Monthly Archives: October 2012


Happy Halloween. I just realized that I shot my bolt on that theme in a few posts over the last few weeks that had a horror theme, so all I can offer is this, my dream Halloween outfit — occasionally forgotten R&B boy band Hi-Five (with whom Mobb Deep’s Prodigy spat his first recorded verse on the ‘Boyz N the Hood’ soundtrack as Lord T) from the cover of February 1992’s ‘Black Beat’ in the purple blazer, luridly patterned tie, tailored shorts, White Sox hat, white socks and Persian Air Max Big Windows. Of course, the outfit would require four matching cohorts (I’m sure Nick Schonberger would be down with the look) for full effect, but this was the most spectacular colour match I ever saw, creating its own sports-formality style in the process. 20 years on, I still marvel at the stylist’s handiwork.

It’s a good time to be down with the moc-toes. Firstly, Padmore & Barnes officially relaunched, with a tremendous gallery in the history section, with a Wallee’d out Jim Dale enjoying a cigarette while in Ireland for the filming of 1969’s ‘Lock Up Your Daughters’. As I understand, the shoes are being hand stitched by some skilled folk in Portugal from their homes. Secondly, Al Fingers’ ‘Clarks in Jamaica’ book is released in a couple of weeks. This book’s been given plenty of coverage elsewhere, but the images up on the One Love Books website at the moment are pretty spectacular. Old ads and a genuine historical analysis of how Clarks hit the island with a vengeance makes this an essential. Closer to home, there’s a second Clarks book dropping next year — Mark Palmer’s ‘Made to Last: the Story of Britain’s Best-Known Shoe Firm’ is an official history of Clarks that covers the birth of the company as a rug-makers in 1825, how slippers from rug offcuts became a shoe business, the rise of overseas manufacture in the 1980s and the shareholder and family split of the 1990s. From Quaker values to a Jamaican must-have, the Clarks tale is a curious one. Hopefully Palmer’s book will have a foreword by Dennis Coles himself when it drops in April 2013.

If you still need an excuse to buy the ‘Ideas From Massimo Osti’ book (even if supplies seemed to get depleted fast), I think the inserts with Osti’s soundbites and the multicolored Tela Stella ‘Linea Uomo Sport’ image are worth the RRP alone. The galleries of gloves, hats, bags and shoes are equally ridiculous. I may deliberately break one of my legs so I can take the time out to read the book in its entirety.

On the Halloween subject, film buff and the man who made Pazuzu haunt my psyche to the present day, William Friedkin (whose sole dud in my opinion, is ‘The Guardian’ — I can even tolerate ‘Jade’ with David Caruso), just dropped a top 10 Criterion films list that’s worth reading. I also noticed that somebody uploaded 1984’s ‘Terror in the Aisles’ documentary onto YouTube — it’s just a ton of horror film clips with Nancy Allen and Donald Pleasance hamming it up in a cinema, but this film was my childhood checklist for what I needed to see. For well over a decade I hunted the film where a cockroach sets a woman’s hair alight (‘Bugs’ from 1975) and when I found it, it was atrocious. It sold ‘the Exorcist’ and, oddly, ‘Ms. 45 (where Zoë Tamerlis completely ruins a Halloween party by dressing as a sexy nun, then shooting all the men there) to me in a major way though and contributed to my warped mind. Worst. Halloween party. Ever.


See that guy up there? He’s the guy who’ll have his iPhone out next time you’re on the floor amid a flurry of feet cracking your ribs and eye sockets. It’s his Kubrickian vision that masterfully frames a blonde lady getting a flying plate to the head in this WSHH entry. In a masterfully meta moment, the director himself becomes the star, going from narrator (“Oh shit! Oh shit! Worldstar Hip-Hop!”) to the focus of the camera itself. It’s a near Brechtian, brutal allegory of Vietnam’s violent legacy, played out in a Toronto-based Vietnamese restaurant. And it’s a lot more coherent than ‘Prometheus.’

You can blame the WSHH shriekers for making the good Samaritan an extinct breed and allude that it’s symptomatic of a societal sickness on a grander scale and while everybody got a comment in regarding Lil’ Reese’s savage,disgusting on-camera assault, in a world where everybody enjoys a vicarious hit of ignorance from behind a screen, we’re all culpable. You want ratchet? You want goonery? Reese’s antics delivered. There you go. If somebody’s got a correctional officer past, then “realness” becomes a concern, but if a rapper talks about beatdowns and bitches, and delivers on those lyrics, it’s another concern. Make up your damned minds.

Dr Dre beat up Dee Barnes, Pepa says that Treach was prone to physical attacks and Flavor Flav is always in the mix. They’re lucky their grandest misdemeanors seemed to occur when cameras were shoulder mounted. A noisy woman on a bus gets an uppercut from a man and it’s a comedy viral. 17-year-old rappers talking about guns seems to shock people unaware that Nas was a teenager when he went to hell for snuffing Jesus, Prodigy was 17 when ‘Hit it From the Back’ dropped and Illegal were pretty much fetuses when they were threatening to shoot Kris Kross in the gut. Rap’s been just as aggressive for a long, long time. People just rapped a little fancier and didn’t live their lives in a room full of cameras.

While we’re lapsing into nostalgia, R.I.P. to pioneering Nottingham rapper K.I.D. K.I.D. was a talented guy as this blog entry attests, and having spent some time in that city, I can confirm it’s a place that loves hip-hop like few other cities do. If you thought US rap, despite the kind of predilection for mourning that Boris Johnson would berate, can be a little dismissive of its early legends on their passing or at a time of crisis, our scene is so niche (and pebbled with at least 97% dreck) that a Kold Sweat legend like Lloyd McDevitt’s gets even less coverage. This and Mike Allen’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis are both very sad. The impending ‘NG83’ Nottingham/UK b-boy documentary looks extremely promising and a year on, talk of a screening in Notts as part of an event dedicated to K.I.D indicate that it’s complete and fully funded.

Because it’s Halloween, I’m into ‘Return of the Living Dead’ all over again. That film’s the apex of comedy-horror, with some genuinely terrifying moments and some great little touches courtesy of that pesky 245 Trioxin® like that cheap but subtle moving butterfly warning of what’s to come. If you’ve never seen it, break it out next week to celebrate. Then watch ‘More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead’ documentary. Afterwards. if you’re still obsessed, track down Christian Sellers and Gary Smart’s ‘the Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead’ book if you can get it at a price that isn’t the wild Amazon Marketplace asking amount. The notion of Tobe Hooper, a patchy director with more misfires than classics in his repertoire, directing the film as originally planned and in 3D, is truly scary. He wouldn’t have come close to what Dan O’ Bannon delivered. Maybe O’Bannon would have had to get hands on like Spielberg supposedly did with ‘Poltergeist.’ This pre-shoot industry press ad shows just how close we came to getting a lesser product.

Remember when your mum scoffed at the price of shoes? The old, “They should run by themselves for that kind of money” maternal quip was rife and you sure as hell didn’t get the Nike Air editions of any model either — non-Air if you were lucky. Wouldn’t you have liked to wield this as a pamphlet in your pocket to justify owning a pair of Jordan 2s in miniature? I wish my mum had picked this up when it came out in August 1987.


Getting some questions fired my way by my friend Mr David Hellqvist aka. The Baron, who’s running the online element of the mighty ‘Port’ magazine on the subject of sports footwear, I was left pondering what my problem is with the term “sneakerhead” and the notion of “sneaker culture” (other than the use of the term “sneaker” if you’re a Brit, which sounds as awkward as when white people say “riddim” or “swag”) — they sum up a certain mindset that I find difficult to fathom. I don’t understand how a “sneaker culture” could ever exist alone?

To me, “sneaker culture” is a form of in-breeding that feeds off itself rather than outside forces to become a big game of soggy biscuit (probably the fifth time I’ve used exactly the same circle jerk analogy on here – it hints at some kind of psychological problem). It turns something that was once affiliated with a certain level of style into moody polybagged pedantry worthy of the comic book guy from ‘The Simpsons.’ Kids get clowned for getting some fruity nickname wrong. Wore becomes “UNds’d” and bought becomes “copped.” People take a strange obsession with whether other people wear what they buy. If they can’t afford it, people weep over social media instead of finding something cheaper, different and just as good (which, if memory serves me, was the backbone of shoe hoarding back in the day). People who queue overnight for a colourway berate “Hypebeasts” for getting into stuff for some supposed wrong reason.

The minute you can be shoehorned into a top ten list of things you “sneakerheads” do, it’s probably time to get out that beige box. Shorn of sub-cultural affiliations and reasons for wearing something beyond the prestige of limited edition it’s just men staring at each other’s feet solemnly and sportswear turned into an unrelenting wish list hindered by an anxiety over what drops the following weekend. If your emotional attachments are with the shoes rather than the cultures they’re attached to, something’s gone wrong. Without the shoeboxes clogging up my everyday existence, I’d be liberated — without the music, skate and pop cultural ephemera that trips me up every morning, I’d be miserable.

Each to their own, but while I’m still disturbingly enthusiastic about trainers and the cultures they fit into, the world of the “sneakerholic” and whatever godawful exhibition, t-shirt brand or — worst of all — mainstream feature that begins with something insipid like “Watch out Imelda Marcos!” is a baffling mystery to me. There aren’t many things that begin with “Sneaker” that don’t make me want to self-harm (shouts to my buddies at Sneaker Freaker and Sneaker News though — definitely exempt from this rant), but the po-faced world it seems to have spawned in the last 24 months is something I want to keep a distance from. Salutes to everyone who just amasses boxes and appreciates shoes without having to buy the matching hat.


I want to watch a bootleg copy of the new Ben Affleck film (no Gigli) so this is a rush job. The Timberland brand has been an organisation close to my heart since the notion of amassing £120 for a pair of boots was impossible and I had to settle for CAT. Shit, I even considered Lugz back when Erick Sermon was plugging them in jeans big enough to block out the sun and cause a global rickets crisis, but you always knew you were compromising. For all the ‘Watchdog’ talk of quality or unfounded rumours about them and their enthusiastic hip-hop market, an ad with, say, Das EFX in ‘The Source’ would have ultimately deaded the Timberland brand. I’m not mad at the way it wasn’t all up in the rap press desperately trying to be down (though I still don’t mess with the roll-tops) during my teen years. As Timberland weather approaches and their 40th birthday is impending (though the Abington Boot Company launched 60 years ago), here’s some old Timberland ads. The blocky TIMBERLAND lettering to promote the “Outdoors-Proof Boot” in 1976 shows how the brand design has evolved and the 1979 campaign with a hillbilly family in wheat workbooks that, rather curiously, depicts them as the shoe of the moonshine maker hiding from Treasury Agents, is a gem, complete with a tagline that pre-dates Stella Artois’ “Reassuringly expensive” campaign — “A whole line of fine leather boots that cost plenty, and should.” 1982 was seemingly the year that Timberland declared boat shoe beef with Sperry Top-Sider with shot after shot. Brands didn’t do subliminals back then — shots fired, man overboard! Can I still enter the 1984 sweepstakes for Black & Decker powertools? The copywriting’s pretty solid throughout the 1980’s as GORE-TEX enters the line and the Super Boot era begins. I never realised that it took until 1991 for the brand to drop proper hikers either. I love these ads.

To coincide with the exhibition that’s in Berkeley California right now (though I’m hoping to catch in Boston next April) a full mid-career retrospective book is dropping next month and it looks tremendous and curiously affordable too. The Damiani book from 2009 was substantial, but this 448 page behemoth is something I’m judging by its cover, but you know it’s going to be necessary. Here’s Berkeley Art Museum’s Lawrence Rinder (who, put the book together alongside assistant curator Dena Beard) and Jefferey Deitch talking about Barry McGee. There’s a few more videos on YouTube courtesy of BAMPFA, including an excellent slideshow created by McGee.


The notion of a world’s best jacket is subjective and prone to change every few days, but some Stone Island efforts, the legendary Double Goose V-panel bomber and the North Face’s Steep Tech Work Jacket don’t quite match the power of the tasselled number that a self-esteem free Homer Simpson drooled over, but ran pretty close in their day. Anybody who had $440 to drop on an extreme ski jacket co-designed by Scott Schmidt (a real life version of that Polo suicide ski silhouette) in 1991 was definitely in a powerful financial position. The purple, black and yellow is a trinity of high visibility wrong that turns out right and that five-zipper ventilation is ludicrous but a key element of a jacket that needed some guidance to fully feel the benefits long before the days of Acronym Vimeos. Cordura reinforcement and the Sunspark III Ultrex fabric seemed to mean serious business.

The Smear Jacket, Apogee Jacket, gloves, full suits and the later Access Jacket all fired my imagination, but that Worker in those colours is the one (though there’s some sample teals that are nearly as bananas) with the Michael Jackson levels of zipper. But I’m no TNF connoisseur (those dudes know the lines that preceded Scott’s signature pieces). Then like that, Steep Tech was gone and a decade of extra yuppification occurred. I last saw a Steep Tech on sale after they reissued them a few years back; a sad-looking Apogee hanging on the shelves of a store on Broadway with two markdowns on the label already. I tried it on after spending minutes working out the straitjacket-like fastenings, I tried it on and looked like a dickhead — I was over a decade too late to the party and I wasn’t a skier or NYC-based shoplifter. Some things are better left in the past with their rose-tinted glow added to already gaudy colourways. Stone Island’s more experimental efforts aged a lot better.

Just as I ran out of topics to cover, along comes via friend of this blog and the man behind the excellent Smoking Section, Mr. John Gotty, with news of a Dapper Dan interview on the Life+Times site — Alpo’s Louis Vuitton snorkel might join the aforementioned roll call of all-time outerwear. Go to Gotty’s site right now and watch it, because I’m damned if I’ll cockblock his traffic by just posting it here. It’s an amazing story of a man finding a niche, working the angles against a racist fashion infrastructure. I never knew the Tyson/Mitch Green tussle’s publicity was a spotlight that led to lawsuits either. Even better, there’s an official Dan site with pictures like this on it as well as the changing face of that iconic (and I feel that overused term is relevant here) spot’s shopfront.

Shouts to Porkys1982 on YouTube for uploading a high quality version of “sensational rap crew” Beastie Boys’ appearance on Soul Train back in 1990. R.I.P. Ad-Rock and Don Cornelius. There’s over 40 hours of Beastie Boys footage on his Vimeo including some 1987 tour rehearsals, interviews, ladies in cages and plenty more.


This blog should probably become, but it’s my blog, so if I want to get stuck in the mud and dwell on one topic, I will. Nobody told me about the existence of this sweatshirt — I knew about last year’s Stussy collaboration on that slightly fussy M-65 style tracksuit employing Windstopper, but this ARMY Reverse Weave hoody in Oshman’s is the best Champion Windstopper design yet. Trying to give basic fleecewear technical properties is problematic. Angular, stiff fanciness defeats my primary purpose for putting a sweatshirt on. If a DWR treatment can’t sustain regular washes, it’s pretty pointless and if you can’t breath through the sweatshirt, it becomes a suffocateshirt. Water resistance has never worked for me on these garments, but Gore’s Windstopper protection layer makes sense and doesn’t infringe too much on the hand feel of a sweat. It’s good to see two technologies with over 50 years between them (I think this might be the Windstopper patent, a technology that officially debuted around 1992 while the 1938 patent here is a Champion one that seems to be focused on a Reverse Weave style technology). Pop fastenings on the collar, ribbed side panels, minimal vertical shrinkage, but annoyingly small Japanese sizing — everything that intrigues me about the work from a licensee that just does its own thing with a certain finesse.

The ‘Vintage Menswear’ book by Josh Sims and The Vintage Showroom’s Douglas Gunn and Roy Luckett is good value for money. If, like me, you lay down £20 on a Japanese magazine covering similar ground just to gaze at the photos, the 130 items here and accompanying copy is a nice antidote to keep on the shelf. I’m still stuck in the military chapter, where reversible German mountain parkas, custom military greatcoats, eccentric footwear innovations, a truly remarkable Aero Leather company B-7 sheepskin flight jacket and a lot more deliver enough insight for an idea-free clothing brand to get at least 2 years of designs out of it. The notion that the British Army’s Paratrooper’s denison smock was painted with a non-colourfast ink so that it might fade in enemy territory and give the wearer a different kind of concealment by letting them blend in with civilians (though it’s just a rumoured innovation) fired my imagination. I had no idea that the reddish applications to brushstroke camo on the Indian Army paratrooper’s smock dated back to the 1940s — I thought they were a 1970s treatment to the (to tie it to the Windstopper talk, the Denison jacket design’s spinoff was the lighter Windproof smock) pattern. All of which goes to show that I know nothing about camouflage. Go buy the book and get educated — it’s bitesize pieces rather than an exhaustive history of anything, but the spotlight on the details.

Who else used to buy magazines for the tapes? ‘NME’, ‘Select’ and ‘Melody Maker’ seemed like better value for having them on the cover, even though I never listened to them. ‘The Source’ had a good Rush Associated Labels one attached in 1994 and on buying ‘Fantastic Four’ #376 in a mysterious polybagged pack for the tape, I was introduced to the mighty ‘Dirt’ magazine. Then dad-mags like ‘Q’ got all fancy and stuck CDs on their covers and by 1996, the cover cassette was done. Few genres justify continual use of a long-gone, labour intensive object like the audio cassette like doom metal does, and UK-noise bible ‘Terrorizer’ gave away a couple of CDs this month, but throwing Dorset-based stoner-doomers Electric Wizard’s new EP in as a tape was a glorious flashback to the newsagents of old. It was a shame that only select issues got it. It’s also a damned shame that I don’t own a tape deck any more.


Schemed a blog entry on the train then found out another better blog had done it already. I was going to blog about the Nike & Stüssy project but there’s about 3,000 things about it on the internet already — needless to say, I’m extremely grateful that Adam and Jorge (a phenomenal designer) let me write some stuff and Eric Elms was kind enough to put me in touch with those guys. I missed out on the opportunity to work in a period of advertising I worship and they retroed an aesthetic beautifully in #the #hashtag #era. But you can Google that and see better coverage. As I wait for a Rizzoli Dapper Dan retrospective to sit alongside the Hussein Chalayan book, I’ve been looking back at a couple of gems that capture the naivety of Euro teen hip-hop obsession as well as a time when you weren’t so jaded that you didn’t look at your new shoe/track top/cap/t-shirt last thing before the lights went off at night. Now we’re all scheming the next purchase before the email confirmation of commerce even arrives. That’s why I loved Dokument Press’s ‘Cause We Got Style!’ last year, laden with plenty of pasty faces pulling off b-boy poses in gear that almost certainly required some fraternal hookups and pen friend behaviour as well as complicated – and perilous — modes of payment by mail. European hip-hop posing in 2012 doesn’t seem as fun.

‘Cause We Got Style’ was a fine supplement to the Cold War East Germany hip-hop scene documentary, ‘Here We Come’ — further proof that Europeans rival our friends in Japan on the obsession front and manage to make good use of scant resources like some sub-cultural survivalists. Dokument are dropping something equally exciting in April 2013 with the release of ‘Shirt Kings — Pioneers of Hip-Hop Fashion’ by Edwin “PHADE” Sacasa and Ket. PHADE and his NYC crew’s contribution to the print t-shirt, hip-hop style and as a result, street style as a whole is substantial and 144 pages of Shirt Kings is a serious prospect, given how popular a mere scattering of images from blogs and PHADE’s MySpace of happy Shirt Kings’ customers proved. I’ve always wondered how many of the shoes in those shots came from the legendary Mitch’s shoe spot near the Shirt Kings set up and Eddie Plein’s OG gold grill location. This is a promising publication — salutes to Dokument for putting out this kind of thing.

That was an anaemic Wednesday entry — I promise I’ll make it up to you.

In the meantime, go read the new issue of Oi Polloi’s Pica~Post here. On the subject of re appropriation and style, there’s a good interview with Olmes Carretti the man behind Best Company in there — a brand worn by some top boys as well as Russ Abbott in the ‘Atmosphere’ video. Carretti’s own website is a treasure trove of Euro ads for his brands, including a ton from ten years of Best Company. Is that coke or snow on that guy’s nose?