There’s plenty of little moments scattered across publications that altered the course my career would take in one way or another. Back in mid 1998, The Face ran a ‘Fashion Hype’ (and hype would become a word attached to these objects like a particularly excitable Siamese twin in the decade that followed) piece on the newly opened Hit and Run store (which would be renamed The Hideout for presumed legal reasons by 2000). This two page spread was a rundown of things I’d never seen in the UK and sure enough never seen them with a pound price next to them. I immediately rushed out and asked a couple of Nottingham skate stores if they’d be getting any Ape, Supreme, GoodEnough or Let It Ride gear in, only to be met with a blank stare. lesson learnt: Kopelman had the hookups that the other stores didn’t. This Upper James Street spot was selling APC jeans for 48 quid, while Supreme tees were only a fiver less than they are now. The 1998 season when Supreme put out their AJ1, Casio, Champion tee, Goodfellas script design and Patagonia-parody jacket was particularly appealing, and it was showcased here, while SSUR keyrings, BAPE camo luggage and soft furnishings were a hint of things to come. I guarantee that once you made it to the store, a lot of the stuff that you assumed you could grab with ease would be gone — an early life lesson that hype just isn’t fair.
Not much time to source anything particularly interesting today, but I recommend spending your time with this phenomenal two-hour Combat Jack Show episode with Whoo Kid that’s strewn with some incredible anecdotes and a Michael Jackson story that will make your day. You should also take a few minutes to marvel at the new Stitches video to try to comprehend just how nihilistic that face ink seems to be and watch this Arc’teryx video that breaks down the new LEAF Alpha Jacket — having visited the Arc’teryx factory a couple of years ago, I can testify that their Canadian-made outerwear is something very, very special.
I got quoted as a “sneaker writer” on this Nike Natural Motion microsite. I’m not sure what a “sneaker writer” is, but it sounds like a doomed role. Tragically, I’m languishing at the bottom of the list from the good people at Campless (who put in some excellent work). I like shoes (as you can tell by the recurring role they play right here), but #getting #wild #with #the #hashtags #at #my #age #is #unbecoming and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t adverse to shoe-related art, clothing, key rings…almost everything trying to cash in on a po-faced, cynical non-culture that isn’t a pair of shoes. There’s oneupmanship and there’s turning things into a super serious sportswear version of an afternoon at Games Workshop. But as long as ‘sneaker writing’ pays, I’m down to reap the benefits and I’ll always have a shoe problem, no matter how much I try to keep it under control.
Because it was looking a bit dull, I just scattered this entry with some old Patagonia ads from the days when their pile fleeces were still a object, the logo was bigger and their shell system debuted. That plastic pile design’s quick drying, lighter than wool benefits helped change everything when it debuted in 1977. Fuck your norm-core: it might be dad wear, but it was forward-thinking, state-of-the-art dad wear.
Because I’m currently
helping to design colouring in some stuff for a project, I found myself looking for inspiration and ended up back at Patagonia. Again. The brand that helped pioneer the protective concept of a layering system, the insulated sweater and the Synchilla fleece (one of the greatest names for a technology ever) had some of the best colours ever — even the lurid shorts (popularised on the watery rather than snowy side of things) are visually appealing. The brand Yvon Chouinard built is still doing interesting things — Yvon’s on-site blacksmith setup is still the source of new ideas and the recent launch of the Patagonia Provisions line, with their own salmon jerky, and soon, a Patagonia Provisions fruit and nut bar. Talking outerwear when the UK has been slow-grilled by some of the warmest weather in the lion’s share of a decade seems inappropriate, but I guarantee when it gets cold, it’s going to get cold, so thoughts of layers aren’t especially blasphemous right now.
I’m in minimum effort blog mode because I’m on holiday for the next fortnight, but that twitch I get when I don’t click something in WordPress twice a week means I at least have to put something up here today. I’ll never quite understand the never not working ethos, because it hints at impending apathy, stomach ulcers and a poor approach to managing what needs to be done, but when hobby and career collide, it’s tough to split the two. I have no real problem with that, but seeing as I’m sat here in an apartment when there’s a glorious NYC day outside that’s not too humid or piss-smelling, it seems my OCD is winning at the moment.
Having spent the weekend in Connecticut courtesy of Mr Nick Schonberger and his fam, I ate some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and witnessed some of the most boss living, stroked a cat that looked a little like Sgt. Sipowicz, learnt of the power of the smash burger technique via Chris Schonberger and noticed that Nick has beaten shoes that ether the entire collections of some “celebrity” sneaker dudes. Plenty of ancient people with Nantucket Reds on who live the life your favourite rappers fictionalise just scattered the streets too. My new ambition is to become wealthy and live in this area eating lobster and fried clams until my heart gives out and I fall into the river that backs my garden with a final splash, with my fate undiscovered for a couple of hours because the grounds are so sprawling.
I had no idea that LL Bean made an ice cream collaboration with local brand Gifford’s. Heritage goes frozen dairy and it’s delicious. This > all duck boot knockoffs.
Having grown up on Tim Dog’s works (and I still believe that the intro to ‘Penicillin On Wax’ and ‘DJ Quik Beat Down’ are the greatest elements of any album ever), finding out that this Bronx goon is a cad too via ‘Dateline’ was excellent, but was disappointed to hear that Tim had no criminal record. I would pay to see the ‘Chocolate Fantasy’ tour, I’m certain that back in the MySpace era, I saw a mention of that mysterious 5-CD box set and considered pre-ordering it via some spurious pre-order site. I could have been one of those victims. How the heck is he still trying to deal with Sony, when his career fizzled in a blitz of Snoop disses and Apache Indian guest spots? I never realised that ‘Fuck Compton’ was inspired by Dave Funkenklein (RIP) trying to get Tim on Hollywood Basic and asking for an NWA style project (Dave retaliates here). I think Bonz Malone had the measure of him all the way back in early 1992…
That Apple clothing collection from 1986 that’s been doing the web rounds since Buzzfeed highlighted it again (after the Trad upped it a while ago) last week might have caused some amusement, but those collaborations with Patagonia on the shirt and belt and North Face for a vest are intriguing. Patagonia’s cult following and persona echoes the Steve Jobs (and the contents of that catalogue is the antithesis of Jobs’ vision) eras of Apple in many ways, but those shirts are terrible. Apple x North Face would bruise the blogs in 2012 though.
Many of my favourite things got good in Japan. They might have been made with a western audience in mind, but in the far east — to quote Mr. Tim Dog — they stole our beat and made it better. An audience in America could only see yellowed soles and faded, utilitarian apparel, but in Harajuku they saw gold. This ad, from a local newspaper in the US dated April 1998, indicated that some enterprising individuals had spotted the dollar signs in the land of the rising sun. While the sight of a sumo wrestler in Jordan XIs is fun, it’s everything surrounding it that points at a drought of sporting rarities in Japan at the time, and it’s pretty much a who’s-who of the brands and products that lay the foundation for today’s sprawling hypetastic culture. While the Dunk would be reissued later that year, the ad claims it could sell (before it ever reached Japan) for $500 — far more than any of the other pieces cited. Forces, Flights and Pegasus are deemed worthless, with a definite bias towards 1980s running or basketball and Jordans.
Big ‘E’ Levi’s, Patagonia fleeces and Stüssy tees (“Tees with photos on the back are best”) are also part of the call to deadstock arms. Given the fact that pretty much every item incorporated has been retroed, re-retroed or re-re-retroed (even the once-mighty Convention made a slightly haggard-looking repeat visit) it’s easy to forget how much these things used to change hands for pre-millennium. Stiill, it’s refreshing to see that the Aloha Hawaii and 1987’s mysterious Air Python (for years I erroneously believed the Python to be made in Italy like the Jordan II, with which it shares similarities) have stayed away from the shelves, and have retained a certain mystique as a result. Without the mystique, these things are just lumpen blocks of leather (pleather?) or shrunken cotton. In the years that followed, this obsession would be exported back to a limited edition loving breed of westerner with a tad too much income and access to the internet. The rest is history, but I would have loved to have seen what turned up in the parking lot of Lewiston, Idaho’s K-Mart between April 2nd and April 4th, 1998. If those sellers had had access to Yahoo Auctions, it’s doubtful they would have skipped off so freely with a fistful of fifties.
Off topic, it was sad to hear of Jonas from L-R-G’s passing. His interview with Hypebeast earlier last month contained a few pearls: “All I’m saying is I think kids follow blogs like a religion. Go atheist for a bit.”
Apologies for turning this blog into one of those stone-faced, wordless, image blogs for one night only. That wasn’t my avowed intention. This imagery was way too nostalgic and olde world to leave alone without spotlighting some newness down below. But it fell by the wayside because I got waylaid watching the Crufts 2011 finals (that boxer was robbed, yo) and reading about The Idler magazine’s new Idler Academy in west London. I lost concentration entirely.
All I can offer this evening is what was on my hard drive after I pillaged the ‘Backpacker’ archive for imagery pertaining to outdoor performance between 1973 and 1996. The project never amounted to anything, but I know a few like minds who might get a kick out of it. Hell, there’s plenty of right-clickers who might want to stick ‘em on their Tumblrs and claim them as their own. I don’t care, seeing as I borrowed them from a magazine in the first place.
The Columbia, Du Pont, Vasque, Marmot, Universal and Pivetta ads are particularly strong. In the current climate of outdoorsy one-upmanship (a trend that seems to have stuck), I’ll take this copy-heavy, utilitarian focus over the fey drivel that’s inappropriately applied to rugged gear throughout the blog world. I’ve been fixating on the Thinsulate labelling lately as one of my favourite pieces of branding. It’s democratic too compared to the steep price tags on steep incline wear that bears another personal favourite — the GORE-TEX tab.
Beyond the official North Face hookups, I loved Supreme’s woolly hat homage to the Thinsulate branding (not to be mistaken for the Thinsulate Supreme technology) in the vein of their Patagonia tributes.
Normal windy, wordy and pretentious service should resume next week.