Despite Bedford being my birthplace, I’ve long assumed that, despite being the longtime breeding ground for a lot of talent throughout the years, even minor recognition for the town was unlikely. One local hero is producer and musician Lil Silva who’s making credited and uncredited power moves while making some sounds that evolved locally into elements of some globally popular music. Continue reading BEDFORD TOWN
You know what’s more useful than listening to another wearying roundtable about hype, collaborations or other streetwear-related matters? Listening to someone who has made it in that world who’s willing to discuss it on record. A lot of industry kingpins move in silence or were raised in an analogue world, so it’s strictly soundbites, and Eddie Cruz — the man behind Union LA, Stüssy LA/Las Vegas, Undefeated and Supreme LA — doesn’t tend to dwell on the past. Continue reading CRUZ CONTROL
This blog is rapidly looking like a Patta fansite, but I love talking to those guys about culture. Plus Gee is one of the select few whose book recommendations I trust 100%, and this site is also transforming into little more than a set of gushing paragraphs about the printed word. A book just dropped that documents Amsterdam’s street style through the long-running Appelsap festival. Continue reading TITANIUM SHELVES
I’ve been bleating about a need for a decent Stüssy book for a while now. After all, the brand pretty much did it all before the rest of us. On the parody front, they were messing with Hermes prints and far more beyond the interlocked S designs, and it transpires that their archive is pretty killer. Continue reading DROWNING IN THE ARCHIVES
I think I’m a couple of years late to the party with this one, but this section of Alex Turnbull’s interview with his friend Shawn Stüssy from a while back (though it looks like the kind of material that’ll make it into his forthcoming full-length documentary) is interesting. Continue reading BRAND ADVICE
Nothing much to report here right now because I’m fed up of the MacBook screen after transcribing two and a half hours of conversation. But here’s a couple of things I wrote for some friends who sell stuff — a short piece on the Stüssy Tribe for MR PORTER (that 1990 CUTiE spread above stays gold) and a bit on the Converse One Star (one of my favourite shoes ever — there’s something a bit longer written for another outlet on the same subject too) for size? Two subjects dear to my heart that crossed over with each other too (as evidenced in the UK newspaper supplement that showcased a couple of pairs on Shawn’s fireplace back in 1993).
In a world where the younger generations are coming through with the kind of things that seasoned TV talking heads would find themselves stuttering themselves into a seizure in a bid to pigeonhole there’s still a place for the veterans to make their mark. London has long been a hub where ideas and attitude have been exported to become movements of their own in new territories — the city’s relationship with Tokyo being a good example — or at least the spot where its own imports, like punk after its NYC birth, were given a packable, sellable shape. There’s an entire roll call of folks who built up that reputation (and Alex Turnbull’s impending Rise of the Streets film project should make some things a little clearer) including Michael Kopelman, who has been extremely gracious in providing opportunities for young creatives throughout the years too (he even also made a cameo in episode #1 of Gamesmaster back in 1992) and Barnzley. A northerner who relocated to London, Barnzley seems to be connected to every zeitgeist — he worked with Worlds End, BOY, i-D and Stüssy, helped build a market for bootleg designer logos on tees, pushed deadstock shoes through Acupuncture, popularised the smiley face on tees in the acid house era, sold enviable amounts of Seditionaries gear to Hiroshi and Jun, has the rag trade knowledge and an excellent record collection, and was key to the superb House Industries House33 line and store in Soho, the Terrorist brand and A Child of the Jago. For all punk’s celebration of chaos, he gets shit done, is big in Japan and doesn’t rest on his history.
Having exited the Jago, Barnzley’s latest project is Thunders, a store located on Commercial Street in east London, that stocks his own Crossed Swords line which has been a couple of years in the making. Part Seditionaries, part Engineered Garments, part unclassifiable, much of it’s made up north like the man himself, and it’s punk without the silly safety pins or unnecessary postcard rebel embellishments. Coats are made from natural fabrics, with the occasional vaguely kinky synthetic lining, a red corduroy pair of bondage pants are stripped down but softcore, with RIRI hardware at the crotch, while mohair makes an appearance as the knitwear fabric of choice and neons aren’t overbearing. The tees are good too — Tank Girl artist Rufus Dayglo has created a reinterpretation of the Jim French cowboys image from the oft-reproduced 1975 SEX tee with a well endowed Booga, Tokyo new wave and hip-hop legend Toshio Nakanishi aka. Tycoon To$h has supplied some artwork for shirts, and there’s Let It Rock style Chuck Berry designs too. It’s a lot of things, but at its core, it’s streetwear rooted in the original London streetwear lines, with Crossed Swords’ House Industries designed logo echoing the swashbuckling new romanticism of Worlds End’s branding.
Thunders’ lack of webstore (they’ll walk you through on Skype though and there’s a private Instagram account @T_h_u_n_d_e_r_s, so it’s not because of technophobia) is down to a weariness with excessive promotion that erodes any sense of encountering something underground and distills all mystique, but the Tokyo co-signs are already drifting across social media and Thunders looks to be expanding into music and much more in coming seasons. There’s two distinct tribes whenever I get into conversations regarding future plans — the ones constantly talking about what they’re thinking about doing and the ones who know that there ain’t nothing to it but to do it. Big up Barnzley.