Tag Archives: undercover

HARAJUKU 1997

I haven’t got a great deal to write today, but the LuckStaPosse YouTube account has a couple of gems in Japanese like a minute of UNDERCOVER’s A/W 97/98 show and this Harajuku 1997 footage of the folks gathering to buy some goro’s and some chats with UNDERCOVER and BAPE clad NOWHERE visitors is pretty interesting too. Remember when we used to marvel at a Tokyo streetwear consumer’s willingness to queue? We’re all at it now. The rumours of a goro’s webstore feel like the end of the last real-world only experience in this world.

JUN KNOWS

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After briefly being lost in the Rizzoli publishing matrix, the UNDERCOVER book has dropped at colette ahead of its wider release in a couple of weeks. Jun Takahashi’s brand has such a deep history in connecting cultures doing the streetwear to higher fashion crossover better than pretty much any other brand hoping to bridge the gap has ever done. The book doesn’t skimp on the archive images, from invites to pieces to those Last Orgy articles that helped write the Ura-Harajuku blueprint during the early 1990s.

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GOING UNDERCOVER

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If you did the yen conversion for that TGRAPHICS book and fell back clutching your chest or arrived way too late to grab the A MAGAZINE that Jun Takahashi put together at anything approaching a reasonable price, salvation is at hand. Rizzoli have done an admirable job of creating affordable retrospectives of Polo, FUCT and Supreme (I’ve given up hope on a Stüssy one) over the years, and next year they’re completing the trinity of NIGO®, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Jun Takahashi with an UNDERCOVER book. Continue reading GOING UNDERCOVER

TIMES SQUARE

This blog entry is approximately 27 hours late and an affront to my OCD inclinations. The real kicker is that it’s both tardy and pretty poorly thought-out too. In fact, the majority of it is given to images from an already well documented book that are — to add insult to injury — heavily watermarked too. What can I say? I slacked this week. I’m keen to get my hands on a full copy of Powerhouse’s ‘The Forty Deuce: The Times Square Photos of Bill Butterworth 1983-1984’ because it seems to be laden with strippers, pimps, b-boys and girls and plenty of other characters from the era. I grew up obsessed with b-movies from the time (as well as the classic ‘Times Square’) that depicted the area as a very scuzzy spot indeed, usually laden with offensive stereotypes of Puerto-Rican gents, complete with flick knives and bandanas and hookers berating the stray innocents who wandered into the area Butterworth depicts. Think ‘The Burning’s opening setup, ‘Fear City’ or ‘Basket Case.’ And while it looks grindhouse sketchy in Bill’s photos, there’s an evident sense of unity between crews, whether it’s sex shop workers, drag queens, dancers or anyone else who hung around there. The portraits are strong and the outfits are pretty spectacular, with plenty of posing. You know your swag is at a trillion when you can stunt in front of racks of gay porn (apologies to one-handed surfers who just found this blog through those words and were assailed with paragraphs, shoes and other geeky things) and still look gangster. That couple next to the ‘Beat Street’ (and ‘Strange Invaders’) display? Incredible. There’s plenty more information and imagery right here.

One of the few things that marred my pre-teen years as much as Belial in ‘Basket Case’ was David Lynch’s ‘The Grandmother.’ I always found that short infinitely more nightmarish than ‘Eraserhead.’ Lynch has a habit of tapping into the hallucinatory, claustrophobic essence of a nightmare situation. The car crash scene in ‘Wild At Heart’ troubles me deeply, but Robert Blake’s appearance in ‘Lost Highway’ is utterly unnerving. Blake’s real-life antics give his nameless character extra edge and the whole film remains underrated. Just as I found myself preoccupied with watching the film again, I wandered into Uniqlo and was faced with a ‘Lost Highway’ t-shirt as part of their David Lynch collection. Then I got the news that Universal are putting out pretty much every David Lynch film as a Blu-ray around June 4th. ‘Wild At Heart’ includes ‘The Grandmother’ as a special feature and I want to know what the “Four Intervalometer Experiments” that are on the ‘Lost Highway’ disc are. Even ‘Dune’ is part of the rollout. All this sudden activity around a film I hadn’t thought about for at least half a decade didn’t throw me as much as Bull Pullman talking to a man face-to-face who’s also miles away in his home, but it caught me off guard a little. Now Robert’s eyes and laugh are embedded in my mind all over again.





Retro isn’t going anywhere — right now somebody’s probably being kicked to the ground for a basketball shoe from 1997 — but the new wave is wildly on point. I’ve loved Nike’s Lunar pieces but the Undercover GYAKUSOU collection has done a good job of introducing me to shoes I wouldn’t have paid much attention too until they got some Terra-esque makeups. Zoom Structure+ 15? A serious shoe even though I hadn’t looked at Structures since the bestselling Structure II back in the early ’90’s. I loved the Lunar Elite+ but the Zoom Elite series looked like one of those ranges that was made for serious runners who’d sneer at anything aesthetically pleasing for its fanciness. Suddenly, with that transparent overlay and almost 180 style forefoot, the Zoom Elite+ 5 is a thing of beauty and this version highlights every key feature. The Terra Humara style colourway elevates these significantly and like the Structure choice, there’s a sense that Jun Takahashi isn’t hunting the hype vote with his footwear picks. Shouts to Nike UK fam for these — all I need now is a health scare to encourage me to run. All the gear, no idea is a mantra I live by.

Many blogs are either too frantic or too earnest for my tastes, but I really like The Obviously Uncommon. That’s because the man behind it, knows a lot about a lot of stuff and had a Doublegoose way before I ever did, but also because it celebrates the bargain hunter. There’s so much emphasis on matters of flossiness and conspicuous consumption, but shelling out full price or an eBay markup is a fast track to a hollow purchase. Bargains come with tales of exploration, disbelief and triumph. £25 Pendletons, wear tested Stone Island coats, Air Max Lights found in garages and 50p hats that are inexplicably big make this site my new favourite. Salutes to the enemies of RRP out there.

SUNDAY BLOG STUFF



Being a fan of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s filmic output is becoming increasingly like having a weekend dad break your heart fortnightly with grand promises that never manifest. ‘King Shot’ sounded magnificent, but never made it out the gate. Then we were promised an ‘El Topo’ sequel, ‘Abel Cain’ again (after those ‘Sons of El Topo’ press packs in 1996, I was a little skeptical) that seems to have stalled too (though it’s promised after his next movie). Now, Alejandro’s talking about bypassing the industry entirely to make his autobiographical ‘La Danza de la Realidad’ (‘The Dance of Reality’) via a Kickstarter style method of crowd-sourced funding. You can see his plea for dough here, and given the great man’s presumed difficulty to work with and a studio situation where the remake is announced before we ever see the original, it’s probably the last opportunity to see Jodorowsky’s work onscreen. Alas, there aren’t equally volatile rock ‘n’ roll accountants like Allen Klein around to put up the money any more. If you’re wondering what the fuss is all about, I recommend (as I have done here many, many times) picking up the ‘Santa Sangre’ Blu-ray that plays in any region’s machines or watching the excellent ‘La Constellation Jodorowsky’ documentary from 1994 that some kind soul has upped onto YouTube in one piece. Watch and consider contributing. Hopefully our hard-earned cash and the great man’s shamanistic zeal might combine to instigate a miracle.

On the remake front, apparently there’s already a ‘The Raid’ redux on the horizon before the OG hits cinemas. The film’s had a western renaming to ‘The Raid: Redemption’ for its Sony Pictures Classics distribution later this month. The new trailer isn’t as hyperviolent as last year’s taster, but it still makes it look amazing. Collider.com’s lengthy making of sells the film in nicely, rather than spoiling it. Apparently that new title was applied because it’s the first part of a trilogy and for legal reasons. The new poster isn’t the greatest, but it gives you a little idea as to what to expect. It all sounds a little like a zombie—free ‘La Horde’ with some superior fight scenes and no undead….okay, it sounds nothing like ‘La Horde,’ but that double tap to the noggin from the original trailer indicates that there will be blood. Tons of it.



I strongly recommend that you stop by Jason Jules’ Garmsville for a shot of Dexys Midnight Runners looking very sharp indeed. I wasn’t expecting much from ‘Jocks & Nerds’ magazine at all, but the new issue caught me off guard, with a particularly good piece on Rowland and company via Jason. It’s a shame that this portrait never made the cut. While we’re talking sharp-looking musicians, these images of a press mode Bo Diddley taken by Phyllis Juried around 1973 are fantastic too.

The Undercover Uniqlo UU collection still has yet to knock me sideways. Crop trousers and a scattering of cargo pockets on garments is a little “Oi Oi saveloy” pallid Brit in the beer garden and skinny jeans with a zip aren’t my thing, but the UK pricing seems reasonable enough to warrant a closer inspection to change my mind. The latest range of GYAKUSOU seems to be the point where everything comes together, from the branding to the apparel to the footwear and all the innovations that have been developed over the past three seasons, so I was anticipating an extension of Uniqlo’s Heattech via the mind of Jun. The actual offerings seem more in line with the Uniqlo spirit of basics. I’m reliably informed that it doesn’t come up triple extra smedium like the Nike apparel product, but I’m assuming that the sweat/motorbike jacket is a pleather affair for £79.90. The equally priced Hooded Blouson looks pretty appealing though.

Can every brand with the same narcolepsy look books and irksome talk of “shirting” please take a leaf out of Our Legacy‘s book and just be excellent? OL’s got its share of Euro-imitators, but it just goes beyond the call of duty with the prints for spring—summer. Their already well-documented photoshoot by Oliver Helbig is a pitch perfect showcase of what they offer, and the split between the quirky and everyman offerings is a smart move. Saniforized non-shrink tees? Red Melange sweats? Even last year’s ’50’s-styled Arrow shirt pales alongside the Indigo Potplant 1950’s Shirt and Floral Camo and Jungle Pattern First Shirt. And if you can pull off the Ethnic Pattern Sunday Messenger Shirt and matching Reform Trouser together then you’re a thousand times cooler than I am. The white-on-white Snow Leopard print Success Shirt is a nice wildlife print too that’s a conservative compromise. Our Legacy has lapped the dull competitors vying for rack space over the last few years — surely APC levels of success are beckoning?

I won’t pretend I’ve ever paid much attention to North Face footwear — even when Show & AG decided they were going to wear their footwear above Timbs. I was interested by their PUMA Disc style fastening a few years back and their Back to Berkeley boot with the olde hiker design cues, but I’ve never cared too much for their shoes. I like some of their newly released European-made offerings though, like the S4K GORE-TEX design though — Italian factory, Vibram soled, cradle comfort aided, TPU caged future footwear. Its been a while since I associated the brand with any alpine exploration, but these are built to accommodate crampons if you really want to tear up the carpets of your local cool kid hangout. This video’s pretty cool in depicting the development and production of a pair:



1982 is the year I became a non—believer and became preoccupied with movies — my true religion (word to Max B). Few things had an effect on me like ‘The Thing,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’ or ‘Mad Max 2′ did (incidentally, I had to wait several years to see those ’15’ and ’18’ releases, even after they were released on video the following year), so Texas’s Alamo Drafthouse showing the ‘Summer of 1982’ on the big screen in 35mm with OG trailers on the 30th anniversary of their release dates sounds like a dream come too. This needs to tour the UK. The poster for the project is pure, distilled 1982.



JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT…

This is a quick entry, because I’ve been wasting time schmoozing and I want to watch ‘Dog Pound’.

This blog was forged in the maelstrom of some kind of temper tantrum about getting E-cast as some kind of “shoe dickhead”—the wanker they reel out to talk about “sneaker heads” after the presenter ends his link with a joke about Imelda Marcos. It’s not a case of taking myself seriously. I’ve got a ton of psychological ephemera to unload on camera if needs must. The issue is that I’m 32 years old and quite honestly, I’m barely qualified to talk on the subject. There’s many more people deserving of a position on that dubious pedestal. But when the good folk at Complex who keep it thoro’ like the incarcerated Albert (shouts to Bradley and Joe) got in touch about writing a top 50 greatest Nike Air Max 90s, I had to get involved. It’s as far from the anti-sneaker sentiment, tweed and handcrafted wankiness as you can get. It felt good. In fact, it was almost cathartic. I can leave this sports footwear shit fulfilled.

Seeing as I’ve broached the forbidden topic of sneakers, just to prove that print still holds sway over the mass of twitching pixels in front of you, if you can take the smirk from your local newsagent vendor’s face (“would you like a bag?”) at the kitschy, heavily-hyped Britney (Britpop, geddit?) cover in the new (and largely excellent) ‘POP’, the magazine that still channels some spirit from its deceased sibling, ‘The Face’, flick through the pages for a decent showcase of the much-teased Nike x Undercover ‘GYAKUSOU’ collection. Bored as I am of standard collaboration projects, the brand using its phenomenal new running shoes as a basis, in what feels like a vast, pure-performance leap from the example Wood Wood set with their excellent LunarWood late last year. Jun and his buddies engaging in a marathon-style run through traffic is a purer and more clinical representation of the project’s intent than more sullen hermits in moccasins.

The GYAKUSOU Zoom Spider TT+ shoe is my kind of thing. A good little launch for the kind of thing that tops up my interest sufficiently before the retro-cavalcade sends me to sleep again. They’ve used augmented reality to allow access to a little documentary called ‘GYAKUSOU – 24 HOUR TOKYO ENDURANCE TRIAL’ too.

A cautionary tale: My old forum username, back when things weren’t compressed into ‘Likes’ or 140 characters, was actually ‘Shogun Assassin’. That was because the VHS collection was in the spare room in the house where the PC was kept during sign up. It was just something that was more that 10 characters. Just to log in. Then I got involved. Then, l met some people in the real world and had to introduce myself accordingly, apologising for being such a wanker. I ended up changing it. It pays to pick a username carefully. So for years, that film has carried the mark of Cain, bringing back memories of one minor humiliation after another. But I can’t shake my love for ‘Shogun Assassin’.

Yeah, you can recommend ‘Lone Wolf & Cub’ films to me all day. Split apart (bear in mind, ‘Shogun…’ is an edit for western audiences) it’s an epic, but I still prefer the shorter version. I love the electronic score, the poster art by Jim Evans (the legendary ‘Skateboarder’ magazine artist who worked with Powell in the early days on video art and did an Alice Coltrane cover too— his son did the little boy’s voice on the overdub) and the geysers of blood. The RZA knows how powerful the intro is. A negligent father of a friend let us watch the film at an unnervingly young age. Those sharpened swords of fury left a mark on my pre-pubescent psyche. But it always looked bog-standard in terms of video quality and oddly compressed—much like one of my PhotoShop resizing blunders. Respect to Animeigo for putting it out on Blu-ray, cleaned up with some watchable extras and a couple of strong commentaries, one of which includes Mr. Davis talking about his production experiences. It’s good to know someone else really likes an oddball film you’re preoccupied with. I love the 21st century.

THE WISHLIST – 11 THINGS I WANT BROUGHT BACK

It’s too easy to look to the past – this site is riddled with retro tendencies, riffing on the olden days. In an ideal world, it would be riddled with teched-out madness,  future shocks and the new shit, but there’s some stuff that needs to reappear, whether it’s a look at a career, a new presentation of a lost classic or a deeper delve through past glories for a brand. From a spot of speed pondering, 11 things that seem very necessary came to light. There’s a ton more worthy of mention, but here’s what seems pertinent at time-of-blogging…

A RELEASE FOR BO HARWOOD’S CASSAVETES SOUNDTRACKS

It’s curious that John Cassavetes’ body-of-work has been given a beautiful treatment by Criterion and Optimum, and that his name is on the lips of anyone talking indie opuses. As an actor (‘The Dirty Dozen’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Fury’ spring to mind) he had a serious presence, but as a director, he fathered so many styles, to quote Malice, he should’ve been handing out cigars left, right and centre. From an experiential point-of-view, everyone should watch his entire directorial output.

You’ve got to love those naturalistic performances from Falk, Rowlands and Gazzara – while the kid in ‘Gloria’ is the worst child actor ever, John could generally get a great turn in his movies. ‘The Killing of a Chinese Bookie’, his interpretation of a noirish gangster thriller is a claustrophobic, deliberately paced, gruelling experience – Gazzara as Cosmo is terrific, and the anti-glamour of his plight makes it essential viewing. Bo Harwood was a sound engineer and the man responsible for the raw “scores” for ‘A Woman Under the Influence’, ‘The Killing…’ and ‘Opening Night’ – the curious distorted electro stomp that launches ‘…Chinese Bookie’ is one of the greatest musical moments in ’70s cinema, yet it remains mystery music. Thankfully Nick Cassavetes seemed to ditch a 1997 plan for a remake. Bo Harwood talked about releasing a CD of this music with accompanying notes here, but after that…nothing.


MIKE’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Not necessarily a bring-back, but without getting dumb enough to assume that Mike Tyson’s strange Italian ‘Dancing With the Stars’ appearance looking a little less rotund means he could ever re-enter the ring, it would be nice to see him take a reader through his life and career. Recent tragedy might have set things back a little, but he sent a proposal for his autobiography to five publishers this time last year, leading to a presumed bidding war. Post documentary, and after the popularity of Agassi’s effort, this is a classic in the making. Books like ‘Fire & Fear’ were lacking…the world needs a great Tyson book – ideally an official one.

CLARKS GOING THROUGH THE ARCHIVES

The Weaver Hi is set for a release later this year, and while teaming with Liam Gallagher’s deeply shitty Pretty Green label means Clarks Originals loses some luster, the plaintoe version of the Wallabee is an inevitability. That should earn back some points. But how about the brand digs a little deeper? The truly barmy Deep Country boot, heavy on the crepe, and the Padmore, with its formalised plaintoe look would be a welcome resurrection too – a pipe dream of course, because as the name suggests, an Asian-made Padmore, regardless of accuracy, would make no sense.

MIRACLEMAN EMERGES FROM LEGAL LIMBO

If you were savvy or lucky enough to get talked around by a comic shop staffer in 1990 into grabbing the perfect bound Eclipse reissues, you know that Alan Moore’s work on ‘Miracleman’ is phenomenal, matching ‘Watchmen’ and ‘From Hell’ – evoking a glorious ’80s era of UK comics. If you weren’t that fortunate, you’ve been deprived of a masterpiece – eBay and Amazon Marketplace prices are daft at present. The reason? A tangled legal mess that seemed to embroil every imprint in the industry with rights issues left, right and centre. Marvel got the rights, announcing this last Summer. Rumour has it, a monthly issue-by-issue reprint could happen. Alan Moore has pledged his profits will go to the character’s creator (originally ‘Marvelman’) – 94 year old Brit-funnybook legend Mick Anglo.

ACG OPENS THE VAULTS

If whispers about Nike scheming to take it there with All Conditions Gear are true, then a balance between the old and brand new would be a beautiful thing. The 20th anniversary of the sub-brand was cool last year, but for fanboys, not enough. It’s never enough. A Tarn reissue would be great, but a Kibo High would be killer too. While it should’ve been an ACG flagship, instead it fell into the ‘Nike Hiking’ line on its introduction. One of Nike’s very best.

MO’ WAX: THE BOOK

When it comes to talk of the rise and fall of James Lavelle’s empire and its rise and fall, laugh it up fuzzballs. Mo’ Wax collated a lifestyle that has its considerable dips and troughs but now, going on the aspirational drivel of ‘How To Make It In America’, it’s well and truly part of the mainstream. Most probably have a stack of beautifully packaged nothingness gathering dust with the Mo’ Wax logo affixed alongside the essential stuff, but visually, the label never let the consumer down. Logos, artwork, marketing – this was total obsession. Like ‘Miracleman’ there were label rights issues that caused extra complications, and several artists were, apparently, less-than-happy. REAS’s art on the overlooked ‘Now Thing’ compilation, one of the last label releases is classic material. Bankhead, Drury, Futura and the rest’s work deserves to be collated in one tome. Hope Rizzoli Editions are listening…

CRITERION’S ‘THIN RED LINE’

Criterion have been cryptically promising a Terrence Malick release for a minute, and their excellent monthly newsletter included a cartoon hint at what’s on the horizon. Could that be deciphered as ‘The Thin Red Line’ on Blu-Ray? They get the gasface for regionally coding the Blu-Ray releases, but if that cartoon translates as the Malick masterpiece – one of the greatest war movies ever made, the potential is immense. No slouches on the extras, could this Criterion version lead to the premiere of the 6 hour version and those deleted Haas. Rourke, Mortenson, Thornton, Oldman and Sheen appearances restored?

RAP-A-LOT REMASTERS

James Prince’s Rap-A-Lot empire created a blueprint for the south. If you don’t like Geto Boys, Outlaws, Big Mike and 5th Ward Boyz, you’re slipping. In Z-Ro they’ve still got a legend on the books. It’s a shame that Trae and Devin the Dude departed, but with such a spectacular back catalogue, a definitive documentary, remastered albums with bonus DVDs and more would reinforce just how hard this label changed the game. Pill and Yelawolf rep the new breed of down south spitters, but while NYC marinades in its own nostalgia, the south has been too busy progressing to take time out to chart its history beyond local common knowledge. Maybe it’s time to do that.

EGO TRIPPIN’ 2010

Super-publisher Ted Bawno’s Tweets are a necessary follow, but he recently made a more overt reference to the return of the mighty Ego Trip. Will it be online? Televisual? In print? They’ve done all three with aplomb before, but as the editorial team split to take over the industry post ’98, they could bring the magic back with ease. Lest you forget, Brent Rollins’ design, that mix of hardcore, skate and hip-hop, plus Supreme in the fashion shoots and ads before you knew what it was made for the best magazine ever made. And following that, the best book on hip-hop ever written. Note to the herbs – don’t underestimate Ego Trip.

UNDERCOVER TAKES IT BACK PROGRESSIVELY

The whole beige and cardigan thing is done. Where’s streetwear when you need it? Oh yeah, there it is – people are still making referential print tees, except now they have to have a Vimeo teaser. Where can you turn? You can look to one of the originators; Jun Takahashi for a start. Undercover seemed to go back to its roots without compromising the high-end traits of the brand and showed a flailing industry how its done. Most lines are unwearable but buoyed by e-sycophancy – Jun however, is a don. Posing himself for an ill lookbook,  you can assume that there’ll be a trickle down of what’s on display via lesser brands. Is this the return of Tokyo street circa 2000? Did things just go full circle? Bet Jun’s apecentric former partner-in-crime drops something serious too…

KILLER CAMO

It’s quite clear that camouflage is back – bear in mind, if you’ve watched the new CNN/Imam Thug, it never actually went anywhere, but as maharishi sank and all-over print overkill set in, it became endemic of streetwear’s overkill. That of course, is bullshit, Camo is timeless, and while fickle types went all Americana, it kept on developing – last month ACUPAT was, as rumoured for a few years now, apparently succeeded by MultiCam as US-army issue for the next tour of Afghanistan. Even British soldiers out there get a MultiCam influenced version of DPM in Multi-Terrain Pattern as of this month too. It looks good on a version of Oakley’s Land, Sea, Air boot set for Summer and an Arc’teryx combat jacket for the LEAF line too.