Tag Archives: john lydon

GIMME PiL

gimme5closeup

Gimme Five is one of the most important UK streetwear lines in history, but I suspect that it was overlooked for a few reasons. Firstly, it was on sale in accounts that held hype product like visvim and Supreme, thus Michael Kopelman’s brand sit in the shadows. Secondly, its distribution was scarce, the line was barely marketed and releases were sporadic. Continue reading GIMME PiL

ORGANISATIONS

There’s mileage in using the cult of personality to turn yourself into a brand. That means you have to be cautious about what you say, how you say it and foot in mouth disease. The benefits are a face to match the words in an anonymous digital world and — at least the facade — of integrity. Some of my friends are very good at self-branding. They’re not on Twitter effing and blinding. They interact with their audience and they quietly act as their own brand managers behind-the-scenes. Then there’s idiots like me. 2000 word rants that carry a certain whiff of hypocrisy, slow email responses, little emphasis on design beyond off-the-shelf fonts and layouts, plus plenty of c-words via social media. Oh, and a certain camera shyness. That leaves me in a rut of my own making. Every one of my favourite CDs has masterful brand management at the core — now musical brand management might be more focused on supply and demand, instigating the fever around that MP3 leak, deciding who hosts the free album and how the titles on the vlogging look, but that need to maintain an image is paramount. I’m late to the party on two books that focus on band branding — Dennis Morris’s PiL image retrospective ‘A BItta PiL’ (put together to coincide with last year’s exhibition of Morris’s work and Nile Rodgers’s (thank you to Deano from Real Gold for the recommendation) autobiography, ‘Le Freak.’

The clinical look of PiL’s early work was a deliberate riposte to the cut and paste Pistols era as well as a parody of the music industry, but it Public Image Ltd. also gave the group free rein (go check YouTube and witness John Lydon in a Junya-esque check blazer responding blankly to Tom Snyder with, “We ain’t no band — we’re a company…”) for a revolving door of musicians to come and go. Nile Rodgers discusses an epiphany on seeing Roxy Music’s (Lydon is a Roxy fan too) presentation and creating the Chic Organization Ltd. with Bernard Edwards that would allow for fonts and females to cover the visuals while they concentrated on the sonic side. Speaking to John Lydon in 2010, the character that came wading in was John in confrontational postcard punk mode, but on being quizzed about his PiL era attire — deliberate and part of the PiL branding strategy (check the book cover for a surprisingly sharp frontman) — he wasn’t happy that his rag doll reputation from his pre-PiL work still remained, but he was happy to talk about PiL’s branding, about he was inspired by the ICI logo, but getting angry when I asked if Terry Jones of i-D was involved in the logo’s inception. I wanted more of that information from him rather than the rehearsed sermons, but he was fun company nonetheless.

Nile’s story is even more staggering than the one told in Lydon’s ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs,’ and while both spent periods in hospital — Rodgers through asthma and Lydon through polio — Nile’s tales of beatnik negligence, rapist hitmen, Warhol encounters and his family’s astonishing liberalism with narcotics are a good reason to invest alone and he’s an engagingly candid narrator. It’s curious that Rodgers is so lucid for 200 or so pages before the final 50 pages cram in his brief death in an elevator, getting clean, Bernard’s actual death and 9/11, all of which could have justified another volume. Perhaps his cancer diagnosis (touchingly — and casually — discussed at the book’s close) meant that his attention was elsewhere. Still, few have had a life like Nile Rodgers and even fewer made it into the 00’s — thankfully he fought his illness and won. On his blog he mentioned that John Landis sent him the ‘Sexual Chocolate’ poster from ‘Coming to America’ (which apparently had a working title of ‘The Zamunda Project) as a Christmas present. There’s still lessons to be learnt in self-branding from both Public Image Ltd. and the Chic Organization Ltd. even if both corporations’ fanbases ultimately waned.

Offering some white blizzard detailing that doesn’t quite match Niles’s prodigious consumption but still manages to fire my imagination, White Mountaineering’s Pertex Digital Camo Middle Down Jacket is the outerwear object of my affections this week. Looking like something from ‘GI Joe,’ this design’s the peak of the digital camo fixation from this season. In other hands, camo can get a little too dog-on-a-string/Rodney Trotter opening titles, but that hood detailing and the way Yosuke Aizawa manages to merge real-deal performance and a love of fabrics and patterning is always on point. That dense, detailed pattern could be effective in blending in with Britain’s slushy streets over the coming months, looking better than USMC Digital Snow Camo or Pencott Snowdrift Camo. I’m interested in Pertex’s extra breathable properties and supposed resilience when it comes to rips over my beloved GORE-TEX. This jacket is at Oki-Ni right now if you’ve got the money quietly burning a hole in your chinos.

Another master of visual disguise is my comic book hero Bernie Wrightson. Bernie inspired me to draw as a kid. It was a shame I was shit. So I gave up. But looking at each panel in his 70’s work for ‘Creepy’ and the amount of hidden depth and genuinely freakish imagery is startling. His work with the likes of Bruce Jones made me sleep with the hall lights on as a kid. That mixture of the gothic tradition and a style that’s unmistakably Wrightson means short stories like ‘Jenifer’ still scare me. If you make a tit of yourself in public over dreck like ‘Paranormal Activity’ then I’m not sure if ‘Creepy’ would have any power over you, but the ‘Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson’ compendium is a bargain. Some stories in it are merely inked by Wrightson, but ‘The Pepper Lake Monster’ alone makes it necessary if you’re even vaguely interested in art, design or the faintly nightmarish. I was glad to see that the Warren comics obviously had an effect on the Stussy team last year, resulting in their ‘Creepy’ collaboration that was one of the standouts in a year when BAPE and Stussy went partner project crazy.

HAND OF DOOM

After peeping the Nike archive, I’ve been pondering some near-mythical forays into the musician-footwear realm. While Nike’s emphasis in the 1970s seemed to be to step on adidas’s toes as much as possible (which is well documented in the book ‘Swoosh’), but it also ushered in some oddities that have been whispered in collector circles for a few years. The Yeezy? That’s new-jack stuff.

Next year that mania’s set to reappear, but looking back to the brand’s early days, in 1975 Sir Elton John got himself a proto-pair of Nike Bespokes—Geoff Hollister made him a multicoloured platform pair. I’ve never seen that actual pair, but the recently unearthed Cortez-sole, Roadrunner upper looking pieces—placed on eBay by an ex bouncer from a club that had them on a wall display after a visit by Elton – fit the mid ’70s year of origin by silhouette and described makeup.

That relationship seemed to flourish, but the later release for a full tour crew that seems to date to around 1980 with shades of Daybreak or Tailwind in the upper is a personal favourite in terms of makeup and execution. The fantastic Gallic video from sneakers.fr showing Edymalawi’s phenomenal collection offers a couple of extra musician SMUs—the aluminum swoosh runners for Rod Stewart’s band that seem to be on the same sole unit as the Eltons from the same era (the sole looks like a Nike Leisure’s sole). Imagery of the mysterious Bob Marley rastas that were reputedly made for the legendary adi-head still eludes me, but the Devo versions (again, looking like the Elton and Rod silhouette) are another revelation.

I need to find out more about the mysterious Nike musician rollout.

It’s magazine season again. The highlight of this month’s offering is a new issue of ‘Manzine’ that ups the content, stays irreverent (and non-cunty in that approach too) and incorporates a great pieces on the Berlin doner kebab, female pubic hair, nuclear bunkers, everyday glass design classicism, fatherhood, driving etiquette and misspelt names on Starbucks cups. It’s fucking brilliant and a hotbed of experienced writers let loose without being tethered by ad money or ABC circulation. The illustrated Oi Polloi advertorial is a highlight —the antidote to the solemn treatments to clobber elsewhere. That’s why Oi Polloi keep their lead while everyone else copies their buying policy. Just fucking buy ‘Manzine’.

If, like me, you insist on spending thirty pounds on magazines which only get a brief browse and you justify them as a future research investment, you’re probably deluded. Berlin’s ‘032c’ marks its twentieth issue by including a vast feature on Rei Kawakubo with an essay my Mr. John Waters to introduce it, an interview with David Simon that isn’t wooly like a Guardian chat and a great piece on Arc’teryx Veilance that lets Conroy make himself heard. Veilance is awesome. Soon, everyone will realise this. Having to travel to DSM rather than my usual news stand near Carnaby Street to pick it up was symptomatic of the strange, staggered approach to dropping publications that hinders casual discovery. This issue is great.

b Store’s ‘b’ magazine is still better than it should be too. A store’s magazine should be a glorified self-promoting lookbook. That’s how it’s meant to work, and I’ve never assumed otherwise. ‘b’ doesn’t do that—instead it offers product without the hard or soft sell. That’s supreme confidence. The piece on collectors is good, as is the Stephan Schneider piece. Obviously, the incorporation of Champion (which you should buy from the Original Store on these shores) in shoots is a strong look. Blending athletic wear and casual coats are in every spread I see at the moment.

Along with sunglasses I have issues with gloves. Padded ski numbers are a simpleton look, but traditional leather numbers make me look like a Nazi sadist or Giallo-style murderer. I can’t pull that off. Thank you to Mikkel and the Norse crew for creating those tan deerskin numbers with Hestra. My hands are safe as the temperature prepares to plummet, but this video from a few months back from the aforementioned Arc’teryx brand makes me want Alpha gloves from them too. GORE-TEX gauntlets are my kind of thing.

Here’s a picture of John Lydon in the PIL era wearing a pair of Air Flows too. It’s an odd pick…but somehow it makes sense. If there’d been a Lydon SMU, that would have been one to track down.

HONOURED

Can I offer a tawdry excuse for the brevity of this entry? I’m so jetlagged that the world’s gone into slow motion and the ground beneath me keeps dipping and diving.

After the Rig Out inclusion made me euphoric to see my name in print, volume 6 of the Supreme book had me bugging out too. It’s great to be involved with something you look to with reverence and seeing this contents page nearly sent me sprawling.

Holy shit.

I find my lengthiest output is fueled by hate, but right now I’m chilling in the hipster-done-right surrounds of Portland’s Ace Hotel where Stumptown coffee is next level caffeine delivery and Pendleton make the bedding—it’s tough to unleash even a modicum of vitriol. Between the paper cameos and visiting Nike HQ, a few lifetime ambitions were realised lately. I have no idea how this all came about. if I wasn’t an atheist, I’m sure I’d be bigging up some higher force, but I’m just a massive chancer—it’s a beautiful thing.

All this, plus good news regarding good friends with sons on the way…I can’t help but think this all levels out the vast quantities of negativity this blog pumps out.

Seriously, its got to be downhill from here. Someone will suss that I’m just winging it.

Seeing as zombies are back in a major way with ‘The Walking Dead’ being the best pilot since ‘The Shield’ commenced, I finally got round to watching the French splatterfest ‘The Horde’—it’s no classic, but it’s decent, in a fast-paced, utterly illogical way. Gallic horror still has a certain blood drenched aura that attracts me.

(Props to mayimbe181 at StrictlySupreme for the scan)


GENIUSES WEAR SWEATSHIRTS

Preparing a presentation and attempting to feign PowerPoint competence for next week, so it’s one of those entries for the sake of chucking something up here. My fixation with sweatshirts is well documented (here), but some old-time cotton fleece talk is always a strong look.

First up, in a 1964 LIFE profile, one of the men who popularised Mensa, their international president Mr. Victor Serebriakoff administers a hearty gasface at an ‘M’ sweatshirt. With typical verbosity, he invents a “Perspiration Shirt” for us stuffy Brits. I’m miles from Mensa status, but I’d really like to wear the creation he’s dismissing. The text beneath reads,

Serebriakoff winces at sweatshirt proposed as mark of membership by a U.S. colleague.

“American Ms might wear these sweatshirts once for laughs the British wouldn’t. They would sell like cold-cakes in England. The British don’t wear sweatshirts. They don’t sweat—they perspire. If we did design a British perspiration shirt it’d have an M about one-half inch across the inside. I think all forms of claiming distinction by markings are vulgar. The Mensa pin we wear is alright if you were to meet someone at a pub. My beard is really my Mensa pin.”


I’ve posted Albert Einstein in a sweatshirt up here before, but here’s a few shots of the man sporting athletic gear in a casual context between 1947 and 1948. That’s a well-dressed genius right there. Victor would have done well to check Albert’s look before unleashing that expression.

It’s good to see that Supreme #6 has dropped in the far east. I interviewed John Lydon for this project. He was very forthcoming with answers, scowled a fair bit and asked, “Was that okay?” afterwards. He didn’t disappoint. I don’t know how much made it to print, but it was a fun experience. While being shot for that cover image (shouts to West and Shaniqwa Jarvis) he told me that Harvey Keitel opted for a loaded gun over blanks while they were filming ‘Order of Death’ in NYC and put his life at risk in a major way.

Seeing as it’s Halloween, you should ditch the Paranormal Activity 2 bootleg and watch Full Circle (aka. The Haunting of Julia), The Changeling and Carnival of Souls. Best ghost films ever.