Many of my favourite things got good in Japan. They might have been made with a western audience in mind, but in the far east — to quote Mr. Tim Dog — they stole our beat and made it better. An audience in America could only see yellowed soles and faded, utilitarian apparel, but in Harajuku they saw gold. This ad, from a local newspaper in the US dated April 1998, indicated that some enterprising individuals had spotted the dollar signs in the land of the rising sun. While the sight of a sumo wrestler in Jordan XIs is fun, it’s everything surrounding it that points at a drought of sporting rarities in Japan at the time, and it’s pretty much a who’s-who of the brands and products that lay the foundation for today’s sprawling hypetastic culture. While the Dunk would be reissued later that year, the ad claims it could sell (before it ever reached Japan) for $500 — far more than any of the other pieces cited. Forces, Flights and Pegasus are deemed worthless, with a definite bias towards 1980s running or basketball and Jordans.
Big ‘E’ Levi’s, Patagonia fleeces and Stüssy tees (“Tees with photos on the back are best”) are also part of the call to deadstock arms. Given the fact that pretty much every item incorporated has been retroed, re-retroed or re-re-retroed (even the once-mighty Convention made a slightly haggard-looking repeat visit) it’s easy to forget how much these things used to change hands for pre-millennium. Stiill, it’s refreshing to see that the Aloha Hawaii and 1987’s mysterious Air Python (for years I erroneously believed the Python to be made in Italy like the Jordan II, with which it shares similarities) have stayed away from the shelves, and have retained a certain mystique as a result. Without the mystique, these things are just lumpen blocks of leather (pleather?) or shrunken cotton. In the years that followed, this obsession would be exported back to a limited edition loving breed of westerner with a tad too much income and access to the internet. The rest is history, but I would have loved to have seen what turned up in the parking lot of Lewiston, Idaho’s K-Mart between April 2nd and April 4th, 1998. If those sellers had had access to Yahoo Auctions, it’s doubtful they would have skipped off so freely with a fistful of fifties.
Off topic, it was sad to hear of Jonas from L-R-G’s passing. His interview with Hypebeast earlier last month contained a few pearls: “All I’m saying is I think kids follow blogs like a religion. Go atheist for a bit.”