To some, Sigue Sigue Sputnik were one of those press-inflated flops of the 1980s, billed as the new thing — a glam sci-fi band with a loose dystopian dress code and apocalyptic Droog-like art direction, but incapable of maintaining the momentum of their Giorgio Moroder produced breakthrough. I think they were one of the great acts of that moment — a post Generation X creation who made a record that defines its era and maintained a mystique that had me fascinated. The sense of swindle and piss-taking that pervaded their work had some serious marketing dollars behind it. That promo extended to a 1986 MTV takeover called Sputnik Network Television that user result has upped onto YouTube. Presented by Tony James, who introduces Peter Gabriel videos, interviews shadowy record execs and Jennifer Gray, quizzes a spaniel and takes phone calls a young Futura 2000 is art guest, painting throughout in bike courier attire. Lenny gets a lot of screen time, mentioning his Fila boycott, but citing the brand as, “Sort of a street Gucci of 1986,” and expressing embarrassment at his Clash-produced solo single. A fantastic time capsule of its era that — as Lenny’s mention of his t-shirt line indicates — sows the seeds for plenty of interesting things that followed.
First things first, rest in peace to Tycoon To$h. All us disciples of Tokyo streetwear owe the man and the culture he brought, from new wave to a local interpretation of hip-hop, a fair amount. Major Force inspired Mo’Wax and Mo’Wax inspired…well, you get the general idea. On the topic of early 1990s gems, the superb Webm8 site keeps bringing the gems, with nuggets like this fit-inducing two-minute retrospective of 1990-era ‘fits that was shown on MTV Europe in association with Swatch back in the day. Lots of crap and a few fakes in the mix, but to be fair, there was a lot of that my wardrobe back then. Shouts to everyone who used to watch this kind of stuff intently to take notes back in the day.
I’ll keep it short: a couple of things have inspired me today. First up, it’s that kid above, lifted from this slideshow from Idea Books of Watanabe Katsumi’s book Discology, which seems to be nothing but images of new-wave Japanese club kids acting up for the camera. Which makes it incredible. I’d seen Katsumi’s other Kabukicho tribe shots in Gangs of Kabukicho and some other underground imagery in Shinjuku: the Story of a Band of Thieves (other people’s copies, never mine), but this was a new one to me and that kid sitting cross-legged with the v-neck overall with this bootleg, “BE HUMBLE YOU COOL FUCKER” Snoopy patch sewn onto it. Does sewing a badge onto something negate effortless cool? That’s kind of an effort — he looks cool regardless.
The second thing is this 1993 MTV News piece on hip-hop fashion uploaded from the considerable Crates of JR with a trip to Union and an appearance from Alyasha Owerka-Moore talking about Phat Farm (which, with the likes of Alyasha, Eli Gessner and Paul Mittlelman on deck to set it off, was pretty desirable around the time this segment was broadcasted. Nothing says 1993 like giant light blue jeans (laugh all you like but Supreme are taking it back for their 20th anniversary), lots of flava talk and Young Black Teenagers.