Nothing to see here tonight, but if you’re strange like me, you should head over to Jonathan Gitlin’s Flickr account and look at the tenth anniversary Bond International “magalogue” from 1997 for a little primer on how things were in London back then. The product offering at the 10 Newburgh Street (pre 17 Newburgh Street) spot was ridiculous — Pervert, Gimme 5, Droors, Pervert before it exited the shelves, Union and their forgotten Polo tribute, Union Sport plus some brand with a box logo — phoning up back then to ask about the box tees and good Zoo York stuff always used to be fruitless, because that stuff seemed to fly out. With the passing of The Hideout, this is a welcome throwback to time when Soho was a destination to take that student loan money for the purposes of spending it on things that were two sizes too big and I wanted DC Clockers as much as I wanted some Humaras. Shouts to Mr. Gitlin for taking the time to up those images.
There’s more interesting things to read elsewhere on the internet, whether it’s this sequel to Complex’s Alchemist sunday sessions or a debate about whether Politic borrowed Palace’s VHS aesthetic. You could also watch a collection of demonstrations of Errolson putting on jackets and strapping up bags extra precisely, including the 2004 video. Or you can watch the “holiday shout outs” section of these 1990 Elektra party footage, where everyone looks super young and has amazing jackets. Remember when we Brits couldn’t get Air Force 1s and had to marvel at them on folks’ feet from a distance? I still don’t understand the ill will towards the mids, but I’ll concede that they look their age (even though they’re 12 years older than the other heights) highs and lows are still the ones, ever since I obsessed over the black soled highs in i-D back in the early 1990s that were stocked in Passenger on Beak Street.
After they arrived at Foot Locker in the UK and JD Sports in a slow rollout between 1998 and 1999, the explosion on UK shores was significant, reaching an apex with JD’s 2004 and 2005 exclusives. Seeing Vans Eras with tracksuits still throws me a little, but they seemed to invade the AF1 market in the UK. Any rumour of the shoe’s demise can be batted away by the fact the white on white and black are still some of the bestselling shoes in Nike’s business and that whereas the Dunk’s hype was largely fueled by a late 1990s fixation beyond a core few and subsequent retro, the Force had only been totally unavailable for a couple of years during its lifespan, giving it some serious sub-cultural credentials. Bizarre to think something that looked so space age on it’s debut, became a superior “dad shoe” of sorts after it hit 25.
I still think the canvas 1995 SC versions and the 1996 SC (which I’ve long believed stood for “Sports Classic” unless anyone wants to shoot me down on it) snakeskin duo of Air Force 1 are legendary, regardless of your opinion of the shoe. Who made the snake colourways back in the mid 1990s? How were colourway and retro departments being operated? The Ivory and Obsidian editions with the ‘NIKE AIR’ are still objects of desire for me and before they went robotic, but not before the masks went on, a January 1997 Daft Punk photoshoot featured Thomas Bangalter sporting the Ivorys (Guy sticks to black Stan Smiths). If these had an Ivory outsole, just as the Obsidians had the matching sole, I’d have spontaneously combusted.
Daft Punk never cloned these for their Bapestas (though there were plenty of other similar Bapestas) and their stockists and availability eluded me until I saw them a few years later, shrink wrapped and out of my budget. Truth be told, if I had them, I’d never wear them, so some things are better left as objects-of-desire than dusty owned items taken from their golden, glowing pedestal and sat in a black and red box with the other 999+ shoes I don’t wear very often. Still, it was one of the shoes that convinced me that simplicity beats gimmickry and it distracted me from my 1995/early 1996 preoccupation with the original Air Ndestrukt for good.
Apologies for the picture quality here — I just developed an Instagram addiction far later than everybody else, which means gratuitous shots of things I’ve spotted lately to pad out blog posts. Eventually my iPhone will get lost or stolen and I’ll be back to the cataract image resolution of the BlackBerry. Consider this a phase. The image above is something I’d been meaning to up here before — it’s the eccentric window display of a large store that sells cheap tat in Bedford Town centre. I see it every day, but it gets odder and odder – who puts airsoft replica Kalashnikovs, cheap dolls, fake flowers and hookah pipes together? There’s a school of retail that extolls the notion of singling out one thing and doing it well — I prefer the slightly more haphazard bric-a-brac approach.
That male doll appears to be dressed like a gang member too, with that top buttoned mini Pendleton, khakis, beanie and headband. There aren’t too many one-stop spots for houseplant seeds and a convincing looking Glock copy — this is one of them. What also caught my attention was these Kevlar branded lace tips on the new Nike Elite range — Kevlar laces are nothing new and while that branding’s hardly necessary, there’s something oddly appealing about that attention-to-detail. Bulletproof shoelaces are the future.
Films you’ve been placing into the “recent” category are officially old. I never realised that ‘Shallow Grave’ is 18 years old. The film’s old enough to legally buy a copy of itself. Arriving at a time when British films were of ‘Splitting Heirs’ with Eric Idle standard, you’ve got to give it to Danny Boyle for bringing a blend of populism and quality control back home. That’s not to say there weren’t fantastic British movies around at that time (that’s a whole ‘nother entry), but Boyle pushed things forward. As Ewan McGregor’s face on a film poster becomes a harbinger of twee or dull (though ‘Knight and Day’, ‘This Means War’, ‘Larry Crowne’ and posters for anything starring either or both Jennifer Aniston or a post ‘300’ Gerard Butler are the most significant never-watch-pledge reverse-marketing campaigns of recent years), he probably needs to man up and apologise to Danny.
Criterion’s edition of ‘Shallow Grave’ drops in June and the cover art brings back hammer time, looking like a Wickes catalogue money shot to the uninitiated and something more sinister to anyone that’s seen the film. Criterion are also putting the excellent white person problems comedy-drama ‘The Last Days of Disco’ (14 years old) onto Blu-ray in July, with my favourite Chloë Sevigny (between this and ‘American Psycho, during 1998 and 1999, she covered the decade prior pretty well) performance ever and a smart use of 1980s New York that doesn’t try too hard to place period detail by chucking brands and body poppers all over the place. I’d be surprised if Danny Boyle didn’t take a few notes for the song and dance ending of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Matt Keeslar’s character’s speech about why disco can never be killed is cinematic gold.
I really sold people who read this blog short with that one. On the Chloë Sevigny topic, ‘Gummo’ is 15 years old and I still can’t get enough of the whole Mark Gonzales chair wrestling scene. It’s probably an indictment of much that followed that ‘Gummo’ is still a truly odd experience. The chocolate bar from the bath still unsettles me more than any amount of gore and mayhem. The prospect of James Franco as a RiFF RAFF style character in ‘Spring Breakers’ alongside Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens is very appealing too. The Entertainment Tonight preview of it promises “real” and more “real” plus loads of beautiful girls in bikinis, but perhaps it’s set to truly confound folk by being relatively conventional. The 1997 ‘New York’ magazine profile of Harmony from 1997, painting him as some enemy of morality is interesting — plus it has Nan Goldin on photography duties.
I hold maharishi in high esteem. It was the brand that advertised in mid ’90’s issues of ‘HHC’ and the pre-‘TRACE,’ ‘TRUE’ magazine with the hemp and zen connection. I remember it being prominent in the issue of ‘HHC’ that ran my poorly-written defence of KRS-One in the Biteback section from “GAZ One, Bedford” — my first moment in print since the ‘Bedfordshire Times’ claimed I’d called ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II’ “Turtletastic!” on exiting a free screening. But whereas so many other brands fell by the wayside, it evolved. It even managed to outlive the era of Sarah Cox and members of All Saints stumbling glassy-eyed out of the Met Bar in Snopants. The other All Saints would create rival militaristic trouser designs and H&M earned themselves a lawsuit over their “homages” but Hardy Blechman’s vision of a war-free re-appropriation of military functionality was one of the few great British streetwear brands.
Even their MHI spinoff, a more defined ground level takedown in comparison to maharishi, offered tees with camo stitching on the neck that was impossible to stretch (trust me, my head can stretch any garment’s collar) and breathable mesh armpits. We got the Henry Chalfant tees in train boxes, the DPM book and the Terminators, visited the Gonz and MODE2 exhibitions in the impressive DMHI store, then high rents and market shifts seemed to shake things up to the point where I pretty much stopped paying attention to maharishi or its spinoffs. Hardy Blechman remains a hero to me though for transcending what could have been an idealistic couple of seasons of itchy fabrics and sloganeering, and turning it into a lifestyle brand with a serious amount of substance, aided in no small part by that authoritative tome.
The Spring/Summer 2011 maharishi offerings, shown in 2010 on a circular catwalk hinted that the brand was getting interesting again, but the offerings for late 2012 that have been getting some tradeshow shine look great. Just as camo heads in cuntery towards levels of overkill akin to the wartime pattern overdose of 2006 (camo and tailoring will be in Primark by the end of the summer — witness the brown elastic chino brigade embrace the disruptive patterns very, very soon), maharishi is doing what the brand does best and seems to have Mr. Blechman back on board at a design level to riff on an encyclopedic knowledge of military function, textures and fabrics, rather than just diving into the camouflage patterns. The ultra-detailed cut-out overlays on tees offer some deep levels of detail, but the netting-theme based on the fabric blend of Personal Load Carrying Equipment tactical webbing is appropriately British in inspiration, but goes far beyond chucking a tweaked pattern on a slim-fitting jacket. It’s delivering what maharishi does best, and even the selection of athletic fleece basics looks pretty strong too.
John Wayne’s tiger pattern fatigues from here
But regardless of how much army fatigue I find myself suffering from, camo will always be cool to me. Tiger stripes will always maintain those deadly special ops connotations to me, steeped in a Green Beret mystique. No amount of misuse can take that away. I like the way John Wayne’s outfit in the much-maligned ‘The Green Berets’ is frequently referenced in Sgt. Richard D. Johnson’s ‘Tiger Patterns’ as “John Wayne Dense” and “John Wayne Sparse” — I always enjoyed that film as a kid, offering some irresponsible levels of violence on a Saturday afternoon, with an awesome theme tune to boot. Right-wing propaganda isn’t right, but it does make for some of the most fun action films Hollywood ever put out. In fact, ‘The Green Berets’ has an example of Skyhook in it too, which makes it doubly interesting (I wish there was footage of the original military tests on that system, using a pig that apparently attacked the crew after being “rescued”) One set of the Duke’s tiger stripes went on sale late last year and sold for just over $13,000. Owning those and learning the techniques displayed in this photo set from a 1985 issue of ‘Black Belt’ would make anybody at least 30% more excellent.
But forget the tiger stripes for a minute. Mr. Charlie Morgan gave me a heads-up on the existence of a replica of Snake Plissken’s strange asymmetric camouflage patterned trousers from ‘Escape From New York.’ Those trousers, with their strange front cargo pockets and low belt loops have been the talk of forums for a while, with users oblivious to the fact that, unless you look like Kurt Russell circa 1981, dressing like Snake will just make you look deeply camp rather than a growling badass. Is this the camo that soldiers battling in a dystopian future would need? When they’re not onscreen, in the cold light of day, the EFNY camo is a bit Cyberdog circa 1997 rather than the apocalyptic 1997 Carpenter depicted. Still, Macleod’s MODEL ‘1997 pant is an amazing labour of love that’s made using the Blu-ray edition of the film as a reference point for maximum authenticity. Mr. Morgan also put me onto Macleod’s ‘Mr. Bickle’ toy replica of Travis Bickle’s homemade gun sleeve — the perfect accompaniment to the Real McCoy’s Bickle-wear. To save you having to get in touch with Easy Andy, you can even buy a toy Colt 25 or 380 Walther to put in it to perfect your Travis in the mirror or avenging angel in army jacket routine. They even sell retro-style targets too — everything a crazed loner needs in their life.
And for no good reason, here’s another winter boot spread from ‘The Source’ — this one’s from the November 1994 issue aka. the staff walk-out edition that left the magazine a shadow of its former self from that issue onwards. I wonder if the Lugz and Skechers in there were ‘Zino’s fault too? Still, can’t fault those Vasques.
Today the Observer’s Music Monthly breathed its last with a rollout of the decade’s best albums. As you’d expect it was deeply wishy-washy, with many Dizzee namedrops and Mike Skinner jocking. The reason? Because ‘best album’ polls are generally dated before the voting journos involved have even hit send on that mail with the rich text attachment.
Opinions are like rectums and all that, because while Spiritualized topped ’97 polls in several publications, looking at recent polls, the dated ‘Urban Hymns‘ and overrated ‘OK Computer‘ have lapped ‘Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space‘ and its celestial glory. Which is, of course, an injustice. While Yorke read ‘No Logo’ and became toe-curlingly politicised in the most fey, ineffectual manner, and Ashcroft moped about solo in Wallabees, Jason Pierce and his fellow cosmonauts kept the faith, even if commercial success gradually rolled back to a cult following.