A couple of topics discussed frequently here are the topic of some forthcoming books by people far more knowledgable and talented than me. I talked about hooded sweatshirts to SHOWstudio a couple of months back, and a vast gap in my research meant the rich pre-20th century history of hoods that dates back to the middle ages was omitted. Continue reading FURTHER READING
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?
What’s the situation with these (scrapped?) Supreme x Nas images? Looks like a photo shoot that should have happened a long, long time ago and something that could cause a hype situation if it appears on cotton sometime soon. There’s a lot of rappers out there who don’t look at home in that kind of gear — they’re on that Karmaloop trolleydash non-steez or (insert Zumiez stocked brand here) surprise box anti-swagger. Nas looks at home in it.
The ad above is another late 1990s Small Earth ad (I posted a sumo wrestler in XIs one here a couple of years back) dating back to 1998. French-made adi, a selection of Jordans and a handful of cult 1985-era Nikes were worth money to Grand Rapids, Michigans buy and resell to Japan enterprise. Chuck Vander Hoek and his business partner capitalised on the Japanese kids coming into their vintage clothing stores to set up this targeted business — some OG American resellers. Anyone shifting their Hawaiis to them for $63 was probably jumping for joy. If only they knew…
I never got down with the whole toy thing because I’m old, every release was more expensive than I ever anticipated and because some dickhead decided to call them things like “urban vinyl” to justify being over the age of 11 and still buying action figures. That doesn’t stop me needing the new life-size Medicom Gizmo, complete with puffballs of potential mayhem caused by a clumsy Corey Feldman. I still kick myself that I never got hold of the Medicom Bride of Chucky era Good Guy doll replica, so despite the $300+ price tag (nostalgia is an expensive industry), I need Medicom’s latest foray into the Mogwai species in my life. Gizmo is the pet I always wanted and ownership doesn’t mean the fear of having a dubious stereotype knock at the door to claim him back, or the potential annihilation of my hometown.
Bobbito Garcia’s Where’d You Get Those? is the greatest book on sports footwear ever written by a long, long way. There’s a few books on the topic en route, but nothing touches this 2003 tome’s authority and sense of actually being there and hoarding AF1s at least a decade ahead of the majority. By cutting off at 1987 (bar his section on slept-on classics) to avoid the influx of gimmickry that dropped in the years that followed. The Where’d You Get Those? 10th Anniversary Edition drops in November after being out of print for a few years and it looks like Bobbito has wisely avoided any temptation to go beyond the cutoff year for this one. However, that proposed cover, is an abomination compared to Brent Rollins’ masterful work on the original release.
A while ago I wrote an interview with the mind behind SOTech. It’s pretty detailed and worth reason if you’re inclined toward military gear and tired of milspec’s misuse of late. My eagle eyed partner-in-hype Charlie Morgan spotted the SOT-BLK gear crop up in Union — the fruits of SOTech’s work with Rob Abeyta Jr (who has a military background and is who I would want on my side in a brawl situation) — with the near-invincible baggage that’s created for battle conditions is tweaked slightly for everyday use. If you’re going to protect your blank Moleskine and copy of Monocle you never got past page 17 on, it’s good to know that if those parachutes drop en masse, your MacBook will be protected during the subsequent fight for freedom. The SOT-BLK Mactac bag is a tweak on a design originally created post 2008 Mumbai attacks for anti terrorism gear to be kept in a single bag. It’ll be interesting to see how the recent moves to get the U.S. military share a single camo pattern affects contractors and manufacturers, but this is perfect baggage for the disorganised and accident prone. Built to survive the world’s worst and ideal if you wake up and you’re the last living blogger on the planet.
While I keep hunting the rest of this W)Taps GRIND shoot, I recommend listening to this William Friedkin interview, where he discusses throwing out some Basquiat paintings, meeting Darby Crash and naming Sorcerer after Miles Davis’ 1967 album (which is also discussed in his fine memoir, The Friedkin Connection). Sorcerer is a slow burner, but that exposition and slow-burn tension pays off, so it’s good to hear that one of the most underrated films of the 1970s (a notorious flop) is coming to Blu-ray in remastered form. Friedkin’s approach to audio is something deserving of more than the current bare-bones, half-arsed DVD release. Despite his reputation for rages on set, Friedkin’s opinions, co-signs and evident passion for the craft are admirable.
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?
24 hours late on the blog updates and still not much to say. The leather jacketed or vested ne’er-do-wells of old always fired my imagination in movies and magazines, but I can’t help but think that gangs were making more of an effort to dress back in the day. Juvenile delinquency looked particularly fucking cool in the 1950s and 1960s, back when the dawn of the teenager had “squares” bricking themselves at grease-slicked haircuts and tribal uniforms. These pictures from a 1957 LIFE feature on Upper Westside and Bronx gangs called Teen-Age Burst of Brutality make alleged thugs look like rock stars. An Egyptian Kings member looks cool calm and collected on the way to be quizzed for a murder, complete with fans peering in the window, and the crew shot of the Laughing Jesters in Manhattan makes them look like the best gang ever. People generally seemed to look more excellent 50+ years ago.
While the gang jackets in this anti-hoodlum film from the 1950s are the worst thing ever, the gangs in the 1961 San Francisco based documentary Ask Me, Don’t Tell Me which has some kind of religious redemption overtones (and did the blog rounds back in 2009 when it seemed to go into public domain) has crews of dudes who are deeply stylish, until they start doing decorating and digging holes and being productive members of society because society asks them to be — it completely does the opposite of discouraging anyone from not wanting to stand on a street corner playing elbow tit (as depicted in The Wanderers). Even in the 1970s, the gang jackets on the cover of New York Magazine‘s March 27, 1972 cover story on east Bronx gangs (which can be read here) would almost certainly have a kid reaching for the marker pens to decorate a garment so he and his friends could rumble with neighbourhood rivals.
Ralph Bakshi has drawn some great hoodlums in flicks like American Pop and Coonskin and given his escalating inability to work within the system, an initiative like Kickstarter is the perfect way for him to raise capital. He’s currently working on a series called Last Days of Coney Island with pledged voice work from folks like Matthew Modine and there’s some amazing incentives to pledge some dough here ($35+ for a Bakshi character doodle?). And I’ve talked about Ralph’s work here a lot of times, because Wizards, Fritz the Cat and Lord of the Rings, plus shows like his Mighty Mouse redux had such a big impact on me — if you don’t know who he is, educate yourself immediately by picking up a copy of Unfiltered and reading this interview with him from a year ago. The sketches and imagery from Last Days of Coney Island look pretty good so far.
Does anyone else recall Champion’s Japanese licensee putting Champion on some extremely underwhelming hiking boots in 1995 to capitalise on a boom in hiking heritage? I thought I dreamt it until I pulled out this old ad again. They really did a number on the iconic ‘C’ right there.
Pressed for time because of freelance work, so why not fall back on two failsafes — All Conditions Gear and Champion? ACG as a full subdivision may be gone (though every time you see a sealed seam jacket from Nike, the spirit lives on) , but it’s still part of of the footwear offerings at trend level. Here’s a few non-ad images of some interesting moments in ACG history — Trip Allen is a crucial part of the old ACG squad and according to legend, he was one of the pioneers in applying some truly insane colours to shoes that remain scorched into my retinas for reference in far too much of my work. I believe (looking at the sketch) that he was heavily involved in the Terra ACG design — a pioneering moment for the brand that may or may not have aided in the genesis of the non-ACG Terra trail running range you might have lusted after in the late 1990s. The Terra ACG’s speckles and wildcard orange and pink were decidedly peculiar at the time too. The packaging for the Nike Thermax Underwear that I believe dates back to the early days of ACG (I like the “Clothing as equipment” copy too) is well executed and captures the commitment to it at the time. Moisture wicking ACG underwear is a rarity nowadays, but these are some of the most aesthetically appealing thermals ever made.
Why does Champion’s Japanese licensee get it while the others don’t? Admittedly it’s a country where a heritage wing could actually prove profitable, but to see this brand plastered on tat in the UK is depressing. Like Fila, it’s an opportunity wasted and while Champion always was a fairly affordable brand compared to the Italian premium sportswear of the former, it seems the original point was lost in a variety of acquisitions and wheeler dealing. Even Russell Athletic seems to be slowly getting its shit together in this territory while former champions flounder. Pop-ups and spaces are usually a good reason to ignore an email invite, but the collegiate-themed Champion Bookstore in the Shinjuku branch of Oshman’s (itself a franchise of a mostly-gone US sporting institution that became Sports Authority — not dissimilar to how Shibuya’s mighty Tower store keeps standing) looks tremendous and captures the essence of what makes the brand great. Cotton fleece heaven with a history lesson worked in there. This kind of thing and the nanamica x Champion masterpieces of loungewear maintain this brand’s magic. Everyone else seems intent on sticking a ‘C’ on cheap accessories. Sadly, I can imagine what proves the most profitable.
Every time my commitment wavers with regards to anything, I look to the berserkers who carved Slayer onto their skin for inspiration. Unwavering in their dedication, not led by trends and keen to go one louder than a mere tee with deodorant stained pits, the lack of curves in Slayer’s logo letterforms really lend themselves to sharp objects and skin. This is what separates metal fans from the H&M bought pre-faded replica.
This blog entry has been hindered by my escalating addiction to Hypebeast’s Essentials section and the wild comments it attracts. Good to see Mr. Masta Lee from Patta in there too, repping for Lexdray, a brand that makes bags with so many pockets and secret compartments that those of us without a sense of direction are liable to get lost in their own baggage during the packing process. I want to see a book of the images by the end of the year, provided that they include the talkback remarks too. S95s, MacBooks, firearms, Goyard goods and lots of Supreme box logos have all featured, but the layout, with the rollover crosses for extra detail, is impeccable. It sates a certain hypelust for details and gives keyboard Conans something else to vent about.
I haven’t seen anybody break out an Acer netbook yet, but it’s good to see that there are still some BlackBerry users out there — can people really type as fast without keys as they could with them? The sole thing stopping me from grabbing an iPhone is the way in which it would hinder my copywriting missions on the move. Typing anything substantial on my iPad is like trying to play a concerto on the FAO Schwartz floor piano. Scale that down and I can barely tap beyond the perimeters of a text message length before tapping out entirely. RIM fell off in a major way, but the vinegar faces of concentration on my friends, once so deft on the tactile keys of their Bolds, as they try to Instagram a wacky dog they just saw with an accompanying witticism puts me off entirely.
Eureka’s Blu-ray release of Alex Cox’s ‘Repo Man’ is further proof of their commitment to cult, and their newly remastered edition of the film ports some US special edition details over, but also includes the near mythical TV version, shorn of all swearing (like the legendary ITV ‘Robocop’ edit) as well. It’s such a sweary and peculiar film, that it’s perplexing that anybody would think to clip its wings to the point where “Melon farmer” would work as a suitable insult (word to Charles Bronson in ‘Mr. Majestyk’ though, because he’s one bad melon farmer). Just as Criterion block us when it comes to regional limitations, this is a Europe-only release, but at least Eureka had the good grace to put up a nifty little screen when it comes to failed loads for global ‘Repo Man’ fans.
While we’re talking 1984 punk attitude, this old ‘South Bank Show’ on Malcolm McLaren as his ‘Duck Rock’ phase went classical/R&B with ‘Fans’ is worth an hour of your time. The irritated interviews with Steve Jones and the beautiful Annabella Lwin, juxtaposed with remorseless quotable from Malcolm makes it classic, plus it reminded me of just how odd his solo work was, as he sauntered from zeitgeist to zeitgeist, letting the last movement burn as he threw himself into the next big thing.
Trying to remind myself of the joys of vinyl during a central London record shop visit, a costly Red Ninja promo in Reckless had me wondering what became of the mysterious Red Ninja? He was an act who had brief cult fame at my school with the dancehall and hip-hop fans alike. Red Ninja and Kobalt 60 were part of the soundtrack to a Fila F-13 and faux Chipie era in my hometown. I had no idea that there was a Red Ninja video, with a £100 budget that had a brief outing on ‘Dance Energy.’ Raggamuffin British hip-hop with dance moves stays winning.
Oh, and shouts to SAS and the Eurogang movement for the shout out on their ‘Tiffy’ freestyle. It took me back to days amassing CDRs of Dipset mixtapes. Props to Mega for that one.
Before the new issue of Oi Polloi’s excellent Pica~Post arrives, this interview with Shinya Hasegawa of Brooklyn-made Batten Sportswear, a former Woolrich Woolen Mills man who assisted Daiki Suzuki and has Woolrich chambray curtains in his home is worth a read. He namechecks the pioneering GERRY brand, as founded by Gerry Cunningham, rucksack and tent pioneer (read more about him here). Their ’70’s ads were amazing in terms of imagery and copywriting. Several who worked for GERRY spawned their own brands, including co-founder Dale Johnson, who went on to found DIY goose-down brand, Frostline. Somebody needs to bring the art of the homemade goose-down jacket kit back.
Lifted from a 1950 ‘LIFE’ feature, this image of a tattooed human skin, removed from the body (purported to have belonged to a gangster) by Dr. Sei-ichi Fukushi and put on display is both grotesque and amazing. the work looks amazing though. Knuckles and neck pieces are everywhere now, but at that point in time, it was a truly outsider artform and a mark of commitment. This picture makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’d like to see an exhibition of Fukushi’s supposed acquisitions.