Northerners stay winning. As I sit here in the Lake District, 5 hours from London, I’m aware that I’m in a place where justifying some GORE-TEX expense makes a little more sense. Clobber-loving print publications from that side of the UK impress me time and time again to the point where I’m starting to repeat myself every time I receive new copies. Far more than just being about a jacket and a certain swagger, the Oi Polloi empire has spread south of late, but their always-excellent Pica~Post is an antidote to the influx of digital look books showcasing hollow-cheeked dudes looking uncomfortable in Sports Direct style gear on the periphery of a housing estate (just far enough away to avoid any potential wallet inspectors). Issue #9 (which retails for the comedy price of just 2p) contains an interview with perennial screen weasel David Patrick Kelly, who stole the show in classics like The Warriors. Commando, Dreamscape and Last Man Standing, before being one of the best characters in last year’s action masterpiece, John Wick. The team also got orthotic and put together a decent Mephisto feature that sheds some light on the billion dollar business built on uncompromised comfort, and how Arnie (star of the aforementioned 1985 fleck-suited, neck breaking, synth and kettle drum soundtracked favourite) and Pavarotti were fanatical about the brand’s offerings, complete with a shot of the rotund tenor wearing a pair — no shot of a rapper in freebie shoes without the super-soft walking experience can match that swagger. Proper’s new issue is a belter too, and they’ve gone Hollywood on us too — the illustrated guide to outfits in films is way better than another know-nada Steve McQueen fetish feature, singling out a few lesser-discussed sartorial screen moments, while Russ from TSPTR’s vintage sweatshirt collection will make you jealous.
Sometimes an image is so good that it renders any text obsolete. Snoopy in the legendary Gucci Tennis from the book to coincide with 1984’s Japanese Snoopy in Fashion exhibition is a perfect case study. Idea Books Instagrammed it this morning and made my day. Even better than Donald Duck in Timbs. Speaking of wheat workboots, a couple of good promo print projects arrived in the post this week — Oi Polloi’s always excellent Pica~Post is back with some extra metal, an interview with Patagonia Alpine Outerwear Christian Regester and Mr. Gary Aspden (it’s heartening to see the low-key looks of the SPEZIAL Ardwick become an object of desire in a world where the same old Technicolor yawns get eBay bids) who really, really went on the campaign trail for his labour of love after years of not doing too many Q&As — Next’s role in casual culture, a picture of Gary with a spaniel and a Preston b-boy crew called Mystic Force makes this amazing. The increasingly prolific David Hellqvist (aka. the Baron) has done a good job with the Document project on the Timberland topic — there’s fashion talk in there, design talk and a really good conversation between my friends Nick Schonberger and Ronnie Fieg on the topic of the brand and its connection to NYC that I loved (sample quote: “Chris Webber used to buy 15 pairs of Timberland at a time”). That’s the kind of insight I want to read when we’re talking about brands that I’m smitten with.
The Hiroshi Fujiwara fragment retrospective on Rizzoli is pretty good. If you grabbed the Sneakers Tokyo and Personal Effects books, surprises are going to be minimised, but if you haven’t, it delivers the goods. Over the years I’ve heard the, “Hiroshi Fujiwara of (insert country/city)…” mentioned whenever it comes to isolating cool guys, but the majority exist as alpha individuals who are still followers who made the most of a digital world. Hiroshi laid down roots through an obsession with exploration and isolating personal picks and his taste is impeccable — more a McLaren-style figure than a blog-wonder. That’s what makes the difference, and for all the use of taste maker in the industry, there aren’t a great deal of them out there. The Fader article from 2000 is a good complement to this one and much of his travels outlined in this Interview piece help fill some gaps which aren’t fully explored in this publication — I’m still fascinated by the trips to London and NYC (and there’s some good examples of his Seditionaries and Westwood archive pieces at the close of the book), Soul II Soul connections, Tinnie Punx/Tiny Panx Organization, bearing witness to the Wild Style tour and all those Last Orgy articles (an English translation of Masayuki Kawakatsu’s biography Tiny Punk on the Hills would have cleared up a lot of that period from 1982 onwards). I want to know about the things that don’t necessarily translate, but the man behind the brands is fully aware that too much information can ruin the bloke as a brand. It’s good to be able to isolate the genesis years of Goodenough, Electric Cottage and A.F.F.A. and John C. Jay’s intro is a particular standout— as long as folks are calling themselves influencers on Linkedin, we’re unlikely to see another character make an impact like this. Not bad.
Northerners are the reason a lot of us fetishise coats and sportswear like we do — Oi Polloi’s progressive approach to something that started on the terraces is a great deal truer to the original energy than strutting around in a replica track top. Looking like you just got out of prison after 31 years in solitary confinement or dressing in a gang bang of anachronistic retro garments defeats a hard-to-define purpose. The new Pica~Post (free) and Proper (seven quid) put most competition to shame: a long discussion on sweatshirts with the Good Measure team and talk with an elderly ultra marathoner are the kind of content I mess with.
This edit from Dan Magee of a ton of classic and rare footage brought back memories of skateboard attacks at the end of the Right to Skate tape as well as some happier recollections. It’s a good use of two hours and seeing as my day began listening to Kid Capri tapes on YouTube and ended with this, my post about shutting the fuck up about 1993 a few years back has reached new heights of hypocrisy.
I’m backing any brand that does outerwear right and ALL THAT IS LEFT has a good pedigree. I know this new line will be putting out a full range beyond jackets that seems to include denim and leather goods, but this orange GORE-TEX shell creation with a Pertex shelled lining that contains Canadian Hutterite down looks bananas (read here for a primer on fancy feather insulation). It looks like it launches in September and my expectations are sky-high.
Please excuse the rushed nature of this blog entry. I was going to move servers to make gwarizm.com the official home of all this claptrap but strange domain redirecting issues meant I actually ended up having the time to chuck something up here tonight after all. My relationship with printed matter is a tempestuous one — for much of my life I dreamed of being a scribe for one of the fancy magazines that broke the £2.50 mark in WH Smiths, but once I actually wrote for one, I realized that most of the content was advertorial (even the stuff without “advertising feature” on the top of the page). That culled my buying habits significantly.
While putting out a publication seems to be a new norm as some reaction to people thinking bloggers are chancers, doing it well is difficult. After all, the big magazines are spreading their pages for advertisers for a reason — survival. Just starting a magazine for the hell of it is as tedious as calling your blog an online magazine, so I’ve slashed my purchases to a handful of regular and when-they-can-be-fucked-to publications. Being lazy and odd (and not actually living in London) I never made it to Goodhood’s launch for the new issue of LAW, but I feel guilty about it, because it’s something worth supporting — continuing the history lesson, when I was putting out strange blog entries for Acyde’s The Most Influential site a few years back, I was determined to keep it UK-centric.
As a Brit, i felt it was my duty to talk about local matters and not my yankophile leanings. TMI actually changed before I could run out of ideas fully, but I was definitely running on fumes. I feel a certain guilt for not representing Britain fully on here, but – as I’ve mentioned several times – I think the ISYS squad, Rollo Jackson and LAW do it better than I ever could. There’s a certain Britishness that barely translates abroad and it’s part of the urban and suburban everyday existence — it’s all sportswear, mild eccentricity, inadvertently odd design touches and scowls. Most of the time we take it for granted and don’t document it (I’ve hunted some imagery for a couple of projects in the last 12 months and was shocked at how little documentation there was). LAW goes in to log it with a keen design eye that affords everyday objects and lives a certain elegance.
LAW #3 is out now and the use of Goodhood’s interior with the magazine’s driving slogan was a nice touch (all LAW-related imagery here is swaggerjacked from the Goodhood site). You can buy it right here for £12.50.
Another magazine that gets a lot of deserved shine here is Oi Polloi’s Pica~Post. You need to know your stuff to actually have fun with anything and everything in this free publication – from the typography to the product pick is on point. This beats any bullshit slow blog-baiting lookbook (and those Anthony Crook Engineered Garments shots in here are a nice example of how a lookbook can be done) and you can read this online right here but the way it’s printed as an object gives it a purpose beyond the screen. Shouts to Eóin and the whole Pica~Post mind squad.
In addition to the above, the Joe McKenna profile in Fantastic Man #17 is excellent too. But you’d expect them to deliver on a feature like that, wouldn’t you?
Cheers to Nike SB for letting me do some writing about the Koston 2 shoe for the Nike Inc. site. Anything that lets me interview Eric is the sort of thing that would make the 15-year-old me do an awkward dance in public. Now I just do it in private. There seems to be a quick glimpse of an interesting Lunarlon-aided Koston 2 golf shoe sitting by Tiger Woods’ shopping bags in the behind-the-scenes footage.
On the shoe topic, now that every hip-hop related documentary of my youth is available on 2-disc DVD or on YouTube, where are the British trainer documentaries? The first time I ever saw Tinker and company was on the excellent 1992 BBC program Trainer Wars. I know that was far better than any recent effort to document sports footwear. Where can I get hold of a copy of it? Back in the day, you paid someone like Dave the Ruf to send you a 240-minute tape of tenth-generation dubs of everything you needed. I need Trainer Wars and the 2001 Sneaker Freaks documentary that Channel 4 aired as part of the Alt.TV series with Jeremy Howlett sitting on top of Howlett’s. OG Air Max 95s being sold for insane money at Meteor Sports and Will Self pulling a gasface at the notion of anyone hoarding Nikes. In fact, I believed that Trainer Wars never happened until I found this footage of the commercial for it from when it showed on Discovery Europe.
Schemed a blog entry on the train then found out another better blog had done it already. I was going to blog about the Nike & Stüssy project but there’s about 3,000 things about it on the internet already — needless to say, I’m extremely grateful that Adam and Jorge (a phenomenal designer) let me write some stuff and Eric Elms was kind enough to put me in touch with those guys. I missed out on the opportunity to work in a period of advertising I worship and they retroed an aesthetic beautifully in #the #hashtag #era. But you can Google that and see better coverage. As I wait for a Rizzoli Dapper Dan retrospective to sit alongside the Hussein Chalayan book, I’ve been looking back at a couple of gems that capture the naivety of Euro teen hip-hop obsession as well as a time when you weren’t so jaded that you didn’t look at your new shoe/track top/cap/t-shirt last thing before the lights went off at night. Now we’re all scheming the next purchase before the email confirmation of commerce even arrives. That’s why I loved Dokument Press’s ‘Cause We Got Style!’ last year, laden with plenty of pasty faces pulling off b-boy poses in gear that almost certainly required some fraternal hookups and pen friend behaviour as well as complicated – and perilous — modes of payment by mail. European hip-hop posing in 2012 doesn’t seem as fun.
‘Cause We Got Style’ was a fine supplement to the Cold War East Germany hip-hop scene documentary, ‘Here We Come’ — further proof that Europeans rival our friends in Japan on the obsession front and manage to make good use of scant resources like some sub-cultural survivalists. Dokument are dropping something equally exciting in April 2013 with the release of ‘Shirt Kings — Pioneers of Hip-Hop Fashion’ by Edwin “PHADE” Sacasa and Ket. PHADE and his NYC crew’s contribution to the print t-shirt, hip-hop style and as a result, street style as a whole is substantial and 144 pages of Shirt Kings is a serious prospect, given how popular a mere scattering of images from blogs and PHADE’s MySpace of happy Shirt Kings’ customers proved. I’ve always wondered how many of the shoes in those shots came from the legendary Mitch’s shoe spot near the Shirt Kings set up and Eddie Plein’s OG gold grill location. This is a promising publication — salutes to Dokument for putting out this kind of thing.
That was an anaemic Wednesday entry — I promise I’ll make it up to you.
In the meantime, go read the new issue of Oi Polloi’s Pica~Post here. On the subject of re appropriation and style, there’s a good interview with Olmes Carretti the man behind Best Company in there — a brand worn by some top boys as well as Russ Abbott in the ‘Atmosphere’ video. Carretti’s own website is a treasure trove of Euro ads for his brands, including a ton from ten years of Best Company. Is that coke or snow on that guy’s nose?
If in doubt, just pillage a magazine archive for ads. I like to ramble on about morphine-addled authors and the like, but it goes quadruple balsa in terms of visits (still, all of you who read that stuff are quadruply appreciated), so every now and again it’s good to conform to typecasting and up some old Polo stuff. Anyway, if you haven’t already been to Oi Polloi and checked out ‘Pica~Post’ No. 3, I feel bad for you. And if you’re a rival retailer, I quadruple dare you to beat that photo shoot of people bearing fish. Today I mentioned somewhere that 2Pac in the Karl Kani ads beats pretty much all photoshoots bar the Staple X book and Chimp’s canine cap project, but that one’s a winner too. The Andy Votel piece in there about a collector mentality and the birth of Oi Polloi (plus steel-toed adidas Shelltoe obscurities) is also excellent. I wish I could answer his decade-old film query. I’ve got one of my own — a late 1970’s/early 1980’s sci-fi horror that involved a paralysed man with a robot assistant that turned bad. It involved a decapitated head in a washing machine and no, it’s not ‘Demon Seed.’ If you know the answer it’ll be rewarded. I managed to solve the mystery of what the film was where a man went down a mystery hole to hell and went insane (‘Encounter With the Unknown’) or the film where a boy with an aging disease was cast as an alien (The Aurora Encounter’) but this is the only film from my childhood that I just can’t name. Anyway, on the northerners who know their stuff front, ‘The Rig Out’ No. 5 launches tomorrow. A good time for paper coverage of clobber. I wish I could use the term “madhead” in conversation, but as a southerner, it doesn’t work. Anyway, go check those things out. To pad out this blog entry, here’s a slew of Polo ads from between 1979 and 1986, taken from ‘Texas Monthly.’ That big money region was evidently a Polo hotbed. There’s some repeats between this and the ‘Ralph Lauren’ book, plus the handful of Polo-centric Tumblrs, but that illustrated ad above, depicting the Lauren life an overblown cinematic style is amazing and warranted inclusion here. And is there much call for wild knitwear in Texas?
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.