There’s plenty of little moments scattered across publications that altered the course my career would take in one way or another. Back in mid 1998, The Face ran a ‘Fashion Hype’ (and hype would become a word attached to these objects like a particularly excitable Siamese twin in the decade that followed) piece on the newly opened Hit and Run store (which would be renamed The Hideout for presumed legal reasons by 2000). This two page spread was a rundown of things I’d never seen in the UK and sure enough never seen them with a pound price next to them. I immediately rushed out and asked a couple of Nottingham skate stores if they’d be getting any Ape, Supreme, GoodEnough or Let It Ride gear in, only to be met with a blank stare. lesson learnt: Kopelman had the hookups that the other stores didn’t. This Upper James Street spot was selling APC jeans for 48 quid, while Supreme tees were only a fiver less than they are now. The 1998 season when Supreme put out their AJ1, Casio, Champion tee, Goodfellas script design and Patagonia-parody jacket was particularly appealing, and it was showcased here, while SSUR keyrings, BAPE camo luggage and soft furnishings were a hint of things to come. I guarantee that once you made it to the store, a lot of the stuff that you assumed you could grab with ease would be gone — an early life lesson that hype just isn’t fair.
Can we use the news of Neneh Cherry dropping a new album with Four Tet as an excuse to put pictures of her in the late 1980s and early 1990s up here? My crush on her was colossal and her personal style put me onto some serious shoes — she looked incredible in those Air Delta Force Hi makeups and the adidas Attitudes with the pattern on the upper. Around 1992, when she was recording with DJ Premier she broke out those Jordan IVs (I’ve put up the picture here before), which seemed like a blast from the past back then before the reissues. Neneh has more swagger than any of your male sartorial role models.
I’ll repeat myself on another matter too — what was so wrong with the intimidating shopping experience? Now there’s competition from the internet and stores take strange, cuddly social media forms to keep you in the loop, but I’ll always cherish those memories of coming to Soho and feeling intimidated wandering into the stores I spotted as stockists in The Face. It wasn’t that you got scowled or growled at, it was just that you seemed to be completely transparent when you entered those doors. My younger self always found complements on a record or item of clothing from those staffers to be something to cherish and the experience made me appreciate an object more. It was a rite of passage of sorts and to get conversational was even more of an accomplishment — some of the best staffers over the years seemed to act as a filter against stupidity. Without them the floodgates are open.
Half the moaners who complain about poor service are liable to enter a shop with a storm cloud expression anyway. I’ll miss The Hideout for the chats about esoteric documentaries and the labels I couldn’t get anywhere else. Remember their Probe account days or taking the wrong turn to find Hit & Run? Michael Kopelman has gone beyond the call of duty to help me out over the years and Richard is one of the ultimate raconteurs. That store had the Post Overalls account at least half a decade before workwear hit hard and they got Jim Lambie on a shoe collaboration (among other things) — the industry has dumbed down since. Farewell to another London institution.
26 hours late with the blog update. Sorry, I was on the phone to a faraway land. Seeing as this site is a receptacle for pictures of Mike Tyson (and this Peter Rosenberg interview is excellent — especially when he blames sour diesel for some of his capers and Teddy Atlas putting a gun to his head, because Teddy, as this interview attests is not a man to cross) the small image above of Mike running some running in the dark circa 1988, wearing some New Balances is a personal favourite. If we’re going to stay nostalgic this evening, I have to mention the Clothes Show hip-hop fashion in Bristol clip that Mr. Glenn Kitson brought to my attention before Christmas. I remember my mum calling me downstairs to watch this while she was ironing on a Sunday evening back in 1990. Kids with Jordan Vs and C&A denims, is one thing, but Brenton and Clinton eschewing baggy street style for some Kool G Rap and Polo esque executive realness, with Clinton’s suede jacket being a strong look and Brenton’s camel coat preempting Kanye’s Margiela number by 23 years. A Foot Locker Limited Edition tag on the Filas, Brizzy’s own Fi-Lo Paul ‘Fila’ Rogers in with the hat, shirt and hikers, a brief glimpse of the suede Champion footwear that Ewing and Pony man Roberto Mueller apparently had a hand in, and some chap trying to front in those shitty LA Gear MVP Jordan IV knockoffs are all part of a rare snapshot of a time when people flossed in beaten shoes and fake Chipie.
When every piece of sports footwear territory has been covered already, it’s interesting to see how things are developing. When no idea’s original, we’re hunting for things to reissue. A Jumpman becomes a swoosh and servers melt down on a Jordan III, the Undefeated Dunk I always wanted that originally appeared as 48 pairs reappears on Saturday and last weekend mita dropped the Air Max 95 neon (the best running shoe ever) in its Prototype form. There’s something about fiending for a co.jp AM95 that makes me feel I’ve gone full circle (or regressed, like Benjamin Button), but I’m sure the taxes on its delivery will slap me out of that euphoria. What’s so special about a black tongue on an AM95? It was featured in a Boon AM95 Q&A with designer Sergio Lozano as an early sample. Salutes to Japanese fanboys for bringing that back. I know it won’t have p.s.i. pressure markings, but I can deal with that. Nike need to drop more prototypes — remember the Air Trainer 1 First Take based on Tinker’s early AT1 sketches that weren’t possible to manufacture in 1987? And did I dream it or did an alternate Air Raid in a similar vein drop in the early 2000s? Anyway, here’s a picture of Sergio with the shoe that had hardcore fans hyped.
As a product of the video shop days, there was no way I was going to miss this. REWIND THIS! is a documentary about the power of the tape in putting b-movies on the same shelf as big budget films. Provided there was gore on the back and a lurid cover, the rental store was a democratic place where I could be equally as excited about Conan the Barbarian and Deathstalker, despite the latter’s crappiness once I got it home. I’m looking forward to Adjust Your Tracking too, which documents a contemporary VHS obsession. Were it not for the video format, I would have not seen that Clothes Show clip again, or Phase2 and Daze on a Melbourne TV show (The Factory) in 1988.
It’s alway good to see London spots in Japanese magazine, so seeing Good Hood and The Hideout in Clutch was a good look. What’s even better is that they’ve given Rich from The Hideout a comedy shouty speech bubble, which is nearly as good as getting slandered by some wild nickname in the Rugged Museum at the back/front of Free & Easy like labeling a man with a tiny noggin “Mr Little Head” in an issue a few years ago.
Homer Simpson once said, “There’s only two kinds of guys who wear Hawaiian shirts: gay guys and big fat party animals.” I think the Engineered Garments Hula Girl Popover Shirt sidesteps Homer’s theory, provided you smoke like a chimney and have a big fucking quiff. It would look good on big fat party animals too if they could fit into EG designs.
Blogging your blagging is the epitome of douchebaggery, but some things are too good not to mention. At an event earlier in the year, the OTW goodie bag wasn’t your average tote bag print-up. The tote bag’s become the norm, but I think I’ve stockpiled a complimentary tote for every man, women and child on the planet, which pretty much defeats the re-use purposes of a cotton carrier and almost certainly missed the eco-friendly point. I can’t carry one around casually either, unless it’s a post-purchase trip back — they still look like shopping bags for the fey or elderly to me — I need something that hangs from the shoulder. As a result, I have no qualms about rocking the man bag. Round my way, every ‘yoot’s getting all JJB-metrosexual with a tiny Nike bag containing whatever ‘yoots are carrying these days inexplicably near their armpit. This OTW bag > blog-dandies with camo tote. Everybody’s doing a camo now, so it makes sense to explore military build rather than the stealth aesthetics, which, through sheer ubiquity at tradeshows and on store shelves means camouflage is starting to become invisible to me — mission accomplished, I guess.
Vans win on two scores – implementing the work of Mr. Rob Abeyta of Dual Forces as part of an OTW project and — in a very Dual Forces move — ditching the anonymity of the tote in favour of some mil-spec, US-made army standard baggage. I believe this bag is a DF spec take on the SO Tech Mission Go Bag — a bumbag, shoulder bag and seemingly indestructible creation that acts as part of a modular system. Made to ride below armour, and from a design that seems orientated towards combat medics, but it also seems targeted towards (no pun intended), snipers and anybody wielding a tiny military Panasonic laptop. Big, idiot-proof zips and plenty of space, plus plenty of pockets (Lexdray still get my vote of most insane amount of pouches, compartments and hidden stuff — I lost my phone for an hour in one of their backpacks) makes it a fine camera case. Special Operations Technologies are the real deal (“Built to Survive the World’s Worst“), constantly reworking existing designs, deliberately overbuilding their goods, using heavy threads and not skimping on their Cordura deniers.
Los Angeles based and kitting out every Hollywood film of recent years with a military element, the brutal-sounding testimonials page on their site proves they’re not dropping their standards to get an end credit mention. Any brand that boasts of stocking, “the most obscure buckle designs” is my kind of brand. Salutes to Vans, Dual Forces and Special Operations Technologies. Other brands need to unleash the American-made mil-spec goodie bag too.
Whenever friends visit Tokyo, I always harass them to get me plain grey Champion US-made Heavy Weight Jersey shirts from Oshman’s. These are my favourite tees on the market and with Mr. Michael Kopelman being one of the first I ever saw wearing one, it’s good to see that London’s The Hideout will be stocking 6 colours of the plain shirt from tomorrow. With import tax and all the rest, they won’t be cheap (the Real McCoys Champion tees, with the even older style branding and fit were an expensive proposition), but these shirts last and wear in nicely. If I was balling, all my UK sunny day shirts would be these. For NYC heat they’re not so good, because that thickness and softer lining borders on a semi sweatshirt feel. On the Oshman’s topic, their US-made UCLA tees are pretty amazing too. The difference between these and the cheaper ones is in the fact that the former are nigh-on unwearable unless you’re built like a brick shithouse. Even if you were a man mountain, I suspect they might look a little too blocky.
I’m part of the problem when it comes to plugging things that are hardly revolutionary, and thus aiding and abetting the slow, sludgy flow of mediocre ideas, but by god (bar the excellent social life) I’m glad I’ve evaded the summer’s tradeshows. Just as dogs supposedly see in black and white, only when I leave certain areas of London am I aware that I see in more than just light blue and beige cotton. We’re flooded with it. The heritage lines are in full effect. If your ailing brand is more than 30 years old, start a heritage line. If it’s new, make it look like a heritage line anyway. Bread & Butter is generally awful, but this year’s sneakily shot offerings were total Emperor’s New Clothes (the emperor’s attire in this case being the same tiresome bunch of collaborators on bland brands and brands good enough to know better, and some once-great lines reacting to blog attention and playing themselves by losing that charmingly oblivious aura).
Naturally, the good people of Pointer and Wood Wood are excluded from vitriol as their offerings are looking excellent.
But how much post-Albam crap can we possibly take? Albam make excellent gear, fairly priced, but the slew of Albam-alikes pumping out button-downs, chinos, denim and totes makes a man want to self-harm. Regardless of the material weights, painstaking treatments, sourcing or manufacturer who’s within walking distance, a substantial amount of feverishly WordPressed product looks like Blue Harbour by Marks & Spencer. Ignore my quest for the perfect blank for a second. Bring back the print tee.
Print t-shirts never feel fully British — neither does the tee itself as an article of clothing, seeming more like a sought-after import that arrived and never left. John Lydon’s gleefully defaced Pink Floyd effort, Malcolm McLaren aided graphic output and Katherine Hamnett’s sloganeering seem like rare examples that made a significant impact. There were skate brands in my wardrobe that were keepers, but it took Holmes, Silas and Barnzley-era Zoltar or Tonite to really match the Shorty’s, Stussy and Supreme preoccupation. I think Gimme 5 was an underrated brand with graphics are worthy of a retrospective too. Can’t forget Carri’s Cassette Playa imagery either.
My respect for what Palace is doing doesn’t need require reiteration (Incidentally, Lev’s TMI quote pertaining to Fergus Purcell, “Loads of people try and bite Fergus’s shit as well…he’s the OG guy…” carries some weight) and the Ferg-Tour tee is a great piece of design, and T-Shirt Party, who I’ve enthused about before are still fulfilling their shirt-a-week mission, currently on number 21 with an England backpiece image. Just as they made their ultra low key arrival, Mr Andrew Bunney — a walking encyclopedia on a number of matters and a man who knows a fair few things with regards to subcultures and apparel has started a small brand with artist Daryl Saunders called British Remains for a simple reason – they couldn’t find the kind of t-shirts they wanted.
T-Shirt Party and Palace are channeling a certain Britishness that’s alien to or US cousins but easily accessible. To convey UK imagery without descending into mockneyisms or tiresome levels of nationalism is tough. I remember a streetwear brand called Artful Dodger, never my particular cup of PG Tips who were presumably (I certainly hope they were) American, and their awful ads in Frank151 that bordered on Dick Van Dyke chimney sweep patter. We don’t want to go there. But the Britain I love is a mixed bag, and I love to see our grimmer side showcased. And boy, do we do bleak well. Andrew seems dedicated to researching and unveiling the country’s treasures and oddball elements, and mixed with a keen eye for aesthetics, that means some nice shirts (plus totes too if that’s your thing) that play with some localised elements, some as common as W.C. cubicle signage, the glorious London Brickworks (which operated near to my hometown) and some class matters.
Just for riffing on the Hambert and Deverson’s ‘Generation X — Today’s Generation Talking About Itself’ study, familiar to a certain generation of sociology student as being, alongside Dick Hebdige’s ‘Subculture: The Meaning of Style’ a rare moment of interest in an otherwise tedious curriculum on the ‘Generation X’ design, the brand impressed me more than most on first impressions. I look forward to seeing where this line goes, as I’m in no doubt it will confound any presumptions that printed white cotton will stay the sole medium. I love the type on the press release/statement of intent too.
As you may have gathered, I really like t-shirts, and London is making me proud at present.
Go get British Remains and Palace from www.hideoutstore.com