Tag Archives: puma

LAURA WHITCOMB & SPORTSWEAR

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The best thing about this site is the ability to up missing details you forget to mention in features way, way back. In last year’s bid to blow up the adidas Gazelle I omitted to mention the impact of Laura Whitcomb’s work and Madonna’s patronage in 1993. Whitcomb ran the store Label (which used the Repo Man style no-frills, consumerist aesthetic earlier than many) in New York from 1995 to 2010 and continues to run Label in a less prominent form. Whitcomb’s unique evening gown reinterpretation of the adidas tracksuit was initially unofficial but a memorable moment in sportswear and fashion crossover. That dress and the platform Gazelle (which I assumed was a custom, but I’m not 100% certain — there were high-heel edition too) unlocked some potential for where old world athletic performance design could be taken. Eventually, adidas gave permission to manufacture the clothes, while PUMA, Everlast and Champion apparently only agreed to one-offs. Whitcomb — an LA native who worked as a stylist in London before moving back overseas — began the Label project in 1991 with her sports remixes that would include PUMA, Everest and, a while before the flips got a little overwhelming, Champion. She deserves a lot of respect for doing UPS ad uniform flips in 1993 too, seeing as lesser fashion homages been opinion-pieced to death of late. Those sporty maxi-dresses were much imitated, but it’s a moment in fashion that defined 1993 and instigated something far bigger. The Label by Laura Whitcomb blog has a lot of excellent press imagery from the time regarding those reappropriated adidas pieces, plus this piece on the Label store and its work with Playboy iconography. A fashion, streetwear and sportswear clash, the collaborations and even the Stash-designed VW-style LW monogram all seem a little bit ahead of their time. Here’s a 15 second video of a ’93-era adidas by Label fashion show from Laura Whitcomb’s Vimeo account…

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Images taken from here

DIE DASSLERS

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There’s a two-part drama miniseries on the way that’s entirely based on the adidas/PUMA rivalry. Am I the only person excited at the prospect of a three-hour film about the Dassler brothers? The apocryphal tales of a misunderstanding over the supposed “the dirty bastards are back again” remark/unsubstantiated accounts of infidelity or Barbara Smit’s more feasible history of the family feud have long fascinated me and I’m interested to see which version makes it to screen. Adi and Rudi’s post WWII contempt for each other is the stuff of legends, and this German-language production was titled Die Dasslers in its origin country and will be retitled Rivals Forever: the Sneaker Battle (I would prefer The Dasslers, but I appreciate that it probably wouldn’t draw the crowds) for its subtitled distribution. Whether it’s going to be a two-parter outside Germany or a single film (it’s even up for offer to potential distributors/broadcasters as four 45-minute episodes) is up in the air, but the trailer — which you can view right here — makes it look quite appealing. I’d likes to see more shoe related dramas in the future — a Bowerman series, a biopic of PONY founder Roberto Muller and his wild ‘80s antics, a Reebok vs Nike production and a slapstick comedy about Nike’s Steph Curry presentation starring Seth Rogan.

BEASTIE BOYS & SUEDE SHOES

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I’d sooner not celebrate the fact that License to Ill came out 30 years ago yesterday, which means it’s 29 years since I read The S*n headlines about them getting up to all kinds of wild things during their 1987 UK tour wide-eyed, beginning a hero-worship that lasted just shy of three decades. It’s not that I’m not in awe of their work — it’s just that being reminded that things you have lucid memories of are that old is a scary reminder of your own mortality. One day you young ‘uns will be telling kids to shut up and listen to some real music, before cranking up Lil Yachty on some kind of futuristic device that, if their current creative stalemate continues, probably won’t be made by Apple. I wrote a little retrospective of what the Beastie Boys mean to retro footwear and streetwear for complex. You can read it right HERE or by clicking that image above.

MARSEILLE 2002

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I see a lot of photo shoots that feature scowling people in sportswear standing near housing estates. It’s the formula that superseded men dressed like 1940s train drivers in parks for look books, but I’ve never seen it done better post-millennium than with french photographer Patrick Cariou’s Marseillais Du Nord shoot for the winter 2002 issue of THE FADER. Continue reading MARSEILLE 2002

LATE TO THE SALES

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We’ve been down this road before, back when I used to dig up old newspaper promotions because I couldn’t think of any other stuff to fill the site with and justify an update. I ran out of ideas again, so I thought I’d get a little festive this evening. Nowadays you can tell what’s getting its price severed before it even goes on sale. You know if a product is doomed commercially from the second it’s leaked half a year ahead of release. Continue reading LATE TO THE SALES

JOURNALISM

I wince every time I see someone with an outlet for their witterings, be it a blog or inexplicably, a place in a magazine starts calling themselves a writer or, god forbid, a journalist. You can hurl the dictionary definition my way that might say otherwise in a most literal sense…shit, you can hurl the whole dictionary at me for all I care, but chances are—and this is especially applicable in my vapid field of work—you’re not. You just string a few sentences together to make a PR happy, to get free things or win the respect of your equally one-dimensional peers. You are most likely, like me, a chancer. Nowadays, if you can button up a denim shirt, you’re putting “stylist‘” on your CV. If you beg friends on Twitter, you’re in “communications“. If you watched ‘Helvetica’ and can crop on PhotoShop you’re a “designer“. If you’ve can do all these things, maybe you can claim you can offer some “creative direction“. Chances are, you’re a prick.

If you’ve written an uncritical, bombastic paragraph about a new t-shirt company by slightly deconstructing the promo-guff someone emailed you as a PDF attachment and are patting yourself on the back I’d like to get semi-literate for a second and point you in the direction of the books above. George Orwell’s ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ isn’t necessarily journalism, but as an act of utter immersion, and even if there’s a few liberties with the timeline, as a lesson in scenic setting, characterization and pace minus the pointless sentences that lower eyelids, it’s a necessary read. Don McCullin’s rise from East End snapper to the photojournalist’s photojournalist, risking life and limb in any hellhole you care to name (‘The Bang-Bang Club’ is highly recommended too on a similar topic) is an inspiring and humbling story. He’s an excellent writer too.

Michael Herr took a typewriter and a notebook to Vietnam rather than a Nikon, on assignment for ‘New America Review’, ‘Esquire’ and ‘Rolling Stone’ – he writes with abstract eloquence in heinous conditions, and ‘Dispatches’ is the greatest of all war reports. Then there’s Gay Talese—the impeccably-dressed master of the written portrait. His pieces on Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Floyd Patterson are flawless, and if traditional tailoring and the inner workings ‘Vogue’ are of interest, he set precedents with profiles there too. The minute I got my name in print, the sheen was buffed by the corruptive presence of ad money. I enjoy writing, but it’s stifled by cash-led limitations. As a result, I can’t claim to have done much more than write advertorials. But at least I know my place.

The aim here isn’t to belittle what you do, but to offer some perspective. Reading the above will broaden some horizons, and with luck, bitchslap you into hesitating before you bellow those journalistic credentials. I can’t imagine that Orwell, McCullin, Herr or Talese could flourish in pixels alone. The more intelligent and lucid the writing (though The Sabotage Times has been taking up my web time in the best way possible of late) or imagery, the more the screen makes me squint. Maybe I need glasses, but it leaves me wanting to see it on paper. Any time anyone pays me the slightest compliment, I return to these books to understand my position in the scale of things. You can be okay in the field of fashion footwear, but it’s like being the skinniest kid at fat camp…compared to everyone outside the camp you’re still a waste-of-space.

Digression One

It’s rare that I mention my employer here, just because it has its own online presence and this blog was started as its distant cousin, but Crooked Tongues is 10 years old this year, and that warrants a mention. That’s a long time in E-years. Many sites have comes and gone—even much of Crooked’s pre-2005 history has been lost for this or that reason. While I seem to have taken some role as a mouthpiece for the site (and the next hack that claims I created it gets a slap), the site’s history pre-empts me by years. Shouts to Russell (the HNIC), C-Law, Chraylen, Acyde, Kahma, Tim, Grace, Niranjela, Dean and Phil, plus the likes of Jeff and Al, and of course, my partner-in-crime (now-Vans) Morganator and the current roster of Mumbi, Tom, Amberley and Jade. Oh yeah, and Zaid, Jaymz, Leo, Chris, James and all the rest. Plus everyone else who ever passed through and many more who were there before me.

I only joined just over half-way through that decade (I wrote some crappy LP retrospectives that Chris Aylen graciously didn’t delete on sight on April 2000 for Spine Magazine)—freelance for Crooked only commenced from mid 2004, leading to a full-time role from January 2006. Ah, memories. There was little like Crooked Tongues before (Nikepark, Shoe Trends and Altsnks were ill though). Were it not for the trusting minds behind the site, my life would be significantly shittier right now. For that, I’m eternally grateful to Russ and the duo of Christophers. I don’t care a fuck for what you think of it now, nor that you’re “over” sports footwear, but Crooked changed the game. The big dogs paid attention. In many ways, it may have been partially responsible for the boom in theme pack “limited” crap, as brands started to take more and more attention to the sneaker weirdos. You may not see overt linkage to it here (it’s my day job), but I’m immensely proud and honoured to be involved. When it happens to piss brands and retailers off, I’m even prouder of it.

From wandering to the site (and ‘Cavemilk’s) launch party at the Great Eastern Hotel in January 2001, wearing Zoo York and Wallees, to the 2004 BBQ, an attempt to capture a “block party” vibe (which I believe, was originally meant to be in a basketball court according to nascent planning), to the April 2005 DMPHI book lunch, to the 2005 BBQ in the same venue as the year before, to the adidas ‘Black Monday’ 2006 event, to the BBK 2007 BBQ, to 2009’s party, the real-world events have been remarkable, forging more than a handful of friendships. While the food will run out fast, and people will angrily text me for being left waiting outside, I hope tomorrow’s tenth anniversary BBQ will be equally memorable. Still, at least we’ve got goodie bags to give away.

Digression Two

C-Law posting up the House33 New Balance 576 recently reminded me I’ve still got my one of ones in the loft. I can give or take the orange laces, but the carbon effect ‘N’ and forefoot is a winner. Can’t forget the PUMA Clyde ‘Warnett’ edition either. The stitched rather than printed lettering makes me love these an awful lot. Like I said, Crooked has afforded me some excellent opportunities.


Digression Three

I’m collating some examples of Slayer self-harm (plus a more professional but equally disturbing ankle scar artwork). These guys really mean it more than Jimmy, Cam, Freeky and Juelz ever did. The chap in the ‘Live Intrusion’ who gets it carved on his inner forearm in the ‘Live Intrusion’ VHS gets extra points for having rubbing alcohol ignited to cauterise the wound. Flaming Slayer skin slashes aren’t big or clever, but I find it an oddly inspiring act of devotion. If you want to leave negative comments surrounding self-harm scarification glorification, I suggest you keep it to yourself-maybe you could carve it onto your thigh or forearm instead. With Slayer, it’s never a cry for help—it’s just a thrash metal war wound.
SLAYEEEEEEEEEEER.