While it’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever pick up a book called ‘Cult Streetwear’ (they seem to have put an ‘l’ in where they surely meant to add an ‘n’) but there’s glimmers of hope from some big brands that it hasn’t all gone to shit. I won’t lie – some recent questionable releases, and the Letraset-style use of Shawn’s handwriting had me losing faith in Stussy a little this season, but the Brits came and knocked it out the park via the Cassette Playa hookup, and lately, while the tees aren’t necessarily my thing, Tyrone Lebon’s Stussy Deluxe x Greensleeves video is very good indeed.
It brought back memories of the hard-to-find 1992 World Tribe VHS, filmed by Tyrone’s uncle, the legendary James Lebon. That family atmosphere extends to the use of Clash members’ and Mr. Don Letts’ children in the video – a nice extension of the spirit of the recent Buffalo family shots in the Neville Brody designed Homme+. It’s the best re-up of Stussy’s original appeal in a while, and a more thoughtful use of the Clash than the recent Supreme tees too, harking back to a time when a cap with that surname in a familiar script was the stuff of daydreams. I think I should’ve had more faith in Stussy as a brand in 2010.
The video’s up there with the well-chosen Jaime Hernandez tees from last winter in terms of intelligent collaboration. While Tyrone’s video harks back to a time when to be affiliated with a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend in the London Chapter would’ve been an honour, the Hernandez tees, steeped in ‘Love & Rockets’ were defiantly left coast, channeling that LA skate-punk atmosphere that arguably birthed streetwear as it relates to cotton and screenprints. Don’t write the Hernandez brothers off as bookish art-kids – they were deeply involved in the ‘Nardcore’ (Oxnard represent!) scene, where Sims team riders and future White Sox pitchers made some hedonistic punk rock – some has aged well…some less so, but the heavily detailed aesthetic of those sleeves still packs a punch.
Dr. Know had some Hernandez art, but off all the albums of the era, 1983’s ‘Don’t Be Mistaken’ by Agression still feels fresh. It’s ripe for a proper remastering. Agression seemed to fall through some gaps, and should’ve been bigger – this 1983 LP brought the group’s live intensity to the turntable with relative ease, but as a onetime comic book disciple, it let my favoured cultures collide in a way that validated my geekdom – was that controversy-baiting ‘SS’ a Kiss-homage? Surf Nazi styling? An early example of credible skate-rock, the Glen E. Friedman cover shot is classic, while Jaime Hernandez’s skeleton rendition of the band was strong too. Word to the Better Youth Organization. Rather than being a mere funnybook tribute, Jaime’s Stussy work was steeped in the subcultural nucleus of the brand. Would this be a good time to revisit 1988’s ‘Comic Book Confidential’ too? A great documentary that throws back to the days when we got very po-faced (“It’s NOT a comic! It’s a graphic novel!”) about the artform…
On a barely-related note, the Supreme book is good, but if you paid over the odds for a slipcase version I feel bad for you son. Can anyone else verify that Levi’s tried to sue Supreme for using a logo in a red rectangle a few years back, assuming the Kruger homage was a bite of the Red Tab Device?
Shouts to Chris and the hip-hop OCD crew at Diggers With Gratitude for being obsessive enough to get in touch with Boston’s deeply underrated (hope they get Orangeman to reissue his LP too) T.D.S. Mob for a ‘Treacherous, Devastating, Supreme’ package on vinyl and CD. There’s room in my heart for some golden age rareness as well as Drumma boy productions, and favouring these new-fangled CDs, Chris and the boys hooked me up with the CD/DVD package.
The 7 audio tracks are hard as hell – that it takes a predominantly UK-based team to recognise greatness is both depressing and deeply heartening – some of these artists should’ve broken out beyond regional appeal, but DWG projects aren’t another bootleg operation – they’re executed in conjunction with the artists themselves, who I imagine are a little perplexed when they get an email from the team, announcing their intentions. the DVD has a couple of effective videos from 1989 and 1990, some live footage and video magazine chatter, and in the stills section is that the mythical ‘adidas Tree’ that’s mentioned in this essay? With some occasional gear from local brand Reebok, the 3-stripes is prominent across the videos – adidas should be celebrating this heritage – motherfuck N-Dubz and that Hudson character. Dead the downloading for a minute and invest.