Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Streetwear’s New Guard

NEW YORK, United States — “There’s a new kind of streetwear emerging and you can see it in brands like Hood By Air, Off-White, Pyrex and Pigalle,” Marcelo Burlon, founder of multi-category streetwear business County of Milan, told BoF columnist Susanna Lau last month.
Since its early days, the term “streetwear” has grown to encompass companies ranging from Stussy — a $35 million brand founded by designer Shawn Stussy amidst the surfing and skateboarding culture of Laguna Beach, California, swiftly embraced by the hip-hop scene and later sold in major department stores — to the venture-backed, multi-channel retail giant Karmaloop, which generated $130 million in revenue in 2011 (the last year for which figures were released by the privately-held company). The category is known for taking simple items like baseball caps, graphic t-shirts and varsity jackets and transforming them into branding tools for young kids looking to assert a visual identity.

As a result, Shayne Oliver — founder and designer of Hood By Air, which blends bold graphics, striking silhouettes and high-fashion elements borrowed from designers like Raf Simons and Helmut Lang — resents the term “streetwear,” which he feels can have juvenile and overly commerical connotations. “I feel like there’s something demeaning about it, like, ‘Oh, that’s streetwear,’” he says. But others amongst the new wave, like Burlon, see their roots in companies like Stussy. “Shawn Stussy is a very inspiring person who somehow opened a door for a group of creatives people that influenced all of us. The mindset and the similarities that we share keep growing as the years pass and stay contemporary through time.”

Stussy’s references often came from high fashion brands, like Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons and, most famously, Chanel. Some of the brand’s most enduring designs are self-aware reinterpretations of Chanel’s iconic interlocking C’s (replaced with two S’s) and signature fragrance (a minimal graphic that reads “Stussy No. 4”). But, crucially, the label filtered high fashion through the unique lens of subculture, blending the feel of an exclusive brand with a distinct type of cool, exhibited through graphic prints, wardrobe staples and a rough-around-the-edges authenticity.
It became a powerful formula that influenced future tastemakers like Hiroshi Fujiwara, who began Goodenough and Fragment Design; Nigo, who would establish A Bathing Ape; and former Stussy shop manager James Jebbia, who, in 1994, would found seminal New York clothing brand Supreme. “When Supreme came around, streetwear was something that people could covet,” allows Oliver. “It was like: ‘Yo, this is what we are. We’re here making clothes for the street — for us.’”
As the first generation of streetwear brands grew in popularity, it wasn’t just the aesthetics of high fashion brands that inspired them. They also began to employ luxury-like strategies of exclusivity and scarcity to generate demand for their products. Special products sometimes sold out the same day they were released, generating hype and eventually leading to the snaking lines often seen outside Supreme stores on the day highly-anticipated collections or collaborations are set to drop. “Limited-edition things were king and products were treated like: ‘There’s only a hundred of these and they’re numbered,” remembers Virgil Abloh, designer of Off-White. Some of the labels he lauded at the time were Crooks and Castles, Alife and Nom De Guerre. “I directly pay homage to all those, because those are the brands I grew up on.” But the currency of cool is forever fluctuating. “The taste of now is more of mixing high-low; it’s more iconic and cool to wear a Louis Vuitton bag with a Supreme t-shirt,” observes Abloh. “CelinĂ© and [Nike] Air Force 1’s look cool, but there’s a design mentality around that, which I’m trying to be a part of.”
Perhaps no boutique better reflects how much the market for streetwear has evolved than Union. Founded back in 1989 in New York’s (then gritty) Soho by James Jebbia and Mary-Ann Fusco, the store stocked labels with subculture appeal, like Duffer of St. George and Pervert. “Over the past 25 years, the scene has matured and now you can see its influence in every pocket of fashion from streetwear — straight, no chaser — to men’s contemporary to high fashion,” observed Chris Gibbs, Union’s current owner.

Gibbs thinks there’s a cult appeal to brands like County of Milan, Hood By Air and Off-White, which don’t just sell clothes that fit, but unique messages and identities that consumers can align with. “You can get the same style of garment — or pretty damn close to it — from a lot of different designers,” he points out. “People end up picking the brands — really lifestyles — that they’re down with, and ride with them.”

“Each of us created his own unique world and vision,” says Burlon. “It’s not like a cult-y thing. It’s more of a network. A cult is like, very secretive, and this is more of a network of ideas,” reflects Oliver. Abloh adds: “Marcelo, myself, and Shayne have a certain kind of mindshare.”
Alongside their interests in subcultures, Oliver, Burlon and Abloh share a passion for music and nightlife, and all three lead parallel lives as globe-hopping DJs. “[We have] different tribes, different principles, but they’re all rooted in culture,” says Abloh.
The immediacy of the Internet and the instant access to inspiration that platforms like Tumblr can provide have also shaped all three designers. “The Internet helps us be connected to the past and to the history,” says Burlon. “What better way to make something than converge new ideas with something that has history,” adds Abloh.
But it isn’t just about unearthing the old, insists Oliver. “It’s not like we’re like trying to like trigger people’s memories or link ourselves to some sort of past message. It’s meant to be fresh, you know?” He compares it to playing a Dolly Parton song in the middle of one of his DJ sets as opposed to a Dolly Parton song playing at a country music night. By artfully reintroducing the old, it feels subversively new.

But do these new upstarts have the potential to grow like Stussy or Supreme?
“It’s one of those funny things: The generation behind it is always gonna try to overthrow the one that’s in front of it. I just hope that we do live up to the James Jebbias and the Shawn Stussys,” says Abloh. “It’s sort of our duty to pick up after the all the streetwear legends. It’s a glimmer. I don’t think it’s real yet.” Abloh declines to reveal Off-White’s current revenue, but says the company is “meeting goals.” Its website currently lists 31 stockists. Burlon’s County of Milan boasts over 250 stockists. Meanwhile, Hood By Air is currently sold at 90 retailers.
Oliver believes that a market for this new guard exists, but it’s less about “streetwear” and more about a unique blend of meaning and accessibility. “Just because it’s a t-shirt just doesn’t mean it’s automatically in the context of streetwear,” he says. “Everyone wears t-shirts and that’s why I started a t-shirt line.”

But accessibility is relative. Hood By Air’s Classics t-shirts sell for $110 to $190; Off-White’s “Caravaggio” t-shirt retails for $305; Marcelo Burlon’s t-shirts sell for about $290. In contrast, the average t-shirt from a brand like Stussy or Supreme hovers between $26 and $45.
Burlon says it’s a combination of high-end product, scarcity, celebrity association (fans of County of Milan include the rappers Pusha T and Drake, as well as NBA player LeBron James) and independent spirit that “make the sense of luxury” — and justify the prices.
“Ultimately, we’re independents and that means we’re playing our own game, without any type of rules or restrictions. I think people feel that and they recognise themselves in this process.”

The Key to Selling an $800 Sneaker

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For years, rap stars have boasted in their songs by name-dropping luxury brands such as Gucci, Versace and Dior. In a recent mixtape, 2 Chainz dropped the name of a new and little-known shoe: "Buscemi." He rhymed it with "sashimi." 

"It's definitely not a brand that a lot of rappers mention—I try to stay ahead of the trends," said 2 Chainz, who added four pairs of Buscemis to his 600-pair shoe collection after spotting the solid-colored leather high-tops last summer on a New York shopping spree. 

The sudden appeal of Buscemi—a year-old, $800-a-pair sneaker brand that has been snapped up by Justin Bieber, Sean "Diddy" Combs and other celebrities—marks a new chapter in conspicuous consumption. In the digital age, where nearly everything is a click away, there is growing pressure to flaunt possessions that no one else can buy. 

"You ain't got THESE!!! Na na na na naaa!" tweeted Mr. Combs to his more than 9 million Twitter followers in October, linking to a picture of his new chocolate-hued Buscemis on Instagram.

Michael Jordan – Rise of the Jumpman

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The following originally appeared in HYPEBEAST Magazine Issue 7: The Legacy Issue. It’s available now at select retailers globally and the HYPEBEAST Store. 

The chance to meet a personal hero is a rare one. Being able to then work closely with and to even call that person a friend is simply incredible. For Jason Mayden, this dream became a reality as the Chicago native and Stanford graduate applied for an internship with Nike, and eventually became Senior Global Design Director for Jordan Brand. There he sat with his hero, Michael Jordan as they worked on designing a signature shoe worthy of His Airness. Starting off as an avid fan to then working on projects like the Doernbecher Freestyle and Air Jordan 2009, Jason knows first hand what Jordan Brand culture is all about and what it means to the people who have embraced it. Currently serving as a d.Fellow and Lecturer for Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design aka the d.School, Jason helps to inspire the next generation to follow their dreams, much like MJ did before him. This is why we felt that Jason’s interpretation of the rise of the Michael Jordan and the Jumpman fits best with telling the story of a true legacy. Palms sweating, heart pounding, shaking uncontrollably from the excitement that had built over the past 27 years, it was finally my moment, it was finally MY opportunity to begin the process of designing the signature product of one of the greatest athletes of our time and that athlete was none other than Michael Jeffrey Jordan aka Air Jordan. To understand the vast array of emotions that overwhelmed me in 2008, we must first examine the man behind the brand. 

The Man 

The year was 1988 and Chicago had become the center of the universe during the NBA All-Star weekend. During what is now referred to as “The Decade of Indulgence,” Michael represented a different and contrarian view to opulence. He was immensely respected for his keen eye for style, deeply loved for his ability to effortlessly transform the illusive concept of “cool” into a commodity but more importantly, he was highly regarded for embodying an undying sense of optimism. Ultimately he expanded our limited concept of human potential with every effortless stride on the 94×50-foot wooden stage where he would perform dazzling feats of athletic heroism. Moreover, he carried with him the blessing and burden of being “our” hero. He represented the hopes and dreams of every young boy and girl in the city of Chicago during a time when there were limited examples of excellence beyond the corner. Michael encapsulated the hopes and dreams of America at a time when the now infamous Jordan, last name Belfort, embodied the ideals of a subset of America that focused on greed and self-indulgence. Michael transcended race, wealth and regionalism. And as such, Chicago excitedly and reluctantly sent our champion to do battle with the likes of Dominique Wilkins and Clyde Drexler, two of MJ’s greatest foes, because we knew that he would no longer be ours. We knew that his brilliance was too great to not be shared with the world. We knew that we were all witnesses to the transcendence of Michael from a man to a phenomenon; a phenomenon that would be best represented by the product adorned with his likeness, the Air Jordan. Like all great heroes throughout history, Michael would be faced with adversity, moments of self-doubt and tremendous personal and professional failure. However, despite the complexity of celebrity and the high expectations of a demanding city, Michael, much like Perseus the winged foot hero of Greek mythology, would rise above his most villainous opposition by conquering a moment in time with one amazing display of unbridled human potential.

Martin Lawrence: ‘All I Wanted Was to Right the Ship’


The comedian and actor talks to Dave Itzkoff about returning to television and good health — and letting his daughters in on his past. 

Your new FX series, “Partners,” stars you and Kelsey Grammer as mismatched lawyers working together. Had you ever met him before this project? I first met Kelsey at a Christmas dinner over at Tim Allen’s house. We just met in passing and said hello. I had no idea we would ever work together, because we’re more of an odd couple. I never saw us together. 

Have you found that television has changed since the ’90s, when you were making “Martin”? Well, yeah, the demands are greater now. It’s not as easy to get on TV. Just to get ratings, it’s very hard. The paychecks are not the same anymore. 

Do you think that “Martin” helped create opportunities for other black performers to get shows? Maybe. I don’t know that it’s gotten better. I think we’re in a hole right now, and so whoever is working — black or white or whatever — there are many more people that ain’t working, that just don’t have a job, that are struggling, that are just trying to get their hustle on. 

And even at your level, you’re feeling that? Can’t you just go take your fortune and live in the Hills? I mean, if I had to just live in an apartment and, you know, drive a dune buggy, that would get me by. I don’t have to live in the Hills. 

Given your history — you’ve been hospitalized for exhaustion and dehydration, you were in a three-day coma in 1999 — did FX want a clean bill of health before hiring you? They didn’t require that. They see me in every meeting. I was a standing bill of health. I run on a treadmill. I do weights. I get exercise at least three times a week. I play basketball at least two times a week. 

 When do you find time to make a show? When they call, I’m there. 

In your stand-up comedy film “Runteldat,” you tell a story of being confronted by the police while under the influence of a powerful substance you call “ooh-wee.” Do you ever regret being that candid about your life? No, I don’t. I want my daughters to hear that story. I want every kid in the world to hear that story, so they know they have choices and not to make the same choices that I made. I have no problem with telling the truth. 

There’s a lot of very blunt sex talk in your stand-up as well. Are you comfortable letting your daughters see that too? I let my oldest watch it. I don’t let my two other daughters watch it. My oldest just watched my first stand-up film, “You So Crazy,” the other night. 

What did she think? She loved it. She said: “Daddy, I couldn’t believe it. Wow.” I told her, “I wanted you to see it because you have a boyfriend now, you’re getting ready to start college and these are things that you need to arm yourself for this world.” Daddy tells it like it is: rough and raw. 

Have you made an effort to take it easier in recent years? It was good for me to pull back and just not be so hard on myself and not think the world is out to get me. To grow up from that, it’s like a weight off my shoulder. 

Did you really feel that the world was opposed to you, even when you were that successful? You do, when things don’t go your way, when you see the stress of the world, the hatefulness of the world, the meanness. To see it from that level, I was like, Man, this is not what I thought it was. 

What helped you reach a more positive frame of mind? Going through the coma and getting arrested and things like that. Troubles that I had never gotten in before. That changed my life. All I wanted was to right the ship. But when you’re young growing up, you think you got it all figured out. 

 In “Runteldat,” you say, in effect, that people should ride life until the wheels fall off. Do you still feel that way today? Yes, I do. Live life to its fullest, to its grandest, and ride it until the wheels fall off, man. You only get one. 

Even in spite of everything you’ve been through? I feel that way even more now after what I’ve been through.

source here.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

sarah the boss

Sarah colette's favorite instagrams to follow for

charlamagne said..

you can chase your dreams, as long as you're dealing with your reality.