Category Archives: Design

SMARTER

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After the passing of INVENTORY a short while back, I was waiting for another publication to offer something a little deeper on specific brands that language barriers and laziness have prevented me from fully investigating. In 2015 I picked up issue #1 of intelligence and wasn’t bowled over by the content enough to get the next issue, but issue #3 is very good. Created as a division of the excellent HAVEN store and, like INVENTORY, Vancouver-based (most good things seem to come from Canada right now), the magazine avoids the heritage stuff and focuses on some brands that are, for the most part, pretty progressive (INVENTORY seemed to be following a similar path in the last couple of issues before its close because it had pretty much profiled every key brand that operated in the vintage and Americana-themed arena). With pieces on Christopher Nemeth’s daughters, Brain Dead, Greg Lauren (whose comic book cover artist stint, role in the Boogie Nights overdose scene and avant fashion career is a CV that fascinates me far beyond the obvious provenance of that surname) and Sasquatchfabrix’ Daisuke Yokohama, there’s some gold in those interview answers. Kiko Kostadinov’s thoughts on functionality and becoming hyper aware of design from his studies and work life thus far were an indicator that the future is in safe hands, while a KAPITAL article, scuppered by a repetitive print problem has been fixed and upped on the intelligence website. At sixteen quid, it isn’t cheap, but those hours of dialogue transcription probably didn’t come easy either.

BAGGY

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This Jodeci VH1 biopic might be the best news of the day — a Jodeci flick and a full Ric Flair documentary? An amazing time to be alive, contrary to those apocalyptic headlines. If that rising ocean and those missiles can hold off for a couple of years, that would be ideal. I’m also very excited about the impending issue #1 of TTTISM magazine from the Sang Bleu stable. Maxime Plescia-Büchi is a friend and role model — a man so prolific that he’s put together an entire supplementary publication to an existing rollout, a complete apparel range and even changed his name since I saw him last. And that isn’t even his day job. On an unrelated note, big up Hezakya Starr for upping this 1993 news piece on the sagging, baggy denim boom — big jeans will be back soon (note: bootcut and baggy are two different things), and this is a reminder as to haw voluminous things got back in the day. Switching to unrelated mode again, a couple of cool Larry Clark interviews have appeared online too, including one where Clark talks about an impending retirement from films to drive around Europe in a Bentley and another one for French news — I post a lot of Larry interviews on here, and most tell the same tales and ask the same questions, but he is a character who will forever prove fascinating to me.

HISTORY OF R.A.P

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Thanks to an insatiable appetite for content online (and a lot of curious writers) there’s a lot of deep histories on some brands that had been barely mentioned online in recent years. Slowly — and whether a more image and video inclined audience have any interest in reading it — the lesser-discussed foundations of an industry are being given the treatment they deserve. I wondered what exactly happened to the R.A.P brand — which made plenty of appearances in British style magazines before it folded in 1996 — that was founded by Moroccan-born London resident Hassan Hajjaj and began as a shop on Neal Street in Covent Garden in 1983 before spawning its own apparel line. Continue reading HISTORY OF R.A.P

OBSESSIVE DESIGN

Visiting the Arc’teryx design facilities and factory in Vancouver was one of those head office experiences that makes you appreciate what you already liked significantly more (I’ve had a few experiences of head office trips that didn’t quite nurture that appreciation — occasionally it had the opposite effect). The brand’s Evolution of Design video for REI from a few months back gives a quick primer on why Arc’teryx is still keen to reiterate their commitment to innovation. They’re not just faking obsessiveness for the cameras. Some of the brand’s designers did a presentation at a REI store to coincide with the campaign and YouTube user Nature Calls captured some of it — the sound is barely there, but turn up the volume and there’s a few nuggets of functional design wisdom in there. Lest we forget, it was an Arc’teryx backpack that helped give us the Air Jordan XI, and when your work is the difference between life and death, there’s not much room for the silly stuff.
Continue reading OBSESSIVE DESIGN

BADGES

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BUNNEY’s printed content has been flawless thus far and this year’s Grey Pages hardback indicated that the brand was looking to expand that element of their output. Newspaper style edits of Derek Ridgers and Ken Russell’s work under their Selected Works banner were slim, but the latest release, The Badge takes a deep look at the history of badges over 56 pages. Coinciding with the installation at Park-ing Ginza where the Charles M. Schultz Museum, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Jun Takahashi and Tetsu Nishiyama all created their own sterling silver badge designs using early press-work techniques, this publication is something of an education in more than just adornment. Continue reading BADGES

CLOCKERS WAS UNDERRATED

Clockers is one of my favourite films of the 1990s. An expansion of Spike Lee’s cinematic vision, aided by Richard Price’s forensic precision, it preempted the grittier, uncompromising procedural depth of The Wire years later (and Price was writer on several episodes, as well as HBO’s American remake of The Night Of). It also managed the feat of nearly topping the Crooklyn Dodgers’ classic 1994 all-star posse cut with a whole new roster and producer for the movie’s soundtrack. I only recently discovered that Saul Bass was very annoyed by the film poster’s Anatomy of a Murder tribute (resulting in an alternate edition with a more generic chalk outline character), telling Entertainment Weekly that, ”The convention is when anyone steals something, they call it an homage.” One-sheets aside, the film itself always felt fresh to me. On that topic, this movie and the previous year’s Fresh were a million miles from the ghetto clichés that distributors were buying up at the time and suffered as a result — those who wanted formulaic hood morality tales were bored, while an audience didn’t bother attending or renting because they thought it was going to be more of the same. This footage, uploaded by Zeke62 Nostalgia, of Ralph McDaniels presenting a Video Music Box show from the Clockers premiere party in 1995 is solid gold.

BEAMS DOES IT BETTER

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BEAMS seems to manage a curiously Japanese ability to balance credibility and nuance with a retail empire, so it figures that their 40 YEARS OF TOKYO FASHION & MUSIC campaign was going to be good. I wasn’t expecting this level of good though. The WHAT’S NEXT? TOKYO CULTURE STORY video and site are styled nicely, calling out hundreds of specific trends year by year (note the 1999 “UK skater style“) that are still echoing in fashion right now. Continue reading BEAMS DOES IT BETTER