Is there a more misused term than ‘influencer’? Every time anyone uses it at corporate level, somewhere a puppy dies. It’s that bad. Anyone swanning around thinking they’re influentual almost certainly isn’t. If they afford themself the title that’s even worse, like thinking you’re funny, but being flowed free product specifically to wear in order to shill more to a moronic crowd daft enough to follow their lead perches at the same tier as the guy holding the ‘Golf Sale’ sign down Oxford Street. The ‘influencer’ just has a nicer jacket, but the outcome is usually similar – pushing mass-produced sportswear in a targeted way. Clowns. But this blog was never meant to be the negativity zone, otherwise I would’ve vented here in self-indulgent fashion at being snubbed in favour of even bigger toys than myself (now that’s truly toy) for events or the startling ineptitude of so many blank eyed public relations people making a limited edition pig’s ear out of the brands they’re paid to promote. I don’t want to make this blog that place, so let’s talk influences. Like Chucky D said, most of my influences don’t appear on no seeding lists. But a few do.
As the decade creaks to a close, it’s natural that we’re going to get retrospective. As the last post indicated, there’s been a fair amount of backward glances to the early part of the noughties. Can it be that it was all so simple then? Thinking back to a time when favourites on Internet Explorer bore little resemblance to the colossal list Firefox spits out at me when I click that tab, I don’t think the early English language news sites get their dues at a time when we’re assailed by fake Hypebeasts and Sartorialists at every turn. Blogger always felt a little more intimidating than WordPress to trick out and render it readable. Nikolai’s Rift Trooper site, once carrying a difficult-to-remember web address, which has altered a little, but retains some great articles was invaluable – extensive central London wanders logged and note heavy, heads up on John Carpenter books and links to the mysterious Simon at Concept Shop made it a daily source of information that seemed built to convey rather than as an excuse for freeloading. How much has London’s retail landscape changed in six years? A lot.
Over in Germany, I don’t think the country’s obsessive dedication to, for want of a better term (all suggestions welcomed), street culture is truly acknowledged. Marok’s Lodown and Being Hunted keep on bringing it. Any magazine that runs for a few years deserves respect, but Lodown’s been running since 1995 and still stays relevant. As with anything long-lasting, it’s easy to take Lodown for granted, but that publication, plus the Super Lo8 videos and Visual Engineering books, was integral to my decision to sell my soul to big brands for shoes. Lodown doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Lodown’s certainly sustained a lot better than Tokion too. I sometimes forget that’s still running – a far cry from the heyday of the Neo-Graffiti project (remember the Margaret Kilgallen figure? That takes out your entire artist series in one piece of vinyl).
Beinghunted may well be one of my core inspirations for documenting this culture, or at least voicing an opinion on it. From its birth in October 2001, there was a certain precision to the site – simple but intelligent in its treatment of some interesting creations globally. Like Rift Trooper’s e-spot, it was total fanboy fodder too (“For you to know. More.“), but that subtle spot of flash with a moving header certainly gave it more of a sheen. Lodown never seemed too solemn, and neither was Beinghunted, but Jörg wasn’t afraid to call out the brands for acts of lameness. Now that right there was influential – more pertinent now as we’re part of an electronic sycophant community.
The site’s impact on today’s quick fix “news culture” was influential too. Having their own double-label pieces in 2003 was pretty new to me too (though Unorthodox Styles had the Recon joints in July 2002) and the fact it felt like a kindred spirit to its readership, showcasing the new Relax covers and warning the site users how fast product was shifting. Opening The-Glade.com in 2004 and in 2006, the Firmament store after a Munich-Berlin move showed just how far the project had come. A product like the ‘Also Known As’ publication could be passionately previewed and sold within the same outlet. The Firmament Boy’s Own collection, and recent Beinghunted Stone Island Shadow and Wood Wood pieces prove they’re still leagues ahead of the competition too. Shouts to Jörg and Andre. Oh yeah, and while the slate seems to have been wiped clean online with regards to information pre-hype site (I blame Geocities), Beinghunted’s entire archive is accessible.
This talk of Magazine House’s relax has got me digressing too. Was there anything to rival that magazine for flawless presentation? The covers between 1999 and 2004 were works of art, and it was elegant, borderline impenetrable at times, particularly towards the end, but affordable too. I defy you to find me a more visually stimulating magazine. relax seemed to move from hype brands to something very different altogether at the exact point that Nigo and co. went global, and the leisurely magazine’s antithesis, the quick fix info blog exploded. I’ve never known exactly when it started, I’ve heard 1989 and 1996 (according to Tiffany Godoy’s ‘Style Deficit Disorder’), but its end in August 2006 seemed pretty lowkey.
In its dying days (circulation tumbled from 46,239 in 2001 to 19,982 by the end of 2005) it switched to something not dissimilar to what Apartamento does very well, but the focus on LOHAS (Lifestyles of Heath and Sustainability) wasn’t quite so fun for anyone copping it, especially if you didn’t speak the lingo and were just on the hunt for pretty pictures. The James Jarvis September 2004 interpretation of ‘Pet Sounds’ is a thing of beauty. I had the fortune of having access to Mr. Russell Williamson’s back issue collection at the U-Dox office, and thanks to the NMCA archive, there’s a few covers below. Great stuff.