Big up Kyle Lilly for uploading a little slice of locally broadcast hip-hop fashion history. Video Explosion was a Yo! MTV Raps style show that, as I understand, was screened regionally from Queens. There’s a lot of great footage from the program out there, but this clip features DJ Finesse getting his Fab 5 Freddy on and visiting the Shirt Kings store in Jamaica Queens’ Coliseum Mall to interview Kasheme and Nike (this seems to be a post-Phade iteration of the business) from the crew with a giant microphone. If you haven’t already picked up the book from a couple of years back, do it before it becomes extortionately priced in specialist stores or on Amazon Marketplace — it’s an essential document of an important moment in streetwear history. An expansion into London is mentioned here and it’s something I wish I’d seen happen. You don’t see a lot of footage of the Shirt Kings store in action, even if it’s a later version, so this is very rare indeed.
Typical. You wait for one book documenting a niche subcultural phenomenon and then two come along at (almost) once. After Victory Editions’ incredible release of Bury Me With the Lo On (which, pending its second printing, is almost fetching Kayak rugby shirt prices on eBay), Powerhouse is putting out Jackson Blount’s Lo Life: An American Classic in November, with an oral history of the boosting culture and plenty of vintage imagery and contributions from Lo Life members. Continue reading BOTH KINDS OF SNOW BEACH
Despite Bedford being my birthplace, I’ve long assumed that, despite being the longtime breeding ground for a lot of talent throughout the years, even minor recognition for the town was unlikely. One local hero is producer and musician Lil Silva who’s making credited and uncredited power moves while making some sounds that evolved locally into elements of some globally popular music. Continue reading BEDFORD TOWN
Back in summer 1996, an Oasis shoot in Arena Homme+ by Peter Robathan showed that, long before Liam did the cod-mod Pretty Green thing, he had a lot of style when it came to outerwear, while Noel has always understood the power of a good coat. Rain was rooted in the north’s inclement weather and the duality of the siblings. Liam opted for Lefthand, Donna Karan and Hugo while Noel gravitated towards Polo Sport and Kenzo. 20 years on, this Ralph (“coat £165 by Polo Sport Ralph Lauren”) is still a highlight. Trips to Bicester to get this one that Christmas yielded nothing. Continue reading RAIN
Since its inception in 1976, BEAMS has been helping define entire dress codes. Only knowing them as serial collaborators until I visited Tokyo for the first time in the 2000s, I was staggered at just how vast their presence was in Harajuku. I don’t know if I was just being easily wowed in the humidity, but there seemed to be an entire street of BEAMS stores. Crucially, the entire product mix and presentation, from kidswear to homeware to menswear was absolutely incredible. Now, with the gift of English language accounts of Japan’s love of Americana, plus the recent POPEYE reprint, everything makes a bit more sense. Fortunately, those smedium larges and a famine when it came to XLs saved me a substantial amount of money that would have been spent on things that just about fitted but were never, ever washed because of a fear of shrinkage making me dress like I’ve had an overnight growth spurt (insert Kenneth Williams innuendo face image here). Rizzoli are putting out a book with the company called BEAMS beyond Tokyo in February next year with contributions by Sofia Coppola and Nigo. Reading the promotional text around it, the project sounds more about the company’s working and collaborative process than a straightforward history, but that sounds good to me.
Flicking through Neal Heard’s excellent A Lover’s Guide to Football Shirts you’ll see a lot of gems and many of them are Le Coq Sportif creations — the 1983 A.S. Monaco shirt with the Bally sponsorship being a great example. The joy of flipping through a book like that is seeing the curious eccentricities that players wore in front of the baying masses and realising that some designs I hated in the 1990s have aged well in their audacity, with contemporary, skin-tight, referential, remixed, tactically homaged pieces from high-profile designer lacking any of that same magic. Continue reading BRAND NUBIAN, COVENTRY, BOURNEMOUTH & CHESTER CITY
Rizzoli releases The Carhartt WIP Archives in October. As someone who grew up preoccupied with duck fabric in that shade of brown and paused Yo! MTV Raps trying to work out what the brand with the ‘C’ on the path was and who the heck made those weird half zip shirts with the monkey on the pocket, it holds a very particular place in my heart. With those vivid memories of days when I believed Carhartt and Ben Davis were just very conservative-looking hip-hop brands still etched into my psyche it was an honour to get the opportunity to contribute a little something for this book. The company’s European history is very deep indeed.