Friday, 30 November 2012

A Word with Gemo Wong | Lead Design of NIKE Sportswear

Over here, we’d like to think that we know a thing or two about the landscape of sportswear. In reality, we’ve only scraped the foundation of things as lowly consumers who possess a minute knowledge of product. That’s not to say that we aren’t studious enough to ascertain the stories behind apparel and the designers who craft them. So set the scene: We’ve got the whole squad riding filthy in Beaverton with Nike gear stacked to the ceiling of our vehicles. But what makes the visit to Nike Headquarters special is how we managed to fiddle our way into an interview with the designer formerly known as brand director of the Jordan division, Mr. Gemo Wong. Likely a name that you’re not entirely familiar with. Likely someone who you know little to nothing about. Us either, if it hadn’t been for those on-another-echelon masterminds who used to run the defunct-for-the-time-being, Inquiring Mind Magazine. Though his name may not immediately ring a bell, I’m sure the brands Enyce, Phat Farm, Girbaud and Sean John do. Late 90’s to early 2000’s, Gemo was at the helm, subsequently running operations as either Design Director or Senior Designer for each of those heavy hitting urban labels. Our concern on this trip to Nike World Campus was to re-introduce the designer currently known as Lead Design hand at Nike Sportswear. If you scour the inter-web there really is zero information on Gemo, other than a Linkedin account, a 1-minute clip on Youtube and remnants of his Inqmnd feature on Flickr. He’s as privately self-contained in person as he seems to be on paper. For the short time we were able to spend with Gemo, he remained reserved and stoic, unready to divulge his every secret but revealing if you asked the right questions. As a young Filipino-Chinese boy growing up in sparsely populated Cairo, Illinois, it was the revelation of the Air Jordan III that catalyzed his intrigue for Michael and the brand behind him. Fast-forward past a stint at the Illinois Institute of Art and he’s smack dab in the midst of NYC’s hey-day in urban fashion. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Diddy and Russell Simmons obviously had its advantages and it served as a launchpad into getting his shot with the brand he aligned himself with at an early age. Nearly 8 years removed from the fast-pace and flashy beginnings in the Big Apple, now Gemo is quite comfortable near the top of the creative totem at Nike, Inc. From managing the reproduction of Nike’s iconic sneakers; to adapting the current scope of their footwear & apparel and also working on special projects with the likes of a Kanye West – to us, he is a leader in a culture that we so anxiously want to uncover for those as curious as we are. Humble enough to welcome us on a deserted Sunday at the campus, we can’t express enough, the gratitude we have for being allowed to tour a facility that many only dream of entering. And not only that, allowing us the time to pick the brain of an unsung hero in our eyes. So if you will, follow us down 1 Bowerman Drive and have a good look at one our conversation with Lead Man On Campus himself. foreword + interview by Justin Lintag stills by Kenn Navarra, Androne Ravalo film by Mario & Marlon Soriano Full
spread and photos


Monday, 26 November 2012

BBC Documentary: Sun Ra, Brother From Another Planet

Sun Ra was born on the planet Saturn some time ago. The best accounts agree that he emerged on Earth as Herman Blount, born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914, although Sun Ra himself always denied that Blount was his surname. He returned to Saturn in 1993 after creating a stunningly variegated and beautiful assemblage of earthly and interplanetary music, most notably with his fervently loyal Arkestra.

Sun Ra and his Arkestra were the subject of a few documentary films, notably Robert Mugge's 'A Joyful Noise' (1980), which interspersed performances and rehearsals with Sun Ra's commentary on various subjects ranging from today's youth to his own place in the cosmos.

Today's documentary, Don Letts' 'Sun Ra, Brother From Another Planet' from 2005, reuses some of Mugge's material and includes some additional interviews.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Matthew Williams



Directed by: Matthew Williams
Art Direction by: A$AP BARI
Styling by: Tom Guinness
Editing by: Nathaniel Brown
Music by: Mano 4 TreaTed Crew

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

IKEA Playin' With My Friends Music Video, Masters in France

The new IKEA music video "Playin' With My Friends" is performed by Masters In France and is all about people coming together and hanging out. No matter what age they are.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Swizz Beats on the Breakfast club

20:20mins in

money trees 1

Colours Magazine.

matters of taste rugby ralph lauren - a eulogy

Today, a friend of mine was issued a death warrant. It may seem absurd to attach such melodrama to a clothing brand, let alone one owned and incepted entirely by one of the largest apparel companies in the world, yet I can’t help the way I feel. For those who don’t know, buried in the annals of a Q2 report in WWD was the sad news that Ralph Lauren will be shuttering its moderately priced collegiate-inspired Rugby label. Eclipsing the arrival of Rugby’s impending doom were particularly ebullient earnings: Ralph Lauren Corp. reported a net income of $214 million with net revenues of $1.9 billion, both higher than the projected numbers.
Adding to the frustration is the brand’s reasoning for nixing Rugby – that they’d like to “focus resources on higher growth [and] more scalable global opportunities with the core Ralph Lauren brand.” Wait, what? This could mean a number of things. First of all, it’s very likely that the brand wasn’t making enough money. Stores closed in Palo Alto, the West Village and more since expanding across the nation from a single concept that popped up in 2004 on Newbury Street, Boston. Rugby also opened, however, in London, Tokyo, Manhattan and East Hampton, to name a few of the 14 current locations. Ralph is a shrewd businessman and understands that an aspirational image as powerful as Rugby’s can often overshadow manners of cash flow. It’s for that reason that I ascertain the brand has been declared shuttered not only because it wasn’t making enough money, but also due to a disconnect with Ralph Lauren’s corporate plan for the label. With so many horses in the Polo stable, Ralph is ready to consolidate.
Rugby has never been an authentic brand. From the start it was conceived to entrap a collegiate clientele more interested in motif-emblazoned braces and chunky shawl collared cardigans than scrapping in the scrum. In fact, multiple prep schools in England have outwardly expressed dismay at the label’s brash attempts to copy age-old crests and slap them onto blazers for the masses. Yet despite its old-money Vineyard Vines target demographic, something happened to Rugby: It somehow became cool. Downtown kids like myself started to outgrow their streetwear inclinations yet still yearned for touches of “Fuck You” ostentation. Gone were our Billionaire Boys Club diamond and dollar sign hoodies. In their place came Easter egg cashmere sweaters, brightly striped football scarves and varsity jackets covered in the aforementioned imaginary school crests. Rugby played an important part in helping my generation “grow up” without losing the juvenile mischief present in much of its collections. It’s also undeniable that the brand forced competitors like J. Crew and Brooks Brothers to step up diversity in designs. No longer were a skinny and an average model of dress shirt enough. All of the sudden, 19 year olds were clamoring for spread collars and notch lapels. Rugby didn’t just indoctrinate its fans into a world of vintage Americana, but it also educated them. For competitors, this was dangerous. As a result, menswear offerings in particular got better and more affordable across the board.
Indeed, Rugby must not fit into Ralph Lauren’s desired niche anymore. Perhaps the powerhouse is banking it all on the lower-end, grungy Denim and Supply line hocked by EDM superstar Avicii. Perhaps “the Company” has grown tired of the trickle-down effect Rugby has had on younger clientele – providing Purple Label swagger in the form of pinstriped suits and French cuffed shirts to a group who may never have outgrown its inclination towards the well-designed and supremely affordable Rugby brand. I’m not in a place to answer the question of “Why?” I can only lament and tell my side of the story.
Rugby was always about lifestyle, somehow authenticating itself more than any other brand in its price-point. While labels like Abercrombie labored under the direction of a crazed youth-obsessed leader, Rugby managed to entice the hip, interesting and supremely stylish set without even trying. Despite the highly manicured stores and borderline ridiculous lookbooks, Rugby actually embraced youth culture with laudable nonchalance. The brand’s blog not only pitted local store’s outfits against one another but also featured recommended music and restaurants that came from the boutique’s employees themselves. And what employees they were. I had the good fortune of working at RRL in Washington, DC while in college (that store is also now shuttered) and spent a solid amount of time cavorting next door with friends who worked at Rugby and the highly underrated Rugby CafĂ©. Between DC and my native Manhattan, I discovered a set of ambitious, artistic young people who actually embodied the brand they were hired to serve as mannequins for. You could walk into a store, play some foosball or play around with a navy and yellow Rugby ball, grab a drink next door and maybe leave with an oxford shirt.  But that sale wasn’t the logic behind stepping into the boutique. Fans of Rugby went to the retail locations for an experience. In my case, I even ended up with some new friends, good conversation and a back catalogue of preppy wares that is sure to last me a lifetime.
A few hours ago, Rugby’s Facebook page posted the message:
 “Ralph Lauren Corporation has made the strategic decision to close Rugby stores and the ecommerce site. The stores and site will remain open and operational until the close of business on February 2nd. There is plenty of time to get stocked up on your favorite pieces until then.”
I wish they had written something more emotional, more honest and more in-touch with the accidental fan who has found himself purchasing their wares consistently for the last eight years. I wish they had appealed to the family, the lifestyle that Rugby has come to represent to me. Nonetheless, the brand’s demise has been as corporate as its conception. In the wake of shuttering its doors, I will surely miss Rugby. But then again, I will still inevitably feel like a goofy badass in my skull-and-crossbones sweaters and obnoxiously striped collegiate blazers. And no one can take that away from me.
Douglas Brundage is a contributor to Hypebeast Magazine and a marketing strategist living and working in NYC.