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.
Books on athletic shoes are done to death. However, there’s always room for exceptions on the shelves and it was good to finally devour the contents of this particular one. A while back, before digital dominated, Nike commissioned some fascinating publications to coincide with campaigns. The world doesn’t need another bluffer’s guide to bestsellers with Q&As with the usual suspects. What it needs is untrodden informational terrain and Le Silver does the job. Written by Lodovico Pignatti Morano — editor of the flawless Ideas From Massimo Osti — the book is a 152 page anecdotal history of the Air Max 97’s role in Italy. I believe it’s culled from around 97 interviews and, curiously, despite its defiantly local nature, it’s published in English. Club kids, DJs, store managers, graffiti writers, rappers, stylists, editors, professional footballers, scooter boys and motorcyclists all break down the core appeal of Christian Tresser’s design between 1997 and 2003. Best of all is how the author retains the contradictions of any good origin story — there’s multiple accounts of different pioneers said to be the first to bring the shoe to Rome or Milan, some participants dismiss it as ugly, there’s tales of the shoe flopping initially before the sudden surge and plenty of corroborating tales regarding the impact that Georgio Armani putting it on the catwalk in early 1998 had locally. Very hardcore, very niche and beautifully designed by Munich’s Bureau Mirko Borsche, channeling that spirit of streamlined futurism that — according to some subjects — may well have driven the core appeal of this ostentatious entry into an already bold franchise. Incidentally, it also operates as a fairly comprehensive book on the popularity of the Air Max Classic/BW in Italy too. Well worth 22 Euros, even though that 16 Euro shipping fee is a little aggressive. Le Silver is the gold standard in shoe-related books. There are plenty more images of it and its contents right here.
The problem (or possible blessing) with being surrounded by something all the time is that you don’t see time flying. Things from the early 2000s seem, rather paradoxically, done to death and recent. But many of today’s consumers of the very things we obsessed over and the ones who’ll succeed us, were toddlers when magazines were a viable thing rather than a thing to lay on the table neatly for social media. Sydney’s Refill was a good publication that ran from 2003 to 2005 and was occasionally stocked at spots like London’s Magma for fifteen quid. Created by Matty Burton and Luca Ionescu, it ran for five issues before coming to a close, managing to document some things lesser spotted on 2017’s digital channels along the way. It evokes an era of chasing this and early adopter of most things Raif Adelberg’s hardback Made Magazine. Issues #3 and #4 of Refill are on issuu to browse in their entirety — I recall that BAPE edition causing a brief mania with 2004-era hype types because it came packaged with an ape head poster and badges of some kind, which makes up for the brevity of the actual interview in that cover feature. Nostalgic for features on Devilock? Step right in. The piece on Will Bankhead’s work, with bonus design work from Bankhead, Ben Drury, Christian Petersen, Fergadelic and Ed Gill, is fucking fantastic — Park Walk (created alongside Emmet Keane) from 1998 was a pretty pioneering Brit brand seemingly solely sold abroad, and the later, more widely distributed Answer line was incredible, making up a solid chapter in UK streetwear history that’s a good link between Silas and what the Slam City residents would sire next.
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).
There isn’t much to talk about here that can match the greatness of this Medium entry (shouts to Gotty for the heads up) by mauludSADIQ that’s absolutely mandatory if you’re interested in learning a little about those days when there seemed to be staggering amounts of regional variation, however fleeting, when it came to athletic footwear (Atlanta having a brief love for the Champion 3 on 3 shoe was news to me — I thought that was a Euro phenomenon). Read and take notes. Incidentally, the above image is part of a page from a 1998 issue of The Face magazine and Paul Gorman’s long-teased book on that magazine, Legacy: the Story of the Face apparently has a November release date, though, from my few experiences with publishing, that is liable to change. Then change again.
My friend Nick Santora has far greater fixation with sports footwear related imagery and ephemera than me. He runs the Classic Kicks site, social accounts and podcast and used to run the fine NYC store of the same name. He just made the plunge into publishing, but is keeping it as pixels for the time being. That doesn’t stop the visually inclined, 124 page Classic Kicks #1 from being designed as if it was on paper, down to the quality of design and page size. The inaugural issue has a ton of content (that’s content in the good sense as opposed to the gushing stream of content for content’s sake that is making anything useful harder to find using Google). If you’re a nerd, you’ll mess with this project — the old adidas and Fila ads are worth the price of admission, but the chats with Nike ad gods Chuck Kuhn, Bob Peterson and Bill Sumner with accompanying reproductions of some of their work, while — most importantly if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time — renaissance man and reggae archivist Roger Steffens shuts down that rumour that Nike’s mysterious Rasta Man samples were made for Bob Marley. Deeper than the usual shoe coverage and it’s best viewed on a tablet, though I would spend big on a physical copy. Well worth your £2.99 or digital subscription fee.