I’ve long assumed that Kurt Cobain would despise everyone that purports to be influenced by him stylistically, or, at the very least, he’d administer some onstage sarcasm their way. I also think he cared about his appearance a great deal more than he let on too, like that indie kid who puts in a lot of work to look like he doesn’t give a shit. As a fan of Nirvana and Goodhood, it was nice to get involved in their Cobain 50th birthday celebrations, because they always do this presentation and content stuff better than the rest. The illustrations are tremendous and I love Gregk Foley’s writing. Check it out right here.
There’s a debate raging right now regarding streetwear’s decline that makes for interesting reading, starting with Bobby from The Hundreds’ editorial on Hypebeast. Personally, I think that The Hundreds did such a good job in making the brand seem huge (which would become a self-fulfilling prophecy) through strong writing and photography that the legions of chummy imitators that followed simply got too damned keen and forgot a brand’s duty to act like it didn’t want our business. Continue reading RIDING THE TRANSITION
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 interested in a few different things, and the graphic above from Goods by Goodhood’s Manifetstee sums up the best bits. Reading like the classic “you’re gonna wake up one morning and know what side of the bed you’ve been lying on” shirt (or the memorable Fuct list ad in Thrasher) without the negative stuff, and being on Goodhood’s own super soft Portugese-made custom-made blank makes it doubly excellent. Any tee that unites Cliff Burton with Patricia Arquette’s teeth, Insane Strawberries and a tribute to the defunct Dr. Jives is my kind of garment.
I could sit and watch bargains being sold and bought on Discovery Channel shows and YouTube thrifting videos all day, and I find the same spirit in Richmond VA’s Round Two and their homemade creation, Round Two: The Show. There’s something compelling about watching people get their shoes priced up, and this crew-owned spot seems to be more interesting than anywhere else. Official accounts are overrated. I don’t visit shoe-centric stores too often because I know exactly what’s on their shelves, and I can safely assume that everyone else with legit accounts has the same stuff too. I’d visit a store like Round Two to see if anything unexpected appeared, and the quality of their regular video production beats anyone else’s online content. While the popularity of the Air Huarache NM leaves me confused, there’s some good footage in Round Two’s GaLlery space, which basically replicates the shoe stores of old and seems to have replicated the complete wall of a shop back in 1997. The kind of space that has an Air Zoom GP on the wall is my type of thing. Crazy that a second-hand store has managed to create the best videos of any retailer, as well as holding down a substantial showcase space with a tremendous collection stashed in it, but that’s the power of a passion project.
At least three times a year for the last five years, I’ve been sent an enthusiastic email with the Powell Peralta SUPREME campaign tee attached as a jpeg. It’s a weird coincidence that somebody was throwing the Supreme name around in a box on the skate side, but, as far as I know, not an inspiration for the skate brand that’s going to break the internet on Monday morning. Above is an ad from early 1990 from Powell Peralta, which showcases the SUPREME name in stickers — as far as I know, this was just an ad campaign and showcase for some of the squad who appeared in 1990’s Propaganda rather than anything major. Having only ever seen 1991’s Video Days in VHS format, was the young Guy Mariano wearing the SUPREME shirt in that Jackson 5 soundtracked opening? It’s likely, given his Powell pro-status pre-Blind, but it’s also amusing, given the Powell-Blind feud that was brewing and how tapes like Video Days were nailing the coffin for the big brands. You could connect the Powell team from the 1990 era with the Supreme brand with ease given how many skaters were on the squad (eg. Billy Valdes-Menace-Javier Nunez-Supreme), but then again, you could connect any skater with another skater or brand in three steps or less.
The good folk of Goodhood (who have been very supportive of this blog since day one) just launched their Goods brand, which delivers the premium basics in its inaugural rollout (if you can consider a UK-made backpack with a digital pyramid, palm tree and cactus print a basic). I know everyone’s launching a brand right now, but Kyle, Jo and the team have real design experience and can nail the print tee to make it appealing to people like me who’ve given up on life and rock the same blank day in, day out. There’s some great pastel bucket hats in the collection too, which, when worn by somebody that’s not me, will look amazing, plus a yo-yo too (beautifully packaged enough to make you think you’ve needed a yo-yo for some time), but the t-shirts caught my attention the quickest — the Dazed design with the appropriately Confused flipped ’78’ on the rear is a solid execution in terms of typography, illustration and the little details (given their self-confessed love of brands like Neighborhood, it’s no surprise), while the tie-dye creations make sense among the confusion, given the late 1970s cues. And if all that’s too fancy and you’re a drop-out like me, they’ve custom created their own blank shirt too. I’m looking forward to checking the hand feel of the Goods soft interpretation of vintage jersey. On your average rag trade cash-in brand, the, “A Well Made Product” blurb would be the same old bullshit, but the Goodhood crew really mean it.
Be careful what you wish for. I know we’re all getting nostalgic in our old age (and there’s some young folk suffering from premature nostalgia right now), but I should know better than to wish for a brand to return out loud, just because I was thinking about the late Tony Wilson rocking the Travel Fox with a suit (and making them look crap) and tried to chart the history of the company. Those of us of a certain age might remember the Nappa leather and strange use of colours on this Travel Fox shoe, plus a £100 price point back in the 1988-era — it was a shit shoe, but it had status for ten minutes. Thanks to benski oner, for the heads up, I found out that the ‘Travel Fox Troop’ (I’m guessing that the Troop was added to up the nostalgia profits for another brand?) is at Sports Direct for £29.99. No Nappa and a crappier sole unit too. And that’s the end of that. Travel Fox was done by 1989, but now, thanks to Sports Direct, the memories are diarrhea-tinted. Remember The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, or the adaptation of sorts in the 1972 Tales From The Crypt movie or — best of all — Bob Clark’s Deathdream? The moral of the stories was this: be careful what you wish for. I know I’ll be more careful in future.
Ari Saal’s work has long been an inspiration to me. As ESPO’s business partner, his work as co-owner of On The Go magazine made it one of the seminal publications of the 1990s (I’d kill to read the unreleased Jay-Z issue) and The Art Of Getting Over needs little description here (because I’m presuming that you already own it). While On The Go is long-gone, sitting in yellowing mini stacks alongside Ego Trip, Life Sucks Die, early Big Brother and Grand Royal in many a nerd’s paper armory, it’s good to know that On The Go Marketing is very much in effect. If you ever gawped at the Ruffhouse logo, that was Ari Saal Forman’s work. I still maintain that the Air Menthol 10 project from 2006 shits on nearly every shoe project in 2013 — it made its statement on the power of branding and addiction eloquently, but crucially the packaging is the greatest shoe packaging of all time, down to the hang tags and extra print material inside the cigarette-themed shoe box.
Nike issued a cease and desist, but Newport were apparently a little more demanding, meaning Ari can’t talk about that project any more. That approach to the project typified Saal’s work and the detail he employed highlights why shoe projects now are so insipid — an idea barely related, without message, shoehorned (pun intended) onto a tech pack. Everyone in that industry needs to look at the Menthols and study that execution. Scratch director John Carluccio filmed Ari working on the project in 2006 and spoke to him post legal talk in 2008 for Carluccio’s 17-minute documentary Cease and Desist aka. Ari Can’t Talk About It. It’s on iTunes right now for £1.49 and it’s a great little snapshot to add to the library of documents that capture that transitional time when sports footwear became uncool and formal footwear and Vans took over. Revisiting two of the kids who the director caught queuing for Ari’s creation, they pretty much sum up why things fell off the way they did. I know the shoe thing erupted again, but any semblance of cool that the mid to late 2000s industry awareness of collectors managed to erode is even more absent nowadays. I recommend watching that short for some extra insight.
Ari’s latest side-project is handmade belts that showcase the same preoccupation with the oft-forgotten art of finishing an object with finesse — those jars he puts them in are a nice touch. Hand sewn, hand painted belts with custom buckles and D-rings, different materials, some college colours well appropriated with some personal stories behind them elevates objects from the same old same. It also addresses the importance of the belt. This Vimeo of a belt making session (complete with a Steven Powers cameo) is better than most wearying documentation of a factory tour. The On The Go Ari site is a good source of old works documented (the adidas and Papaya King gear is particularly interesting) and it’s worth visiting.
While we’re talking Vimeo and magazines, the Magculture conversation with Gert Jonkers and Jop Van Bennekom of Fantastic Man from What Design Can Do is full of good advice for anyone planning to start a magazine. My friends at Goodhood let me do one of their tabletop selections from the store. Normally I wouldn’t engage in that kind of thing, but it’s Goodhood and it’s one of the few stores in the country with an original approach to retail and those Gasius shirts they’re stocking are a strong look. Salutes to Silas and the Soulland squad for this Hova moment last weekend.
Since I got some blog shine I’ve had some emails asking if I want an intern and some emails asking whether I want to boost my SEO and maximise traffic. In response to the former, I respect your enthusiasm, but it’s me at home writing while eating a yoghurt, with one eye on a TV watching Johnny Handsome right now, so there’s no call for an intern (though, seriously, if you send something and it’s incredible, I would try to pass it somewhere where you can be
exploited put to use*). In response to the SEO dudes — this site is still hosted by WordPress, I put my posts up at midnight and I upped 600 words on Michael Winner the other week. Does it look like I want to maximise traffic? Give me a small audience who know their shit over blog mass appeal.
That image above is the Wovens hanging on Mike Friton’s workshop wall in this Vimeo documentary (that Hypebeast put me onto). Mike Friton’s role at Nike is significant — he’s one of the minds who pushed the brand’s creativity out there in the Innovation Kitchen and his name is attached to some of my favourite Nike objects as part of the design team – he worked with Mike Aveni (and I believe, Tinker Hatfield) on the Air Woven project, I think he was involved in the Presto Clip (I’m not a huge fan of the shoe, but the detachable sole concept at prototype stage was amazing), the self fastening version of the Air Mag and my favourite — the “Footwear with mountain goat traction elements” concept that, I believe, became the Goatek sole (one of the best Nike designs ever) with an upper designed by Thomas Gray and Sergio Lozano. There’s a little bit of speculation on my part there, but those who want to be like that Mike should consider this Mike as an inspiration too — a great creative mind. Shit, I wish every shoe had a Goatek outsole.
Last summer I lost my mind over a tradeshow glimpse of Soulland’s sweatshirt offerings, with their nods to the embroidered efforts of my youth as well as the arm printed long-sleeve tees I used to favour. This is hard (check that back detailing) because Silas is deep into what he likes and it has that OTT premium essence in the DNA. Does anyone else think other high-end homages are veering too close to something from the market (and lest you call me out for liking Marriani’s stuff, at least it’s shameless) rather than Dapper Dan or anything close to cool? The custom sweat design here is more Givenchy than just chucking stars and dogs on something. The La Maison est Aux Commandes sweat and Bourgeoisie crewneck are both quality. The house of Soulland is definitely in control. Both are available from Goodhood right now.
Seeing as you came this far, here’s an early 1990s Champion Reverse Weave sweatshirt ad. As you might have noticed, I like Champion ads.
*I’m in no position to be offering advice, but here’s a tip for anyone hunting writing work in the bloggy realm — write something completely new for the site and submit it rather than offering a link to your blog of stuff that Hypebeast has already covered. Try to bring something new to the table rather than describing something as if a blind person has asked you to tell them what an Air Max looks like — had Chris Aylen, Chris Law and Russell Williamson not been very charitable to some terrible hip-hop reviews I submitted to SpineMagazine.com** 13 years ago, I would probably still be working for Serco/Network Rail.*** I’m not proposing you submit a shit review of an Artifacts album that uses the terms “dope” and “boom-bap” like I did.**** And don’t be too zany.*****
**The ORIGINAL hip-hop and streetwear site that had the same impact on me that Big Brother, Grand Royal, Ego Trip, Rad, The Source and Phat did many years earlier. Go ask your mum.
***Actually I wouldn’t, because I was “made redundant” but I know that this was really for spending time on CrookedTongues.com’s forums and eBay. I know this because I looked that the informant’s emails while they were at lunch.
****I presume that nobody used to submit reviews to SpineMagazine externally – hence the kind treatment. Now, I think lots of people see the internet as a career and standards of submissions are better. I like to think so, anyway.
*****Do footnotes on footnotes count as zaniness? In 1999 I supplied a review to Muzik magazine (who probably had a gold-plated office back then, at the height of superclub madness) and was told that I needed to inject more humour into my writing and my response was to riddle everything I wrote with wacky similes (“Like shooting Avirex-clad fish in a barrel”). Next time I submitted a piece I got an email back telling me to, “tone down the zany similes.” There’s a lesson there somewhere. But the print industry’s so on its arse these days that I think you could wake up declaring yourself a writer one morning and have had something published in a national publication within 6 weeks.