There are a handful of good books on street, skate or surfwear out there and I gave up on waiting for a Rizzoli Stüssy retrospective a while back. But that brand archive book via Japan was simple, comprehensive and very effective and on Friday, IDEA drop An IDEA Book on T-Shirts by Stüssy in DSM stores (plus some very nice t-shirt collaborations). It’s 240 pages and I think it retails at 45 quid (which isn’t cheap but with 2,000 copies made, when it’s gone it’s probably not going to appear on Amazon Marketplace for 37p plus 2.75 postage and packing). By all accounts, it’s good and it opens with an essay on graphic tees written by me (I’d be plugging it on here regardless). This i-D interview with Ryan Willms and Alastair McKimm sheds some more light on the project.
The mighty Sofarok put me onto the Madoff Productions (not that Madoff — it’s an NYC-based film and production company for several luxury brands) YouTube channel. In addition to pieces like this 1997 Polo Sport TV commercial with Tyson Beckford, they’ve upped some lesser-spotted edits like the stirring 90-second video that preceded Ralph Lauren receiving his American Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and — proving that they’re not loyal to a single American designer — a really strange promo piece from the mid 1990s with a giant jean wearing Dave Chappelle shoe shopping with Tommy Hilfiger. Thank you internet and thank you Charlie for the heads-up.
Apologies for the singular update this week. Here’s a quick Fila-centric filler piece. This commercial from 1997 (when those Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse endorsements had the brand up there as a contender rather than a heritage line) for the then popular Just For Feet chain (which had expanded significantly at that moment in time) with its “Where Your 13th Pair is Free!” promotion. By 2004, Just For Feet was no more and Fila was largely out of action as a premium brand, but at least we’ve got this alliteration riddled promo piece uploaded by Tuck Watts — “FIND FANTASTIC FINER FILA FOOTWEAR FOR FAR FEWER FUNDS”
One collaboration I’ve not mentioned here before in all the proto industry model talk is 1990’s Stüssy i-D magazine tees. Created to commemorate the magazine’s tenth birthday alongside pieces from the likes of Simon Foxton, the shirts were sold for 15 quid via mail order. The Stüssy design was pitched to readers as a Shawn Stussy for i-D project rather than a straight-up brand collaboration and offered in white or grey. Given that the brand would take a slightly different, pared-down look, release some tribe-centric videos and host an event in Tokyo (that’s still considered a pivotal moment) the following year, it was inevitable that this project would make a splash far beyond London.
It wasn’t just the pioneering streetwear line that had a significant 1991 making grander Japanese inroads — i-D’s first Japanese incarnation was launched in September that year, lasting 16 issues. As a result, I’ve seen different versions of the shirt, which originally read “Enjoy yourself stupid amounts” on the front in that familiar hand style and included a dense list of predominantly female names on the back that includes the Queen, Sade, Lisa Stansfield, Sarah Stockbridge, Grace Jones and Wendy James. Continue reading EARLY COLLABORATION
My friends at Being Hunted (whose original site is the reason this blog exists) let me edit a little book for GORE-TEX that’s the result of some conversations with Virgil Abloh, Errolson Hugh, Andrew Bunney, Erman at adidas and some other good folks. Six Stories of GORE-TEX Products Vol. 2 is the follow-up to the GORE-TEX Japan book from a couple of years back. I’m assuming that it’s just a promo ting for partners and staffers, so I have no idea where you can get it from, but there’s more images over at Hypebeast. As a longtime fan of the brand, this was another wish list entry ticked off.
With every larger-name Supreme collaboration — and the digital division of every once-great magazine hopping on any streetwear moment like it’s having a mid-life crisis — there’s a faction out to declare the brand dead. “It’s not underground any more! It’s mainstream“, they bellow with their Facebook fingers. Then your cousins, kids and friend’s friends all descend on the store and demonstrate that it’s more popular than it ever was, thus contradicting those self-important declarations of obsolescence. One key complaint is that people want to say they were into Supreme when it was “underground”. It was certainly less prominent before (social media’s clout is undeniable), but let’s not act like the logo wasn’t featured in Vogue back when magazines really mattered, glimpsed at primetime on Absolutely Fabulous or on that chunky laptop in the almost-popular and instantly dated Hackers. Those were, of course, fleeting moments, but September 1999’s Thrasher Presents Skate and Destroy PlayStation game — a Rockstar production — was absolutely riddled with Supreme.
On playing it late that year I was taken aback that the big in Japan box was on walls and an earned option as board or apparel sponsor alongside other credible brands like Zoo York (also quick to sell out in stores at the time), FTC or Think. Want a pixellated take on the motion logo board? It was yours if you could learn those intricate tricks. You could have a vast D-Wade size Supreme logo on the back of that tee or hoody too (it was nice when athletes weren’t haplessly trying to ride a stylist-assisted streetwear wave and dons like Allen Iverson both defined and reflected how the streets dressed on their own terms).
Skate and Destroy was much more difficult than the quick to pick up Tony Hawk offering, with the Southbank, Brooklyn Banks and Embarcadero locations and risk of a tasering at the hands of cops and moment on the magazine’s cover giving it a certain edge, but those sponsors made a lot of difference too — while the giant Converse shoes of the time have aged poorly and some of the newer big beat songs on the soundtrack were bad from the off (EPMD and Tribe made up for it though), that inclusion of legitimate coast to coast stores and companies was way ahead of its time. All of which begs the question — given the impact that later Tony Hawk instalments had on a generation’s tastes (much of today’s Soundcloud-hosted Percocet emo rap owes a debt to some degree), if Thrasher’s effort had been as much of a hit 18 years ago as Hawk or Rockstar’s more recognisable titles, in an alternate future, what would that have meant for the smaller companies it included?
Ahead of Blade Runner 2049‘s October release I’m sure we’re going to be assailed with merch and tie-ins. Once, it was low-key adidas, now-defunct companies on billboards, a Marvel adaptation and ERTL toys. This one won’t be quite as low-key. Merchandise is an unpleasant certainty now, but in the very early 1980s, readers of magazines like Starlog could buy some more considered gear to tie in with a new breed of sci-fi that was largely focused on headwear. The Thinking Cap Company was a key player. Based in California and founded in 1979, its origins remain something of an enigma to me — the name Sy Gottlieb crops up online as an original agent, and I know that the trademark had lapsed by 1987. Continue reading MERCH