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).
Rest in power to Freddy Mack. I can’t profess to have known the man well and I don’t want to come off disingenuous, but from brief encounters, both digitally and in the real world, I know that he was a real one. From his WHAT YOU WRITE labour of love to everything else, he embodied the hardcore Parisian mentality that few other nations can match. Speaking to him in the early hours at the Supreme store opening party about some niche topics dear to my heart was like chatting with the Tasmanian Devil (when I speak to someone more excitable about strange shoes than me, it tends to linger in the memory) and he was extremely supportive of this blog. Freddy’s passing leaves a gap within several subcultures, but through sheer passion in those waking years it leaves a permanent presence too. I’ll be lacing up some co.jp Terra Humara in his honour. In honour of his contributions to the worlds he represented, Freddy’s friends have rallied together to launch a Go Fund Me that will help his family with funeral expenses.
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.
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.
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.
First things first, rest in peace to Tycoon To$h. All us disciples of Tokyo streetwear owe the man and the culture he brought, from new wave to a local interpretation of hip-hop, a fair amount. Major Force inspired Mo’Wax and Mo’Wax inspired…well, you get the general idea. On the topic of early 1990s gems, the superb Webm8 site keeps bringing the gems, with nuggets like this fit-inducing two-minute retrospective of 1990-era ‘fits that was shown on MTV Europe in association with Swatch back in the day. Lots of crap and a few fakes in the mix, but to be fair, there was a lot of that my wardrobe back then. Shouts to everyone who used to watch this kind of stuff intently to take notes back in the day.