The best thing about this site is the ability to up missing details you forget to mention in features way, way back. In last year’s bid to blow up the adidas Gazelle I omitted to mention the impact of Laura Whitcomb’s work and Madonna’s patronage in 1993. Whitcomb ran the store Label (which used the Repo Man style no-frills, consumerist aesthetic earlier than many) in New York from 1995 to 2010 and continues to run Label in a less prominent form. Whitcomb’s unique evening gown reinterpretation of the adidas tracksuit was initially unofficial but a memorable moment in sportswear and fashion crossover. That dress and the platform Gazelle (which I assumed was a custom, but I’m not 100% certain — there were high-heel edition too) unlocked some potential for where old world athletic performance design could be taken. Eventually, adidas gave permission to manufacture the clothes, while PUMA, Everlast and Champion apparently only agreed to one-offs. Whitcomb — an LA native who worked as a stylist in London before moving back overseas — began the Label project in 1991 with her sports remixes that would include PUMA, Everest and, a while before the flips got a little overwhelming, Champion. Those sporty maxi-dresses were much imitated, but it’s a moment in fashion that defined 1993 and instigated something far bigger. The Label by Laura Whitcomb blog has a lot of excellent press imagery from the time regarding those reappropriated adidas pieces, plus this piece on the Label store and its work with Playboy iconography. A fashion, streetwear and sportswear clash, the collaborations and even the Stash-designed VW-style LW monogram all seem a little bit ahead of their time. Here’s a 15 second video of a ’93-era adidas by Label fashion show from Laura Whitcomb’s Vimeo account…
Images taken from here
I attempted some kind of white tee review system on this blog 7 years ago, but I wasn’t qualified to be discussing apparel in any kind of depth. This past summer, Japanese site Fashionsnap.com went in on the topic of white shirts. It’s far deeper than the time Dem Franchise Boyz broke down white shirts in Vibe 12 years back. Over a span of around a month, Fashionsnap’s “Road to Fashion Geek” broke down 30 shirts, from the budget multi packs from Hanes to some open-end ring spun Egyptian Giza cotton visvim expense. They talk history, origin, pre-wash and post wash specs, neck stretch and other pressing matters. Continue reading WHITE TEE VALHALLA (ALMOST)
For years — as is well documented here — Champion Europe didn’t understand its core appeal. In Japan, its longtime license holder Goldwin, Inc. did great things — they revered the archives and amplified the brand’s core appeal to make it a premium brand. Continue reading CHAMPION JAPAN: END OF AN ERA?
I recently spoke to Lou Stoppard at SHOWstudio on the topic of hooded sweatshirts as part of their sportswear series. If I had the funds, I’d pay Michael Watts to chop and screw my voice so I could listen to it without dying inside, because I can’t bring myself to watch the video with audio. Does anyone enjoy the sound of their voice droning, umming and tripping over itself? Continue reading DRONING ON ABOUT HOODIES
I’m disappointed that I never spotted this online before. Six years ago, Paul Lukas from the superb Uni Watch site upped a 1961 Champion Athletic Knitwear catalogue on his Flickr account (among other sporting catalogues from past and present). This is a standout spot of insight into a time when sportswear wasn’t a statement of fashion. Real performance gear of the time, plus letters, numerals and emblems. The dreaded “This photo is no longer available” has eaten up a few great images from this account, but these photos remain largely intact. Reverse Weave hoodies, nylon fleece hoodies as part of a warm-up suit, cheaper hooded pieces for the sidelines, a double thickness version and even a half-zip Rayon variation were on offer. Pure purpose and plenty of commercial illustration makes this more beautiful than any contemporary mode of marketing, even if you can see the slow creep of synthetics moving into the range and becoming the new choice for team wear. Go check his Flickr and browse the whole thing.
There’s plenty of little moments scattered across publications that altered the course my career would take in one way or another. Back in mid 1998, The Face ran a ‘Fashion Hype’ (and hype would become a word attached to these objects like a particularly excitable Siamese twin in the decade that followed) piece on the newly opened Hit and Run store (which would be renamed The Hideout for presumed legal reasons by 2000). This two page spread was a rundown of things I’d never seen in the UK and sure enough never seen them with a pound price next to them. I immediately rushed out and asked a couple of Nottingham skate stores if they’d be getting any Ape, Supreme, GoodEnough or Let It Ride gear in, only to be met with a blank stare. lesson learnt: Kopelman had the hookups that the other stores didn’t. This Upper James Street spot was selling APC jeans for 48 quid, while Supreme tees were only a fiver less than they are now. The 1998 season when Supreme put out their AJ1, Casio, Champion tee, Goodfellas script design and Patagonia-parody jacket was particularly appealing, and it was showcased here, while SSUR keyrings, BAPE camo luggage and soft furnishings were a hint of things to come. I guarantee that once you made it to the store, a lot of the stuff that you assumed you could grab with ease would be gone — an early life lesson that hype just isn’t fair.
After over a decade of Champion as a licensed brand putting its name to some total crap in the UK, a trip to Jacket Required revealed that the brand was coming back in a big way. Whether this deads the brand as a cult object of desire or elevates the power of the C across the board remains to be seen (without Supreme’s co-sign at a collaborative level I’m guessing that this probably wouldn’t actually be happening — I recall meeting dead ends helping a friend try to release a similar collection over here before the Supreme store opened in London), but the (non American-made) product is good — Reverse Weave sweats with the chest and sleeve branding in the orange I always wanted, plus some bold colours that tap into the casual/Paninaro nostalgia as well as the usual skate and hip-hop cues, script sweats with the stripes on the cuffs and waist, plus, controversially, a crew with a vast C that reminded me of the medium-sized tees I was ogling in the nanamica store in Tokyo a couple of months back. My good friend Nick Schonberger hates the latter (which is dropping in five colours) — I’m into it at the moment, but I wish it dropped in Modell’s rather than the spots that might be stocking it alongside generic struggle streetwear on these shores. Looking at the IG debate when size? announced their Champion offerings, it looks like there’s still some damage control needed to give the brand the status it once had and sell sweats around the 80 quid mark. At least this product (which I believe is being distributed by the same company that’s putting the Canadian-made Todd Snyder pieces into top-tier stores) ticks a few boxes on a few wish lists in terms of details. Not bad.
If you pretend that nothing New Order-related has happened since early 2005 and ignore the beefs, the DJ gigs, the new lineups and the kind of person who won’t stop telling you how ace they were live at the The Haçienda or wherever they changed their life, they’re still a great, great band with an incredible visual identity. The 2010 Rizzoli Joy Division book that compiled Kevin Cummins’ images of the band was pretty good and next year they’re releasing New Order, a book of Cummins’ New Order photographs. The last book had Jay McInerney on intro duties and this time they’ve drafted in Douglas Coupland to pen the introduction. Nice cover.