One collaboration I’ve not mentioned here before in all the proto industry model talk is 1990’s Stüssy i-D magazine tees. Created to commemorate the magazine’s tenth birthday alongside pieces from the likes of Simon Foxton, the shirts were sold for 15 quid via mail order. The Stüssy design was pitched to readers as a Shawn Stussy for i-D project rather than a straight-up brand collaboration and offered in white or grey. Given that the brand would take a slightly different, pared-down look, release some tribe-centric videos and host an event in Tokyo (that’s still considered a pivotal moment) the following year, it was inevitable that this project would make a splash far beyond London.
It wasn’t just the pioneering streetwear line that had a significant 1991 making grander Japanese inroads — i-D’s first Japanese incarnation was launched in September that year, lasting 16 issues. As a result, I’ve seen different versions of the shirt, which originally read “Enjoy yourself stupid amounts” on the front in that familiar hand style and included a dense list of predominantly female names on the back that includes the Queen, Sade, Lisa Stansfield, Sarah Stockbridge, Grace Jones and Wendy James. Continue reading EARLY COLLABORATION
My friends at Being Hunted (whose original site is the reason this blog exists) let me edit a little book for GORE-TEX that’s the result of some conversations with Virgil Abloh, Errolson Hugh, Andrew Bunney, Erman at adidas and some other good folks. Six Stories of GORE-TEX Products Vol. 2 is the follow-up to the GORE-TEX Japan book from a couple of years back. I’m assuming that it’s just a promo ting for partners and staffers, so I have no idea where you can get it from, but there’s more images over at Hypebeast. As a longtime fan of the brand, this was another wish list entry ticked off.
Graffiti backdrops and rap have been coopted by the worst kind of hip-hop conservative — and let’s not get into the live painting festival side of things — but it’s something that’s still interesting when it reaches into other scenes. With a few exceptions, the more rap-centric side of New York hardcore does nothing for me, full of tattooed dudes that would absolutely batter me, stomach rockers and pitbull shots in the videos, plus those clumsy ’92 flows. But there’s a thin wallet chain line between good and terrible when it comes to rock and rap anyway The graffiti and NYHC connection however, is fascinating, from pieces on trains to those hand styles and hooded characters on tape covers. Lately, there have been some strong examinations of the hardcore scene’s aesthetics (this Anthony Pappalardo Youth Crew article on The Hundreds’ site from a couple of weeks back is superb). And last month’s premiere of The New York Hardcore Chronicles, which includes an entire section on hardcore and graffiti with folks like SkamDust, KR. ONE, was tied with a Doc Martens’ project where musician writers reworked the boot that claimed so many teeth on the scene. Building on this classic 2014 feature by veteran Freddy Alva (that SANE Burn piece = mind blown), there’s an entire book on the topic, Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, arriving via DiWulf Publishing at the end of October, that’s at the pre-order stage right now. Freddy spoke to graf/HC pioneers like Mackie, Chaka Malik and Sacha Jenkins (who I’ve long assumed was the reason hardcore featured in Ego Trip every issue). Just as Seen and friends preferred to paint to Sabbath, and a combination of Grand Funk Railroad and psychedelics probably helped evolved style as much as an 808 drum and THC ever did, while hip-hop was integral to altering hardcore attire from cut-offs and DM’s to Champion and Air Revolutions, the assumption that the soundtrack had to fall in line with the parameters of “four elements” to be considered real would be creating a deeply distracted version of history.
A while back I schemed to put something together regarding the relationship between hardcore and athletic shoes, but the task seemed colossal when it came to research and, crucially, I’m not qualified to write it. The connection between hip-hop and shoes has been mined to mediocrity in pursuit of content and, like some cultural fossil fuel, all that seems to be left — bar those untold stories and archives from those who were there — is fumes. In a cynical world, the do it yourself, self-powered earnestness of it all seems like the antithesis of a marketing grand plan. This ad from a 1986 Maximumrocknroll is just one of thousands of moments — the southern Californian band Half Off (rest in peace to Jim Burke) had a cult following and they briefly had a ‘zine-powered war of words with Youth Crew folks as mentioned in this Noisey Billy Rubin interview from a couple of years ago. The hand-drawn Vandal style Nike with the Terminator/Big Nike style lettering is a nice touch and on that topic hardcore connoisseur William Cathalina has put together a sneaker-centric ‘zine called Shoegazer, with issue #2 dedicated to shoes and the scene. The first run of 25 is long gone, but it’s worth giving him a shout via Instagram to see about a second run.
To read old issues of The Source is to be assailed by experiments in big brands targeting an inner-city audience, amazing album promo copywriting, earnest editorials and none-more-1990s moments, but crucially the magazine had an opinion that it was happy to put to work and some of the writing is fantastic. Catching early 1990s for 1.95 in places where the Comag distribution felt the magazine belonged was integral to making me want to write. The sportswear elements of the magazine were an education in themselves, despite clearly being ad-money driven rather than personal picks. A 1992 Rap City segment caught the publication’s staff at the Manhattan offices far ahead of the infamous late 1994 rebellion over those high-mic ratings for The Almighty RSO. Senior editor Chris Wilder sees white folks taking black culture like they did rock and roll — what would follow a couple of decades down the line makes his statements extra prophetical. While it only includes brief footage of the editorial process at work, it’s still a nice little time capsule of a time when a high rating could actually sell units and a rapper shifting around 80k considered a colossal flop. Big up Hias74 for uploading this as well as plenty of other Canadian TV rap-centric gems.
Additionally, that Shawn Stussy Beats 1 show with Mike D is a good primer on the sonic influences behind that pioneering street and surfwear and this uncut SHOWstudio chat with photographer Mark Lebon is some strong background on that original Buffalo era of fashion and streetwear’s union too.
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.
It goes without saying that a book compilation of the best of/every issue of On The Go is very needed. We’ll just have to keep wishing in the meantime though. Steven “ESPO” Powers and Ari Saal Forman’s graffiti/hip-hop/lifestyle magazine went from ‘zine to glossy between 1989 and 1997 — a Tower Records necessity alongside Ego Trip and Stress in its heyday — before vanishing from shelves and is always in need of a good retrospective. Like any good graffiti publication, they put out some videos too — 1993’s Eyeshocker Express is on YouTube via helio215 and — at time of writing — the follow-up, Repeat Offender has vanished from the internet again after a copy surfaced eight years ago. Some good music, excellent Philly footage and history from local legends like Cornbread makes Eyeshocker a great accompaniment to the magazine. Once upon a time, it would set you back $16.50, plus postage fees and an eight week wait, so it’s good to have it for free.