Monthly Archives: August 2012

X-GIRL TO THE NEXT GIRL

Nothing to see here today. You’d be far better off heading to Papermag if you haven’t already and reading ‘An Oral History of X-Girl’ with contributions from Sofia Coppola, Kim Gordon, Eli Bonerz, Chloë Sevigny and Daisy von Furth. Can you imagine having Lyor Cohen as a babysitter? This is a comprehensive piece of streetwear history in an era and industry where womens’ gear is an afterthought and whatever crappy brand puts Kate Upton on gets the blog hits. The world needs another X-Girl — extra points to that brand for the clean Mike Mills-designed logo. To assume it was just a girly variant on X-Large would be far, far, off the mark. Prior to X-Girl, von Furth was writing for ‘Spin’ and the above Lollapalooza ’92 related piece from that magazine displays a proto (albeit significantly sluttier) X-Girl aesthetic at work.

That conversational piece answered a few questions about a brand that fascinated me before it vanished to Japan and seemed to become semi-mainstream like its male counterpart (it still makes my mind boggle that there was still an X-Large store off Carnaby Street until around 2006). It’s nice to see something with a little more mystique out ther too, like gardener-centric brand Sassafras who don’t make a replica of my grandad’s “gardening tie” (now that’s swagger), but make good gear that’s elusive on these shores and pretty much everywhere else. Their heather grey t-shirt is particularly direct, though I suspect it would be worn by an audience of less-than-greenfingered “crafted” gear fanboys. Now everyone’s shifting from parka fetishes to foodie inclinations, is horticulture the next sub-cultural exodus for the WordPressing and Instagramming masses? (Image taken from Doo-Bop)

Not from Japan, but appropriately otaku, Style Warrior making a Mighty Ethnicz t-shirt isn’t entirely unexpected but the execution’s very good. Mighty Ethnicz’s 2 Live Crew affiliations, 8+ year (excluding the Newtrament days) went from UK rap’s early era to that point when we all wanted to sound like Pete Rock or Muggs. The Bodé tribute character, complete with a star, machine gun, name chain, big shoes and fat laces is a good one and the tee’s available to pre-order right here. By the time I was utterly infatuated with rap, these guys, London Posse and the Brotherhood always seemed to deliver the antidote to fast raps about goblins and swords over corner shop Bomb Squad knockoffs.



On a Bodé note, I recently found a picture of a Ninja Turtle that Mark Bodé sketched for me in 1991.

PROTO TECH

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Internet died to cap off a glumday night, but I won’t be deterred, so I’m working from the iPhone. Autocorrect is going to make this blog entry even more unintelligible than they normally are. Adding to my annoyance, I wanted to blog about Dapper Dan’s appearance on episode 2 of MTV’s ‘House of Style’ in 1989, but technical issues prevented that. And MTV doesn’t seem to have obtained clearance for that clip either. Tragically, we Brits can’t see our very own Sir Paul Smith give Dee Dee Ramone a makeover either, because you have to be Stateside to watch it online. I will pay half-decent money for DVD copies of every season. Jason Dill’s Fucking Awesome Radio on KCHUNG is worth your energy and is one of the few things keeping me sane right now: the Earl Sweatshirt guesting episode is available here to download. Dill has good musical taste and a good voice for radio. All I can do this evening is deliver some recycled nerdery from my Instagram that harks back to the Nike Olympic ‘100 Innovations From the Battle Against Drag’ exhibit that was set up in Beijing for summer 2008. Now everyone’s desperate to pull off a tech shoe and quasi-formality blend (the new US uniform according to We Are The Market), it’s worth looking back at some old experiments in technology that brought us some classics. I’ve been privileged enough to see the Nike archive a couple of times but I can’t say too much about it. It’s a good place to be if you’ve got a shoe problem though. Some of the most interesting designs manifest manifest themselves during the experimental phase and the lightweight mission that Coach Bowerman instigated has led to some one-offs that look good enough for wear. I wish some of the designs would drop as “work in progress” Tier Zero drops in appropriately sketchy packaging. The Tyvek shoe above is known as the FedEx Sample and dates back to 2001. Created as part of the MayFly project’s development prior to that shoe’s 2003 release, it’s made of mailer envelope material, using Dupont’s high density polyethylene fibres. Those perforations seem to have been added because Tyvek doesn’t breathe (it was also used in this Agassi experiment from 1999) and an ultralight ripstop fabric was the more intelligent choice. Below, the unnamed neoprene model from 1984 is something that Bruce Kilgore (head designer on the Air Current and Air Flow) developed, applying wetsuit fabric to a conventional running design. The stubby marker pen swoosh and NIKE on the heel are part of this shoe’s charm, but this helped birth the aforementioned Kilgore cult classics, the Huarache and the Presto. I really, really need to see the Bowerman neoprene prototypes that were created even earlier. Just as the Shox concept had been drifting around since the very early 1980s before it was revived pre-Millenium, don’t assume that the technology you’re losing your mind over hasn’t been in gestation for just as long. On/off topic, people weeping about shoe RRPs should stop letting their Tweets cry and go buy cheaper models and opt for something a little more offbeat. That’s what makes amassing shoes fun, but po-faced people #who #love #to #tag #stuff seem to have forgotten that. Standing with 5 friends and waiting to buy exactly the same thing immediately breaks he cardinal rule that thou shalt not wear the same shoes as the next man. Any measure that slaps you out that mindset can only be a good thing.

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Sent from my iPhone

STYLE > SUBSTANCE



Farewell Tony Scott. Underappreciated and considered a maestro of the overstylised, his movies were always interesting. What’s wrong with an excess of style anyway? I never put a tape of any of his films into the VHS expecting ‘Kes.’ For matters of disclosure, I hate ‘Top Gun’ — it’s boring, hi-fiving rubbish and no better than ‘Iron Eagle’ or any of its sequels. I hate ‘Days of Thunder’ too. But there’s much more to pick from — a corrupt cop losing his fingers to Denzil’s angel of vengeance in ‘Man on Fire’ (incidentally, I’m also a fan of the messier 1987 movie of the same name too which Tony Scott was originally set to direct) , Bruce Willis making like Prodigy and rocking his assailant in the face and stabbing his brain with his nosebone in ‘The Last Boy Scout’ and the Drexl Spivey interrogation (Tarantino’s script but Scott gives it a final buff that makes it better) in ‘True Romance’ and the end of the slightly underrated ‘Revenge’ that’s typically glossy but packs an emotional punch (though it’s more effective if you’ve actually watched the movie). Then there’s 1983’s Bowie-tastic ‘The Hunger’ (above) with the gothiest opening scene ever. The new wave of bloodsuckers can’t compete with this vampiric new wave moment — the font, the lighting, Bowie, Peter Murphy, psycho monkeys, Catherine Deneuve in Yves Saint Laurent (and trust me, even if ‘The Hunger’ was the only thing Scott ever directed, for the impact the Sarandon and Deneuve love scene had on my pre-pubescent mind alone, I’d be mourning his passing) basically makes it the most black painted bedroom friendly 6-minutes of cinema ever. Bela Lugosi was dead, but this next breed of bloodsucker was a great deal more menacing. Ignore the usual bro fodder when it comes to celebrating Tony Scott’s life and there’s gems. Am I the only one who likes at least 50% of ‘Domino’ too? What’s that? I am? Okay then. Each to their own.









Tony Scott put Mickey Rourke on during his early to mid 2000s comeback trail, but I’m currently obsessing over his straight-to-video era, post ‘Wild Orchid’ and pre ‘Buffalo 66’. Rourke’s presence at any stage of his career is undeniable and this 1994 portrait by Michel Comte for ‘L’Uomo Vogue’ is amazing. The manliest of hand holding (check the dual watch wearing) and Mickey matching a Marlboro with adidas tracksuit bottoms and two-tone wingtips is a tremendous look. You need to be Rourke to make that unemployed look actually work for you though. He might dress a little Eastern-Europe theme pub now when he’s hitting Stringfellows, but there was a point when this guy couldn’t not look cool. (Image from Photographers’ Limited Editions)

For a short while I thought I dreamt up this photoshoot, but this 1992 ‘People’ article image of Phil Knight slam-dunking in Jordan Vs is every shade of awesome. Reluctant to get in the limelight, this picture is a rare super-animated publicity image of the Nike co-founder. Having read several accounts of Knight’s competitiveness on the court, that expression on his face is no surprise.

The downfall of many a product (sometimes an entire brand) is the fonts. Mr. Maxime Büchi is a mastermind when it comes to letterforms and with the new ‘Sang Bleu’ arriving shortly, he’s putting out some shirts with some fine typography without resorting to tattooing cliches. I need to transcribe an hour-long conversation with Maxime for another site at some point in the next few days. Gotta love that overachieving Swiss-born madman. In the meantime, go to SangBleu.com to see how you can get a tee. (Image swaggerjacked straight from the mxmttt Instagram account)

And via my friends in Las Vegas I just found out that Jim Jones’ Vampire Life brand and French Montana’s Coke Boys brand are exhibiting at the same time. Is streetwear beef going to make a return?

JORDAN BEYOND


(Mike Tyson on the hotel room phone in Jordan IIIs circa 1989.)

I’m back from Canada and I can barely see because of the jetlag. The human body is pathetic. So pathetic that I thought it was Saturday yesterday and forgot to update this blog. I can’t say much about my Arc’teryx visit other than that witnessing the factory process upped my appreciation of the brand’s output and that I know more about GORE-TEX taping now than I knew last Wednesday. As a fiend for those Gore membranes in a jacket or shoe, it was borderline Wonka-like to see the processes, even though GORE-TEX itself, minus the shell or lining, is just an anonymous white sheet.

I’d wondered about the jacket Michael Jordan (not a stranger to bizarre sartorial choices) wore on his September 1991 ‘Saturday Night Live’ appearance — a strange green quilted design, but the little Tinker Hatfield piece in the new US ‘GQ’ solves that mystery. “At one point I pushed for a less sporty sub-brand called Jordan Beyond. When Michael did SNL in ’91, he wore a Jordan beyond quilted green jacket. But I couldn’t make it happen. I’ve still got some samples, including a basketball shoe that was perforated like a wingtip.”

Jordan Beyond sounds like the genesis of the XI dress shoe concept and what the contemporary models are working with but it certainly seems to be a little at odds with the Jordan VI aesthetic. One day, I’m sure the ‘Jordan Beyond’ boxset, reproducing that unwearable jacket, will make an appearance. If the JB line had taken off, I’m sure it would have dated badly, but it doesn’t sound too far from the Cole Haan LunarGrand strategy, and I like to think it would have included a suit made of marl grey fleece with giant shoulders and Mike’s pleated dress pant, polo and wingtip steez in the mix too.

IDEA Books‘ mailout is the best out there and some of the oddities they obtain are phenomenal. As well as showcasing a Panini Fiorucci sticker album you’re unlikely to ever see a again, earlier this year they got hold of Vincent Alan W’s (a frequent photographic documenter of gay African-American crews), ‘The Bangy Book/New Yorker Street Boys’ — a compilation of Vincent’s 1988 era snaps of the Bangy/Banjee phenomenon, where hypermasculine goonwear and the “homeboy” look of the time betrayed stereotypes of sexuality (hence the Banjee part of the ball in the seminal ‘Paris is Burning’). The nudity’s going to alienate, but I can’t help but think that Banjee infiltrated hip-hop again during the last decade, resulting in contemporary hip-hop’s mess of big tongued shoes and couture cues. A rarity worthy or reappraisal, just because there’s not enough imagery of this movement around.

(Images lifted from the IDEA Books scans.)

On that 1980’s New York topic, the Leica Bruce Davidson video was cool (and I think I’ve broken down the impact ‘Subway’ had on me in installing a healthy fear of NYC on here before)
but I’d never seen this Bruce Davidson Q&A from last year at the Strand bookstore. Worth 52 minutes of your life.

IT’S THE BOMB

I don’t know why I keep returning to ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ Maybe it’s for the same reasons that I keep trying to get dig away at ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ with it’s spine cracked to just 10% of the book’s content — I want to know what I’m missing. I’m not talking about the cult of characters who topped themselves in black and white Nike Decades, but Michael Cimino’s ponderous ani-western, which fired my imagination as a kid by featuring a manic Christopher Walken, Tom Noonan, Brad Dourif, Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke and a nude Isabelle Huppert. Alas, the pauses, the pacing of the first half and the frequent misuse of its spectacular cast means I’ve never managed to finish watching ‘Heaven’s Gate.’ I concentrate too hard and get confused, I get restless, I answer the phone, I end up daydreaming that I’m watching ‘Con Air.’ I got so close — 20 minutes from the end of the 149 minute cut, but after pausing it to answer the door to a Domino’s I realised that I just didn’t want to go back — I didn’t care about Kris Kristofferson’s hero or Sam Waterston’s villain. That 20 minutes could be spent watching a ‘Seinfeld’ episode again

Somebody told me that I’m a fool, a spoon fed moron, who doesn’t understand the nuances of Cimono’s work, but I’m convinced that this film could be distilled into an engaging 100 minutes. I still can’t co-sign the animal cruelty like the supposedly “real” horse with dynamite sequence — if you’re going to die for a film, I’d sooner be the bull in ‘Apocalypse Now’ or the cow in ‘Come and See.’ Being sacrificed for a film that recouped $3 million on a $44 million budget is the final insult. I still haven’t made my mind up about this film. What am I missing? Why did Jerry Harvey make the extra effort to screen the longer version on the Z Channel? There must be something in this abomination that creates these rabid fans who think the film flies by. The Johnson County War is a significant moment in American history, but it isn’t the stuff of gripping cinema — rather it seems to have been something that’s touched on in more entertaining books, TV shows and films as part of a snappier narrative — and the director slows it to a molasses crawl that I can’t quite wade through.

I’m going to return for more when the real director’s cut (the 219 minute version was a rush job) that’s been trimmed to 216 minutes is released by Criterion this November. Maybe that 3 missing minutes is the key to unlocking this mess. Maybe I’m just a glutton for cinematic punishment. Will Criterion put out a ‘The Adventures of Pluto Nash’ 2-disc Blu-ray package in 2032 that lets us reassess Eddie Murphy’s lost masterpiece with a digitally restored 142 minute director approved cut? I hope so. If I had one really positive thing to say about ‘Heaven’s Gate’ it’s that the film has the best roller skate violinist/barn dance sequence of any Hollywood film. And that’s something to be grateful for.

With OG Huaraches set to return, it’s always worth focusing on a slightly more contemporary (though still showing my age) crush than Huppert — Chilli from TLC whose Huaraches and ACG-looking garments in the ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ video make me love her even more.

NERDERY

It’s a rare moment of actually socialising on a Sunday today, so I’ll keep it brief and just throw whatever’s on the hard drive at it. This weekend I’ve been pondering the way Ron Perlman really is a composite of Ferrell and Waits (someone on Instagram also pointed out that he’s got a touch of ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ about him too). Perlman is one of my favourite screen presences. even though I always assumed he’d be some kind of lanky dandy out of makeup after his run on ‘Beauty and the Beast’ — I never realized he was the simian-faced monk in ‘The Name of the Rose’ too. While Ron was involved in the only ‘Police Academy’ film I can’t actually sit through (despite ”Mission to Moscow’s scant 83 minute running time), him being in that recent ultraviolent ‘Punisher’ short and spending 4 hours in makeup to visit sick children as ‘Hellboy’ makes him a class act. Looking at the makeup guy’s t-shirt in that link, I was unaware of just how many pieces of Miskatonic University merchandise there are. Ain’t no nerdery like horror and fantasy nerdery…

…well, there is shoe nerdery too. At the moment I’m working on something that necessitates some ad research and I think few but the nerdiest pay attention to 1999 in favor of far earlier campaigns. At the moment we seem to be seeing a reaction to the emphasis on heritage and retros that will see us deluged with faux-tech, but the last time I can remember seeing such dedication to progression was pre-millennium, when it seemed unseemly to look back on the verge of such a spaceage sounding landmark. And here I am getting nostalgic for 13 years ago. Not only is the HR Giger-esque and brief “superclub” staple Air Tuned Max one of the last great shoes of the 20th century (I think the Jordan retro and escalating Dunk fixation, plus rap metallers in Superstars was the death knell for this kind of oddball performance product — bar a handful of highlights for the best part of a decade like the Woven, Free and Presto), but it had an ad campaign that reference sex with dolls. In fact the whole collection of ads was interesting, covering KD’s latest (with a plunger) and making light of the meat industry too when it came to the Flightposite. Check the shoe selection for spring that year in an old ‘Vibe.’ And not a reissue in sight.

SANDWICH BAGS

Every now and again I get an email asking me about how to break into the “industry.” I don’t even know if I’ve broken into this mysterious industry, but I know one thing — a specific course isn’t necessary. You can learn a fair bit if you’re willing to work around some very strange, insecure and duplicitous individuals. The majority of people you go to are going to tell you that blogs are dead in favour of social media outlets that reward glimpse attention spans — if that’s the case, how do you shine? Most blogs on the fashion and streetwear side are pretty piss-poor — yep, there’s a couple of blogs re-blogging the same cookbook for every human being on this planet, but if you deliver quality writing or at least something smart-arsed (and the whole self-congratulations for rewriting a press release rather than copy-pasting it is a little Chris Rock “…you low-expectation-having motherfucker!” routine) you’ll get noticed. You don’t need to have some wild online magazine that causes you to crumble under your own imposed duties and you don’t need to drop some manifesto that promises the second coming — it’s liable to go shit-shaped. Don’t send the link to a blog you update once every two months because it renders you instantly unemployable – just submit some work blindly and see if you get some feedback (you’d be surprised how few people actually do that —they usually email for tips because they’re losers in the making “thinking” of starting something). Don’t be excessively thirsty on social media or there’ll be Google evidence of your corny past.

Once you’ve started writing, hate the last thing you wrote and try to get better — ignore any positives from serial retweeters, friends or family and hunt the approval of people that hate everything instead. Be aware that making colourways of sports footwear is basically as easy as doing a NIKEiD, albeit with maybe quarter of an hour of market consideration preceding it. You don’t need to create some crazy notion of having a team or a vast office (the “GWARIZM team at GWARIZM HQ” is me scratching my balls on a sofa with ‘Heat’ playing on Blu-ray in the background) — just be you. Having a crew can be overrated, so go solo — you don’t need bells and whistles. Here’s where there’s a fork in the road — you can make like Robert Greene and follow rule #40 “Despise the free lunch” to keep your integrity (I’ve failed on that count) or use your blog to sap up freebies by PRs and brands who are thirsty for coverage to send to an international HQ staffed by the clueless regardless of quality. Oh, and read as many books as you can — not those magazines we get sent and have to pretend to like because it’s such a tiny little circle of backslappers, but proper books. Then you’ll be able to render jaded old chancers like me unemployable and dominate the “industry” you were keen to be part of. It’s all one big game, but follow the above and you’ll get at least one free pair of shoes and/or a t-shirt within 3 months. I should be charging for some kind of diploma in being a chancer.

Mr. Erik Brunetti has a ‘FUCT’ book coming out in April 2013, and he kindly let me write a little bit of stuff for it. That brand changed my life as a kid, back when Erik was Rocco affiliated and I still don’t think Erik’s art skills and the excellence of the brand’s archive has been sufficiently celebrated. It’s more relevant than ever when the world is claiming that “streetwear’s back” and brand owners are all huggy and want to be buddies with you. A lot of people took ideas from FUCT and I think this book will deliver exhaustive evidence that they broke plenty of ground. On the Rizzoli site it lists me as a “streetwear icon” alongside Aaron Rose. Rose is far, far more talented than me and I’m neither iconic nor streetwear. Like I said, I’m just some dude on the sofa, scratching his balls and watching ‘Heat.’

This Jil Sander Men’s Cardboard Sandwich Bag for £175 (“Made in the same fashion as a paper lunch bag”) at oki-ni is strictly for fashionistas to hyperventilate into now they know the Raf Simons/Sander connection is kaput. This seems like one big amazing in-joke — I triple dare you to explain this to a parent. It makes me feel like my dad did the first time I showed him a pair of Jordans and told him the RRP. You could keep your £600 visvim book in it. Or you could go to a local Yates’s and make it rain for 20 minutes to Jessie J and the ‘Grease Megamix’ — I think the latter might be a wiser investment.