Right now, the online incarnation of every men’s fashion magazine is putting up some generic streetwear list to get that traffic. Where you might once have memorised that moment Stüssy got a Sunday supplement mention or Supreme got the Vogue treatment early, it’s pretty much everywhere. Unless New York Times affiliated, not much of it seems to tell you much at all (salutes to the folks at Supreme and Palace who generally seem to leave bad rag journos hanging for soundbites, meaning it has to be some friend-of-a-Facebook-friend-of-a-friend who has to contribute some loose insight). Back when Loaded seemed revolutionary, it ran a 1994 four-pager that left an impression on me, talking streetwear with dons like Shawn Stussy, Rick Klotz, Erik Brunetti and Eli Bonerz, that starts with talk of the mystery Beastie Boys Slam City show and incorporates Curtis McCann and James Lavelle as models. Plaid shirts and chinos aplenty.
Having spent many happy hours circa 1996 browsing the shelves of Rollersnakes as part of a regular retail wander that I could stretch over an entire day, I have some happy memories of that place. Back when the store was situated in Nottingham on the excellently-named Maid Marian Way, it had a solid mail order set up and, in a none-more-1993 move, they released a few VHS “catalogues” that included local footage from sponsored skaters, some sessions at local spots like Market Square, clips from the newest videos on sale and four minutes of staff posing in the latest clothing (plenty of Droors, Raggy and X-Large) and some shots of covetable decks, with a Zoo York Ryan Hickey or Girl Sean Sheffey running you 54 quid (decks might run you little more than a quid or so more 23 years later). Anyone in the market for Bitch slick? Rollersnakes upped the whole 1994 tape on their YouTube channel, but there’s some retail highlights in the video above and the entire 1993 volume one below. Rap with horns and big jeans aplenty.
For years, some of the brands I associate with a pivotal era of black British streetwear have been the ones that get away in terms of information and insight. Viking shoes? Informational dead-end. Click? Still something of a mystery. The Click suit was a dancehall staple during a time of ragga and hip-hop’s early 1990s crossover and an ostentatious, loose fitted uniform at events like Sting. In my hometown, it used to be used as a general term to describe contrast panelled, oversized patch cord or denim trousers and shirt-style jackets. Some of that stuff was even extreme stone wash with mock bullet holes. For years I never knew whether it was a brand, a custom line or an expression, and the V&A’s collection seems to use the name generally in its outfit that uses the Exhaust Jeans line. However, Steve Bryden, whose knowledge I trust unreservedly, said this beneath the image above on Instagram, “Click was a brand, I still have suit somewhere. Click made suits and jackets A big thing in the raggamuffin era.” I’d like to see a more comprehensive history of those 1989-1995 brands, given the colossal stylistic contribution that Kingston via London look gave us.
Seeing as Ralph Lauren’s empire is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, we’re promised at least four books about the brand (including Ralph’s autobiography in 2018) on the horizon. Rizzoli has got a couple planned, including the Ralph Lauren: 50 Years of Fashion retrospective in association with WWD and a third version of the 2007 monograph, which will be expanded with more imagery and coverage of the last ten years. It’s always vaguely disheartening to see slackers getting the opportunity to get the book in a better form as penance to us keen types for buying the book earlier (the slightly bolstered paperback reprint of the Osti book gave me similarly glum feelings), but it makes sense that another big birthday justifies the remix. Now I want to see the clothing step up to bring some statement greatness that supersedes that slew of streetwear homages of those glory days, plus a decent length documentary on the company’s growth over those five decades. Expect these around September/October (when an interesting looking Fiorruci retrospective is set to drop too).
It would be unseemly to air out the new graphic-designer-and-Gildan ASOS resurrection of Crooked Tongues, but the cookie-led targeted ad following me around Facebook is really rubbing my face in it. I knew this range was coming, but I wasn’t expecting it to be an two-minute IG mood board driven tribute act to many brands that have done better things with purpose and actual provenance. I remember when sweatshirts with made-up sports teams, leagues and random years in raised puffed lettering were all the rage if your mum bought your gear from C&A, but I was tongue-tied when a doctor tried to make small talk by asking me if I actually played baseball. 31 years later I see that he was just sneak dissing my fictional athletic credentials and I hope anyone that wears this stuff gets similarly called out for wearing these fake deep visuals. That might come off as bitterness, but if mentioning the place I worked for several years evokes this over that earlier labour of love, it necessitates some distance from the new “curb-surfing” incarnation.
I’ve seen shots of a Malcolm McLaren in 1983 wearing his long-sleeve tee with PUNK IT UP on the chest and DUCK ROCK on the arms in that familiar but still-unnamed iron-on font for a few years now, but I hadn’t seen the footage before until this Spanish TV chat appeared on YouTube via masterhitsi84. As ever, Malcolm doesn’t project modesty and some of the same punk tales are told, but there’s a few good soundbites beneath that translated voiceover. My friends who are still working on the Heated Words project have tapped into something that seems to link a lot of pivotal popular culture, and clips like this just reinforce that.
I haven’t got a great deal to write today, but the LuckStaPosse YouTube account has a couple of gems in Japanese like a minute of UNDERCOVER’s A/W 97/98 show and this Harajuku 1997 footage of the folks gathering to buy some goro’s and some chats with UNDERCOVER and BAPE clad NOWHERE visitors is pretty interesting too. Remember when we used to marvel at a Tokyo streetwear consumer’s willingness to queue? We’re all at it now. The rumours of a goro’s webstore feel like the end of the last real-world only experience in this world.