After the blitz of ACG related attention, I feel an urge to pander to popularity. But then I remembered that this blog has a duty to alienate. There’s a lot that’s wearying out there – there’s the hipster douchebags who feel that they’re above the other hipsters by self-conscientiously pointing and laughing at them via WordPress, Tumblr and twitter. They’re oblivious to the fact that they’re far, far worse. There’s nothing worse than a hipster doofus who thinks he’s evolved beyond the common garden variety – like the ones chuckling at Dalston mock reality shows and songs about being a dickhead. It’s like Carly Simon’s ‘You’re So Vain’ but with far more vacuous wankers than Warren Beatty or whoever pissed Carly off.
We should do a little dance every time an independent store opens during a recession, but there’s too many stores out there with a homogenized buying policy of chunky-soled brogue boots, US-made jackets, Pendleton, the smell of incense and some olde world wooden fixtures. It’s not that I don’t want you to succeed and it’s not a criticism of the items you’re stocking, but when the “McDonald’s 1955 retro burger effect” makes identikit heritage crumble like a house of cards, I fear for your Ralph Lauren-lite retail space. What are you going to do? Start selling futuristic suits made of space age fabrics overnight? Unlikely. Top Man can ditch the Nigel Cabourn-lite overnight and be onto the next one, but smaller brands eating off Cabourn’s considerable swagger (a knowledge attained by more than 24 months of ‘Free & Easy’) are going to catch a black eye. Then that Americana fetish will scuttle back to Japan where it never gets corny.
But (almost) worse than all these characters is the heritage trickle down. When I see takedowns of looks that London bellends bred in my hometown, I know they’re done. Scoop necked tees on pallid chests, white Vans Era copies, Kasabian playing through Beats by Dre headphones and worst of all — the cuff chino. Once, the pinroll was the preserve of kids who’d check your pockets with a gruff “What have you got for me?” query, accompanied by Argyle socks. Then it became the totem of the significantly less threatening sneaker dude — same shoes as the rudeboy, but significantly weaker. That spread via track bike to a certain breed of buffoon who’d cuff their chinos for anything, showing their wacky socks off to feign personality and revealing brogues and plimsolls. It was the devolution of cool. Not everybody is Nick Wooster — even if they buy the same camo blazer. It’s worth mentioning that the scally and provincial town phenomenon of young men (and occasionally women too) wearing their football socks over tracky bottoms is amazing and exempt from this criticism, one of those authentic looks that seems to spring up organically without media interference (was it born of post-kick around necessity?) though I wonder if it had any bearing on the cuffed look’s national sprawl.
Thanks to “stylists”, a new breed of reality show runner up boy bands and some high street retailers and growing online entities decided to sell the chinos ready cuffed. It’s curious to see a bunch of “oi oi saveloy” beer boys dressed in drop crotch, ankle exposing trousers, because it’s a convergence of almost avant-garde and lumpen twattery that convinces me that the ground is ready to swallow us up into a fiery pit any minute soon. The wearing of cuff chinos was almost certainly mentioned somewhere in the Book of Revelations.
Flicking through Michael Allen Harris’s awesome ‘Jeans of the Old West: A History‘, (published last year and necessary if you’ve got the faintest interest in denim’s many, many incarnations during gold and silver mining times), when Michael’s not puncturing frequently told tales regarding the development of the jean, he’s showcasing some early duck and denim designs. A pair of Hettrick Manufacturing Company American Field Coats duck pants from the end of the 19th century have a leg cuff on the rear ankle and escalating cut on the thigh that brought to mind 2011’s breed of twat-pant. That bulbous cut is almost Chipe-esque. Perhaps that pant’s original owner was the forefather of today’s fast expanding breed of chino bellend.
Salutes to Carhartt for doing this heritage thing right though. The six brand books form an interesting brand history (I love the slogan, “Honorably Made for Honorable Men“) for hadn’t seen gathered before and the homie Sofarok put me onto this Carhartt ad that’s currently on US TV. I like the cool-guy free message a lot. There’s a lot of scope for shameless myth making and blue collar sentimentality in that realm that should outlast any fads.