with mock bullet holes. For years I never knew whether it was a brand, a custom line or an expression, and the V&A’s collection seems to use the name generally in its outfit that uses the Exhaust Jeans line. However, Steve Bryden, whose knowledge I trust unreservedly, said this beneath the image above on Instagram, “Click was a brand, I still have suit somewhere. Click made suits and jackets A big thing in the raggamuffin era.” I’d like to see a more comprehensive history of those 1989-1995 brands, given the colossal stylistic contribution that Kingston via London look gave us.
Seeing as Ralph Lauren’s empire is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, we’re promised at least four books about the brand (including Ralph’s autobiography in 2018) on the horizon. Rizzoli has got a couple planned, including the Ralph Lauren: 50 Years of Fashion retrospective in association with WWD and a third version of the 2007 monograph, which will be expanded with more imagery and coverage of the last ten years. It’s always vaguely disheartening to see slackers getting the opportunity to get the book in a better form as penance to us keen types for buying the book earlier (the slightly bolstered paperback reprint of the Osti book gave me similarly glum feelings), but it makes sense that another big birthday justifies the remix. Now I want to see the clothing step up to bring some statement greatness that supersedes that slew of streetwear homages of those glory days, plus a decent length documentary on the company’s growth over those five decades. Expect these around September/October (when an interesting looking Fiorruci retrospective is set to drop too).
It would be unseemly to air out the new graphic-designer-and-Gildan ASOS resurrection of Crooked Tongues, but the cookie-led targeted ad following me around Facebook is really rubbing my face in it. I knew this range was coming, but I wasn’t expecting it to be an two-minute IG mood board driven tribute act to many brands that have done better things with purpose and actual provenance. I remember when sweatshirts with made-up sports teams, leagues and random years in raised puffed lettering were all the rage if your mum bought your gear from C&A, but I was tongue-tied when a doctor tried to make small talk by asking me if I actually played baseball. 31 years later I see that he was just sneak dissing my fictional athletic credentials and I hope anyone that wears this stuff gets similarly called out for wearing these fake deep visuals. That might come off as bitterness, but if mentioning the place I worked for several years evokes this over that earlier labour of love, it necessitates some distance from the new “curb-surfing” incarnation.