During a recent European excursion (all will be revealed at some point in the next few weeks), I got to learn a little more regarding the cultural history of ultra-comfortable French and Portuguese made casual footwear. Mephisto has become a source of fascination for me — the antidote to over marketed obviousness — and showcased alongside several other archive images, including some German and French league shirts and Mephisto branded hoardings at pitches, this (according to my source) lower league club’s late 1980s kit included this incredible Hummel goalie shirt with Mephisto sponsorship and an image of the brand’s trademark Rainbow silhouette. It’s a thing of wonder. If you know, you know. Those demonic M’s on the collar are a magnificent touch too.
This did the rounds a few months ago, but after the regular splatter of speculative articles surrounding what the banned Nike Air Ship actually looked like, all we seemed to have to go on was a couple of black and white training and action photos and really blurry split second pre-game footage from Madison Square Garden. But this footage of Jordan playing against the Bucks at a Washington High School, East Chicago on October 9th (easily falling into the period that’s mentioned in the stern letter from NBA commissioners) was dug up by true Jordan fan MJO23DAN. I was also pretty sure — though I can’t find the supporting evidence I spotted right now — that the lettering that replaces the wings logo on the strange Rare Air versions of the AJ1 is taken from the heel of Jordan’s Air Ships. We tend to exist in an echo chamber when it comes to legends around shoes and I and many others are guilty of pecking at what’s already out there, so salutes to this YouTuber and connoisseur for researching and sharing this video.
For a while I was convinced that I imagined that Donald Trump appeared in a Nike commercial in the late 1990, and the sheer volume of great campaigns during the 1990s didn’t make ascertaining which ad any easier. But, thanks to YouTube (big up mercatfat), I was reminded that it was part of the 1997/98 era Fun Police series with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Tim Hardaway and Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, Damon Stoudamire and knowingly fun-free characters like Cherokee Parks. Promoting a series of memorably eccentric Zoom-assisted silhouettes, one spot includes a one line speaking role by the future president-elect himself. Before you take those red boxes into the back garden ready to set them alight, chill — this was when Trump was seen as a New York mascot of sorts (and back then, without the internet, it was easier to forget that this was around the time he seemed to switch from Democrat to Republican, or that just eight years prior, he demanded the execution of five wrongfully accused young black men — including a boy of just 15), appearing in everything, from Home Alone 2 to The Nanny to Sex and the City, as well as ads for Pizza Hut, Oreo and McDonald’s. And by turning him into this larger-than-life caricature of capitalism, we all created a monster. But 20 years ago, the events of this coming Friday seemed even more improbable as a young boy left alone in New York thwarting the same duo of bumbling crooks he’d defeated before in a completely different city.
Growing up there were key texts: Marvel’s Secret Wars, all Moomins everything, the back of Palitoy Star Wars packaging, my cousin’s Mad and Cracked magazines, Roger Llancelyn Green’s The Tale of Troy, a battered copy of Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and any Nike marketing materials. I was fascinated with any ads — be they print or TV — for the swoosh and that Futura Bold sloganeering was imprinted on my impressionable mind like an Air Max LTD footprint at a crime scene. I hadn’t seen this American Advertising Federation video from 2013 before, which I’m assuming was the edit shown before Phil Knight’s induction in the Advertising Hall of Fame award. There are a lot of great examples of the sort of thing that made me want to write stuff about this kind of stuff in this 3:37 compilation of Nike greatest hits. For a man who hated advertising, Mr. Knight definitely did a good job of selling the spirit of the company to me.
Flicking through Neal Heard’s excellent A Lover’s Guide to Football Shirts you’ll see a lot of gems and many of them are Le Coq Sportif creations — the 1983 A.S. Monaco shirt with the Bally sponsorship being a great example. The joy of flipping through a book like that is seeing the curious eccentricities that players wore in front of the baying masses and realising that some designs I hated in the 1990s have aged well in their audacity, with contemporary, skin-tight, referential, remixed, tactically homaged pieces from high-profile designers lacking any of that same magic. Continue reading BRAND NUBIAN, COVENTRY, BOURNEMOUTH & CHESTER CITY
A few weeks ago I covered the Converse All Star Modern launch for 032c and we had to leave out a fair chunk of historical talk regarding the Converse All Star. Seeing as it’s such an important design (whether you care much for shoes or not), here’s the part of the rough draft that was excised. As always with these kinds of things, I encourage all feedback and corrections. It still blows my mind that this shoe is a century old next year.
Converse’s in-house archivist Sam Smallidge is deeply enthusiastic about the All Star and the brand that made it despite no previous inclination towards athletic footwear. Having previously been an Ernest Hemingway Collection Intern at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, trading Papa for Chuck has been a new outlet for his love of discovery for research, “My favourite part of the job is joining the dots — my personality type is getting obsessed with whatever collection I’m working on to obsessive detail.” Continue reading A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CONVERSE ALL STAR
Muhammad Ali’s passing has led to numerous eulogies that I can’t hope to match, but it’s worth revisiting his visit to a black rodeo in Harlem in September 1971. As part of an event created to remind people that black cowboys, who had been whitewashed from the history books, existed, Ali rode a horse capably down 125th Street and even rode a bull, which no mater how docile it looked, was still a bull. It’s all documented in the 1972 film Black Rodeo and YouTube Jeff Kanew has uploaded the sections with the great man. On the back of his March defeat at the hands of Joe Frazier, there’s a lot of barbs directed at Joe and he tells one cocky character, “You got a fast left? Boy, I’m so fast I’d hit you ‘fore God get the news.” Can you imagine any globally recognised sports star in 2016 ever being allowed to ride a horse down a street or attempt a (potentially) bucking bronco?