Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I had to make a fourth return to SHOP TOUR CANAL OFICIAL and their abundance of 1990s’ retail wanders. You can’t fake this era of sport shops and those shelves are ripe with masterpieces that everyone took for granted at the time. Even the budget takedown crap has turned to gold. This is the kind of thing that makes YouTube better than any terrestrial or cable channel. It’s 1992 and 1994 embodied in a few minutes of grainy camerawork and excitable chat, but alas, A Sports USA of 148 E Flagler St, Miami is apparently a luggage shop nowadays. Continue reading MORE STORE
When I can’t think of something interesting to put here, I always chuck up a shoe page from an old issue of The Source as a distraction. There’s a brace of yellow accented greats here that evoke an era and the Reebok Apogee DMX 2000 is the champ — you NEVER see that thing anywhere anymore despite its popularity back in early 1998. A lot of great design came out of that DMX era (which, coincidentally, corresponded with the veteran MC of the same name’s ascent), but there’s very little online that catalogues it. Maybe there is some Geocities mirror site from Japan out there, but it’s been bumped down the Google rankings by a slew of new jack crap.
I meant to up this here yesterday, but the gloom of being too slow and old with the keyboard to buy the Zoom Spiridon when it rereleased the other day dampened my spirit. Going forward, I might post more shoe-nerd bits here in this vein, though the cult of reposting and my own laziness might stop me doing that.
There’s something about the Zoom Spiridon that two solid reissues hasn’t dampened.
Released in 1997, promoted by Michael Johnson, and named after Greek runner Spyridon Louis — winner of the first modern-day Olympic marathon in 1896 — it’s a lightweight training model and a fan favourite from a golden age of design. It wasn’t the first Nike shoe to carry that name either — around 1984, there was a gold swoosh racing shoe called the Spiridon in the line that was followed by the Spiridon Gold a few years later. Continue reading SPIRIDON-DADA: A TRIBUTE TO A CULT CLASSIC
The speculation around the Nike MAG shoe as the date depicted in Back to the Future II rolls around is increasingly tedious. As a design, I think the shoe is amazing, and prescient (or at least, so influential on post-1989 design that it seemed prophetical), but it’s also food for the dullest kind of footwear-addled folks and their childish nostalgia and click bait headlines. Still, self-lacing shoes are an appealing prospect that I want to see. Continue reading THE OTHER SCI-FI SHOES
I hoard books on certain subjects. Inevitably, I’ve amassed an amount of sportswear-related publications that’s a little embarrassing. Being a nerd when it comes to that subject I’d found myself discussing the lack of a solid tome on the subject of Reebok. After all, the brand that Joseph William Foster created was one that led during a lion’s share of the 1980s, and its cross trainers and basketball shoes circa 1987 were expensive status symbols that pushed me into the industry I’m in right now. Having missed out on the recent London Reebok exhibition, I assumed I missed out on something decent, but the brand book they put together with Tangent Design is excellent. Discussing everything that makes the brand interesting, I haven’t seen a lot of coverage on this part of the project, so I expected it to be underwhelming, but at 206 pages, it’s a good accompaniment to the vast 2012 adidas book (a serious precedent, that like this one, seemed to be strictly promo-only) and necessary if you geek out over old stuff and obscure logos. I’m jealous that I never wrote the ‘FOR THE MOTIONALLY UNSTABLE…‘ ad too. I’ve never necessarily associated Reebok with blue suede, but it makes for a nice cover fabric too. I’m guessing that, as is the case with several similar projects, image rights, names and all the other stuff that can slow a project down, means that this one is destined to be strictly promo. That means that there’s a decent book for all the key brands out there now, though I’d happily pay for a 300+ page history of Troop’s rise and rumour-led fall.
Still no proper update right now, but if you’re not suffering from Visible Air fatigue, there’s a shit ton of nerdery over here for your viewing pleasure and it might be more appreciated by the audience here than over there. Nowadays, marketing wants to rise above the shabby glory of the efforts above and below but somehow falls short of these thirty-second masterpieces. I like to watch these things to remind me why I like shoes when I’m suffering from the fatigue of PR people and communication folks taking the easy way out with everything and feigning love for product.That Sneaker Corner commercial from 1991 is tremendous (shouts to the uploader, wtcvidman) in its “Morrie” Kessler from Goodfellas style old-school salesman enthusiasm. It’s good to see that their Brooklyn spot is still standing — places like that are an endangered species. I’m not sure that Cal Stores are still open, but everything’s better when it has Oh Yeah by Yello on the soundtrack. I think Sneakers Plus in New Jersey is still going though. Salutes to the little guys — there are not enough of them or the grey importers around these days. Everyone sells the same stuff in exactly the same way. At least these folks made an effort.
A lot of brands could benefit from walking before they run and while I always want to celebrate homegrown organisations here, I rarely get the sense that there’s anything behind the brand to differentiate it from the rest when I get emails about new lines. That’s because I’m still judging things by the standards that Gimme 5, maharishi and Slam City set (and there’s a whole book — or at least a booklet — to be written on Duffer’s contribution and legacy). Shouts to Trapstar, Grind London and Y’OH (currently on hiatus) for creating brands with a sense of substance and none of the thirst that deads a brand from the offset — every brand I ever loved as a kid didn’t even seem to want my business and that was appealing to me. it still appeals.
Personable, transparent, super-social, heavily PR’d wannabe Supremes miss the point of why Supreme built foundations that can sustain waves of hype that could kill a lesser brand — crucially they have a skate heritage. If you’re making streetwear for streetwear’s sake without any subculture at the core other than a quick blog buck from the slew of British sites who’ll post any old shit then you’d better be making the best tees, hats and sweats ever. Most aren’t. Having said that, the blokes behind brands like Hype are almost certainly richer than the people behind interesting product, so credibility as we knew it back in the day might be an archaic concept.
Palace is interesting in that it’s rooted in the same spirit as Slam City spinoffs like Silas (given the folks involved, it’s practically a sequel), but it seems to have hit multiple audiences without compromising, as that triangle is on nearly every moodboard and presentation I’ve seen in the last year in one way or another. Shouts to Gareth and Lev for that one — jaded old farts like me love what they’ve created and so does that lucrative 16-19 year old consumer that brands are baffled by right now. I still think that the handful of alpha kids who know have an innate understanding of whether a brand is begging it by trying to bamboozle them with Tumblr-sourced skulls and galaxy patterns or whether a brand — or the folks who run it — have a certain subcultural provenance. Maybe I’m deluded.
To see Palace rise from a collective putting out book reviews, tees and clips to something that brands —from high street to high-end lines — want a bit of in a few years is phenomenal. If Relax ran the classic (shouts to Mr. Chris Law) October 2002 Slam City feature now, that diagram (above) would probably only be slightly different (for starters, TONITE, Aries and Palace would be there). It’s unhealthy to live with two feet in he past, but I think it’s always good to get retrospective in order to understand why Slam is such an important part of our culture and it’s an institution that’s key to appreciating the importance of skateboarding as a central force in creating a market for daft printed tees in this grey climate of ours.
The Palace Christmas Pop-Off opens this Friday at 100 Shoreditch High Street (an address that seems to place it within the Ace Hotel space) and the flyer promises nothing but awesome things rather than just garms, hardware and shoes — “a new silver board that makes you skate faster”, “hyper-printing techniques” we haven’t seen before and bobble hats, plus the new Palace Reebok project are all going to be there. This will be popular.