Tag Archives: Arc’Teryx

OBSESSIVE DESIGN

Visiting the Arc’teryx design facilities and factory in Vancouver was one of those head office experiences that makes you appreciate what you already liked significantly more (I’ve had a few experiences of head office trips that didn’t quite nurture that appreciation — occasionally it had the opposite effect). The brand’s Evolution of Design video for REI from a few months back gives a quick primer on why Arc’teryx is still keen to reiterate their commitment to innovation. They’re not just faking obsessiveness for the cameras. Some of the brand’s designers did a presentation at a REI store to coincide with the campaign and YouTube user Nature Calls captured some of it — the sound is barely there, but turn up the volume and there’s a few nuggets of functional design wisdom in there. Lest we forget, it was an Arc’teryx backpack that helped give us the Air Jordan XI, and when your work is the difference between life and death, there’s not much room for the silly stuff.
Continue reading OBSESSIVE DESIGN

A GORE-TEX KING

Normally I try not to post videos here unless they’ve got less than a couple of thousand views, but Arc’teryx’s channel is strong and they showcase their secret weapon in this COMMIT – INSPIRED DESIGN profile of industry veteran and sealed-zip OG Mike Blenkarn. I had the pleasure of meeting this gent extremely briefly a few years back, and it was clear by the awe he inspires by some talented designers around him that he’s a genius in his field. Continue reading A GORE-TEX KING

OUTDOORS/INDOORS

backpack1

Recycle of an old piece — I wrote this for my friend Frank Rivera a couple of years ago for the old BTC site. It misses out on a ton of important stuff, but it was only ever intended as an overview.

1. EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE (1800s—1960s)

There’s an intrinsic joy in owning something that could perform. It’s that potential that amplifies appeal — nobody wants something that’s made to get by. from the apartment to the workplace and back again, perhaps created to withstand the rigours of public transport. We want product that’s built to last — should, god forbid, we end up on a mountain or in extreme wet weather (we’re talking a Noah’s Ark situation here), we want that thing that allows us to smirk in the face of adversity. Can’t have that super car? At least a bag or coat that performs at a peak is almost within our means.

After all, who isn’t drawn in by the notion of a lifetime guarantee? The appeal of the day-to-day baggage that was built to last is founded on multiple movements and technical breakthroughs, but ultimately it’s fueled by the love of the very best. Witness Eastpak’s pledge for eternal life for a rucksack or Filson’s “Might As Well Have the Best” tagline and testimonies. The holy trinity of working, fighting and climbing has taken product on a voyage from life-saving necessity to a must-have accessory. Three different routes based on occupation, but a final destination on the backs and shoulders of a casual wearer. Before records began — we’re talking B.C. era — baggage and functional apparel was being developed out of necessity and the back as a key spot for load-bearing had been noted and experiments in insulation had taken place using natural materials.

Centuries later, outerwear began its true development on the back of wealthy adventurers during the mid to late 1800s — some had already begun to experiment, often using inspiration from Inuit methods of survival. Those traditions even extended to include early experiments in taped seams, an application generally believed to be a quintessentially late 20th century outerwear breakthrough. Sheer existence in Nordic regions (with oils and skins providing natural solutions) fired imaginations too and when a preoccupation with polar exploration occurred among the wealthy by the end of the century, the seeds were well and truly sown.

In the early 1800s, the knapsack was part of the soldier’s uniform during the Napoleonic War. The French wore animal skin variations, and single strap haversacks were worn around this era to carry rations. Trotters of London made an uncomfortable wood and canvas backpack for British troops, but Napoleon is generally considered to be a godfather of the two-shoulder design as we know it, extolling its virtues as the perfect vessel to survive a week. John Merriam’s 1886 patent on a frame pack is significant, with that design’s inspiration reportedly harking back to Native American basket creations.

With the accessibility of the train and later, the plane. uncharted areas became a challenge for explorers and mountaineers. Today’s problem of breathable waterproofing was still posed back in the Victorian period, where Thomas Burberry’s (the man behind Burberry) Gaberdine, a tightly woven worsted/cotton offered a more comfortable wear that uncomfortable rubberized fabrics like Macintosh’s patented material. A combination of wealth and necessity continued to push forward the development of baggage with an emphasis on light weight. Alpine excursions became increasingly popular for pleasure and for the purpose of recognition as the first to conquer a perilous peak or region. The outcome? Business built on providing Alpine apparel and accessories.

Elsewhere, functional workwear was being developed for railroad workers, builders and miners, with the development of denim during the California gold rush around the 1850s, as well as duck canvas. Patented a couple of decades later, resilience took precedence over the performance that climbers required, but affordable pants, bibs and jackets built to last would inform later outerwear. In 1894 J. Barbour & Sons, located in the north of England set up shop, with their branded oilskins proving particularly popular. The later introduction of a poacher’s pocket across the rear of a field jacket offered a solution to carrying a separate bag altogether for those looking to stay grounded.

The quest to conquer Everest between the 1920s and 1950s would fuel global imaginations, with the high mortality rate necessitating some of the most advanced materials to date. here, experiments in moisture wicking, vapour barrier linings and stretch fabrics would birth the next wave of outdoors gear. Casual climbers and hikers with disposable income could treat themselves to a top-of-the-line Bergen rucksack from the Norwegian brand (those designs would ultimately inspire the contemporary Bergen British SAS Paratrooper rucksack), resulting in an early example of coveted baggage of this kind. Sir Wilfred Grenfell’s commission of Grenfell cloth — a material that debuted in 1923 — from a Burnley manufacturer, offered waterproof and breathable properties through a tightly woven Egyptian cotton to supersede Gaberdine.

On the American side, LL Bean’s 1921 patent of the duck boot design and Eddie Bauer’s 1940 patent of the down coat were key developments. Lloyd F. “Trapper” Nelson’s 1920s reinforced packboard creation was a notable patent too, inspired by a Native American sealskin and willow stick design emphasised ventilation for the back and was manufactured by George Trager. During the Everest preoccupation, two world wars (and subsequent conflicts) played their part too. The model 42 WW2 rectangular Swiss infantry haversack made from pony fur and calfskin set a precedent for natural materials and their performance benefits that evolved the style of militaristic creations from over a century earlier.

The U.S. Army’s 1941 Specification File No. 2971 was the first of their rucksacks, made from duck canvas, the J.Q.D. 88 design from 1942, made in line with arctic storage breakthroughs. U.S. manufacturers like Baker-Lockwood Manufacturing and Morrow & Douglass had the contracts to create these classic-looking designs. Duck canvas would be the regular material for these bags, until the introduction of lighter nylon takes on the canvas M-1956 Load Carrying Equipment (or which the field pack was just a component) in 1962. After further iterations, that led to the ALICE (All-Purpose Individual Carrying Equipment) system’s introduction in 1973 during the Vietnam War, a system only phased out fairly recently.

DuPont’s development of nylon in 1935 was significant, with the material adopted early as a replacement for hemp or silk in parachutes as WWII commenced. By twisting two threads together at quarter-inch intervals, a fabric was made that could take the blows without tearing and distribute stress over a large area while remaining relatively light — ripstop nylon. That developed, with the thicker Ballistic nylon made with a basket weave that minimized debris penetration, making it perfect for WWII flak jackets. It was never a bulletproof fabric — that was the job of unwieldy fiberglass laminated creations, but the development of Kevlar into clothing in the mid 1970s (though the compound was discovered a decade earlier) was a life-saving introduction.

The Shirley Institute in Manchester’s development of Ventile in the 1940s for pilot’s suits that kept out water and wind via a woven cotton method offered something quiet and hard-to-tear too, ensuring that it’s still a fan favourite to the present day, kitting out generations of explorers and saving the lives of countless servicemen unlucky enough to be downed at sea.

Cordura appeared in a silkier rayon form to aid pilots and soldiers during WWII. Though it was developed in 1929, it wasn’t until 1966 that the nylon version superseded that fabrication. After developing dying techniques for the soft-sided version of Cordura in 1977, it became a favourite of Eastpak and Jansport for daypack use, with higher denier variations still the protective fabric of choice elsewhere. Cordura’s texturized yarns offered a fuzzier, more natural feel than the smoother ballistic nylon yarn, making it a tougher cousin to canvas in terms of look and feel. Ballistic nylon doesn’t take to dyeing like Cordura, so it’s frequently only offered in black.

2. CHECK DA BACK PACK (1960s—the present day)

The explosion of popularity in backpacking during the 1960s and 1970s, via a certain hippie idealism as well as a baby boomer generation who would fuel the industry for years to come, created some iconic brands and equipment. The UK’s Karrimor and Berghaus (whose Cyclops internal frame rucksack broke new ground) competed in developing baggage for serious climbers. Stateside, Gerry Cunningham’s GERRY brand created a controlled weight distribution backpack in 1968 as well as several pioneering down experiments in the years that followed, Skip Yowell, Murray Pletz and Jan Lewis’s Jansport debuted in 1967, bringing us the external frame D3 rucksack, Greg, Jeff and Mike Lowe’s Lowe Alpine produced the Lowe Alpine Expedition rucksack in 1967 — the first with an internal frame and length-adjustable back, and they changed the game again by debuting plastic buckles the following decade.

The breathable and waterproof 60/40 cotton/nylon mix was popularized by the underrated Holubar (also pioneers in their use of Vibram soles and goose down) with their Everest-type nylon pima around 1961, but more commonly associated with Sierra Designs and their 60/40 parka that first appeared in 1968, offering a new resilient fabric option to rival Ventile. GORE-TEX’s debut on outerwear around 1977 provided a costly take on the breathability conundrum that was immediately adopted by Berghaus (the Mistral is a classic), Sierra Designs and the North Face.

Into the 1980s, sport footwear designs like the adidas SL 72 and the Nike LD-1000 had a significant impact on a lighter approach to rugged footwear — the former was the inspiration for a new kind of boot from Karrimor, and the latter on John Roskelley’s feet on K2 helped birth All Conditions Gear. Long distance running inspired targeted designs for vertical distances. In the GORE-TEX era, colors became more lurid for visibility, but in the era of the yuppie, the boom in skiwear as both the Aspen holiday apparel choice and style statement of the day, it was inevitable that outdoor gear would explode in popularity..

Sierra Designs cameoed in 1978’s The Deer Hunter and the North Face packs in 1984’s Red Dawn were interesting product placement. In Europe, the UK’s casuals fetishised the costly coats, Italy’s young, monied Paninaro broke out the Monclers and in New York, boosting crews like the Lo-Lifes terrorized Paragon Sports and, beyond Ralphy’s world, popularized ultra-tech creations like the North Face’s Steep-Tech ski collection, designed alongside Scott Schmidt. Thus new aesthetics were born and the day pack’s popularity soared too as an everyday essential. The New York, Chicago and Boston winters fueled a certain sartorial, goose-down, GORE-TEX one-upmanship. Jake Burton Carpenter founding Burton in 1977 set a precedent for a new wave of winter sports enthusiast. Helly Hansen and Patagonia‘s breakthroughs with the lightweight fleece created an effective but more affordable wing of performance outerwear that became part of the everyman and woman uniform. Outdoor-wear spilled into every street in the western world.

It would be remiss to omit the wave of “everyday performance” lines, designed for city living but made with absolute function in mind — the Mandarina Duck Utility line from 1977, Stone Island’s 1982 debut and Kosuke Tsumara’s Final Home collection that commenced in 1992. All three took that pure spirit of innovation to the streets and catwalks. In terms of real mountain performance, Arc’teryx’s seven-bag collection in 1995 was a serious statement of intent.

While we took the vintage 1970s creations for granted at this point, Japanese collectors — monied and hungry for Americana — were snapping up iconic pieces. The eventuality was their own lines with the North Face, Gregory and Sierra Designs. Hip-hop’s early 1990s camo-clad notions of urban warfare blended with Hardy Blechman’s maharishi and his dedication to army aesthetics and DPM, Japanese takes on east coast streetwear styles evolved far beyond cotton to bring back the archive outdoor wear looks with Otaku-style lines like Setsumasa Kobayashi’s General Research and Mountain Research, Tetsu Nishiyama’s miltaristic WTAPS and Hiroki Nakamara’s visvim. Were these costly pieces ever going to ascend a steeper gradient than slight angle in an urban environment? Unlikely.

The rucksack’s use for nefarious reasons — be it weapons, stashed ill-gotten gains or paint and markers — made it an unobtrusive carrier that entered hip-hop lore. Black Moon’s Buckshot might have had one strapped to his back to accompany the talk of being strapped, but in interviews he insisted his back pack wielding was all in the name of goonery. Key rap folk who watched what they wore like Grand Puba, Erick Sermon and MC Serch (watch the Yo! MTV Raps finale freestyle cypher for proof) rocked them too. A rise in camo-clad MCs in the early 1990s wearing fatigues as well as workwear brands like Carhartt meant the neutral coloured army issue bags became a common sight — Roughhouse Survivors released Check Da Backpack in 1992, with the titular bags depicted as rhyme receptacles.

By 1997’s indie rap boom, stern-faced kids of all races with a Jansport full of markers, blackbooks soon-to-be-deceased ‘zines and vinyl filled Mike Zoot shows, fixating on Guesswyld, Fondle ‘Em and Rawkus. As the bigger-budget rap took hold as 2000 approached, “backpacker” became a dirty word. Rappers themselves were keen to publicly distance themselves of the nerdish limitations the expression evoked. But using Kanye’s post-2002 ascent as an example, his initial PR dwelled on a backpacker-with-a-Benz everyman appeal, rocking a Louis Vuitton backpack with a Polo rugby, helping to create a hip-hop atmosphere of total consumerism with a nod to the forefathers who raised artists sonically.

By the time Lupe Fiasco broke out the maharishi gear and ballistic nylon visvim baggage with elk skin (harking back to the design’s origins) trims in 2006 a convergence was even more visible. 2007’s Duffel Bag Boy by Playaz Circle proved that even the waviest individuals can benefit from a durable holdall.

Beyond the boom-bap pensioners, a boom in all things digital created a new middle class who took to the bikes and the hills that surrounded their liberal stronghold cities, making those brands built on ideals and innovation into powerhouses held under vast corporations. Even onetime rivals sit beneath the same hefty organizations. Things done changed, but that quest to own the absolute best in its field remains, whether you’re heading up a mountain or not.

US1054818.pdf

US1505661.pdf

US4318502.pdf

US4369903.pdf

US4648121.pdf

USD394547.pdf

US20090020579.pdf

JORDAN BEYOND


(Mike Tyson on the hotel room phone in Jordan IIIs circa 1989.)

I’m back from Canada and I can barely see because of the jetlag. The human body is pathetic. So pathetic that I thought it was Saturday yesterday and forgot to update this blog. I can’t say much about my Arc’teryx visit other than that witnessing the factory process upped my appreciation of the brand’s output and that I know more about GORE-TEX taping now than I knew last Wednesday. As a fiend for those Gore membranes in a jacket or shoe, it was borderline Wonka-like to see the processes, even though GORE-TEX itself, minus the shell or lining, is just an anonymous white sheet.

I’d wondered about the jacket Michael Jordan (not a stranger to bizarre sartorial choices) wore on his September 1991 ‘Saturday Night Live’ appearance — a strange green quilted design, but the little Tinker Hatfield piece in the new US ‘GQ’ solves that mystery. “At one point I pushed for a less sporty sub-brand called Jordan Beyond. When Michael did SNL in ’91, he wore a Jordan beyond quilted green jacket. But I couldn’t make it happen. I’ve still got some samples, including a basketball shoe that was perforated like a wingtip.”

Jordan Beyond sounds like the genesis of the XI dress shoe concept and what the contemporary models are working with but it certainly seems to be a little at odds with the Jordan VI aesthetic. One day, I’m sure the ‘Jordan Beyond’ boxset, reproducing that unwearable jacket, will make an appearance. If the JB line had taken off, I’m sure it would have dated badly, but it doesn’t sound too far from the Cole Haan LunarGrand strategy, and I like to think it would have included a suit made of marl grey fleece with giant shoulders and Mike’s pleated dress pant, polo and wingtip steez in the mix too.

IDEA Books‘ mailout is the best out there and some of the oddities they obtain are phenomenal. As well as showcasing a Panini Fiorucci sticker album you’re unlikely to ever see a again, earlier this year they got hold of Vincent Alan W’s (a frequent photographic documenter of gay African-American crews), ‘The Bangy Book/New Yorker Street Boys’ — a compilation of Vincent’s 1988 era snaps of the Bangy/Banjee phenomenon, where hypermasculine goonwear and the “homeboy” look of the time betrayed stereotypes of sexuality (hence the Banjee part of the ball in the seminal ‘Paris is Burning’). The nudity’s going to alienate, but I can’t help but think that Banjee infiltrated hip-hop again during the last decade, resulting in contemporary hip-hop’s mess of big tongued shoes and couture cues. A rarity worthy or reappraisal, just because there’s not enough imagery of this movement around.

(Images lifted from the IDEA Books scans.)

On that 1980’s New York topic, the Leica Bruce Davidson video was cool (and I think I’ve broken down the impact ‘Subway’ had on me in installing a healthy fear of NYC on here before)
but I’d never seen this Bruce Davidson Q&A from last year at the Strand bookstore. Worth 52 minutes of your life.

JACKET WEATHER


You can’t win. You wait until the weather gets extreme enough to wear the outerwear you’ve been stashing and the country’s weedy infrastructure stops you from leaving the house. Of course, it’s fun to toddle around the house in a Doublegoose bomber jacket, but seeing as there’s only about 48 hours in the UK when you can wear such a garment, it would be nice to be able to take a trip to the office in the ludicrous coats I’ve stockpiled.

Sickness is keeping me bedridden today, so the length of the traditional Sunday blog entry has been severely compromised. There’s a certain joy in knowing that while you’re static, you’ve missed out on nothing, as friends and family have been unable to do a damned thing because of a relatively small mass of frozen water. When I’m laid up with a fairly innocuous level of illness I tend to become severely retrospective. Fuck my feeble “sniffle”—when you start getting nostalgic, the trouble begins.

It’s even more curious when you find yourself getting all wistful for incredibly technical, progressive apparel. Its been fun in 2010, working on some Arc’teryx-related projects. It’s one of my favourite brands (and this site can occasionally lapse into a fansite for their products) so it often seeps in here. Circa. 2000, it was some outlandishly priced and aspirational product that my crappy call centre job couldn’t fund. From the Alpha pieces to the LEAF line – whose Armour Compatible Layering system and hefty Echo packs in various camo patterns are the type of thing that makes me want to make idiotic purchases if I had the necessary credentials—to the mighty Veilance collection, its maintained my interest over the last ten years.

If taped hardshells aren’t your thing this week, you need to go down and ‘2nd Magazine’s ‘Down Jacket Catalog’ is the best source for alarmingly comprehensive images of goose feather filled nylon. That publication’s available from Superdenim right now. It might be the done thing to cite something a little more cerebral or offbeat, but I’m not going to pretend that the first ten minutes of ‘An American Werewolf in London’ with those overdressed yanks visiting the Slaughtered Lamb was the thing that really sold the goose down to me. Though George Costanza’s GORE-TEX supersize version, as bargain brokered by Frank Costanza is always worthy of note.

THE WISHLIST – 11 THINGS I WANT BROUGHT BACK

It’s too easy to look to the past – this site is riddled with retro tendencies, riffing on the olden days. In an ideal world, it would be riddled with teched-out madness,  future shocks and the new shit, but there’s some stuff that needs to reappear, whether it’s a look at a career, a new presentation of a lost classic or a deeper delve through past glories for a brand. From a spot of speed pondering, 11 things that seem very necessary came to light. There’s a ton more worthy of mention, but here’s what seems pertinent at time-of-blogging…

A RELEASE FOR BO HARWOOD’S CASSAVETES SOUNDTRACKS

It’s curious that John Cassavetes’ body-of-work has been given a beautiful treatment by Criterion and Optimum, and that his name is on the lips of anyone talking indie opuses. As an actor (‘The Dirty Dozen’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Fury’ spring to mind) he had a serious presence, but as a director, he fathered so many styles, to quote Malice, he should’ve been handing out cigars left, right and centre. From an experiential point-of-view, everyone should watch his entire directorial output.

You’ve got to love those naturalistic performances from Falk, Rowlands and Gazzara – while the kid in ‘Gloria’ is the worst child actor ever, John could generally get a great turn in his movies. ‘The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’, his interpretation of a noirish gangster thriller is a claustrophobic, deliberately paced, gruelling experience – Gazzara as Cosmo is terrific, and the anti-glamour of his plight makes it essential viewing. Bo Harwood was a sound engineer and the man responsible for the raw “scores” for ‘A Woman Under the Influence’, ‘The Killing…’ and ‘Opening Night’ – the curious distorted electro stomp that launches ‘…Chinese Bookie’ is one of the greatest musical moments in ’70s cinema, yet it remains mystery music. Thankfully Nick Cassavetes seemed to ditch a 1997 plan for a remake. Bo Harwood talked about releasing a CD of this music with accompanying notes here, but after that…nothing.


MIKE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Not necessarily a bring-back, but without getting dumb enough to assume that Mike Tyson’s strange Italian ‘Dancing With the Stars’ appearance looking a little less rotund means he could ever re-enter the ring, it would be nice to see him take a reader through his life and career. Recent tragedy might have set things back a little, but he sent a proposal for his autobiography to five publishers this time last year, leading to a presumed bidding war. Post documentary, and after the popularity of Agassi’s effort, this is a classic in the making. Books like ‘Fire & Fear’ were lacking…the world needs a great Tyson book – ideally an official one.

CLARKS GOING THROUGH THE ARCHIVES

The Weaver Hi is set for a release later this year, and while teaming with Liam Gallagher’s deeply shitty Pretty Green label means Clarks Originals loses some luster, the plaintoe version of the Wallabee is an inevitability. That should earn back some points. But how about the brand digs a little deeper? The truly barmy Deep Country boot, heavy on the crepe, and the Padmore, with its formalised plaintoe look would be a welcome resurrection too – a pipe dream of course, because as the name suggests, an Asian-made Padmore, regardless of accuracy, would make no sense.

MIRACLEMAN EMERGES FROM LEGAL LIMBO

If you were savvy or lucky enough to get talked around by a comic shop staffer in 1990 into grabbing the perfect bound Eclipse reissues, you know that Alan Moore’s work on ‘Miracleman’ is phenomenal, matching ‘Watchmen’ and ‘From Hell’ – evoking a glorious ’80s era of UK comics. If you weren’t that fortunate, you’ve been deprived of a masterpiece – eBay and Amazon Marketplace prices are daft at present. The reason? A tangled legal mess that seemed to embroil every imprint in the industry with rights issues left, right and centre. Marvel got the rights, announcing this last Summer. Rumour has it, a monthly issue-by-issue reprint could happen. Alan Moore has pledged his profits will go to the character’s creator (originally ‘Marvelman’) – 94 year old Brit-funnybook legend Mick Anglo.

ACG OPENS THE VAULTS

If whispers about Nike scheming to take it there with All Conditions Gear are true, then a balance between the old and brand new would be a beautiful thing. The 20th anniversary of the sub-brand was cool last year, but for fanboys, not enough. It’s never enough. A Tarn reissue would be great, but a Kibo High would be killer too. While it should’ve been an ACG flagship, instead it fell into the ‘Nike Hiking’ line on its introduction. One of Nike’s very best.

MO’ WAX: THE BOOK

When it comes to talk of the rise and fall of James Lavelle’s empire and its rise and fall, laugh it up fuzzballs. Mo’ Wax collated a lifestyle that has its considerable dips and troughs but now, going on the aspirational drivel of ‘How To Make It In America’, it’s well and truly part of the mainstream. Most probably have a stack of beautifully packaged nothingness gathering dust with the Mo’ Wax logo affixed alongside the essential stuff, but visually, the label never let the consumer down. Logos, artwork, marketing – this was total obsession. Like ‘Miracleman’ there were label rights issues that caused extra complications, and several artists were, apparently, less-than-happy. REAS’s art on the overlooked ‘Now Thing’ compilation, one of the last label releases is classic material. Bankhead, Drury, Futura and the rest’s work deserves to be collated in one tome. Hope Rizzoli Editions are listening…

CRITERION’S ‘THIN RED LINE’

Criterion have been cryptically promising a Terrence Malick release for a minute, and their excellent monthly newsletter included a cartoon hint at what’s on the horizon. Could that be deciphered as ‘The Thin Red Line’ on Blu-Ray? They get the gasface for regionally coding the Blu-Ray releases, but if that cartoon translates as the Malick masterpiece – one of the greatest war movies ever made, the potential is immense. No slouches on the extras, could this Criterion version lead to the premiere of the 6 hour version and those deleted Haas. Rourke, Mortenson, Thornton, Oldman and Sheen appearances restored?

RAP-A-LOT REMASTERS

James Prince’s Rap-A-Lot empire created a blueprint for the south. If you don’t like Geto Boys, Outlaws, Big Mike and 5th Ward Boyz, you’re slipping. In Z-Ro they’ve still got a legend on the books. It’s a shame that Trae and Devin the Dude departed, but with such a spectacular back catalogue, a definitive documentary, remastered albums with bonus DVDs and more would reinforce just how hard this label changed the game. Pill and Yelawolf rep the new breed of down south spitters, but while NYC marinades in its own nostalgia, the south has been too busy progressing to take time out to chart its history beyond local common knowledge. Maybe it’s time to do that.

EGO TRIPPIN’ 2010

Super-publisher Ted Bawno’s Tweets are a necessary follow, but he recently made a more overt reference to the return of the mighty Ego Trip. Will it be online? Televisual? In print? They’ve done all three with aplomb before, but as the editorial team split to take over the industry post ’98, they could bring the magic back with ease. Lest you forget, Brent Rollins’ design, that mix of hardcore, skate and hip-hop, plus Supreme in the fashion shoots and ads before you knew what it was made for the best magazine ever made. And following that, the best book on hip-hop ever written. Note to the herbs – don’t underestimate Ego Trip.

UNDERCOVER TAKES IT BACK PROGRESSIVELY

The whole beige and cardigan thing is done. Where’s streetwear when you need it? Oh yeah, there it is – people are still making referential print tees, except now they have to have a Vimeo teaser. Where can you turn? You can look to one of the originators; Jun Takahashi for a start. Undercover seemed to go back to its roots without compromising the high-end traits of the brand and showed a flailing industry how its done. Most lines are unwearable but buoyed by e-sycophancy – Jun however, is a don. Posing himself for an ill lookbook,  you can assume that there’ll be a trickle down of what’s on display via lesser brands. Is this the return of Tokyo street circa 2000? Did things just go full circle? Bet Jun’s apecentric former partner-in-crime drops something serious too…

KILLER CAMO

It’s quite clear that camouflage is back – bear in mind, if you’ve watched the new CNN/Imam Thug, it never actually went anywhere, but as maharishi sank and all-over print overkill set in, it became endemic of streetwear’s overkill. That of course, is bullshit, Camo is timeless, and while fickle types went all Americana, it kept on developing – last month ACUPAT was, as rumoured for a few years now, apparently succeeded by MultiCam as US-army issue for the next tour of Afghanistan. Even British soldiers out there get a MultiCam influenced version of DPM in Multi-Terrain Pattern as of this month too. It looks good on a version of Oakley’s Land, Sea, Air boot set for Summer and an Arc’teryx combat jacket for the LEAF line too.

20 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL IN 2010

This blog is, in a convoluted way, a hype blog of sorts. Except it’s the stuff that gets me hyped, which means it’s always going to dip into dark realms of self-indulgence that should alienate more than a few people. That’s just how I like it. Forget retrospectives for the moment too. The lead into 2010 is going to be underwhelming, but as the year unravels and you get used to writing ‘2010’ on cheques or paying-in slips (both fairly old-fashioned habits to carry a date that seems so futuristic, but, hey, for the most part, we’re a regressive people) there’s some good things on the horizon. It won’t be all-wack-everything in the near future. Why? Because here’s twenty reasons to be cheerful over the next twelve months –

Continue reading 20 REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL IN 2010