THE BEST IS YET TO COME…

Dominic Stansfield has officially ended his Stansfield brand. It’s a shame. In a world laden with repro, pseudo old world efforts, he’s a standout character who really understands design, bizarro reference points and the power of imported 1990s skatewear. Stansfield was one of the best brands this country — and his Rushmoor line before that remains underrated too. It’s important to celebrate the masterminds who’ve weathered trends and reached Jedi levels of garment overstanding like Dominic, 6876’s Kenneth MacKenzie and Garbstore’s Ian Paley. I occasionally feel that I don’t celebrate the work of UK brands enough, but I feel the majority are piss-poor. After maharishi seemed to take a nosedive a few years back, I’ve had little luck connecting with any Brit streetwear lines at a similar level. Print tees with Brooklyn Kid fonts? Give it up. If you’re lucky, UPS or Royal Mail might be hiring.

Stansfield made some fine outerwear and shirts. The car coat was particularly amazing, while the jacket above seemed to channel the reference point blend and bring something new to the table — the solitary fireman’s jacket clasp evokes memories of the jackets Treach would wear in 1993. His blog was a fascinating insight into the mind of someone utterly obsessed with their work. Some of the military and film reference points were stunning and the gear that emerged reflected that obsession.

The blog carried a final message a few weeks back where Dominic explained, “I think its time to move things on from this over-saturated wax jacket, heritage, workwear etc. bore fest.” It looks like he’s set to go technical with some projects primed for 2012. It’s a shame that the reverse weave sweats he mentioned a while back (that I’d heard about from multiple sources) never appeared, but perhaps the impending American sportswear themed brand he mentions in that post will be the outlet for them. Salutes to a mastermind who knew when to bow out and reinvent.

Dominic’s decision doesn’t seem to be affecting the direction for some other brands (In fact, I know for a fact that a rep for a brand recently announced that they were moving from sportswear in favour of “workboot styles”) and if the workwear movement continues, I hope a dearth of ideas ultimately leads them to August Sander’s ‘People of the 20th Century’ or Irving Penn’s ‘Small Trades.’ Sander documented some great characters across classes in those books, but I want to see wax-jacketed farmers and chore coated railroad types superseded in cool-guy hotspots by looks taken from Penn’s cheese seller, deep-sea diver and best of all, the steel mill firefighter look, which oddly, reminds me of the flame-making protagonists of some grindhouse favourites like ‘The Exterminator’ and ‘Don’t Go in the House.’ I hope the 1951 steel mill firefighter look hits streetwear and trickles down to the Superdry/Top Man consumer.

In all the excitement over Visvim’s zillion pound Native American themed collection for a SENSE photoshoot earlier this year, I hadn’t realised how good the new Tenderloin range was. For some reason, I find myself feeling a little more sentimental for Tenderloin goods than the majority of other Japanese repro brands, simply because they remind me of working within proximity of the Bond International store, and the sheer volume of tattooists from spots like Frith Street who proved that good gear just doesn’t date. I’d been led to believe that Tenderloin had reached its final season. I’m not sure who’s running it — Kei left, but I’m assuming that Koji and Nishi are still on board.

That sentimentality is amplified by the brand’s roots in London and Los Angeles circa 1997 and the fact the brand maintains a certain mystique – even in an era where every stitch visible from blog to blog in high resolution. The cushions and shirts in the range are great, but that deerskin jacket is a thing-of-beauty. I recently read up on a meat market and deli in Minnesota that does a sideline in affordable deerskin gloves, even though we fawn (pun intended) over it as a premium fabric, but the design of Tenderloin’s jacket is extraordinary. Then I found out that 176, 400 Yen translates as 1,269 pounds before shipping and tax. I’ll leave this one in the dream coat wishlist for the time being.

(BEWARE: TOTAL DIGRESSION AHEAD)

It’s been interesting to see hip-hop’s reaction to the Mister Cee story all week. dream hampton’s Tweeted revelation that Biggie’s boy Mann (as seen in the classic Timbs and dice image that’s adorned many tees — I first saw that shot in Cheo Coker’s ‘Unbelievable’ book) was gay. Remember 2Pac bodyguard Frank Alexander’s tales of ‘Pac getting greeting kisses from Gianni Versace in ‘Got Your Back’ finished with Alexander’s comedy disclaimer, “…I don’t play that shit — even with Versace”? Couple that with the fact that several of the culture’s pioneers were gay or on occasion, “gay for pay” according to some very reliable sources (and I’m not going to dry snitch), it throws hip-hop’s age-old homophobia into a state of fresh debate. After hunting the “gay rapper” since ‘One Nut’ ran their story, it’s all turning gay — like the steelmill/Anvil nighclub from ‘The Simpsons.’ Anything that infuriates screwfaced puritans is alright with me. Hip-hop needed a group outing.