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 like catching up with people and talking over caffeine. Mr. Andrew Bunney knows a lot about a lot of stuff and has worked on plenty of projects alongside Gimme 5. He’s also doing well as director of Bunney and British Remains. Having just put out a newspaper format collection of Derek Ridgers’ imagery, selecting some striking portraits of British subjects from the skin, punk and new romantic scenes wearing accessories on their outfits. You can pick it up at selected stockists, but I took the opportunity to hit record during a chat after meeting to pick up copies of that ‘Collected Works’ publication — a form of psuedo-journalistic entrapment for the purposes of padding out this blog with chatter.
Everyone bangs on about all things iconic and curated — Derek’s portraits are raw, brilliant and genuinely iconic, while Andrew certainly approaches things with a curator’s eye. Andrew’s recommended some excellent things to me over the years and he makes me look like a rookie in the sub-cultural knowledge stakes. I’m fascinated by the trivia he’s amassed. Lest it looks like he wanders around wielding a portfolio, it just so happens that Andrew had his portfolio on his MacBook, so we talked through it to give this conversation some semblance of structure. We managed to cover Will Ferrell, the director of ‘A Short Film About Killing,’ staring at cats and plenty of discussion about the nature collaboration, but the unsolicited SBTRKT soundtrack to the meeting made it hard to transcribe.
(Pointing at an early shot with his arm in a sling) Andrew: I’d just broken my arm through arm wrestling.
Me: You broke your arm by arm wrestling? How do you do that?
But how do you do it by arm wrestling? Was it like Stallone in ‘Over the Top’?
We’d watched Sylvester Stallone in ‘Over the Top’ and thought that we’d have a go at it and it broke.
I saw it happen in a world’s strongest man competition one Christmas and it really stuck with me. Did it snap?
Were you intoxicated?
We’d had a few but we weren’t crazy drunk. There was some pressure for a sustained amount of time, a pop and then it snapped straight through. I sat down for a while and I was trying to concentrate on the pain. Then I wanted to got to the toilet but it was difficult. The ambulance people came and they couldn’t believe it.
It’s quite a tough thing to do.
Well, it felt silly. So yes, that was when that was taken.
Then there’s the Stüssy Alpha Industries MA—1.
We asked lots of people who were affiliated with the company to design badges.
It’s still a very nice jacket.
Everything I did there was ribbed.
Wasn’t there a Gloverall one too?
The Penfield Hickory Stripe stuff was very ahead of its time.
There were Schott jackets.
I’ve never seen that Schott jacket before? Why have I never seen that?
I don’t know. You’ve never looked hard enough. Then there were the Levi’s…
I remember those. Weren’t they 505s?
Were they actually to your spec?
Yes. Because they were actually based on my jeans, because the 505 had a few different iterations. The first iteration has a different label. There’s one after that. I had to send Levi’s my jean, but I thought that it was a very normal jean.
Why was that never pushed during that project’s promo? I’d just got the normal 505 LVC jean that year and I was horrified by how slim it was, so I avoided the Stüssy ones.
Well, you know my background’s vintage, looking for it in America? So I know that quite well. The first Levi’s we did had silver stitching and they’d copied it from my own jean, but it contradicted the ones they had in their archives. They had to get in touch with a lady there.
The lady in the archives? I once had to email her about an LVC project on a fact-finding mission. It was good.
She verified it. I know this world quite well because of my own peculiarities. I’ve kind of reduced myself to buying one or two style of jeans.
Idiosyncrasy is a polite way to put it.
Yes. Then there was the Levi’s coach jacket.
Do you think some of that stuff was overlooked?
Perhaps. But back then, people hadn’t done these sorts of things. I remember meeting with Alpha and they didn’t know what I was talking about, “Do you mean you’ll make it?” I remember talking to Brooks Brothers about doing an Oxford shirt in 2004 or 2005.
No dice. It was just two people talking differently.
They only seemed to grasp it with the Thom Browne stuff. I’ve got a Woolrich shirt with them, but it’s pretty much Brooks Brothers with Woolrich wool.
Then there was an i-D shoot with Terry (Hall).
How is he? He sometimes seems quite glum.
He’s not glum. He’s very wry. But I like to work with people I like, then work with them for a long time like Marius (Hanson) who does Antenne.
I’m really looking forward to your books with those guys (the translation of Kazuo Hozumi’s ‘Ivy Illustrated’ books).
Yep. The author has hurt his back. I’m working with my friends in Japan on that. He wants to add to it and it needs to be translated. Hopefully it will be out for summer.
Then there’s the Stüssy Baracutas…
With the Baracuta, there were a few different ones.
Was that ’05? I remember a green one.
No, this one had a thick stripe and there was black, red and maybe one or two others. Then after this one there was one with lots of stripes and contrasting cuffs. And after that there was one that didn’t make it past sample stage but was better.
How was it making those? It seemed to be a time before Baracuta fully relaunched. Were they easy to work with?
It was a very rag trade business.
What’s your take on Penfield?
I like Jamie very much.
I never know much about Penfield’s history.
That’s because it’s not that old — it’s from the 1970’s
But I’ve never read much about them from those days.
It wasn’t pushed that way. Back then these projects were received very well — I mean that from the customers as well as the business and the distributor for Penfield in Japan wasn’t considered cool, so Stüssy Japan weren’t into running that project — it wasn’t aligned with things, but the product was very good.
Do you remember that mini Penfield boom around 1998?
Yes, it was a Noel Gallagher kind of thing.
I thought it was a golf company at the time — lots of thin jackets.
When we did our project they had three jackets or something — maybe three jackets including a vest. Then there was several items for Michael over the years including the Supreme t-shirt.
I remember a visvim photoshoot for i-D a few years back with the Decoy duck boot. I laughed at it then a few months later I realised that I needed them in my life.
What one was that? Maybe I did that. I think it was on a boat.
That’s the one.
Then there was the Nikes (the Hideout Woven Footscapes).
I was a fool for not buying those.
I think they came out good.
How did that design come about?
Jesse (Leyva) was doing a project called the Clerk Pack.
There was the Undefeated, Union, True releases and the Stüssy Blazer. Was it meant to be part of that?
It was meant to be, but it ended up different.
When I first saw it I didn’t like them. I thought they looked flimsy.
It’s very wide.
I like the Footscape — remember the Probe ones at Hideout?
Was it Hit and Run or Hideout then?
I think it was Hideout. The Woven version looked so fragile to me.
It’s actually very wide and very stable. They got a bit of internet hate.
I learned my lesson.
One was supposed to be the wide one and the other less. But I think they got them the wrong way round. It had pink inside, like an ear. I like animal colours. I wasn’t trying to make something wacky — think they’re quite good. I’d wear them now and I really like the shoe.
It took me a while. Do you like the fact Mark Parker wears the Livestrong versions of that shoe?
But that I didn’t do.
No, but what I’m saying is that he isn’t averse to that hair concept.
I think it works with pony hair…I don’t know, it just works as a shoe. It doesn’t work on some shoes. There was a Porter case too.
I remember people spending £200+ on the duo. A lot of people wore them though. I remember somebody breaking theirs playing football.
That would break them. I’d been working with Footpatrol on some stuff too, like t—shirts.
I liked the Henry Cooper/Ali one.
Yes, that was classic. “Round 4” it said on the back. We made beanies with New Era.
I remember seeing them on Being Hunted. It was a bit early. 2005 was a transitional time. The infrastructure for promotion was different.
I dunno if it was then or 2004. By the time the Footscape dropped, it was more in place.
It was closer to being in place.
It wasn’t a business — it was more like messing around.
It was more about people saying “That’s shit” on forums.So just to reiterate, the Hideout Footscape was based on an ear?
It sounds a bit pretentious, but I like to look to nature. Animals are good colours.
Do you walk around a field?
No, no, no.
With a stout stick, tapping rocks?
No, animals are just good colours.
Yeah, I wanted to do a range of shoes based on dog breeds.
Do you know what the third unreleased colour was?
With the spots?
I was staring at my brother’s dog…they don’t like it when you stare…
That’s why you’re supposed to blink when you look at cats.
But I was thinking — actually tabby cat would be good as a swoosh on an Air Force 1, but a red setter would be a good swoosh colour. What happened with your chambray Converses that never came out? I remember you used fanciful words on your blog about them. You called things by their proper names.
Okay, the rand?
I think you went deeper.
It came out a few years later with the triple stitch.
Did you spec that?
Was it on an old pair?
No, it was just on chambray.
The recent Hideout releases had a triple stitch too.
It came about because Converse had started doing their own NikeiD — Create Your Own or whatever, and I did a bunch where the stripes were tonal, so it looked like it didn’t have any racing stripes. The old military contract ones were a bit like that.
What year were the military contract ones from?
I don’t know because I think it goes between companies.
It would be uncomfortable to exercise in All—Stars.
Rocky ran in them.
But that was part of the film’s underdog elements.
When I applied to go to film school, ‘Rocky IV’ was the film I put down as being very important to me.
Did they see the funny side?
I wasn’t joking. It was one of the first films I saw where you could see how the film was constructed.
I love it. I like Stallone. I love ‘F.I.S.T.’ and I love ‘Night Hawks’ — I love the outfits. We talk about the notion of British grubbiness, but that’s grubby American. It’s grimy, Keith Emerson on the soundtrack…
I don’t mind grubby New York because it’s a city. But when it comes to that Jodie Foster film, ‘The Accused’? I struggle with that.
That smalltown feel?
I don’t like it.
Then there’s the visvim fragrances. What was your role with visvim? British bloke?
Umm, everyone there is very motivated and Hiroki in particular is very driven — he wants to experience new things. I was working with Michael and The Hideout was one of the only stockists in the UK, even in Europe, to sell it at the beginning.
I remember the Polkes in Footpatrol.
Yeah, we swapped it, but it worked better in The Hideout. I was friends with Hiroki. He wanted to grow it. So for me and Michael at that point, Gimme 5 were the distributor and Slam Jam were involved too. We were staying at the Park Hyatt — there was me, Hiroki and Hiroshi.
That sounds like the beginning of a cool joke.
It smelt really nice in the room and we were talking about it. I went home then contacted them and there was a perfumer who scented the room. I met with him, chatted with him and went out with him to Tokyo. He walked around the shop and wandered around, sniffed around, does what a perfumer does and he made this candle.
I’d be interested to see a perfumer at work.
it’s really interesting. Then there was some freelance stuff with Dr. Martens…
You did a good job jump starting that brand again.
Our last stuff was for autumn ’12 and it relaunched their brand.
The WTAPS white lace incident a few years back was unfortunate. I think that was an accident.
But that was done independently with a distributor in Japan. They put it in there because it looks better, but it’s laden with things. I’ve tried to get to the bottom of the lace code colours was. I knew white but there were others. I think the other colours are quite provincial — true to other towns with red meaning stuff, but internationally white is known as the most dubious. Part of it was to do something beyond boots.
Was that EVA sole you both used new thing for them?
What about the wedge one?
The PVC one was taken from a women’s style. We did fashion ones for fashion people and streetwear ones.
Do people like Raf Simons need any persuading when it comes to collaborating with a brand like Dr. Martens? They must know the shoe.
In some respects, the most successful was the Garçons one because they were really happy with it and it was a shoe that looked like what they do already.
If you do something with Raf Simons, how much input does he have?
From his team, quite a lot. I think it depends on the project.
Now the collaboration is part of everybody’s business model — looking at the gap between the first Stüssy stuff and the Dr. Martens bits.
My background’s not in making collaborations.
If you’ve ever looked at anything and thought, “I’d like a jacket like that.” I think you can collaborate. That became a norm.
Yeah, I think we’ve reached a point a little while ago.
The Hideout Dickies stuff was great — it was like the opposite of a usual collaboration.
That was a line that would become a compliment…that was the idea. It wasn’t double branded.
But that sounds a little too like cack.
Who was the rabbit model for Bunney?
It was just a rabbit. I read lots of books on rabbits and I liked that one. The idea was that I like shopping, I like nice things and I like jewellery, but I’ve actually not worn that much because men’s jewelry’s got too many skulls for me. It’s not that I’m scared and it’s not that I’m a baby…
Unless you’re Keith Richards, it rarely works.
That’s a good ring, but to have skull cufflinks is just dull. I was looking in the women’s section and it was too feminine. I remember really clearly, I was on the escalator at Selfridges and I started thinking about brooches.
A brooch for a man is quite controversial.
Yes. And I was thinking about who could make it and who to make it for.
I never knew you did the Starbucks card for Japan.
That was with Uniform Experiment.
Going back to BAPE and Pepsi, that culture and popular culture mix very well, don’t they? How does that happen? You’ve done a few multi nationals now.
It comes from being in Tokyo and Hiroshi was taking a photo. It was a nice arrangement. A couple of weeks down the line it ended up on a Starbucks card.
That’s the kind of thing that happens in Japan. What about the Bunney lock for Colette? Can that go round your neck in a Sid Vicious style?
No, it’s far too big for that.
Jewelry’s an odd departure. Is it easier to work in that sphere than on the clothing side of things?
I don’t know.
Where do you buy silver from?
You buy it from a bullion dealer.
What’s a bullion dealer like? Are they like Easy Andy from ‘Taxi Driver’? Do they have a briefcase handcuffed to their wrist?
It’s not a million miles away from that with gems. It’s not quite the end of ‘Marathon Man’ though.
There is something inherently sinister about that world, like the provinence of the material and how it can be melted down to make other things.
Yeah, one of the things I like about it is that the materials are for many generations — its worth is retained and one can give it to another as a gift, which is nice. It’s different to clothing in a lot of respects. And if I think about it now, I like working with companies — not really utility companies, but companies that make product that a lot of people can adopt, that people can wear in their own different way. It has to have enough character that a punky person can wear it, that elderly person can wear it, or that indie kid can wear it. And it can cross over to wherever else. It isn’t quite fashion.
A rabbit had to be a logo.
The hardest thing is using my own name. It’s weird for a while when you’re sending emails.
Do you still get fanboy when you’re stocked somewhere like the Undercover store?
Sure, I’m happy.
They’re very discerning.
Those characters came from a time that’s very good and I’m happy that I can make a product they want to stock.
The newspaper’s an interesting departure.
I had to do this thing at Somerset House. I wanted to do something visual and friends told me to do something with Derek. I actually tried to do something with him for Dr. Martens.
That would have made a certain sense, given the skinhead history.
But Derek’s images are quite raw. They’re the truth.
It’s not a soft perception of skinheads. In my town they weren’t liberal, blue beat listening guys with sideburns…
They were brutish, racist thugs.
It made for good imagery though.
I like how people use and re-appropriate things. It’s why I like Dickies and it’s why I like Nike…or even Dr. Martens. I like those items and they have appeal.
Had you met each other through working for ‘i—D’?
No. I met him through Dr. Martens.
His imagery is so strong.Then there’s British Remains.
That’s with my friend Daryl.
The newspaper could have been a British Remains project too in some ways.
It could’ve been. The idea was to be more provocative I suppose in what we were doing. What I really liked was when I walked along Camden or wherever and there were t-shirt graphics copied so many times that you never knew where they started.
I’d like to see a pop—up shop on Oxford Street near the man selling the fake perfumes.
In the black binbags?
A friend of a friend once bought a video camera that was full of flour to give it the correct weight. It was a shell. I like the British Remains ad with the old-fashioned look. Who did that?
Jeremy Dean. Do you know a site called the Hardcore Archaeologist?
It looks like an old Lewis Leathers ad.
I like that look. Jeremy also did a new logo. I like the way he remade it. I don’t know why he did, but I can imagine people would have done that at that time.
The creeper thing’s interesting to me. Everyone’s in them.
I though people would struggle with that, but people liked them. It’s quite unusual that I’ve got a portfolio on me.
So the decision to quiz you was timely. Who would you work for if a genie appeared and offered you any brand to work with?
I don’t know.
I suppose the shock of seeing a genie would be terrifying so your decision would be marred.
At school the answer would have been “I wish for a wish whenever I wish.”
Yeah, but that would have ‘Monkey’s Paw’ style consequences.
I think I’ve learnt something from everybody I’ve worked with. I can apply that knowledge hopefully. There are good things and bad things about working with small companies and there are good things and bad things about working with big companies. But what’s nice about larger companies is that you can do something because they have great reach. It would be nice to work with a big company where you have a reasonable position to put things out quickly and efficiently.
What’s next for British Remains?
I’m not interested in making an exact replica. I want to make something new.
Any more print plans?
Is it out your system?
Is Derek happy with it?
He’s happy with it. Well, I think he’s happy with it.
Is it your edit?
They’re all images around people based around people wearing things to make their outfits more interesting or project their personality. I could’ve made a catalogue all about me. Maybe I could’ve called it ‘All About Me.’
I would like to see that.
I don’t have it in me!
Your face could be in the ‘O’ in “About.”
Yes. I could be doing this (Gives thumbs up). But things like this are important. I’ve done things with Jason (Jules) before and he was kind enough to do this for me.
You mentioned film school — who’s your favourite director?
I don’t believe in auteur theory, but I like Krzystof Kieslowski. I like his films, because I like that storytelling aspect.
Filmmaking would be a lot harder than clothing collaborations.
I think the thing is with film is that once you’ve been in college you’ve worked with people and done group projects and it’s so unappealing.
My films would be an intolerable mass of reference points.
I don’t think that’s the difficult thing. The difficult thing is having a small army of people and guiding them in a direction. I just stumbled into clothes because `I was a massive consumer. Then I started working as a buyer and I knew that I wanted to make it.
Colourways are very easy. If you like something you have a rough idea.
You get a sample process. Sometimes you watch a movie and you know it was botched from the start and beyond repair.
There’s that one with Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon out at the moment and I think they were trying to shape that up.
It looks rubbish. It looks like a Gerard Butler film. I don’t associate Tom Hardy with that kind of thing. ‘Warrior’ was excellent. You’re a fan of ‘The Other Guys’ aren’t you?
I like the one hand clap at the art gallery.
“How outre!” I like “Paper bitch” too.
It doesn’t mesh like ‘Step Brothers’ for me though. That’s a masterpiece.
For me that’s ‘The Other Guys.’
John C. Reilly just makes me laugh. I laughed at him in ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ — just at his face.
He’s really unlikeable in something else — what was the Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox Vietnam film?
Oh yeah, he’s in ‘Casualties of War.’
He’s awful in that. Do you know who’s really good in ‘Step Brothers’? He’s only in it for a brief amount of time — the one that works with Will Ferrell’s character’s brother. (Rob Riggle).
He’s got a real jerk’s face.
He was actually in Iraq.
Really? He’s done a lot of comedy since.
He’s the guy in ‘The Other Guys’ who makes it funny — when they have the fight at the wake and they’re whispering.
I like jump cuts to things. I like the bit where Steve Coogan offers them front seat tickets to the Knicks and Will Ferrell’s got a foam hand. Do you remember ‘Neon’ magazine, the ‘Select’ spinoff?
It had Graham Linehan’s column at the back page — once it came up with the idea of arthouse firms. Like a Fellini firm and Peter Greenaway firm, or away trips to ruck with Fassbinder fans. It was written in the style of John King.
Really? That sounds good.
He wrote a piece on things he doesn’t want to see in comedy, like, “There’s no way you’re getting me on that thing!” and a cut to two men wobbling on a tandem. But I really love that kind of thing. Do you like Alan Partridge?
I struggle with Alan Partridge.
There’s one I like very much.
I like the turn-of-phrase. Like, “A pipe of Pringles.”
I think it was things like the signature. Like the ‘A’ doesn’t look like the ‘A’ would be written. One I did like was the one with the stalker where they end up in a room. I really like Larry David. What ‘Curb…’ has is Leon in the last series.
Leon is excellent.
What do you think the funniest film is?
‘Step Brothers.’ My dad’s favourite film was ‘Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday’ — he used to cry laughing at the collapsing canoe.
Sometimes it just resonates. Was it Pauline Kael who would only watch a film once?
Yep. I don’t think it works for comedy films though.
I do like ‘Step Brothers’ but I do really like ‘The Other Guys.’ The “Big boy pants.”
I like the wooden gun.
I prefer the “Big boy pants.” Somebody really reached somewhere and got that.