Tag Archives: wu-tang

SO UNOFFICIAL, IT’S OFFICIAL

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If the popularity of bespoke bootleg legend Dapper Dan in defining the union of high-end and street style taught us anything, it’s that fakes can actually be fun in some cases. I’m not talking the replicas, the toys with lead paint or the cons — I’m talking the weird pieces that could never have been legit. It’s interesting that a lot of brands would ultimately take cues from fakes and streetwear to put out authentic gear later down the line too. Continue reading SO UNOFFICIAL, IT’S OFFICIAL

RAEKWON HAS FOLDING SKILLS

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Streetwear loves Wu-Tang. Over the last decade there have been tributes of varying quality that rarely come close to what Oli “Power” Grant and the crew did do help redefine rap merch with Wu Wear—complete with no less than four physical stores—as much as they did the hip-hop record deal. Wu Wear was pretty much played by the time it hit Virgin Megastores to coincide with Wu-Tang Forever, but that I hold it in similar status to a slew of pioneering black-owned brands of the era rather than mere tie-in is a testament to the Wu brand’s clout. These are hyper referential times and every cultish nook and cranny of rap culture has been cleared out and beamed into a broader spectrum. C.R.E.A.M. branded dairy products or a Liquid Swords washing up liquid complete with the ‘W’ logo wouldn’t surprise me right now, and that 1992 snowboarding pullover that Rae rocked is being rinsed. It’s the reappropriation of memories of one of the greatest reappropriated style moments ever. It might be considered quite meta in one way or another. It’s well documented—and I’ve probably upped at least 10 Wu-centric posts here before—that, in their day, the Wu-Tang were style kings who rolled en masse before the dissent kicked in. They were innately fly. In a world where collaborations are an increasingly tiresome currency and many rappers dress in various levels of shitty (awkward in leather, Karmaloop gift voucher, or 1998 called—it wants its denim back), it’s something of a lost art.

King collector DJ Greg Street is a man who seems to own everything, and a week or so ago, he made the video above where he showed Raekwon an array of merchandise from over the years. It’s entertaining stuff, but two things stand out—Rae seems completely unaware that most of this gear ever existed, and the man can fold a tee like a pro. Does he have a retail background*, an obsessive compulsive approach to his gear, or is this a habit borne of constant touring? The man could be working in Supreme with this commitment to keeping a shirt in order.



*Big up Ross Turner for noting that it’s a packing fold rather than a retail fold.

CHEF

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Too busy to blog, so here’s some pictures of Raekwon instead. I know that’s meant for Tumblr, but I’m too old to be upping 1990s rap imagery on there. Why Rae? Because I see more and more adoption of the 1993-1999 hip-hop aesthetic across lookbooks and products means anachronisms galore plus I think this guy always edged Puba in the style stakes. Even when he’s in that Michael Douglas Basic Instinct knitwear on the beach in linen trousers for Vibe to promote that patchy second album Lex Diamond is still styling it. Motorola phones, Polo, Sertigs and shorts, fly medallions. The rest of the Wu were style masters too, but this guy always stood out. Shit, I’m hyped at the prospect of Corey Feldman as Mouth from The Goonies (no amount of tees worn by I.T. bods and dudes called Dan at design studios who get fully Movembered can kill my love of the film), Crispin Glover and Snake Plissken action figures made in a faux early 1980s Kenner style, but the appearance on Tumblr of this shot from a 1995 Rap Pages shoot (the coolest of all Rae shoots — to quote the man, “…soon to get an article in Rap Page“) that I’ve been hunting for a while has brought back some powerful memories of keeping a mental note of everything this guy wore and then trying to find something similar and wearing it badly. He wore the box before most other rappers too when he posed with his bodyguard for Kenneth Cappello in 2005 and since he rocked up at RapFix in head to toe Fila ahead of the release of this year’s Fly International Luxurious Art album (which promises to be a celebration of the gear he’s worn throughout the years), this guy still seems on it, even if the more eccentric outfits of his younger days seem to have been jettisoned for the F, the C and the man on a horse.

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ALBAM ARE STILL TRYING TO CREATE THE WORLD’S BEST SWEATSHIRT

When any piece of writing about your brand commences with “It might be a cliché…” there’s a fair chance you’ve really made it. It might be a cliché to gush about the greatness of Albam, but they get a lot of things very, very right. I’m unlikely to rush out and start wearing a neckerchief or waistcoat, even though Albam sell those items. I’m equally unlikely to swan around calling things “shirting” but I respect how they’ve maintained their initial mission statement to perfect basics in addition to some more technical pieces — the Alpine jacket for instance — and continually tweaked them seasonally. There’s a definite performance streak that runs though several designs (a climbing/biking fixation?) that stops the brand’s output from ever descending into dandyism.

It’s 23 degrees in the daytime at the moment, so what better time to start banging on about thick cotton fleece again? Fuck it. Sweatshirts are always relevant.

Not content with attempting the perfect t-shirt from their launch in late 2006, (itself a very subjective thing — alas, as a less-refined oaf, I favour something with more bulk and a thicker neckline, but their Egyptian cotton creation is admirable), their quest for the perfect crew-neck sweatshirt has been visible over the last couple of years. It’s curious to see Brits recreating iconic American styles from scratch, but there’s a certain obsession that’s unique to this country when it comes to clobber and music and one that can transcend Japan’s preoccupations. I loved the 2009 incarnation of the Albam crewneck (there’s a rant on here somewhere about it), but in its current form, it can totally take out the import, Americana-fetishist short-arm, short body efforts at half the cost too (£77). The fit seems to have become a little more forgiving and the elbow stitches, flat locked seams, cuff and waist rib details that remind me of Polo rugby shirt sleeves give it its own identity.

The UK and Portugal make something that’s not another Costa Rican made fat suit fit, with the 50-inch chest, There’s plenty of details in the mix (inner pocket stays winning), but as is Albam’s way, it’s assigned an identity of its own without a fussiness that makes it gimmick gear. In Saffron, it works very well too. The current store offerings (despite a dearth of sizes 3 and 4s due to popularity) are tremendous — the Artisan Shirts (winter’s red chambray version was phenomenal) and Ring Snap Shirts (green wins) are some of the best yet, but I feel that with our yankophile ways, we’re more swayed by the impending UK arrival of J. Crew, whose recent presentation looked hyper-awkward, and whose offerings lately (bar New Balance) look a little too college-jerk/middle-management for my tastes. Albam is doing a far better job, with better build (I haven’t heard too many moans about quality since the loose buttons on the original cagoules talk) and more logical price structuring.

I feel Albam was partly responsible for a quiet revolution in men’s clothing down south. Every apparel designer from any brand I’ve spoken to visiting London since 2008 has carried a scrap of paper with “ALBAM, Beak Street (Off Carnaby Street)” on it or had the address lurking on their BlackBerry.

I love residing in a town outside London that pays little attention to trends that aren’t Ed Hardy, Full Circle or All Saints, but even in Bedford I’m seeing the parka, cuffed chinos and work boots creep in. And bear in mind that when I first broke out the Fisherman’s Cagoule a few years back (second generation with the white buttons) I was the source of much amusement — I got “Yarrrr” in a faux sea-captain voice, plus some freestyled sea shanties from more creative members of my peer group. Now I see them clad in Albam-lite, purchased from High Street spots with designers taking hefty “inspiration” from the Albam inventory and blog realm in general.

One joy of living somewhere detached from any Google Blogsearched notion of cool is that any sighting of a look there is the ultimate barometer that a trend has transcended any notion of tastemaker to become a full-fledged phenomenon. As long as Albam keep on dropping seasons like the current one, I remain a fanboy. Props to Mr. Shaw and Mr. Rae on almost five years of strong work — and congratulations to Jude on the new addition.


I hope one day the Fisherman’s Cagoule comes back. Mine is so covered in scratches that it makes me look homeless. And not in a cool Doug Bihlmaier way either.

Total digression, but what’s the story with Glenn O’Brien’s Wu-Tang themed broom in the Life + Times site interview the other week? It’s amazing.