I haven’t got too much to say this evening, but I’m always surprised that a lot of the more interesting Nike apparel hasn’t made a return in these thrift-and-resell hype days. Some old creations resurrected using Tech Fleece or F.I.T. fabrics with accompanying shoes from the eras? I’d be down. Though it’s unlikely that I could pull off a Sharks basketball vest. These snippets of catalogue line art from between 1987 and 1988 are the tip of a particularly lurid and excessively patterned iceberg. Continue reading MORE OLD GARMS
Can I repeat myself? Martin Jones’ 1988 interview footage with Goldie on the topic of graffiti was taken from YouTube a while ago, but I never realised that it was back up. I’ve posted it before, but with a few dissenting voices on his recent MBE acceptance, it seems relevant to remind people that Goldie repped this nation hard back in the day, getting up in NYC and returning to recount some tales of the tunnels with Jones while wearing the ultimate turtleneck, gold Mercedes pendant and lavish jacket combination. Continue reading ULTIMATE OUTFIT
Another footwear-related blast from the past this evening. From dips into the brand archive, I’m convinced that Nike’s womens’ training, aerobics and total conditioning categories were the most progressive departments of the company back in the day. Continue reading EARLY VISIBILITY
Not much to report here that hasn’t been reported elsewhere. I just spent 15 minutes hunting for footage of the short-lived Latimer Road half pipe that was situated by the Westway in London. To my understanding, the ramp existed from 1987 to 1989 and some strong Vision and Powell-Peralta demos took place there. A very young-looking Gonz skated there alongside Joe Johnson and Kevin Staab around 1987 and the Bones Brigade visited as part of their UK tour in 1988. Continue reading IT’S A DEMO
I love these old sports shop commercials for their low-budget knack for cramming as much as possible into thirty seconds. This early 1990s ad for Boston’s legendary Harry the Greek’s (which closed in 2001 after several decades in business) might be your only opportunity to see a crudely animated 1992 Torsion Allegra and tons of Champion, Reebok, ASICS and Fila flashing before your eyes. Plus the upgraded Forum of the time too — “I bought my Forums at Harry the Greek’s” is a testament to that shoe’s regional impact. It’s quick enough that stores should be making these things for Instagram video and not even bothering with other approaches to marketing. The sports store was always meant to be unpolished and this is as unpolished as it gets.
This French version of the 1988 ‘Come to the Stripes‘ commercial is also excellent and sounds better in another dialect — it does a good job of avoiding single brand bias, despite its speedy duration. Alabama’s Shoe City commercial from the same year harasses a man on the street and talks up the kind of dull, entry-level budget shoes that nobody got excited about then, but clueless people seem to like now because they’re old. Finally, a monk gets hyped with some Sonic Flights on his feet in an advert for Family Shoe Store in Williston, North Dakota.
My granddad used to look after his garden. He also used to dress up to tend it (I’m sure I’ve mentioned his gardening tie here before) so it seems right to put on a suit to work — I favour a complete sweatsuit for any freelance duties. It’s getting to the point where I feel I can cure writer’s block with fleece. I’ve worked on a few projects lately and as a result, I’ve got sweatsuits on the mind. After the shellsuit and Fuct yard suit talk on here during the last week, it makes sense to keep talking neck-to-ankle sportswear. I was a little confused by the Tenderloin split and who still works with whom and who’s at TIMEWORN ATLAST&CO, but as I understand, Toru Nishiura still holds down Tenderloin while Kei Hemmi is at TIMEWORN.
The recent Tenderloin range preview in SENSE contained the usual leather jackets and horse hide accessories that I can only gaze at after running the Yen/Pound price through xe.com (and that’s before postage, taxes and the outright theft of Royal Mail’s “handling charge”). I also know that I lack the beard and neck tattoos to pull off the Suede Hunting Vest. The scale of this line is always staggering and last season’s dressing gown is complemented in the casual stakes by this season’s Sweat Suit and Sweat Pant combos in green, navy or brown marl, with draw string, contrast waist and cuffs. The whole T-Sweat collection is always solid, even though I have yet to meet anyone who rocks this stuff over the revivalist denim stiffness, petrol station swagger and checks. A £385 Japanese-made romper suit? I’m in.
Shouts to the excellent Nagoya Yom for scanning those pages. I’m always fascinated at the grand scale of Japanese brands every season — especially when brands that barely exit their motherland have catalogues this dense with premium materials, basics and patterned garments. Nobody seems to do anything by half. no matter how many personnel changes Tenderloin experiences, I’ll always ride for it because it reminds me of Bond International’s final years on Newburgh Street and a time when Soho was scattered with retail refuges to avoid being in the office. Like Costanza in velvet (and contrary to Seinfeld’s dismissal of sweatpants as an act of resignation), I would happily drape myself in loopback cotton. It’s not an act of self-defeat — it’s a statement of excellence and a minimum of fucks given.
On the Tenderloin topic, how long before everyone’s dressing like an old world train driver again? You know something you liked is in tailspin when somebody writes a price guide on it. Jordan mania has even shoes that we Brits have traditionally never cared much for selling quickly (XIIIs used to hang around for a long, long time). Any market that’s filled with half-baked speculators is destined to implode soon and The Air Jordan Price Guide 2013 actually exists. I thought the Rareairshoes Sneaker Freaker guide would lead to entire books of shoe prices, but it never seemed to happen (a lot of hype goods became worthless in the years that followed). I don’t hate resellers (they’re marginally less annoying than “sneakerheads”), but when athletic footwear is treated like Pogs or Pokemon and becomes the subject of conventions, you know something’s going to give soon.
Idea Books’ recent talk of the ‘Impresario: Malcolm McLaren and the British New Wave’ exhibition at the New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art in winter 1988 is a good time to look at imagery of the Malcolm McLaren show in the NMOCA Digital Archive. Always the master re-appropriator, whatever your opinion of Malcolm, he almost certainly brought something amazing to your life in one way or the other. Whether the artists got paid properly is another thing. That his create-a-craze vision and Vivienne Westwood’s Buffalo Girls and Nostalgia of Mud collections brought Peruvian Indian and b-boy style together is something remarkable. He might have been a sub-cultural magpie but at least he took plenty of risks along the way and seemed willing to occasionally make himself look like a tit whenever it was required. By the end of the 1980s, everybody seemed to be robbing everybody — Malcolm took inspiration from NYC’s ball culture after seeing Paris is Burning and barely paid some vocalists before Madonna took the sound and made it go global. Surely Takahiro Miyashita’s Soloist vision owes a fair bit to the future hobo of Westwood’s Blade Runner backdropped and Duck Rock soundtracked Punkature show from 1982?
I think I’ve got a grip on the origins of pretty much every brand that had an impact on me during my childhood, but after they imploded, a lot of hip-hop cash-in companies didn’t leave much of a trail. While it’s easy to chuckle at the fly-by-night imprints that put out pricey outerwear then vanished and dismiss them as tat, what’s the difference between a Troop jacket and whatever godawful brand is hopping on floral prints right now? Nothing. Task Force remains a curiosity — just as Troop was booming, pre-KKK rumours (which I’ve always assumed were spread by a rival brand), their Jewish and Korean brand partnership seemed to spawn a ton of similar business models. I’ll concede that I thought Task Force was a sibling of Troop because I though it had a man with the surname Kim as an owner, like Troop’s William Kim. Then I found out just how common the Kim name is in Korea. Task Force put out jackets and shoes like Down Troop Sport’s output that were on sale in spots like London’s 4 Star General (which automatically, unquestionably made them seem credible to me), but looking back at them (it was the eBay-induced flashback of the Jekel stadium jacket where the below label is from that had me in nostalgia mode), the gear was pretty crap.
What I do know about Task Force is that it was a trademark of Eddy Sports Wear Inc. who were based in Brooklyn. Jekel was an Eddy brand who operated circa 1987-1989 who put out ski jackets, Task Force and the Extra Goose line (I’m assuming that the Eddy and Extra Goose thing wasn’t an Eddie Bauer rip). The names Jung Kuen Lee and Paul Siegert come up as folks involved in the company at a senior level, and it’s worth noting that New York’s garment district was awash with feather-filled lines around 1987 – Double Goose (I started assembling a Double Goose article that never got used and Thomas who obtained the DG licence told me, “Regarding the brand, we found out about the original owner by asking in Orchard street’s leather stores! He was an American-Korean living in NY”), Triple F.A.T. Goose and Goose Country were all doing their thing then too, which explains the strange trinity of Jekel, Task Force and Extra Goose on some badges on Task Force pieces. I’m sure Task Force made an appearance at the V&A’s Black British Style exhibition back in 2004, but I’ve seen little since. Their trademark expired in 1989 after being registered in 1988, which coincides with Troop’s collapse.
Normally I approach these blog entries with a certain confidence, but I know very little about this topic (this is just built on scraps), so if anybody knows more or has any Task Force shoe imagery, I’d love to see them. It might have been exploitative, badly designed and overpriced, but it’s not like brands are still pulling similar moves to channel a current zeitgeist and Task Force deserves a little spotlight if we’re trying to complete the bigger picture when it comes to UK street fashion throughout the years.