I think I’ve got a grip on the origins of pretty much every brand that had an impact on me during my childhood, but after they imploded, a lot of hip-hop cash-in companies didn’t leave much of a trail. While it’s easy to chuckle at the fly-by-night imprints that put out pricey outerwear then vanished and dismiss them as tat, what’s the difference between a Troop jacket and whatever godawful brand is hopping on floral prints right now? Nothing. Task Force remains a curiosity — just as Troop was booming, pre-KKK rumours (which I’ve always assumed were spread by a rival brand), their Jewish and Korean brand partnership seemed to spawn a ton of similar business models. I’ll concede that I thought Task Force was a sibling of Troop because I though it had a man with the surname Kim as an owner, like Troop’s William Kim. Then I found out just how common the Kim name is in Korea. Task Force put out jackets and shoes like Down Troop Sport’s output that were on sale in spots like London’s 4 Star General (which automatically, unquestionably made them seem credible to me), but looking back at them (it was the eBay-induced flashback of the Jekel stadium jacket where the below label is from that had me in nostalgia mode), the gear was pretty crap.
What I do know about Task Force is that it was a trademark of Eddy Sports Wear Inc. who were based in Brooklyn. Jekel was an Eddy brand who operated circa 1987-1989 who put out ski jackets, Task Force and the Extra Goose line (I’m assuming that the Eddy and Extra Goose thing wasn’t an Eddie Bauer rip). The names Jung Kuen Lee and Paul Siegert come up as folks involved in the company at a senior level, and it’s worth noting that New York’s garment district was awash with feather-filled lines around 1987 – Double Goose (I started assembling a Double Goose article that never got used and Thomas who obtained the DG licence told me, “Regarding the brand, we found out about the original owner by asking in Orchard street’s leather stores! He was an American-Korean living in NY”), Triple F.A.T. Goose and Goose Country were all doing their thing then too, which explains the strange trinity of Jekel, Task Force and Extra Goose on some badges on Task Force pieces. I’m sure Task Force made an appearance at the V&A’s Black British Style exhibition back in 2004, but I’ve seen little since. Their trademark expired in 1989 after being registered in 1988, which coincides with Troop’s collapse.
Normally I approach these blog entries with a certain confidence, but I know very little about this topic (this is just built on scraps), so if anybody knows more or has any Task Force shoe imagery, I’d love to see them. It might have been exploitative, badly designed and overpriced, but it’s not like brands are still pulling similar moves to channel a current zeitgeist and Task Force deserves a little spotlight if we’re trying to complete the bigger picture when it comes to UK street fashion throughout the years.