Tag Archives: proper

IDEAS

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Little to report this evening other than my excitement at the impending Massimo Osti Archive exhibition in east London later in the month from Jacket Required and the gents from Proper magazine. I’m not sure that it coincides with the actual reprint, but it definitely coincides with the news that the Ideas From Massimo Osti book is getting a reissue very soon, with extra content to reward everybody who was late to the party and punish the keen. Still, I’d be happy to keep another copy for emergency purposes. If you’re UK-based, this might be worth whatever the % increase in travel fare was this year. Continue reading IDEAS

ARI UP

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If you’re here, I’ll be presumptuous — and not in that irksome clickbait “You won’t believe what…” way —and assume that you own something by Ari Marcopoulos. Ari is one of the greats, working with the Gucci’s new order as well as Supreme, and his documents of NYC skate culture are immortal. Continue reading ARI UP

OUR FRIENDS IN THE NORTH

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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.

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INFLUENCE

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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.

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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.

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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.

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YACHTWEAR

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A couple of things drove me to think about the Nautica jacket era this evening — old Gino Ianucci coverage (if you take the Chris Hall Champion homage, the Salvador Barbier Polo graphic and the Ianucci Nautica bite, you’ve got a holy trinity of sorts) and this great Proper interview with Steve Sanderson from Oi Polloi that dabbles in discussion of classic nautical gear. It seemed fitting to chuck this 1993 Yachting magazine piece on technical windbreakers up here (surprisingly devoid of Helly Hansen, though that might have been considered a weightier, more traditional sailing option.) This model is killing it — you can keep your normcore irony and pay tribute to this guy’s array of expensive outerwear, because he looks like the sort of guy who really would own a yacht and blast Hall & Oates from a Bang & Olufsen system as he glides across the water, quite rightly without his tongue in his cheek. And naturally, this stuff got reappropriated brilliantly.

AVAR

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Eric Avar has designed some crazy shoes and I remain a fan of his more outlandish creations, even if they’re impossible to wear with jeans. Seeing Foamposites, Flight 95s or original Frees being retroed is either a testament to the fact they’re still ahead of their time, an admission of defeat — that something that insane won’t be made again – or a pointless endeavour, because they were the antithesis of backward glances when it came to design. I still don’t know. What I do know is that Avar thinks differently (working with Tinker Hatfield, he co-created a lot of ACG classics and the mighty Flight Huarache). This whole shoe thing is played out, but I’ll always investigate anything that Eric Avar has created. After the initial excitement over the low-cut fourth Kobe design (I still count it as the sixth Kobe shoe, because the Huarache 2K4 and 2K5 are part of the story — taking adidas into consideration, it was probably the eleventh Kobe shoe), I always felt that shock of the new was dulled a little by variations on a theme for the next four chapters. It’s nice to see that the low-cut has been ditched in favor of a polarising high version for the Kobe 9 Elite. I guarantee that when this gets a trim down next year, the Flyknit fans are going to come flocking. This shoe has the scope to be great — good luck trying to pull them off with shorts though.

This has been on another site, but the list of limitations and lack of share icons means that it’s better off here. It’s a quick chat with Eric Avar about the new shoe and if you’re expecting nerdery and insight, you aren’t going to get it. Phoners for specific shoes result in advertorial-style content, but there’s some hints at what makes him tick creatively. Somewhere, I’ve got a 90 minute chat with him about past triumphs that would be more relevant to this blog, but the holidays aren’t a place for interview transcription, so you’re getting this instead:

Eric, what shoes were on the table during initial meetings for the Kobe 9? Football boots played a part during the fourth shoe, so what was a cross category muse for this one?

A lot of initial talks we had were about how we had established the low as a proposition and how that referenced football boots. When we started the conversation around the 9 he really wanted a hi-top that would play like a low top. Even when we started the conversations for the low top back in the day we had to clarify just how low — three-quarters or a true low? So we almost had the same conversation again about the high. Would it be a high three-quarters or a high top? Kobe was like, “HIGH”. So he referenced a wrestling boot and more specifically, a boxing boot. He immediately referenced Manny Pacquiao and Manny’s boxing boots and shoes and he liked the essence of being provocative that way and he liked the mentality and spirit of Pacquiao so that played a role too. From a performance standpoint he just wanted a hi-top that would play like a low top with the range of motion we established with a perceptive fit or feel around its angle.

It’s odd to think that half a decade ago Kobe was asking for a low top that acted like a hi-top and now it’s the other way around.

Yeah!

How demanding is Kobe as a partner in design? We know he’s a player that loves control and the last four Kobes had that shape, the cut, the outrigger — there was very much a Kobe formula. Does he know what he wants from the start?

Yes. He does — he knows what he wants, but there’s always healthy conversation back and forth. He challenges myself and the entire Kobe team and I think we also challenge him in terms of what performance insights we may have and what performance technologies we have. We challenge one another but yes — Kobe is very articulate and very creative and he knows exactly what he is looking for and where he wants to go with his product.

Have you noticed that confidence and understanding increase over the years?

He has always had a good level of understanding and he has always been creative but I think through the years we’ve become more familiar with one another and the entire team. That gives us a deeper level of conversation which just leads to more potential of what we can do and where we can take the product. We’ve learned where we can take things.

Did you have a role in the creation of Flyknit originally — did it pass through the Innovation Kitchen and the ‘Zoo’?

We’ve been evolving the Flyknit technology in one way or another for probably about 12 years. There’s been so many people that have played a role directly or indirectly to get it to the point where it is today. I was in that mix, but it’s hard to say exactly what role.

As far as Flyknit engineering, does it have to be toughened up to be on the court as opposed to use as a running shoe?

That’s one of the unique things about Flyknit — its flexibility as a design and manufacturing tool. You can really push the boundaries in a number of directions to answer a number of performance problems. In basketball we knew we needed to push the boundaries in security because of the propulsive forces and lateral movements in the game. There were a number of ways to do that in both the fibres that we used and the stitches we used to create that constraint you would need above the running product.

On the running front, speaking to Sean McDowell this summer he said that he feels like George Lucas in that he wants to go back and change what he created in the past to improve it — with Flywire, Lunarlon and Flyknit around now, do you ever feel the same about earlier Kobe models or are you always looking forward?

That’s a good question. I think everything has a time and a place. With the type of technologies we had back then, we were pushing the limits and the innovations we have now are appropriate now. One of things about design in general and not specifically footwear is that technology is evolving so fast and there’s just so much room for improving in general when it comes to creativity and performance. You can look back through history and I think that’s always the case. A lot of times I’m asked what my favourite project has been and I steal a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright — he always said it’s the next one. I really believe that. In hindsight there’s always something you could do better and there’s always something to improve upon but as we go forward, the insight and data makes it an exciting time in general for footwear design.

I always associate my favourite designs from you, going back to Penny, Jason Kidd and Payton with the Zoom Air era of Nike design. Is that the perfect technology for you in that it’s great cushioning but it never gets in the way of a design? It’s rarely a focal feature.

It becomes the design — yes. That’s a good observation. I think Zoom is a very appropriate technology for basketball — it’s good cushioning and good responsive cushioning allows you to get lower to the ground. I think some of the Lunarlon foams we’ve been working on are very similar. For me, it’s a good tool — I’m a big believer in natural motion and product that works on one to one with the body and we’ve been using Zoom to provide that cushioning as part of that harmony.

How does natural motion operate in the Kobe 9?

We’re using the drop-in midsole with the Lunarlon foam and that midsole is, by its nature, very lightweight, compliant and flexible. We’ve used an outsole that’s also a little more pliable. There’s an aspect of the whole product that’s form-fitting and dynamic to the foot, so yeah, it’s in there definitely. The collar being dynamic also allows for a more perceptive fit.

With Kobe’s build and mode of play are there things you can do with him that you couldn’t do with a player like LeBron?

There are definitely differences between the style of play and body type of players but today’s players in general are just so athletic and explosive. It’s almost like playing a video game where you have your different attributes and strengths of a character — one might be different to another but that’s just how athletes are. Fundamentally, you’re trying to solve the same key problems, but you might zoom in on a key attribute of a player and amplify that a little bit where it’s appropriate for them and in line with their needs.

Did Kobe’s injuries make development of this shoe lengthier? Personally, I never expected him to even come back at this point but I just put that down to him being a freak of nature. Was wear testing more rigorous?

It was actually a pretty normal process. With Kobe, in terms of him trying out prototypes, like you said, he’s a freak of nature — everything he does is calculated to the highest degree for the most positive outcome. He approached his injury that way, from the rehab to the training and it was in sync with the prototypes of the product we were working on and it actually wasn’t that different.

Were you shocked when he wanted to add scars to the back of the shoe?

Nothing with Kobe shocks me! I had just met with him shortly after surgery and I have a picture on my phone of a picture he showed me of his surgery and his injury and we were talking about that and I mentioned that it was kind of a cool visual and he was like, “Oh yeah! Let’s put stitches on the shoe!” That’s the classic hero’s journey — rising back to the success. We just immediately stumbled across that and felt it from an inspiration and visual standpoint.

I know form often follows function but these shoes always have such a strong narrative — I mean, the Black Mamba concept has become a performance part of the shoe, but when does the plot become part of the process of design?

I think each shoe is a little different — there might be more insight or inspiration from style or form. On some, it’s a little earlier in the process and on others it comes a little later. I personally think that good design is when style and function are seamless — almost naturally flowing into one another like, “Okay, here’s the performance and now we’re going to layer in the style.” It’s when they’re fluid and one almost creates the other we get some of the most compelling products and that’s when I personally think that good design happens.

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Issue 14 of Proper is pretty shoe-centric and the magazine remains one of the few menswear magazines with a sense of humour (the workplace stories are particularly amusing) — crucially, the team know their stuff and the evolution in terms of presentation has been tremendous, with a visual language in place over the last three editions to match the irreverence. Chatting to BWGH about the Jimmy Savile incident (when lookbooks go wrong) and trawling through Lindy Darrell’s spectacular haul of Nike SMUs are some of the highlights from this one. Still one of the best publications out there.

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ANIMALS IN DENIM

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I’ll update this blog properly in a few days. Tonight, instead of visiting this site, I recommend listening to the mighty Tim Westwood mistake human immunodeficiency virus for a high street CD/DVD retailer during a carnival announcement as a reminder as to why Tim will always matter. I also recommend checking out Zipper. Zipper is a Levi’s Vintage Clothing funded magazine with contributions from the Proper squad and a well-executed 1972 theme that you can check out here. Among the knowing faux-old world content, there’s some great Levi’s artwork from campaigns commissioned by agencies like SF’s Foote, Cone & Belding and the AMC Gremlin Levi’s edition with the denim seats. When commercial artists like Larry Duke and Bruce Wolfe were creating promotional imagery, it yielded some of the most beautiful commercial artwork ever executed. I’m assuming the Bruce Wolfe who painted the late 1970s animals partying with arcuate pocket kites is the same Bruce Wolfe who painted the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom poster too. Every time I’m down I stare at this poster to stare at a world where a crocodile dressed like a casual and a penguin wearing a denim jacket are united in merriment. I’m sure that later on, the pig got his throat ripped out for speaking out of turn, but for a few minutes, food chains were abandoned in favour of fun. It’s like a lost chapter from Animal Farm where Napoleon hands out Boxer’s ketamine stash. Is that a fox wearing hickory stripes? Shouts to the bear for his head to toe duck too — even the crow is dipped. This beats any lookbook.