Sometimes an image is so good that it renders any text obsolete. Snoopy in the legendary Gucci Tennis from the book to coincide with 1984’s Japanese Snoopy in Fashion exhibition is a perfect case study. Idea Books Instagrammed it this morning and made my day. Even better than Donald Duck in Timbs. Speaking of wheat workboots, a couple of good promo print projects arrived in the post this week — Oi Polloi’s always excellent Pica~Post is back with some extra metal, an interview with Patagonia Alpine Outerwear Christian Regester and Mr. Gary Aspden (it’s heartening to see the low-key looks of the SPEZIAL Ardwick become an object of desire in a world where the same old Technicolor yawns get eBay bids) who really, really went on the campaign trail for his labour of love after years of not doing too many Q&As — Next’s role in casual culture, a picture of Gary with a spaniel and a Preston b-boy crew called Mystic Force makes this amazing. The increasingly prolific David Hellqvist (aka. the Baron) has done a good job with the Document project on the Timberland topic — there’s fashion talk in there, design talk and a really good conversation between my friends Nick Schonberger and Ronnie Fieg on the topic of the brand and its connection to NYC that I loved (sample quote: “Chris Webber used to buy 15 pairs of Timberland at a time”). That’s the kind of insight I want to read when we’re talking about brands that I’m smitten with.
It’s nearly Christmas and — if you recall this blog’s content from Christmases past, you might recall the hate filled lists I used to drop here. I thought about doing one again, but the blog world is already full of folks getting all cynical despite being as obsessed with emperor’s new clothes as much as the next person, so it doesn’t need me doing it too. I think much of what I wrote in previous entries stands anyway — the world is at least 15% more corny and easily impressed than it seemed to be in late 2011. But why piss on people’s picnics? Plus, much of the work i contribute to every day is hardly firing on all cylinders, so I’m not in the position to take potshots right now. It’s still fun to fire off a few though, even if they backfire.
Just because you’re a pro skater and you’re meant to be all artistic and expressive automatically means that you get to contribute to art shows with some lo-fi photography or a nosebleed on a canvas. It also means you get to start a brand as a passion project, which may or may not be utterly unremarkable. If you’re Geoff Rowley, that brand will be awesome and you’ll spend more time punching people in the face for talking shit, making your own jerky and shooting guns in a canyon. CivilWare, launched in the summer, didn’t catch my attention the first time around, because it just seemed to be another simple tee line. The current store inventory includes coffee beans, an axe made with Base Camp X, paper shooting targets and a custom-made knife with Anza Knives. Because it’s Rowley-affiliated, you know that he puts this kind of thing to use, rather than this being some self-aware attempt to reassert masculinity in the era of organic produce and hurt feelings on social media. I’m looking forward to seeing what CivilWare does next.
Here’s a brief Shawn Stüssy interview from 1992 that calls him the “Urban Armani” and includes him shouting out Brand Nubian and discussing the brand’s expansion plans. it’s no the most in-depth discussion, but it belongs here for completist’s sake.
Shouts to Joerg at 032c for letting me write some end of year shoe-related stuff for their site. Getting to big up Olympus Has Fallen onsuch a prestigious platform was quite a privilege.
Whoever decided to switch up “dog” for “gun” in this Timberland newspaper ad from the 1980s makes this promotion more memorable. Timbs beat guns — anyone who ever had that outsole imprinted on their face or chest and lived to tell the tale can concede that it probably beats a bullet in the assault stakes.
While we’re talking axes and weaponry, just like Bad Santa, Home Alone, Gremlins, Father Ted, Scrooged and A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Tales From the Crypt episode And All Through the House is a Christmas necessity — you can see the original EC comic story here (don’t read it if you haven’t watched it yet) and the shorter British adaptation starring Joan Collins from the 1972 film Tales From the Crypt is here. Larry Drake is terrifying in the 1989 version and Fred Dekker and Robert Zemeckis do great things with the source material. I hope Santa brings all of you what you want and doesn’t arrive in the shape of an escaped psychopath…
Nothing to see here tonight — I’ve been too busy to hunt anything worth upping and working on a book and an exhibition has eaten up my evenings this week. Please accept my apologies. In the meantime, here’s a link to an extract of my chat with James Jebbia — Supreme just put out a Timb workboot with a shot on their Instagram of Javier Nunez skating in them. Talk of skating in Timberlands is always cause to up grabs of Kyle James and Brian Wenning in their wheats. Years after I blogged on that topic, I still can’t find that Pepe Martinez Timberland footage from the True Mathematics (coincidentally, I’m sure that shoe god, Chris Hall who owned that brand did some work for Timberland in the last few years) VHS. Who needs iPath when you can skate in something wildly inappropriate? Anyway, seeing as we’re talking interviews with industry kingpins, I interviewed Erik Brunetti for the new issue of ACCLAIM.
The lowest form of blogging is the “look what arrived in the post…” stuff, but I’ll do it here anyway, because it’s an object I’ve loved from afar for a long time. Timberland has cropped up here a few times over the last three years, but with it being their 40th anniversary and them and The Rig Out letting me get involved in the jumpoff for their Limited collection, it’s a good time to talk trees again. This wood box, (complete with a workboot lace and eyelet fastened copy of a hardback 100 page tribute to the original yellow boot) contained a pair of the World Hiker reissue. I know those who know will be tripping out over this one. All eyes will be on the return of the Super Boot aka the 40 Below (a classic from 1979) and the new Super 6″ addition to the pack — a GORE-TEX lined, Vibram soled version of the yellow boot (which I need in my life). But you know those boots well, right? The World Hiker is a 1994 classic that’s like 1988’s (the year that the Beef & Broccoli 5″ Waterproof Hiker first dropped) Euro Hiker on creatine supplements. Fairly light despite the imposing looks and surprisingly comfortable, this was a serious shoe in its day.
The World Hiker name is there for ease-of-use too, because this shoe started life as the top-line part of a four-shoe collection called World Hiker. As far as I know, this shoe is really the World Hiker Up Country Plus Backpacker (with some minor tweaks to the detailing) — the full load use part of the project — which was originally accompanied by the Up Country Hiker, the Front Country Hiker with GORE-TEX and the cheaper Front Country Day Hiker. From the custom-made carbon rubber Vibram outsoles to the technology involved, this was a state-of-the-art line, but the Up Country Plus Backpacker had the rubber rand for reinforcement, hinged forward and rear flex zones, gusseted, locking tongue and the multiple layer footbed that included materials with fancy names like Dri-Lex and Poron.
Now the shoe is made in China rather than the factories of Montebelluna in Italy, I assume that the GORE-TEX has gone and the Pittards buck leather has become a great quality full grain leather, but the shoe still retains its power — it’s still a D-ringed all terrain monster and the fit is better than most other boots on the market. The World Hiker elements symbols are present on the tongue too — wind for windproof a wave for waterproof, earth for anti-abrasion and the sun for temperature sensitivity. Salutes to Timberland for singling this one out for a return (only 1,973 pairs in line with the year the original Timberland boot arrived). Go visit here and read the Rig Out special for a little history of the boots in the collection and some pictures of dudes with beards looking serious.
I want to watch a bootleg copy of the new Ben Affleck film (no Gigli) so this is a rush job. The Timberland brand has been an organisation close to my heart since the notion of amassing £120 for a pair of boots was impossible and I had to settle for CAT. Shit, I even considered Lugz back when Erick Sermon was plugging them in jeans big enough to block out the sun and cause a global rickets crisis, but you always knew you were compromising. For all the ‘Watchdog’ talk of quality or unfounded rumours about them and their enthusiastic hip-hop market, an ad with, say, Das EFX in ‘The Source’ would have ultimately deaded the Timberland brand. I’m not mad at the way it wasn’t all up in the rap press desperately trying to be down (though I still don’t mess with the roll-tops) during my teen years. As Timberland weather approaches and their 40th birthday is impending (though the Abington Boot Company launched 60 years ago), here’s some old Timberland ads. The blocky TIMBERLAND lettering to promote the “Outdoors-Proof Boot” in 1976 shows how the brand design has evolved and the 1979 campaign with a hillbilly family in wheat workbooks that, rather curiously, depicts them as the shoe of the moonshine maker hiding from Treasury Agents, is a gem, complete with a tagline that pre-dates Stella Artois’ “Reassuringly expensive” campaign — “A whole line of fine leather boots that cost plenty, and should.” 1982 was seemingly the year that Timberland declared boat shoe beef with Sperry Top-Sider with shot after shot. Brands didn’t do subliminals back then — shots fired, man overboard! Can I still enter the 1984 sweepstakes for Black & Decker powertools? The copywriting’s pretty solid throughout the 1980’s as GORE-TEX enters the line and the Super Boot era begins. I never realised that it took until 1991 for the brand to drop proper hikers either. I love these ads.
To coincide with the exhibition that’s in Berkeley California right now (though I’m hoping to catch in Boston next April) a full mid-career retrospective book is dropping next month and it looks tremendous and curiously affordable too. The Damiani book from 2009 was substantial, but this 448 page behemoth is something I’m judging by its cover, but you know it’s going to be necessary. Here’s Berkeley Art Museum’s Lawrence Rinder (who, put the book together alongside assistant curator Dena Beard) and Jefferey Deitch talking about Barry McGee. There’s a few more videos on YouTube courtesy of BAMPFA, including an excellent slideshow created by McGee.
This blog has kind of fallen off, self-sabotaged by its attempts to not be a sports footwear-centric WordPress, but then dwelling on the subject matter a little too often. But self-indulgent talk often echoes the day job and in that job shoes figure heavily. Right now, the heat and a lengthy flight from the west coast to the UK has killed my creativity stone dead, but I was energised by a trip to Nike’s WHQ for some work. From my early teens onwards the notion of visiting the Nike Campus sounded like some Willy Wonka business, minus the sinister wig outs on boat rides or bi-polar freak outs that Gene Wilder unleashed on Charlie and his benefit fraud grandfather and having been a few times now, it’s a fun place to visit that seems to deify the same kind of nerdery I tend to celebrate here.
Of course, the work and what lies behind doors remains secret, though the Innovation Kitchen, Nike Sports Research Lab and archives are impressive — in fact the archive is basically a geek ground zero that proves, no matter how much you think you’ve swotted up, you’ve only seen the tip of a dusty, yellowed, PU and nylon based iceberg. Having been lost on campus twice (to get from the Michael Jordan building to the canteen involves walking by a 7 minute saunter by a lake, football pitch and over a bridge), been chased by a goose and slashed my nose open on a low hanging metal lampshade in the archives these last few days, I’ve suffered for my art.
Even if you couldn’t care less for shoes, the scale’s still impressive, but if you follow Nike history, there’s plenty to stare at at — even in the receptions of each building. Bill Bowerman’s waffle iron, the 1984 NBA letter regarding Jordan’s fines, prototype Prestos and AJ1s…it’s a lot to take in. Buying Lunar Montreals and NFL shirts by the trolley from the Employee Store was a good use of dollars too, and ultimately — for the casual visitor — the whole setup’s pretty much a sportswear theme park. For several employees, I’m sure it’s simply a place of work that’s frequently disrupted by gawping idiots like me wielding iPhones.
Because I need sleep, I’ve sold you short here, so here’s three bonus images chucked in because they look cool; one of a 1989 plea to get people on NYC’s subway post graffiti cleanup, one from a 1970s ‘New York’ article and a 1982 Timberland ad.
In the name of nostalgia (because it’s mostly either excessively indulgent or unremarkable in the rap stakes), the same person that uploaded the 1998 ‘World Wide Bape Heads Show’ has uploaded the 1999 one too. It takes me back to a time of attempting to justify wild prices, the Mo’ Wax BB, thick cotton on tees and deranged mark-ups on used gear in Camden market. Musically, I think I actually prefer the Omarion-in-the-lookbook era.
Abercrombie & Fitch is probably the most oppressive retail experience on the planet – Polo Ralph Lauren channelled through a provincial nightclub, with musclebound men at the door for absolutely no reason. But people love it — especially in the UK where people travel far and wide to buy overpriced collegiate tat in dim lighting at a mismatched conversion compared to the US RRP. Do people still buy it in the States? Still, at least it’s not Jack Wills or Superdry, but it still begs a question — why not just buy Polo? In fact, the A&F phenomenon evidently had Ralph shook enough that a mega budget Rugby appeared in Covent Garden recently. Still, A&F’s heritage beats any of the new wave of fictional Americana brands, and it seems that Abercrombie & Fitch stores were awesome once upon a time.
Before they sent anybody with more than 3% body fat or any person with a deformity to a stock dungeon, away from the gaze of misguided teens, and long before they made wildly racist t-shirts, Abercrombie & Fitch were cited as the supplier of the shotgun that Ernest Hemingway used to kill himself in 1961 — but that was discredited many years later. What we do know is that A&F were early suppliers of Timberland’s legendary 40 Below, aka the Super Boot back in 1984. That was an era when they were owned by the mighty Oshman’s, pre-1988, and a time long when the six-packs weren’t a prerequisite.
Oh yeah — can every t-shirt line take a look at No Mas’s plastic-sleeved trading card hangtags that contain all the necessary details that go that little extra? That, my friends, is the difference between journeymen and champions.
Managing to merge two of last year’s significant rap crazes, Texan MC Pyrexx is both caucasian and carrying some serious face ink. After a low-level “Free Pyrexx” campaign he was released from jail last year and promptly got some eyebrow tattoos to rep for Houston’s ABN Gang crew. All eyes are on sweary white ladies at the moment, but I like Pyrexx’s verse on Trae’s excellent ‘Strapped Up.’ Then late last year, Trae tweeted something about him no longer representing ABN — despite having it on his face. Rap fans love rumours. I heard it was about a Yelawolf/Paul Wall diss, but that’s second-hand smoke. Face tattooing an allegiance, then being ousted from that group must be a little problematic (see also, Yung LA), but I can’t help but salute the impulsiveness of it all.
At the weekend a new Pyrexx video emerged, with those eyebrow pieces barely perceptible. Did he get them removed? And to the racist WSHH commentators, the ignorant face tattoo isn’t a black or white issue — it’s a goon thing. As cracker rap goes (what happened to Jeezy’s boy White?), I respect Pyrexx’s decision not to pull wacky faces and wear OBEY caps like most new whiteys on the scene do. On a similar note, I still need to adjust to loose French Montana affiliate B.A.R.S. Murre’s white Max B, Cam-a-like flow. It’s not happening for me after he squandered what could have been an awesome Biggavelli beat, but I liked it when he says “R.I.P. Bob Barker” even though the ‘Price is Right’ presenter’s still alive. He even wears ignorant True Religion denim like the incarcerated king of the wave.
It’s twelve years to the day since Ghostface’s ‘Supreme Clientele’ dropped. Don’t confine that game changer to old man rap status either — team A$AP appreciate the contribution that Ghost put in and it was a unifying overground/underground moment in time. Few rappers upped their game like that (though I have to salute Lloyd Banks for morphing from molasses-sounding punchline-mummy MC into a great artist) — especially considering the dude was so skilled to start with. I remember the minor two month delay after the November 1999 release date in ‘The Source’ and I remember ‘Apollo Kids’ via RealPlayer on defunct sites like Platform.net. Post ‘Immobilarity,’ not caring for Meth and Red’s ‘Blackout!’ and being utterly underwhelmed by ‘The W,’ I would have given up on the Wu entirely without the oddball masterpiece that united rap fans, musos and skaters for a minute. What became of that 50 kid he was dissing on there who’d just been dropped by Columbia? On a more serious note, what became of the brilliantly named Lord Superb after his ghostwriting for Ghost allegations? Happy birthday ‘Supreme Clientele.’ And no, I can’t get excited about a sequel…