DESIGNER BOOKS

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Having been raised on old-world advertising, I understand that things had to change, but the modern stuff in the world of athletic gear doesn’t even come close. Across every brand, everything seems to be distilled into a two-word mantra of SPEED/STRENGTH/INNOVATION/TECHNOLOGY/COMFORT/CONTROL/DESIGN/FIT/CLASSICS followed by DEFINED/REMIXED/REDEFINED/PERFECTED/MASTERED or prefaced with REVOLUTIONARY/UNBELIEVABLE/INCREDIBLE. Two word blasts of superlatives are everywhere. I might take a William Burroughs cut-up approach to copywriting and see if it creates a classic. Continue reading DESIGNER BOOKS

KINGS FROM QUEENS

Big up Kyle Lilly for uploading a little slice of locally broadcast hip-hop fashion history. Video Explosion was a Yo! MTV Raps style show that, as I understand, was screened regionally from Queens. There’s a lot of great footage from the program out there, but this clip features DJ Finesse getting his Fab 5 Freddy on and visiting the Shirt Kings store in Jamaica Queens’ Coliseum Mall to interview Kasheme and Nike (this seems to be a post-Phade iteration of the business) from the crew with a giant microphone. If you haven’t already picked up the book from a couple of years back, do it before it becomes extortionately priced in specialist stores or on Amazon Marketplace — it’s an essential document of an important moment in streetwear history. An expansion into London is mentioned here and it’s something I wish I’d seen happen. You don’t see a lot of footage of the Shirt Kings store in action, even if it’s a later version, so this is very rare indeed.

HOW THE CONVERSE ONE STAR WAS BORN AGAIN (AND AGAIN)

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NOTE: I wrote this a year ago and it was meant to run somewhere else in its entirety, but it never happened. Looking through the replica of Japan’s 1976 issue one of Popeye magazine the other month and spotting the One Star (before it was called the One Star) reminded me that I should probably throw it up here.

Simple design has a curious habit of affecting subcultural style. The blank slate approach allows for statements to be made far beyond a design’s original intent and the humble athletic shoe in its most stripped-down form has long held a tendency to connect with the most discerning and critical audiences possible. You can’t buy credibility, just as you can’t preempt those moments when the everyday becomes a must-have. In this case, a basic basketball shoe design found its purpose beyond the court. The Converse One Star’s impact is substantial, despite being a relative failure on its original release. Continue reading HOW THE CONVERSE ONE STAR WAS BORN AGAIN (AND AGAIN)

BOTH KINDS OF SNOW BEACH

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Typical. You wait for one book documenting a niche subcultural phenomenon and then two come along at (almost) once. After Victory Editions’ incredible release of Bury Me With the Lo On (which, pending its second printing, is almost fetching Kayak rugby shirt prices on eBay), Powerhouse is putting out Jackson Blount’s Lo Life: An American Classic in November, with an oral history of the boosting culture and plenty of vintage imagery and contributions from Lo Life members. Continue reading BOTH KINDS OF SNOW BEACH

BEDFORD TOWN

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Despite Bedford being my birthplace, I’ve long assumed that, despite being the longtime breeding ground for a lot of talent throughout the years, even minor recognition for the town was unlikely. One local hero is producer and musician Lil Silva who’s making credited and uncredited power moves while making some sounds that evolved locally into elements of some globally popular music. Continue reading BEDFORD TOWN

ACID

Having grown up in the era when acid house was the devil, as news reports juxtaposed angry locals, aggy police and furious anti-drug campaigners with footage of people just having an incredibly good time. Nearly every cop or hospital show was capitalising on a moral panic too, but even as a kid I wasn’t entirely convinced by the scare stories (shouts to the policeman who visited our school with a terrifying tale of a young women who ate grass by a road after eating “space cakes”). YouTube uploads of illegal parties circa 1989, scattered with NAF NAF, stripe tees and curtain haircuts are a great viewing experience. Everyone’s trying to play the cheap sportswear hedonism card right now with brand collaborations and campaigns, but you can’t beat the real thing. Where did I put that Vicks Vaporub?

FOUND FOOTAGE

Given the glut of found footage films released over the last decade (none of which touch Cannibal Holocaust for a sense of witnessing something we shouldn’t have done and, with the exception of [REC], a couple of V/H/S segments and Chronicle, mostly terrible), you might expect this footage of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman’s former residence to conclude with the spirit of the legendary coach and inventor pissing down someone’s leg (read Kenny Moore’s excellent Bowerman and the Men of Oregon for more information on that) or making a waffle iron open and close. None of these things happen in these research videos by former Nike designer Bob Smith, but shoe nerds will love the guided tour by another Nike legend, Geoff Hollister, of Bowerman’s old house (featuring Bill’s son Tom and Nelson Farris), garage and some bonus footage regarding the creation of those iconic outsoles. This is gold.