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.
I see a lot of photo shoots that feature scowling people in sportswear standing near housing estates. It’s the formula that superseded men dressed like 1940s train drivers in parks for look books, but I’ve never seen it done better post-millennium than with french photographer Patrick Cariou’s Marseillais Du Nord shoot for the winter 2002 issue of THE FADER. Continue reading MARSEILLE 2002
Having been raised on old-world advertising, I understand that things had to change, but the modern stuff in the world of athletic gear doesn’t even come close. Across every brand, everything seems to be distilled into a two-word mantra of SPEED/STRENGTH/INNOVATION/TECHNOLOGY/COMFORT/CONTROL/DESIGN/FIT/CLASSICS followed by DEFINED/REMIXED/REDEFINED/PERFECTED/MASTERED or prefaced with REVOLUTIONARY/UNBELIEVABLE/INCREDIBLE. Two word blasts of superlatives are everywhere. I might take a William Burroughs cut-up approach to copywriting and see if it creates a classic. Continue reading DESIGNER BOOKS
Big up Kyle Lilly for uploading a little slice of locally broadcast hip-hop fashion history. Video Explosion was a Yo! MTV Raps style show that, as I understand, was screened regionally from Queens. There’s a lot of great footage from the program out there, but this clip features DJ Finesse getting his Fab 5 Freddy on and visiting the Shirt Kings store in Jamaica Queens’ Coliseum Mall to interview Kasheme and Nike (this seems to be a post-Phade iteration of the business) from the crew with a giant microphone. If you haven’t already picked up the book from a couple of years back, do it before it becomes extortionately priced in specialist stores or on Amazon Marketplace — it’s an essential document of an important moment in streetwear history. An expansion into London is mentioned here and it’s something I wish I’d seen happen. You don’t see a lot of footage of the Shirt Kings store in action, even if it’s a later version, so this is very rare indeed.
NOTE: I wrote this a year ago and it was meant to run somewhere else in its entirety, but it never happened. Looking through the replica of Japan’s 1976 issue one of Popeye magazine the other month and spotting the One Star (before it was called the One Star) reminded me that I should probably throw it up here.
Simple design has a curious habit of affecting subcultural style. The blank slate approach allows for statements to be made far beyond a design’s original intent and the humble athletic shoe in its most stripped-down form has long held a tendency to connect with the most discerning and critical audiences possible. You can’t buy credibility, just as you can’t preempt those moments when the everyday becomes a must-have. In this case, a basic basketball shoe design found its purpose beyond the court. The Converse One Star’s impact is substantial, despite being a relative failure on its original release. Continue reading HOW THE CONVERSE ONE STAR WAS BORN AGAIN (AND AGAIN)
Typical. You wait for one book documenting a niche subcultural phenomenon and then two come along at (almost) once. After Victory Editions’ incredible release of Bury Me With the Lo On (which, pending its second printing, is almost fetching Kayak rugby shirt prices on eBay), Powerhouse is putting out Jackson Blount’s Lo Life: An American Classic in November, with an oral history of the boosting culture and plenty of vintage imagery and contributions from Lo Life members. Continue reading BOTH KINDS OF SNOW BEACH
Despite Bedford being my birthplace, I’ve long assumed that, despite being the longtime breeding ground for a lot of talent throughout the years, even minor recognition for the town was unlikely. One local hero is producer and musician Lil Silva who’s making credited and uncredited power moves while making some sounds that evolved locally into elements of some globally popular music. Continue reading BEDFORD TOWN