Tag Archives: paris

GRAND OPENING, GRAND CLOSING

colette1997openingad

Nike, Comme, McQueen and Canon in the same product mix? It’ll never catch on. The place will be lucky if it survives into the 21st century.

Fast-forward two decades.

It’s a fond farewell to Colette at the close of this year and it’s easy to forget just how mind-boggling their approach was when it opened those doors in 1997 — grander than just another sparse boutique, that styledesignartfood combination was something very different. There were influential stores globally long before colette, but it was one of the few to actively engage with the streetwear realm credibly and without condescension. Now, the idea of grabbing a drink, an import magazine, stationary as a souvenir, 35 pound t-shirt or an item of clothing worth thousands is a business model we’ve come to expect. On first visiting 213 rue Saint-Honoré, the exhibition section, book area, pre-stream edits of import DVDs and oddly democratic blend of high-end and my interests on the same rack opened my eyes to a lot of new things. It looked like the work of a discerning eye rather than just another blog reaction. Of course, in 2017, the rest of the world has caught up, and it’s easier than ever to grab the same selection in other key cities or online, but while a trip to colette hasn’t caused me to impulse buy of late that it did a few years back, it’s not fizzling out — in a quintessentially Gallic move, the Colette who put her name to the store is stepping down in December and without her, Colette goes too. A lot of stores studied the moves this Paris institution made, but few could steer it to the very end like Madame Roussaux and her daughter did.

TINKER, MARK & MICHAEL JORDAN

mjselfietinker

I see a lot of Q&As conducted to promote a product or project, and there’s generally a recurring message and company line throughout. That’s understandable, because if you sit down expecting a Frost/Nixon confrontation, then you’re you’re an idiot. My longtime preoccupation with Air Jordan has been fairly evident on here over the years. 1988 brought me two great revelations: Bomb the Bass’s Don’t Make Me Wait video featuring the mysterious Air Jordan III, and seeing the Air Trainer 1 in my home town’s Beehive department store as part of a Nike Air display. Those moments were my introduction to the work of designer Tinker Hatfield. I never stopped obsessing. I popped to Paris a couple of days to see some excellent activations to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jordan Brand — BKRW’s section in the Palais 23 space was a standout — and after a more bombastic presentation and chatter between Michael Jordan, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith for the global press in front of a slow grilling LED back drop, we got to see a significantly more intimate talk over at Nike France’s showroom.

I’ve often wondered whether Tinker (and can we have a moment of appreciation for his outlandish outfit in the circa 1991 brainstorm session photograph they used as a backdrop during the Palais 23 presentation?) deliberately drops a line in to keep the PR team nervous each and every time, but he’s always one to veer sharply from the company line at times, which makes interviews with him pretty compelling — on discussing the underrated Jordan 23 during this session, he exclaimed that, “We had to smoke a lot of weed for that one!”, before his “Just kidding” was drowned out by the applause as MJ entered at took a seat. That is just one of many reasons why Tinker stays legendary. Because, I know that there are some fanatics like me visiting this site, and because I recorded the chat, I thought I’d up it here. While the Jordan 29 gets mentioned a lot (after all, it’s the most recent instalment, though Tinker nearly mentioned a possible woven element on the impending 30), there’s a scattering of trivia in here too — I never knew that, for all the excellent ads over the years, Jordan’s favourite is still the old one where he goes one on one with Santa. All questions bar my one at the very end to Tinker and Mark were asked by Jordan Brand’s communications director (and all-round good guy) Brian Facchini.

Brian Facchini: Is there an individual shoe that you guys are most proud of?

Tinker Hatfield: The 20 was pretty cool because he storytelling was very rich and it was actually kind of hard to get Michael to open up about the past, but we finally got him to open up and we got a bunch of stories and Smitty and a bunch of other people put that tapestry together. That’s pretty special. I look at that shoe today and I see a tapestry. I see a specific symbol inside the shoe and I remember the story…it almost makes me cry — they’re very emotional stories.

Mark Smith: I’m really proud of the 20 but I think the 23 is a special one — we did something very different there and we are telling different stories and there were new ways to hold the product together with processes that were also storytelling. That was very interesting.

BF: For you, how many times have these two brought you something and you were like, “These two are out of their minds”?

Michael Jordan: Practically all of the time.The good thing about it is that these guys can go to the edge, which is what Nike are good at — being an edgy company. We push the envelope as much as possible. What I do is try to take it back to reality like, “Come on man, I don’t know if I can wear that — that’s a little bit out of the page for me.” Sometimes it takes a little moment to grow on me, but once it grows it, I love it. Tinker’s good at telling the stories and Mark has adapted to that now. They come up to me with this long story and I’m like, “Come on! Shut up and show me what you got!” But the stories connect the dots. We don’t do things just to do them and there’s a method behind the madness and it tells the story about me, how I play the game the things that I like and the innovation and technology is taken into that. I think that’s the beauty behind the relationship.

BF: As we’re looking back at 30 years of your career, do you find yourself looking ahead?

MJ: I live in the moment. If you live too far in the past or the future, you never enjoy the moment. I enjoy the moment and these guys take me on these different paths, but for me, it’s about how much fun can I have hanging out with you guys today. I’m not worried about tomorrow. I keep it very simple, while these guys take it a lot further than I could. I enjoy the game and enjoyed it in the moment and most fans could see that — I want that to come out in how we design shoes.

TH: If we stayed in the present and didn’t go into the future, he’d fire our ass.

MJ: Probably.

MS: We’d be out.

BF: Is there one piece of a shoe that you remember having to go to war for a little bit?

MJ: The area on the toe of the 10s. I wouldn’t say that they’re my least favourite in all the 30 year of shoes, but Tinker and I had a communication breakdown. He went out on a limb and I had to pull him back down, because I wouldn’t wear that. It came out to be a great shoe because of the compromise we figured out.

TH: He had to threaten me.

MJ: It was during the baseball thing, so we didn’t have our normal meeting. He made an assumption and as you know, if you make an assumption, sometimes it makes an ass outta you. We had to make some changes and the shoe had been made so we had to eat a bunch of product. If you’ve got a pair of those, they’re worth a lot of money today.

BF: Is there one new technology you look at now and think, “I wish I had that when I was playing”?

MJ: The 29s. I think in terms of innovation — and I’ve only been able to walk in them and never played in them, though I wish I could have — that shoe in itself is incredibly comfortable but I think it responds to a lot of things that you do when it comes to performing at basketball. We’re working in the 30 now, which I think is a step up from the 29. The work in innovation in the technology that goes into the shoes now is far greater than anything I played in. Those shoes have evolved into signature things, but in terms of innovation, the shoes have improved tremendously since I played.

BF: Going back to the beginning, the Air Jordan 1. That was arguably the most popular sneaker in the world but the innovation was the two colours.

MJ: Well, one colour. It was black and then that red. It was the ‘breds’ that everybody always calls them. I don’t come up with these names, but I’ve kind of adapted myself to them. My kid said ‘bred’ and I said, “What do you mean? All of them are ‘breds’ to me?” But that shoe changed everything for us because of the acceptance of the acceptance of the community and the consumer and how the league hated them because of the colour for the difference in uniform — you had to wear white shoes or black shoes, but we went out on a limb with the black and reds, and the modification of that was the red, white and black. Some kids connected to, not the negative, but the different. That made it different to what was on the market and the people absolutely loved it. That’s where the whole Jordan thing got started and we’ve been able to maintain it since then, but originally that black and red said that it was okay to be different. You don’t need to be like every other shoe and the consumer bit and we’ve been riding it ever since.

BF: Is there one commercial that really stands out to you?

MJ: There was the one where I played Santa Claus one on one, and we got a bunch of letters from little kids saying that Santa Claus would have whooped me. I wish people would have understood the meaning behind the commercial — I was playing this guy and you didn’t know who he is, and then it was revealed. It put Santa Claus in a very difficult position. Parents of kids didn’t really like it — it was a fun commercial, but the message got kind of misconstrued. I think it ran about one time. All that hard work I had to do for it and they broadcast it one time!

TH: I asked him that before and it’s always consistent. I said, “Your favourite is you beating up on Santa Claus?

MJ: It was a good match up.

BF: Materials and the graphics that Smitty is renowned for now play a big part in the shoes. When you see a shoe like the XI…

MJ: That’s my favourite.

BF: Besides the XI, which materials over the years have redefined how the brand was going?

MJ: Well, the woven. When he showed me how all of that works — the uniqueness of it. When they show me stuff the first thing I ask is, “Is it functional? Can you play in it?” I don’t want it to just be about show. You can build a shoe and everybody says they like how it looks, but I want it to be functional for a basketball player. When he showed me how that material could be so functional with less weight, and maintain the strength, I was impressed. I liked to wear a new pair of shoes every game. Part of that was feeling and energy of having a new thing, but the other thing was because the shoes were so different in that you sweated and the leather might stretch, and I wanted that tightness. The thing about the woven is that it’s tight every time, like a brand new shoe.

BF: You guys have developed an amazing working relationship. How has that changed over the years?

TH: I think any good organisation tries to evolve, and it used to be that you saw Michael five or six times a year and it was always a presentation or just going out and hanging with him, but now I think that it’s a little different in that we keep on adding people to the team and he’s like any great athlete, politician or movie star in that he has to have a big team around him, where it can be difficult because he might not necessarily trust them. What we try to do is keep introducing them over the years so he can get comfortable with that growing team.

MS: When you introduce experts in other disciplines to the team, that gives him confidence. He enjoys that conversation — he learns and he’s so curious. When you bring somebody to the team, he enjoys meeting them…mostly. He’s mostly curious about what they bring to the team.

BF: After 27 years, do you still think you’re learning stuff about him?

TH: I do. I mean, I spend less time with him than I did before. I feel like I know him fairly well and we’ve hung out a lot. I’m still amazed at how he continues to grow and how he lives in the moment. As you get older, you start to think backwards and live off past glory, but he’s not like that, which to me is very interesting.

MS: I don’t know what the next call or text is going to bring. It’s usually something that’s going to make me go, “Uh, okaaaay, cool, I hadn’t even considered that.” Whether it’s facilitating his interest in motorbikes or whatever, then that’s good for us as designers.

BF: You guys are both artists — what part of your art do you bring to your work?

TH: I think that’s the secret actually — blending art with technology to create a new shoe. For me, some projects, whether it’s shoes or apparel, may have been a little more skewed towards technology and less toward art or sometimes it’s the reverse.

MS: I think, whatever discipline you’re in, you can speak creatively and draw from different places, then apply them. One of the things we’re constantly doing is bringing them to the table.

TH: We both draw on our iPads — that’s not new news, but we both draw really fast, so we’ll sit down and have a meeting and after we’ve finished talking, we can be like, “So, what do you think of this?” Technology has allowed us to draw a lot quicker and also get technology a lot sooner. If athletes see a result during a meeting or maybe a couple of minutes after, they feel more involved in the design process because you’ve reacted to their feedback, which means they feel much closer to the actual design. It’s a good little trick, because if Michael doesn’t feel like he’s part of the design process, he’s less apt to actually like it. So that’s a good strategy. It’s crucial to our success.

BF: Why do you think athletes react better to imagery presented like that than on paper?

TH: I think when you do a pencil or pen sketch, that’s a little more personal to me. It’s tiny and it’s maybe delicate and complex, and maybe doesn’t look like it’s going to look. But when you do it on a computer, especially with the current technology, you can add light, texture and colour. I think it’s a little easier for people to really understand.

ME: I know that in the past, what you designed wasn’t always able to be produced, due to restraints in production at the time. Has new technology meant that what’s in your mind can be realised a little easier?

TH: No. I think that, if it’s too easy to make, we’re probably not pushing it far enough. It’s probably just as difficult now to get people to do something as it ever was. Even the knitted and the woven stuff that we’re doing now isn’t normal — they’re still scratching their heads about how they want to make it weave. There are experts who know how to do it, running the machine and doing the programming, but we’re pushing them beyond what they ever thought they could do.

MS: That’s what’s fun about it. In the end, they appreciate it too.

TH: In the end they do. They might not appreciate it at first.

MS: No, not at first. I just came back from the factory and they’re not appreciating it yet! But they understand why.

TH: He was just at the factory in Asia to talk to them about spinning the weave stuff to combine it with…

MS: Woah!

TH: I nearly slipped up there! But it was not going well, so he went to Italy.

MS: We find the best standard and Asia will get there because it understands the benefit. If you’re going to go to a new place, when a Jumpman is going to be on that thing, they know they’ll have to pick up on it and figure it out.

mjtinkermark

mj1986hybrid

jordanairship

mjericso

tinkerhatfieldshirt

OI! MUSIC & DAMAGE

chairscurobookclassic

These are strange times. I’ve got love for Hov, but the bad start for Tidal is nothing compared to his adoption of the banter-brigade’s beloved Hype brand while ‘Ye is wearing Soloist — he’s gone from getting his grown man on to getting his sport science student on. The only thing odder is Hus Kingpin’s video entirely dedicated to being SuperDry down that shouts out the “orange label.” Even Canibus —who busted out some distinctly Warsaw nightclub garms a few years back — once proclaimed “With no fear like them clothes white boys be wearing,” back in 1998. And what are these brands if not a No Fear for a new generation?

I’m impressed with what my friend Thibault Choay has been creating for his fine CLASSIC imprint. With a company name like that, the pressure to create greatness comes pre-loaded, but the CHIAROSCURO book project is pretty damned good. To create a graffiti book that doesn’t slip into the trappings of earnest graf book formulas is an achievement, but the subject of this book, Parisian tattooist and former writer Cokney, is an interesting character. For starters, he’s a huge fan of Cockney Rejects and has a case over his head that comes complete with a 228,000 Euro fine. Two years after they started planning this project with writer and curator Hugo Vitrani, they’ve completed this two-volume set — the Scuro book is the light side, a collection of photos from the artist’s perspective taken from undeveloped film given back to Cokney by the police in a good cop moment. To my knowledge, at least until the publication and launch of the exhibition at Sang Bleu last week Cokney hadn’t seen the imagery yet — a deliberate action to homage the pre-digital days of waiting for imagery to develop, and the inevitable unfiltered flaws in the mix. That photography is accompanied by the artist’s own texts.

Light comes with a darkness and the black book is synonymous with graffiti, and, at fear of sounding like Nigel Tufnel, it’s really, really black, with a lot of ink used to give it the Chiaro section the requisite matter-of-fact look. As well as photos, Cokney has access to a lot of his police files, and case N° 1203264038’s evidence against the writer — in the form of images, cleaning quotes and complaints — opens up the age-old art/vandalism debate. but gives an unorthodox perspective — through legal eyes, the critics of the piece — to the work that contrasts and complements the white chapter. There’s some translations in the book too, and it completes a real labour-of-love. It’ll be online soon via the CLASSIC site, priced at 45 Euros and limited to 500 copies.

Thibault kindly invited me to take part in a CHIAROSCURO themed Know-Wave show last Thursday alongside Cokney and Hugo where we talked about topics loosely pertaining to the book, fumbled after a sudden decision to find a Goldie track and played a Booba record loudly.

cokneyguerrenunord

MORE READING MATTER

spliffywhatwewore

I generally don’t take product for paragraphs on this blog, but if anyone wants to send me books or magazines that are good it’ll save me some cash and I might up them here. I spend way too much money on reading matter and there’s some prospective greatness in the pipeline — Enjoy the Experience about private press vinyl covers drops on Record Store Day via Sinecure and it’s clearly necessary, with a limited edition version available on the publisher’s site. Earnest strangeness in its most irony-free form is the best kind of strange. Nina and Cieron’s What We Wore project is gathering true British style and error since the 1950s, with a book dropping next year that will be the antidote to simplified notions of sub-cultural style.

Everyone I ever see in iconic images of mods, rockers, teds, casuals and the rest seem to get it right — I want to see the sartorial misfires, tryhards and those who couldn’t afford the right stuff but had a go anyway. That’s what helped shift Spliffy garms — when you’re surrounded by style struggle, bad becomes good. Good books on sports footwear that aren’t Japanese language are thin on the ground — after the reprint of Bobbito’s Where’d You Get Those? at the end of the year, Slam Kicks: Basketball Sneakers That Changed the Game drops in February 2014, written by Slam’s Ben Osbourne and Scoop Jackson. I’ve wanted a sequel to Sole Provider for a while, so this could fill that bookshelf gap. In the meantime, go and pick up the Gonz issue of Huck, because pretty much everything in it is good.

colehaanmax2013

I have no idea what the story behind these Cole Haan wingtips with Air Max 2013 technology is, but pebbled leather and speckles kind of works. Is this some response to the Prada Levitate’s AM97-esque look (Edit: Shouts to Todd Krevanchi for pointing out the resemblance between these and the Air Max Sentry which had the ’97-style unit on a sensible shoe design)? I assume they’re some internal experiment that’s destined to never release after the Cole Haan/Nike separation, but they’re avant-garde in their jarring trad-tech collision. These were spotted on Mr. Salehe Bembury’s blog with zero explanation as to how they came to be.

colehaanmax20132

Speaking of big air (and I apologise for all the Air Max references in the last few blog entries — I was working on Air Max related Nike projects and became obsessed all over again), back when Lil’ Kim didn’t Vybz Kartel herself and wasn’t obliged to live up to the soft porn persona she created the following year, she made grape AM95s look incredible with Junior M.A.F.I.A.

lilkimmafiaam95

Chaze from Grim Team doesn’t just produce extremely hard QB and Bronx hip-hop — he keeps to his French origins with some synth-led sounds. Grim Team isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty and Chaze’s This Was Your Town (featuring Casey Mecija) video is directed by Jay One and contrasts beauty with a heavily bombed Paris setting. Nobody does destruction like the French, down to the trucks — proof that there’s style in willful regression. Pretty ladies in camo coats who dig for vintage clothes and records is a winning addition to a promo too.


MOVEMENTS

I’ve definitely always looked to Paris as Europe’s most hip-hop city, with Amsterdam running a close second. As a continent, we were once dangerously obsessed with rap and all its related sub-cultures — memorising shout outs, trading tapes and haplessly trying to ape NYC’s styles with local brands and no-name hi-tops. Germany had its own thing, but it was all a bit too wide-eyed and headspin led, third gen dubbed Britcore C90s for me and the UK’s bumpkins with boom boxes, obsessively tagging are fun, but it never held up as well as that small scattering of soundsystem centric acts that had their moment in the early 1990s before burning out.

We all seemed to try too hard and while hip-hop wasn’t the French’s first language, it seemed to slot into their linguistics and innate Gallic cockiness. It seems Parisian folk were hip-hop before hip-hop even existed. They could wear goose downs without looking like caricatures and can still flip the bucket hat and bulky leathers — in some cases even a name belt — without coming off like boom-bap pensioners. I’m not talking Solaar and whatever groups were on some crummy global rap compilation back in the day, but the militancy of NTM and the work of BANDO and co — graffiti in Paris never seemed to lose its edge either. They’re the kings of Euro sports footwear culture too, and I appreciate Xenophobics will want to get me in a headlock for those sentiments, but no other nation can still make hip-hop’s elements not look like a Bomfunk MCs video.

However, I still need to understand what the rapper’s saying, so I barely listen to any French rap — I’m just caught up in the aesthetic. Today I spotted some good news via Mr. Thomas Giorgetti’s Facebook page — Japanese photographer’s Yoshi Omori’s time on the French hip-hop scene between 1984 and 1989 has been compiled into a book called ‘Mouvement’ that’s published by 19/80 Editions. Lots of leather jackets, lots of b-boy swagger done right and a documentation of something that looks to have a certain stone faced unity about it. There’s some faces in the preview shots that are still involved in the scene and I think that some of them might take old loudmouth Rosenberg’s side on the HOT97 Minaj ‘Starships’ debate — they just would have dismissed it with a little more flair than Peter’s drunk dad at a barbecue technique.

On a completely unrelated topic, the videos of partygoers exiting NASA at NYC’s The Shelter (the spot from ‘Kids’) via Scotto TV includes a parade of some of the most early 1990s clothing styles possible.


Other things I’m into today are the ‘FUSE 1-20’ book by Taschen for a Neville Brody-designed fuckload of typography, plus Y’OH‘s new t-shirt and sticker designs (image jacked from Kara Messina’s Instagram) which are so well executed that Y’OH feels fully established in just a couple of seasons — there’s a lesson here in getting your brand’s visual identity on point early, which is something that most UK brands flop on in a mass of Brooklyn Kid and knockoffs. Bring something new to the table like Kara and you’ll reap the benefits.

On discovering a bag of old ‘zines during a clear out, I was reminded how tremendous the art direction for Milk’s ‘Never Dated’ mini-album was (complete with Mike D on drums). The broken bottle with blood cover and the ‘got milk.’ ad are still peerless.

HIGH MAINTENANCE

Wow. There’s been a lot of talk of murderers and psychopaths on this site over the last few weeks. Maybe it’s time to dwell on some apparel for once. Having said that, on a holistic level, everything’s somehow related. I think the more macabre topics could link into the none-blacker Rick Owens aesthetic, and even if that’s not your thing for everyday wear, last week’s Paris show is up on his site, complete with the slightly warped Felix ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ edit as the soundtrack and none of the shaky fashionista phone camera flaws that plagued the rushed YouTube uploads. I could never pull off a damned thing from the show, but the spectacle is undeniable and a glorious, experiential antidote to third-hand jpegs.

That whole gothalete look has an elegance that prevents the right wearer from looking like Dave Vanian at a Fitness First. It’s an all-or-nothing approach to attire. Those Raf Simons hiker dress shoes are clearly the next logical step in stylistic mixes, looking like some abstract atonement for the strange moonboots of seasons past. They’re the all-in-one solution for post-sneaker wankers troubled as to whether to go casual or formal—it’s like a knowing flip on the craze for giving smart shoes a Vibram base.

Too much of the good clothing is high maintenance. You can’t sling it over a chair or merrily swing a burger around while you’re in mid-anecdote while you’re wearing it. That’s why I favour replaceable and utilitarian. Cashmere? I’m gonna George Costanza that neckline in seconds with my oversize noggin. White Oxford shirts? With denim they remind me of my mate’s dad’s pub outfits back in the day and they’re stain magnets. On seeing the perennially dipped Edson from Patta flossing in a suede coat I was immediately hating on a player, but in my hands I’d ruin it in seconds as well as looking a little like Dennis Waterman, yet there’s part of me that saw older kids macking in suede blousons as a kid and still wants one as a matter of closure. They’re the outerwear equivalent of buying a Mogwai…you just can’t get them wet. Jerry Seinfeld knew this in the ‘Seinfeld’ where he meets Lawrence Tierney. Want to spray protect it like a pair of Timberlands? You’re asking for an uneven finish. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rough suede, nap suede or shaved suede.

From the avant-garde Nicolo Ceschi and Isaac Sellam variations to the more grounded takes courtesy of the defunct (and very, very overlooked Invertere of Newton Abbott which is soon to be resurrected), Paul Harnden, the suede Baracuta lookalikes from Orvis (check the Bomber Jacket) and the excellent Golden Bear Sportswear (the Ross in suede) who make a mean varsity jacket too, to the long-gone suede take on J. Crew’s Stockton, I’ve admired many coats in the easily annihilated fabric over the years. But I’m accident prone, a frequent backpacker and incessant coffee drinker. Me and suede outerwear were never destined to be.

Bamford & Sons had the ill soft suede Field Coat, but Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label (the Purple Label Reinder Suede Hacking Jacket was truly fancy) wing has the most aspirational creations in the sensitive leather. The Vincent Suede Car Coat is baller status, but the current sale pieces (still monstrously expensive) like the down vests in goat suede go hard. I could live without a Walking Coat in the wardrobe, but the goat suede Stinson Down Coat is serious. It’s a shame that it would last around a week in my possession, before I manage to give it alopecia-style patches and destroy the sense-of-luxury. I’ll stick with the bland, resilient fabrics for the time being.