There’s a debate raging right now regarding streetwear’s decline that makes for interesting reading, starting with Bobby from The Hundreds’ editorial on Hypebeast. Personally, I think that The Hundreds did such a good job in making the brand seem huge (which would become a self-fulfilling prophecy) through strong writing and photography that the legions of chummy imitators that followed simply got too damned keen and forgot a brand’s duty to act like it didn’t want our business. Continue reading RIDING THE TRANSITION
Everyone loves to gossip, and watching beef unfold digitally is an undeniable pleasure. Spectating on Splay back in the day or witnessing Superfuture rumour mongering and being a voyeur to some TMZ-esque talk of Downtown scandals was entertaining. Long before that, I liked the litigious post-exodus angry Steve Rocco era of skating, where Simon Woodstock could seemingly be erased from being through legal threats from a man who once worked those first amendment rights to the absolute limit.
The streetwear and men’s style blog realm frequently has slow news days — that means closer looks, a GQ photoshoot, another generic lookbook or a teaser for a summer blockbuster. So it’s understandable that the recent Supreme and Married to the Mob legal talk, claim and counterclaim has been dissected in order to get that precious traffic. I’ve been a little perplexed at the amount of people rooting for MOB in this situation though, painting a curious picture of the oppressed women against “the man” dwelling in his vast box logo covered corporate headquarters, because that’s not the case.
I respect Supreme a great deal for their ability to stay relevant and capabilities for keeping it thorough — that’s not to say that everything they put out is relevant to my interests, but they’re operating on so many channels right now that the old GAP for skaters summary is fully deaded in favour of a bigger picture. So I can understand why they’re trying to stop a trademark. If someone tries to jack your logo with a dose of witless misogyny at the end, you’re probably going to get a bit litigious — it’s a case of battling direct appropriation re upped to make some quick cash. Was Barbara’s name mentioned when the original Supreme Bitch shirt was put together? I wouldn’t know, but it only ever seems to get thrown around when things get negative.
Get popular by doing things well and schadenfreude is an inevitability at any perceived stumble. The problem with not talking too much is that it breeds assumption. Googling Supreme will bring up a mass of message board lore. Mythmaking is an inevitability, like the tale of Shortypop being paid off for the box homage (contrary to the occasionally distributed cheque image, that apocryphal payoff never happened) or Supreme not having the Supreme trademark, which dates back to a remark made in an Interview piece — since then they’ve obtained trademarks. Part of having a trademark is that you’re obliged to defend it — failing to defend it can result in losing it. Then there’s America’s right to common law trademark ownership. So what’s the big problem here?
Supreme have recently filed an answer to the counterclaim from Married to to the Mob and it makes for more interesting reading. Married to the Mob has put out some strong work solo and alongside KAWS, ALIFE, Colette and Nike (those Chanel references on that shoe are homage done very right) over the years. A female-centric streetwear brand is still a part of the market that could be taken by someone willing to be as fastidious as the luxury lines we like to ape, but it’s a market that has only been partially tapped. The Supreme Bitch tee was funny nine years ago for its “is it or isn’t it?” collaboration status (see also, Zoopreme) back in the Retail Mafia era when the online hype sector seemed significantly more niche than today’s big numbers and mass appeal. As its own line, it’s just a Supreme bite, eating off of the Supreme brand’s popularity. If you’re granted one loose collaboration, are you allowed to make a ton more on your own several years later and go to get the trademark for both labels?
People can raise the Barbara Kruger reference all they like (for she is the queen of Futura Bold Oblique and the key influence on the Supreme logo, though Paul Renner deserves a mention for creating the typeface in the first place), but when the majority of bland brands drop that font into a rectangle, they’re riffing on Supreme — if the assumption is that Supreme was entirely built on a bite then it’s worth taking one of those tiresome trips back to 1994 and recalling that the aesthetic of the brand and its pick of reference points was something very different when it debuted. That logo future proofed the brand and acted as a (probably inadvertent — over analysis is rife when you don’t give too much away) visual manifesto of sorts with regards to Supreme’s appropriately Downtown merger of skate and art.
Kruger is an artist, while Supreme trade in clothing, accessories and skate hardwear. MOB deals in clothing and accessories too, so their appropriation is something very different. The Levi’s Red Tab device was also an inspiration (later the subject of some legal issues over its inclusion on denim) on Jebbia’s pick of that red box — it’s an effective logo created on the back of plenty of retail experience. In 1994, plenty of skate gear and store branding was doomed to go wild with the graf letters or bigger-is-better literalism. That’s why they’re not around any more. It was some fortuitously out-the-box but in-the-box thinking.
I’m surprised that nobody has started bleating about the SUPREME in a red box Powell Peralta tees and stickers circa 1990 from the days when Billy Valdes was on the squad (who went on to join Menace alongside Supreme family member Javier Nunez and design for Stüssy and X-Large too). But nobody seems to remember that because we’d started to stray toward the new wave of street-orientated companies by that point that helped build Supreme in the first place.
Supreme has traded in the flip — that’s undisputed. But when the cease and desists or lawsuits came in, there was no righteous web rants or pseudo “Attica, Attica!” rabble rousing. LVMH, Levi’s, Coca-Cola and Calvin Klein and the rest weren’t the subject of us against them fury. All parties came to amicable agreements that even led to future projects in a more official capacity. Nobody claimed it was a Class War issue or elitism. If Condé Nast came a-calling over Eustace Tilley’s appearance on cotton, the matter would have been dealt with without a battle speech. If Supreme had ignored a warning and attempted to trademark an image of Tilley engaging in a sexual situation or wielding a weapon, then there would have been a court case.
The longevity of Supreme has been down to a professionalism and approach that treats it like a world-class brand. That requires a certain cold efficiency. The hand-wringing hustler thing might be effective in the short term but it’s a 24-month hype life at best. 19 years is a long time to survive and it’s not down to fluke — the shouty blogroll brand approach is the spirit of the 2005 era when everyone had a formula and worked that formula again and again until the screenprint faded to a blank. Supreme’s decision to put the red box logo tee on ice around six years ago to avoid the one trick pony pitfall was a smart one. After the hype is gone, the bitching begins.
Back when Married to the Mob was married to FUBU (and I’m not gloating because I know the feeling of the corporate water down and fake promises pretty well), it seemed to slip off the map a little. 2012 was the year when the flipped logo became quick cash again and it was good to see SSUR get some money (after all, their weed trefoil flip in the 1990s has made a lot of loot for street corner vendors shifting adihash shirts) with the sudden burst in COMME des FUCKDOWN popularity that sparked some discussion on the subject. A lot of people have been getting some internet shine from bringing Canal Street to the digital realm lately. The COMME flip was smart (even if you’re too familiar with it now) as is the Channel Zero Chanel one, while the currently popular Brian Lichtenberg Hermès/Homiès and Céline/Féline shirts and sweats at least display a second’s contemplation over coffee in their execution. Nobody at SSUR would be crazed enough to attempt to trademark Comme des FUCKDOWN though, because it would end badly and contains much of the parodied logo within it.
Supreme Bitch? Not so smart. It’s a one-shirt deal in terms of appeal. It includes the Supreme name in it as a standalone and it makes the aforementioned Zoopreme rip seem downright cerebral in its wordplay, and sure as hell makes the old I like the pope, the pope smokes dope tourist staple of old seem like a satiric masterpiece. It seems more like a hop on the brazen bite bandwagon to get quick cash rather than playing the long game of brand evolution. Contrary to the counterclaim that Supreme turned a blind eye to seven years of Supreme Bitch, in the answer, it’s mentioned that it returned after a six-year absence with a little more detail on the discussions that took place:
(From Supreme’s recently filed answer to the counterclaim) “107. Counterclaim Defendant denies the allegations contained in Paragraph 107 of the Counterclaim except admits that it filed a litigation seeking damages and injunctive relief and further admits that in 2004, James Jebbia understood that McSweeney would be making a onetime sale of only a t-shirt bearing the words SUPREME BITCH and design. (See Exhibit 3 true and correct printouts of Counterclaim Plaintiffs’ lookbooks which show that Counterclaim Plaintiffs offered for sale SUPREME BITCH t-shirts in 2004 and 2005 and then not again until 2011. These lookbooks support Jebbia’s understanding that McSweeney did not offer for sale the SUPREME BITCH t-shirt in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 but instead had a one-off, limited production in 2004-05.) Counterclaim Defendant admits that Jebbia first became aware of the re-release of SUPREME BITCH items (which had now been expanded to include a coffee mug, a knit hat, a cap, a mouse pad and a beach towel) in December of 2012 when he saw photographs posted online of pop artist Rihanna wearing a SUPREME BITCH hat. McSweeney had not sought approval from Jebbia for either the re-release of the t-shirt or the expansion of the SUPREME BITCH product line. At that time, Jebbia also received inquiries concerning whether the SUPREME BITCH items were affiliated with or made by Supreme. At that time, Jebbia also first learned that McSweeney had filed a trademark application for the SUPREME BITCH mark (see Exhibit 1 showing application for word mark was filed on January 1, 2013) and that she was selling the branded items through national online retailers such as Urban Outfitters and Karmaloop. Shortly after receiving these calls and learning this information, Jebbia personally reached out to McSweeney who assured Jebbia that she would cease manufacturing and using the SUPREME BITCH Logo and agreed to provide information about her inventory. While Jebbia waited for that information, and in complete disregard of her representations, McSweeney filed a second trademark application to register SUPREME BITCH in a design form that wholly incorporates the famous and distinct SUPREME Logo (see Exhibit 2 showing that the SUPREME BITCH design application was filed on March 1, 2013). Thus, Jebbia did not “sit idly by for nearly a decade” but instead acted shortly after he learned of the re-launch and expanded use of SUPREME BITCH by the Counterclaim Plaintiffs, received customer inquiries and learned of the trademark filings. Jebbia also tried to avoid litigation by amicably discussing his concerns, personally with McSweeney and not through lawyers, that would have allowed her to not only sell her remaining inventory but also to use “SUPREME BITCH” in a design that was distinguishable from the SUPREME Logo.”
Playing the misogyny card and shouting about free speech and feminism suddenly is a little trite. If Barbara found herself sighing to see a red box housing the output of hefty average basket values after her stabs at consumerism, to see her cited in a case where Bitch equals empowerment must have been a real eye-opener. The Want me, Hold me, Fuck Me, Hate me Kruger homage is interesting too. Throwing down the misogyny card because Supreme used Terry Richardson, Tera Patrick and an extract of Courbet’s L’Origine du monde is made moot by the imagery cited in Supreme’s response documents — Cunt, Cunt, Cunt? Bitch Better Have My Money? Bitches Get Stitches? Will Fuck For Chanel? Come on. It’s fun, loud, shock factor gear, not some profound statement. Skateboarding as a boy’s club? Nothing new and a strange thing to be discussed in a court of law.
Much of the current court documents talk about MOB as the female Supreme, but a swift Tumblr search reveals that a lot of ladies like to wear (frequently fake) Supreme gear, regardless of its gender intent (Supreme’s answer also discusses Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Chloe Sevigny’s recent involvement).
Misogyny is a heavy allegation — in a world where Malala Yousafza is shot for attending school, depicting a common-sense legal response to a novelty t-shirt as an act of oppression seems like a bizarre, tasteless bid for some P.R. What would Emily Davison or Marilyn French have made of this? Care to get Gloria Steinem or Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim to chime in on the power of a Will Fuck for Chanel shirt? Does it fit into a second-wave, third-wave, or some fourth-wave of sex-positive feminism? Dining off the work of a male-owned brand without a particularly smart subversion feels like the antithesis of feminism.
(From Supreme’s recently filed answer to the counterclaim) “121. Counterclaim Defendant denies knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of the allegations contained in Paragraph 121 of the Counterclaim. See Exs. 4 and 5 reflecting offensive merchandise offered for sale by Counterclaim Plaintiffs which plainly degrade and marginalize women rather than send a feminist message. The merchandise reflected in Exhibits 4 and 5 use shock value phrases that are not feminist but rather statements 6 that objectify women and perpetuate negative stereotypes (i.e. “Will F*ck for Chanel” and “Want Me Hold Me F*ck Me Hate Me”).”
It’s a prevention of one big mall grab. Just as the infamous truck clutch is derided, James Jebbia has disregarded the prospect of real Supreme being stocked in a shopping centre alongside perceived market rivals several times before. Avoiding the box logo’s spread beyond a controlled distribution has been beneficial. Married to the Mob is hunting that Urban Outfitters dough though, and that could dilute what’s been carefully steered over two decades. Why can’t Supreme Bitch operate without the box logo?
Through a favour turned into some spurious excuse to build a brand by alignment, not only is this case trying to place the Supreme Bitch as some kind of semi-official work, but it misleads idiots into thinking that Supreme is on sale at Karmaloop and does a spot of brand dilution in the quest for somebody else’s contact credibility and the dollars it entails. Letting too much slide isn’t the actions of a well-run company — it’s the actions of a fly-by-night streetwear brand that ends up wanking for change. That’s why the industry is paved with “whatever happened to?” chat about companies that were killing it before falling off and disappearing into the abyss.
Shit maybe I’m wrong and this will end up being made into a Silkwood or Erin Brockovich style flick in a decade’s time. This case has given publicity to a brand that had it going on, but it reeks of manicured nails clawing at a past glory in a competitive marketplace. “Because right now, it’s about more than just a t-shirt!” shouts Leah’s official statement and rallying cry. Yeah, it’s about mouse mats and mugs too. I’m keen to see Married to the Mob return to the status it had in 2008 without building the business on a novelty knockoff and fortunately, Supreme is also about more than a t-shirt after almost two decades (otherwise maybe they’d be scrabbling for attention too right now) — that’s why kids are still queuing for it.
If anyone out there is looking to copy anything from Supreme, steal the work ethic.
Salutes to Alex Dweck for reminding me about the Givenchy Pervert piece’s parallels with a pioneering brand from the past.
As time goes on, what was once the shit — something worth seeking out — can disappear into anonymity. Due to streetwear’s cyclical nature, a healthy dose of reverence whenever content creation’s constant sprawl looks for an industry retrospective, the majority of brands I grew up loving have maintained longevity. Stüssy is still powerful, Supreme evolved, Holmes morphed into Silas who reappeared a little less appealing but seemed to transfer that old spirit into Palace, Fuct stays excellent, Nigo’s role in BAPE was minimized but the brand still has some clout, X-Large is big in Japan (or at least it seems to be), Gimme5 still has distribution clout, Fresh Jive does whatever the fuck it wants, Eightball and Droors gave way to DC, Union still does great work in Los Angeles, SSUR is on a wave right now, former Phat Farm and PNB operatives have huge roles in the industry, Zoo York fell off but the key people there made their own mark, STASH and Futura made good livings post NFC, Kingpin was great (R.I.P. Bleu Valdimer) but seemed to stop in the transition to Project Dragon. There’s a whole lot more, but for the most part, they’re either still in business or there’s a reasonable explanation as to why they shut up shop. All except Pervert.
Obsessing over stock at Planet in my hometown, Slam City, Bond and Dr Jives, Pervert was always a brand I actively hunted — it seemed to have the hip-hop and rave crossovers, captured the acid jazz craze of the time and had skater appeal too. Harking from Miami’s South Beach they had that beach life authenticity that made Stussy seem so authentic back when it debuted. That was a region that never seemed to be represented by anything this credible (Miami’s Stray Rats has done some strong work for the city in the last few years with a healthy respect for Pervert’s work), but Pervert had the name, had a photogenic frontman (and a great BMXer in his youth) who got some profiles in mainstream magazines like ‘Rolling Stone’ (see below) back when being in print was a huge deal in the shape of founder Don Busweiler who started it in his late teens. Trademarking Pervert branding in mid 1990 for “hats, T-shirts, shorts, pants, jackets, shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, footwear, headwear, and swimwear”, Busweiler can be considered an elder statesman of streetwear (I don’t use that hated umbrella term lightly, but when a brand isn’t necessarily a skate brand but trades in printed and embroidered cotton, it’s all I can do).
Pervert’s Animal Farm store was an operations base (stocking Stussy, Fuct, Fresh Jive and the rest) and they were actively involved in the local club scene. It’s a testament to Pervert’s role locally that anyone I’ve met from Miami who’s 30+ years of age seemed to have something to do with the Pervert crew in one way or another. The brand would have cleared up in any number of streetwear booms, the rise in Mo’ Wax and the affiliated toys and tees — even multiple quick cash crazes for parody shirts (next time you see a PUMA tee in a tourist trap souvenir store, think of Don and his team), but it never lasted long enough, because in 1995, after a relationship breakup, Don Busweiler ended Pervert and joined Jim Roberts’ Brethren cult (also know as the Garbage Eaters) with its Christian values that pretty much deem anyone doing anything different a practitioner of perversion.
The beards and bikes of male Brethren members might seem hipster-esque, and the cult’s famous bin-dipping is bizarre, but there’s a real tragedy to this story — the comments on this post hint at the emotional damage of Don’s (apparently calling himself Micaiah) or disappearance and his parents have been quoted in documentaries and articles on Roberts’ activities. ‘God Willing’, a recent documentary (screened on PBS) documents the anguish of the parents of children who vanished to join the nomadic Roberts group and it’s powerful stuff. The ABANDONED status code of Pervert’s trademark hints at the sudden end of the brand. It’s a sad story of what could have been, but the impact Busweiler and the team made in those few short years is significant, but alas, it all occurred before the internet became an extension of the world we live in, so informationally, it’s as if it barely ever existed. I guarantee the influence of Pervert has corrupted your wardrobe in one way or another — bear in mind that Supreme’s creative director Brendon Babenzien started his career at Pervert.
If you haven’t already watched everything on the Gasface’s channel. including all five ‘Think B.I.G.’ installments, you’re slipping. Everyone with an SLR with filming capabilities might be a filmmaker now, but these French hip-hop obsessives are masters of their art. Somebody should just give these guys their own channel as the prove that only the French can do rap nostalgia and digging without coming off corny.
That was a lazy blog post, right? Here’s a load of old RRL and Polo Sport ads to pad it out. I know you love that stuff as much as I do (except that white guy with dreads).
It’s a good time to be a David Lynch fan, but even if recent works have been a little too calculatedly oddball, who’s testing ‘Blue Velvet’? The film stays unsurpassed and Lynch’s declaration earlier in the year that some footage had been unearthed for the Blu-ray was no lie — there’s 51:42 of extra material plus a new documentary too. Most deleted scenes should stay buried, but in Lynch’s world and with the predictable struggles with a major studio, it’s clear that footage will be worthy. We’re not talking piss-poor CGI Jabba the Hutt’s here — we’re talking more Pabst Blue Ribbon loving psychopath Frank “You receive a love letter from me and you’re fucked forever” Booth, including a scene where he gets crazy with a pair of flaming tits in the background. As the best advert for a remastered release ever, that scene hit the internet on Friday ahead of next week’s release for the 25th anniversary edition. The option to have the scenes randomly branched into the original film to make it triply unsettling is sadly absent, so they’re only available as a supplement. Still, that Christmas present list is really starting to come together.
I’m continually jocking Criterion for their pick of releases and artwork, the impending release of the jazzy, bone crunching , smartly suited and downright odd ‘Tokyo Drifter’ captures those curiously coloured muzzle flashes and rhythmic feel perfectly. The move from black and white to colour in ‘Tokyo Drifter’ wasn’t for the budgetary reasons that Lindsay Anderson’s ‘If’ switched between the two — apparently it was to capture Tokyo’s feel before and after the 1964 Olympics. On that note, was there ever a more cocaine-friendly, goon motivation Olympic theme tune than Paul Engemann and Giorgio Moroder’s Los Angeles 1984 theme tune, ‘Reach Out’? It sounds like the sequel to the duo’s ‘Push It To The Limit’ (the 12” extended version with the extra guitar is amazing) and was big in Germany. Now he fronts a brand that makes healthy chocolate. Sadly, he hasn’t re-recorded a version of ‘Push It To The Limit’ about cocoa solids rather than coca leaf extracts.
Speaking of coke and movie myths, it’s well worth spending some time on this UK-based temple of all things Cannon. As a child, Golan-Globus productions both delighted and disappointed me, but the lack of Dolby in favour of Ultra-Stereo was a frequent annoyance. This site even manages to play on that budget saving point of difference, but it’s the trivia here with regards to films never made (this other Cannon site mentions an unfilmed ‘Breakin 3’) like a crappy ‘Spider Man’ film from 1986, but also the mysterious ‘Investigation’ — a Paul Schrader script from 1987 that was set to be directed by Andrei Konchalovsky who directed a rare Cannon exercise in quality with the classic ‘Runaway Train’ and starring Al Pacino before a switch to Christopher Walken. Variety magazine even ran an ad with a mooted Cannes 1988 premiere. Thanks to HunterTarantino on the CHUD forums for uploading the ad. He also upped the Variety ad for the John Travolta and Rebecca De Mornay cop flick ‘Crack’ that never got made — another Golan-Globus production. ‘Crack’ was set to be directed by Stan Dragoti who nearly ended up in a German jail on a cocaine possession charge in 1979, with Travolta as a by the books cop and De Mornay as a “street savvy detective” going undercover to smash a cocaine racket. Dragotti promised, “more verisimilitude than ‘Lethal Weapon’…” but no film ever appeared. That film reeks of 1987 Hollywood thriller. HunterTarantino also upped the Variety promo for a never produced John Milius film called ‘Horseman of the Khyber’ for Carolco. I’ve seen that the poster art sold recently on eBay, but I’m struggling to find any other information about that project.
So when you’ve got that coke money, what do you spend it on? Vehicles and lavish fittings. The recent VH1’Planet Rock’ documentary on crack and the hip-hop generation was an interesting watch for that archive footage. A little Q&A with the directors recently appeared on YouTube, but it was the few minutes on the spending habits of New York hustlers at Harlem’s Dapper Dan’s (Azie would’ve almost certainly shopped there) and Alpo’s custom Gucci tire cover. There’s shots there of a jeep that’s MCM’d out inside and outside, but I only recently discovered, via MCM’s own blog, that there were official MCM motor vehicles, including a jeep with an interior festooned with the expensive leather. They also upped some old lookbook shots, including a couple living the good life, with the male partner rocking a duck booted look that’s part country gentleman and part baller. I believe this fellow got out at the right time and never got high on his own supply. There’s merit in both tricked-out vehicles.
I’m feeling Y’OH’s new site a great deal. Like those Dapper Dan days, at its best, streetwear should be about aspiration and nods to unattainable luxury — think Stussy with the linked ‘C’s or Duffer channeling Gucci and Hermes. There’s no point trying to be Supreme, because it’s already here and firing on all cylinders, while the Oxford shirt is better bought from those who specialise in that garment. I’d like to support more British brands on here, but for the most part, our homegrown streetwear simply seems too safe to the point where it’s regressive.
Shouts to Palace, Origin London, British Remains, Trapstar (their marketing savvy is no joke — those snapbacks travel far) and Y’OH. Y’OH is by far the most ambitious of the bunch by offering product that doesn’t seek marl grey anonymity, with African prints on the Kanja and Jumoke shirts that offer either a boxy fit or extra length, bold bomber jackets and even manage to make the parka look interesting despite the onset of 40/60 fatigue. Even the t-shirt (Y-Shirt) offerings are deeply unorthodox, making other cut and sew merchants look beige by comparison. Eighty percent of what Y’OH create commands attention and challenges the wearer, but since streetwear became pallid, passive and weedy, something needed to give. Branding can make or break a garment and Y’OH’s patch logo is very strong indeed, with a touch of tribalism, mountaineering and the self-assured ®.
Now you’re at the limit, what do you do? If you’re Waka Flocka Flame, you break out the ramen and put on the kettle, living up to that ‘One Squad’ line, “I’ma forever stay hood millionaire eating ramen noodles…” Where some rappers are keen to talk it up in the spirit of those late ‘80s high rollers, this Monopoly kingpin doesn’t do the Rick Ross lobster bisque for breakfast diet. Salutes to Waka for upping this tattooed fistful of Maruchan chicken ramen onto Lockerz. Ramen is a very hip-hop foodstuff with a disposable, anti-vitamin feel to match the download and delete wave of average mixtapes that dropped last week.
Writing a top 50 of anything is a motherfucker. Nobody maintains a top 50 of something unless they’re truly insane. I keep a top 5 of some stuff, but that’s as far as it goes. And that’s subject to change. So putting together anything longer is hard, and beyond that top 10 ranking, it’s merely tactical. “You put XXXXX at 35! Are you crazy?” they shout in the comments section. And I don’t listen. Douchebags can glower at me at trade shows all they like. Streetwear is a subject that’s very important to me, and I can’t be bothered to break down what constitutes streetwear — you know what it is. Salutes to all who started at 432F.
When Bradley at Complex asked me to list 50 great streetwear bites (that was later changed to homages because “Bites” is a little too controversial), I was keen to get involved. Check it out right here. It’s nice to celebrate a realm before it went all cut, sew and RRL-lite — I’m not qualified to be talking about these things professionally, as I’m just a fan. I’m a toy. But that rack of shirts I browsed in Planet Clothing back in the early 1990s that was laden with Fuct, Freshjive, X-Large and some stray Carhartt is still fresh in my mind. It was a glorious confusion — was it skate wear? Hip-hop gear? I couldn’t work it out. So I used this opportunity with Compex’s 50 Greatest Pop Culture References In Streetwear to celebrate that. But I still had to omit some stuff important to me to fit that 50, and I forgot one key design.
I assume nobody cried about LRG being out the list again, because they’re not peddlers of parody, but I had to ditch Eightball and Droors because they’re skate brands, and before you claim that Supreme is a skate brand, we all know that it’s something bigger in 2011. In fact, I could easily make a list of nothing but Supreme gear, and I’m sure they loathe being tagged as streetwear too. But again, this isn’t the place for debate. It was originally a list of 80 or so designs. Some images were just impossible to find and some creations were excised because I couldn’t justify featuring more than 6 of the same brand when there’s a numerical perimeter to work within. You all knew Stussy and Supreme’s Chanel and Kruger homages would top it though, didn’t you?
But some stuff’s in there solely because I respect their business game or because that design typified an era, regardless of how regrettable it might look now. OBEY warrants a place for importance even if it’s super-wack to me nowadays, but those stickers fired my imagination back in the day. I saw one question on Twitter — “How could they forget air Johnny?” I can answer that one. Because it’s shit. It was nice to take another look at the work of the late Bleu Valdimer’s overlooked Kingpin line and Pervert’s Don Busweiler, who ditched the brand to join a cult. There’s a phenomenal documentary in there somewhere.
I regret omitting Supreme’s ARMY shirt, Stussy’s PiL-style StU, Zoopreme, King Stampede’s Cult stuff, Supreme Maxell, the J$ Situationormal Alpo shirt, Absurd’s A-Wing, DQM’s Meatallica, Diamond D-Wing, Undrcrwn’s Biggie and Pac shirts, Undrcrwn’s Coogi-style basketball shirts, Silas’s ‘Silas Bloody Silas’ shirt, Gimme5’s Ghostbusters image, Fuct’s ‘Warriors’, the BMW Red Army Faction shirt (I couldn’t find the designer), Perks & Mini’s Balearic Flag and Sun-Ra designs, Goodenough’s ‘Dog or Die, Staple’s Cassius Clay, Crooked Tongues’s ‘Crooked Force’, SSUR’s IZM IBM homage, Tonite’s ‘Party On’ Patagonia shirt, ALIFE’s Otis Bantum Correctional Facility, Freshjive’s ‘Don’t Tread On Me’, WTAPS’s ‘Rise Above’ stuff NFC’s Krylon print, 10.DEEP’s Champion shirt, the SSUR Bruce Lee ‘Enter the Dragon’ chest marks, the St. Alfred’s YSL style monogram, the Bounty Hunter Danzig font, the Bounty Hunter Ducky Boys shirt, Pervert’s Kappa bite, Orchard Street’s ‘Pimp Accordingly’, Mishka’s ‘Death to All’, HVM8 ‘Bone Thugs & Typography’, aNYthing’s BAD NEWS series and a few more….in fact, I’m sure there’s a hundred more significant shirts, hats and sweats.
I couldn’t single out a specific NBHD design that’s an iconic homage. Mr. Craig Ford reminded me of plenty more Hysteric Glamour creations, Duffer’s Ducci Gucci bite and a Hermes homage, plus BAPE’s Versace and Cazal copies. The Natural Born ‘I Against I’ and 2K/Gingham Beatles designs are clever, but I never saw them as homages or imitations. Even only including a single No Mas design seemed churlish.
But now I’m boring myself.
There’s one major idiotic omission in the listing (and apologies to Erik for misspelling his name as Eric a couple of times) — the Fuct ‘Goodfellas’ shirt. The brand’s early ’92 film poster art preempts SSUR’s ‘Mean Streets’ and Supreme’s ‘Taxi Driver’. I mentioned it, then forgot to include it later on like a dumbass. It seems so obvious to stick gangsterism on cotton now, but back then it felt totally fresh. Fuct is a very overlooked brand indeed.
Why is the list largely absent of designs post-2006? Because there’s some lines that deserve a spotlight and I’m afraid SSUR creations warranted a place more than your line. There’s still some great creations being pumped out from newer labels, but post-2006, the homaged brands seemed to want more of that hypesphere loot and seemed happier to officially collaborate. I feel that murdered some of the rebel spirit and that was an instant disqualification, though on seeing the list, Jeff Staple mentioned that the John Jovino Gun Shop shirt was made with his cooperation.
It’s heartening to see a streetwear resurgence of sorts in the UK. Shouts to Gabriel at Origin London for his latest project with This is My Costume, Puck and Second To None. At fear of sounding patronising, the dude is 17 and creating a presence for his brand using a network of folk who dwell on the new. We old farts are on our way out — and not a moment too soon. Too much nostalgia can prove unhealthy.
With all the current MTV celebrations, it’s always worth re-watching the ‘VH1 Goes Inside Yo! MTV Raps’ documentary from a few years back. There’s some great outtake footage in there, and just as that rack of randomly gathered shirts had a vast impact on me, those saturday mornings watching Ed and the team were life-changing. Anyone else remember those switches to Marxman and Talkin’ Loud releases during Fred’s non-studio section courtesy of MTV Europe? I always felt I was missing out on some amazing US stuff as a result of that intrusion.
And if anybody can tell me what a ‘Purple Onion’ is in the comments, I’d love to know. While this track is hypnotic, I initially wrote the video off as a So Me copy, but the ‘Pop Up Video’ style comments and ‘What They Do’ style is decent.
I don’t want to knock anyone’s “hustle” but some of you fashion PR folk are terrible. Really, really excruciating. It’s nothing personal. Some of my best friends are in PR – there’s some great ones out there, and it’s not necessarily you…well, sometimes it is…but it’s more your writing. I thought in 2010 you’d be greeting me by hologram or video messaging, but guess what? You still have to communicate using the written word. The press release is still a core component of the industry, beyond a list of contacts you pretend to like. My colleague Mr. Tom Scott described it as “The PR Goldrush.” He’s right – where there’s cluelessness, there’s cash. The blog explosion and relevance of online (though curiously many still favour pulped trees, “I saw some great shoes in Super Super! I need to get them!“) has been tougher to quantify.
Plenty sprang up to usurp bewildered old guard, bamboozling them with magical talk of blogs and the relevance of so Now folk can gauge reach, and look at the success rate analytically. That’s a good thing. Just because you got your client on 5 blogs doesn’t mean the job is done. Click throughs and pageviews could be miniscule. Personal bugbear – being told what the next big site/magazine/celebrity is. Jeeeeeez. Don’t try to kid a kidder, yo. In fact, some PR folks with finite follower amounts on social media sites might want to downplay that – it’s like a being 50 stone dietician – a bad advert for your business. Getting all 21st century and pestering folks with a Twitter account following “tastemakers”? Please, please don’t sully the brand paying your rent with 800 follows and 12 followers.
Who isn’t helping on press or consulting for a brand these days? Ask the person next to you now – they’re “working on some projects“….even the dog is doing it too. There’s money to be made.I’m regularly assailed by mails with attached paragraphs of nonsense. STEP YOUR COPY GAME UP. Seriously – a couple of brief paragraphs. That’s all I need. So what instigated this tirade? A press release that opens with, “THE BEAT GOES ON! SIMBOL OF THE HOGAN REBEL SPIRIT…”
Umm…way to represent your piss-poor footwear. Lately I’ve been trying to learn the noble art of copy writing for press releases. It’s tough. This blog isn’t a hotbed of brevity…in fact, I take pleasure in unrestrained ramblings here. There’s no one to answer to. No money’s changed hands. There’s no client to answer to. When I’m freelancing, it’s a whole ‘nother story. And I’m a rookie in the public relations game. Still, I’ve found myself in the curious position of being sent press releases I’ve written – the circle of hype completed. Isn’t the ability to hurl a press release together part of PR 101 after demonstrating a knack for feigning interest? Get those main points summarised in the first two lines, and convey the tone you’d like to see the product mentioned in. Earn your stripes. I heard interns are getting their own interns. It doesn’t fill me with confidence.
Please don’t open with, “You’re probably familiar with...” – don’t presume anything. Stop being smug. Stop re-Tweeting a mention of your brands in even the most tawdry, barely seen outlets. Save that for the clippings pile, whether it’s physical or a zip file of screen grabs. Don’t give a ’90s running silhouette to a bunch of ageing b-boys for photo opps – learn some context and at least project some reverence for the pieces you’re shilling.
Don’t try to dissuade me from requesting pieces outside the crappy pieces you’ve picked – at least I’m showing interest in your represented brand. Don’t change dates in press releases to ensure inclusion. Keep your agency blogs updated. I know you’ve swaggerjacked a contact list from folk too daft to blind carbon copy, but at least be subtle about it. Don’t bookend a release in nonsense – leave the “Introducing the splendiferous…” bullshit for Don King or Keith Murray. Go easy on those exclamation marks. Don’t just appear as an e-stalker on Twitter and Facebook like some piss-poor phantom or stray dog.
Good fashion PR is an artform – conveying a brand’s brilliance infectiously and applying your own personality to your advantage without resorting to the dreaded nervous chuckle on exiting a conversational comfort zone, isn’t an easy role. Especially when you’ve got to deal with jumped up, freeloading shits like me. “But wait! Your blog is riddled with typos. How can you be criticising copy writing?” Because I’m representing me. And he’s an indiscriminating client.