Other people’s bookshelves fascinate me, and the new issue of System has a solid feature in it by IDEA’s David Owen that chats to some prominent book hoarders. In addition to conversations with Kim Jones, Jo Donaldson from the Lucasfilm Research Library, Hans Ulrich Obrist, André Balazs, Grace Coddington and 2manydjs, there’s some squint-worthy photos of the spaces where their collections reside. Continue reading BUY MORE BOOKS
I’m glad that there’s a lot of magazines on the shelves right, now when doomed predictions a few years back had me thinking that there might be five or six left by 2014, but I still stick to a handful of publications I’ve been reading for a while. 032c still rules for it no-compromise approach to content. The 32-page dossier on Raf Simons’ work that opens # 27 is great — Pierre Alexandre de Looz put in some serious work, and it’s a piece that reveals just enough about the process behind Simons’ work to fully understand why the stylistic imitators trying to capture some of that deceptive simplicity with pretension rather than intellect as justification are so wide of the mark. This cover by regular Raf collaborator Willy Vanderperre is the kind of thing that makes me buy something, using the camo jacket from 2001 with the Richey Edwards imagery on it that got a Manics seal of approval — the collection united some of my favourite things and looked like it could have been tour gear for any Manics moment from 1991 to February 1st, 1995. To put that into a publication alongside pieces on Richard Yurley, Tom Kummer’s world of celeb fiction (complete with Juergen Teller’s very real photographs) and Kenneth Goldsmith’s book and music recommendations maintains the constant quest that Joerg Koch and the team are on to make something that’s better than the rest. This interview with TISSUE Magazine discusses Joerg’s straight edge roots and the no-fucks-given mindset behind something whose entire appeal is really rooted in how much of a fuck it gives about its quality control and deep cultural exploration.
Twitter is swarming with links to Robin Williams tributes, and with good reason — the handful of people I know who met him found him to be a class act and it’s a testament to his versatility that while I never found his standup particularly side-splitting, he was one of the ultimate actors when the script was right, as was the case with Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King and Bobcat Goldthwait’s World’s Greatest Dad. Williams was a man with an inclination toward some of the brands and cultures discussed here — FTC (his local spot), Slam City and Supreme were all apparently regular haunts and the BAPE and Viotech combo has become a message board staple.
Some ill-informed characters would jeer at that gaudy combo a few years back and discuss it as if it was the death knell for those brands, but the fact is, Williams was most likely on it before it hit the radar of a new breed of cynics. Williams was even up on Acronym, picking up pieces from San Fran’s Darkside Initiative store. He was up on Raf Simons shoes back in 2009 too. Now, if a semi celebrity wears some easy-to-find Jordan IIIs, the internet starts quaking — back in the mid 2000s, this was unique. Between that , the video game obsession and Questlove’s tale of an encounter that indicates that he might have been a hip-hop fanatic too. There’s too many layers and degrees of separation to even begin to dissect here, but his loss is a tragedy.
In these situations, I clocked a few of the social media voices of unreason complaining that we mourn celebrities more than we do victims en masse in a war zone — that’s because it’s tough to fully grieve when there’s no face to put to the deceased and, given his admirable work ethic, Williams’ mug was a familiar sight. The sad reality for the complainers is that some poor kid thousands of miles away that strayed onto a landmine wasn’t in Fast & Furious 6 or Jumanji. It’s human nature. Are the going to start picketing our uncles’ funerals next because we’re not getting angry enough about Syria? Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt We’ve been given the emotional depth to be upset about both things.
But anyway, forget all the sentiment — the image above from 1990 (jacked from Getty and the LIFE archives), around the Cadillac Man era in Williams’ career, wearing the GORE-TEX North Face TransAntarctica coat indicates that, long before he got himself an Acronym, he understood the power of great outerwear. Robin Williams was unique on every level and he was doing the brands long before the blogs too.
If you never got a copy of the Nike Genealogy of Innovation book from the project I worked on and your browser is too weedy to look at the website, here’s a video that the good people of Golden Wolf put together that animates 200 Nike shoes from 1972 to 2014 in chronological order. Crazy that the lists I was writing in iPhone Notes during a train journey ended up looking like this — it looks like the inside of my mind.
Every now and again I get an email asking me about how to break into the “industry.” I don’t even know if I’ve broken into this mysterious industry, but I know one thing — a specific course isn’t necessary. You can learn a fair bit if you’re willing to work around some very strange, insecure and duplicitous individuals. The majority of people you go to are going to tell you that blogs are dead in favour of social media outlets that reward glimpse attention spans — if that’s the case, how do you shine? Most blogs on the fashion and streetwear side are pretty piss-poor — yep, there’s a couple of blogs re-blogging the same cookbook for every human being on this planet, but if you deliver quality writing or at least something smart-arsed (and the whole self-congratulations for rewriting a press release rather than copy-pasting it is a little Chris Rock “…you low-expectation-having motherfucker!” routine) you’ll get noticed. You don’t need to have some wild online magazine that causes you to crumble under your own imposed duties and you don’t need to drop some manifesto that promises the second coming — it’s liable to go shit-shaped. Don’t send the link to a blog you update once every two months because it renders you instantly unemployable – just submit some work blindly and see if you get some feedback (you’d be surprised how few people actually do that —they usually email for tips because they’re losers in the making “thinking” of starting something). Don’t be excessively thirsty on social media or there’ll be Google evidence of your corny past.
Once you’ve started writing, hate the last thing you wrote and try to get better — ignore any positives from serial retweeters, friends or family and hunt the approval of people that hate everything instead. Be aware that making colourways of sports footwear is basically as easy as doing a NIKEiD, albeit with maybe quarter of an hour of market consideration preceding it. You don’t need to create some crazy notion of having a team or a vast office (the “GWARIZM team at GWARIZM HQ” is me scratching my balls on a sofa with ‘Heat’ playing on Blu-ray in the background) — just be you. Having a crew can be overrated, so go solo — you don’t need bells and whistles. Here’s where there’s a fork in the road — you can make like Robert Greene and follow rule #40 “Despise the free lunch” to keep your integrity (I’ve failed on that count) or use your blog to sap up freebies by PRs and brands who are thirsty for coverage to send to an international HQ staffed by the clueless regardless of quality. Oh, and read as many books as you can — not those magazines we get sent and have to pretend to like because it’s such a tiny little circle of backslappers, but proper books. Then you’ll be able to render jaded old chancers like me unemployable and dominate the “industry” you were keen to be part of. It’s all one big game, but follow the above and you’ll get at least one free pair of shoes and/or a t-shirt within 3 months. I should be charging for some kind of diploma in being a chancer.
Mr. Erik Brunetti has a ‘FUCT’ book coming out in April 2013, and he kindly let me write a little bit of stuff for it. That brand changed my life as a kid, back when Erik was Rocco affiliated and I still don’t think Erik’s art skills and the excellence of the brand’s archive has been sufficiently celebrated. It’s more relevant than ever when the world is claiming that “streetwear’s back” and brand owners are all huggy and want to be buddies with you. A lot of people took ideas from FUCT and I think this book will deliver exhaustive evidence that they broke plenty of ground. On the Rizzoli site it lists me as a “streetwear icon” alongside Aaron Rose. Rose is far, far more talented than me and I’m neither iconic nor streetwear. Like I said, I’m just some dude on the sofa, scratching his balls and watching ‘Heat.’
This Jil Sander Men’s Cardboard Sandwich Bag for £175 (“Made in the same fashion as a paper lunch bag”) at oki-ni is strictly for fashionistas to hyperventilate into now they know the Raf Simons/Sander connection is kaput. This seems like one big amazing in-joke — I triple dare you to explain this to a parent. It makes me feel like my dad did the first time I showed him a pair of Jordans and told him the RRP. You could keep your £600 visvim book in it. Or you could go to a local Yates’s and make it rain for 20 minutes to Jessie J and the ‘Grease Megamix’ — I think the latter might be a wiser investment.
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.