Chris Hall is many things — a director, the skater’s skater, antique dealer and the sports footwear connoisseur to end them all for starters, and his defiantly D.C. aesthetic and East Coast mentality helped drive the look of the region’s skateboard scene. Believe it or not, there was once a time when a tag, some drips and a graffiti character on a deck or tee seemed different and progressive (it’s worth noting that “underground” was genuinely applicable to the scene 24 years ago), and while that look is very much of its era, Chris’s 1993 Underworld Element Champion parody deck was remarkably ahead of its time. Right now, we’re almost at breaking point with homages to the legendary C branding, but this design manages to embody now and then. On that East Coast skate note, without Supreme, I doubt Champion would be enjoying its current renaissance. I noted almost unanimous derision and laughing Emojis by the ton when size? posted some Champion Reverse Weaves on their IG a few years back, but since those doing the mocking shed their Hollister and elasticated chinos for streetwear, a shot of that label is guaranteed likes. Chris has been on that look since day one and images of this board were elusive or particularly pixellated until he was photographed by Cory Slifka with it as a loan to the excellent DECKAID show that benefits youth-based charities. Very rare. Very good. Always early.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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