Between 1999 and 2001, Juergen Teller was Stüssy‘s go-to photographer for ad campaigns. Picked by Paul Mittleman, his images covered the brand in a variety of global territories. Having shot Kate Moss for a Vogue cover in April 1994 and on the back of his seminal 1999 book Go-Sees, Teller certainly wasn’t a rookie, but the decision to use him led to some arresting images that helped unify that new brand direction’s high and low-end positioning. Influenced by Comme since the very beginning and the daddy of the streetwear designer homage, this appointment seemed like a logical one (and Terry Richardson would shoot some subsequent ads). In 2017, the sullen kid with cheekbones in a hoody is pretty much a go-to for brand lookbooks and blog fodder, and for those with a budget, calling in Juergen is no surprise any more — failing that, a glut of tinpot Tillmans wannabes with a Yashica are ready to shoot their friends in a crap flat for free clothes. There were at least 25 images used in the Teller Stüssy rollout (The Face and Dazed ran a fair amount of them over here) and with some great Tyrone Lebon world tour work of late, it’s great to see that the quality control has been sustained all the way up to present day.
So far, the reactions to Patta working with Mephisto have been reverential from folk who know their stuff and laughter tear emojis from folks who list “Sneakers, life, god” as their interests atop a feed of pixellated memes and repost to win entries. “They look like geography teacher shoes” they say. Yeah, that’s the point dipshit.
I had the privilege of visiting Mephisto’s factory in France a couple of weeks ago with my friends Gee and Lee. They were extremely welcoming and gave us an extremely in-depth look at the manufacturing process. So in-depth in fact, that @mastalee had plenty of shots to spare, so there are a few bonus photos here. There’s a little writeup on the Patta site ahead of the shoe release this weekend. Continue reading PATTA & MEPHISTO
PNB Nation has been discussed here a lot, from its pioneering inception and early days to that weird buyout. It looks like it might be in safer hands right now and those rebel sentiments that set it off are as relevant in 2017 as they were in 1992. Earlier this month, Bounce Media and PNB held a round table to discuss the brand and streetwear in general, erasing the industry whitewash of recent years and acknowledging how slippery streetwear is when it comes to definition. I know that for you podcast fiends, 90-minutes is the new 15-minutes and Alan Ket, Zulu, Pete Rock, Diego Moscoso, Elena Romero, and Kwasi Kessie all offer some interesting contributions. Check it out on the new PNB site right here ‘cos I can’t embed the Soundcloud for some reason.
This one is pretty rare. Given the recent hoo-ha regarding American social media reactions to Giggs’ duo of More Life appearances (our music being slandered by Americans would have stung a decade ago, but now? Less so.) and the frequently naive history lessons offered as a response from these shores, it’s worth rewinding to London Posse’s Yo! MTV Raps international edition appearance from 1993. It certainly wasn’t the first Brit-America rap crossover moment by any stretch, but I remember being impressed by this second-half section of an episode being dedicated to this nation’s capital, where a baffled Fred attempted to interview Black Radical and General Levy talked about our scene, before we had to watch a scattering of videos by Marxman, Urban Species and Honky instead of the American videos that the US audience was getting to see on their broadcast. Personally, I think that — with plenty of honourable mentions, mostly singles rather than albums — between Rodney and Bionic’s opus Gangster Chronicle (this interview was from around the time How’s Life in London? was reissued, remixed and sponsored by British Knight) and the rise of road rap, UK rap was a patchy, patchy thing. It took another 14 years or so for it to seem like it could be a actual career. Go to this blog right here and watch this encounter, filmed in Piccadilly Circus just after an IRA bomb scare for extra historical context — Rodney P espousing the importance of following the indie route and Bionic echoing the importance of that outside-the-industry approach preempts the recent business model that took Stormzy to the top by a long, long time. Back then, it seemed like a pipe dream. Now it’s the road to going gold.
My friend Nick Santora has far greater fixation with sports footwear related imagery and ephemera than me. He runs the Classic Kicks site, social accounts and podcast and used to run the fine NYC store of the same name. He just made the plunge into publishing, but is keeping it as pixels for the time being. That doesn’t stop the visually inclined, 124 page Classic Kicks #1 from being designed as if it was on paper, down to the quality of design and page size. The inaugural issue has a ton of content (that’s content in the good sense as opposed to the gushing stream of content for content’s sake that is making anything useful harder to find using Google). If you’re a nerd, you’ll mess with this project — the old adidas and Fila ads are worth the price of admission, but the chats with Nike ad gods Chuck Kuhn, Bob Peterson and Bill Sumner with accompanying reproductions of some of their work, while — most importantly if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time — renaissance man and reggae archivist Roger Steffens shuts down that rumour that Nike’s mysterious Rasta Man samples were made for Bob Marley. Deeper than the usual shoe coverage and it’s best viewed on a tablet, though I would spend big on a physical copy. Well worth your £2.99 or digital subscription fee.
To some, Sigue Sigue Sputnik were one of those press-inflated flops of the 1980s, billed as the new thing — a glam sci-fi band with a loose dystopian dress code and apocalyptic Droog-like art direction, but incapable of maintaining the momentum of their Giorgio Moroder produced breakthrough. I think they were one of the great acts of that moment — a post Generation X creation who made a record that defines its era and maintained a mystique that had me fascinated. The sense of swindle and piss-taking that pervaded their work had some serious marketing dollars behind it. That promo extended to a 1986 MTV takeover called Sputnik Network Television that user result has upped onto YouTube. Presented by Tony James, who introduces Peter Gabriel videos, interviews shadowy record execs and Jennifer Gray, quizzes a spaniel and takes phone calls a young Futura 2000 is art guest, painting throughout in bike courier attire. Lenny gets a lot of screen time, mentioning his Fila boycott, but citing the brand as, “Sort of a street Gucci of 1986,” and expressing embarrassment at his Clash-produced solo single. A fantastic time capsule of its era that — as Lenny’s mention of his t-shirt line indicates — sows the seeds for plenty of interesting things that followed.
During a recent European excursion (all will be revealed at some point in the next few weeks), I got to learn a little more regarding the cultural history of ultra-comfortable French and Portuguese made casual footwear. Mephisto has become a source of fascination for me — the antidote to over marketed obviousness — and showcased alongside several other archive images, including some German and French league shirts and Mephisto branded hoardings at pitches, this (according to my source) lower league club’s late 1980s kit included this incredible Hummel goalie shirt with Mephisto sponsorship and an image of the brand’s trademark Rainbow silhouette. It’s a thing of wonder. If you know, you know. Those demonic M’s on the collar are a magnificent touch too.