Category: Reviews

adidas ObyO KZK x Neighborhood Luker Superstar 80s

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

I missed out on Neighborhood’s 35th Anniversary Superstars. As much as I loved the shoe, I wasn’t about to spend all night outside Foot Patrol in London on New Year’s Eve. As a result of my sleeping, I couldn’t get a pair and I watched prices shoot through the roof on eBay as everyone proclaimed that the all-black vintage Superstar was perhaps one of the best of the entire series. Since then, I’ve acquired a few models that are personally more interesting now (a one-off/all-orange Superstar Skate is on that list for sure), but even though I managed to pick up the Union and Foot Patrol Superstars at later dates (shouts to Harputs in San Francisco) I still hold a candle for the Neighborhood and Undefeated models. It’s not gonna happen, unless I find an extra $700+ in my bank account.

So when I saw the first set of photos of this new collaborative Superstar from the hands of Kazuki (the ‘KZK’ in the name), you can imagine my delight. OK, it’s not the Vintage silhouette, sure, but the 80s Superstar shape is a close second favourite. And the colourways covered the angles nicely: a touch of both the Neighborhood and the Undefeated 35th Superstars. The sample versions spotted on Crooked Tongues were simply amazing – other details aside, the tumbled leather on the uppers really raised these a level, reminding me a little of the embossed adidas x Bathing Ape Superstars from 2003. And although these were set to be limited, enough online places were set to get them for me not to think too much about it.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

When both pairs arrived, courtesy of Crooked Tongues, I was pleased overall, but a couple of things would’ve made the purchase more satisfying.

The released versions are slightly different and, in some ways, slightly disappointing when compared to the sample versions. Why on earth they dropped the tumbled/crinkled uppers and used standard leather is beyond me. It’s a small detail and in the grand scheme it’s not important, but it makes a difference when you see them in the flesh. You’re getting a very nice Superstar instead of a premium Superstar in my opinion. I’m not a fan of lace jewels personally, but it would have been a nice nod to the 35ths if there’d been some included with these. And the stock laces are terrible. The standard polyester lace is what you’ll find in your shoe when you open the box – a little digging around in the box reveals some spare cotton laces, but only in the opposite colour (if you get the black shoe, you get the white cotton laces and vice-versa). I bought both pairs, so a swap is in order, but it would’ve made sense to sort this detail out.

And on a personal tip, there were no UK 8.5s to found anywhere: my UK9s are a bit big and the UK8s were too small. Grrrr.

Whinge over.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

So, what’s good about them then? A hell of a lot, as it goes. It’s a good shape, for a start. Those few who oppose the stretched-out look of the Vintage silhouette will automatically prefer the 80s shape here. If you’ve got big feet, this is pretty complimentary. The details that have carried over from the previous ObyO/KZK releases are present – stitched footbed label, nice heel tab and slightly vanilla-dyed midsoles – look great. The typographic embellishments on the side are also nice.

Even with the few gripes, I do like them a lot and they sold out quickly as expected.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

Hurtyoubad x Topsafe tees

Hurtyoubad is as good as the internet gets. Amusing graffiti-related postings, a dusting of dark humour and an injection of toxic opinion means that it should definitely be stuck into your RSS feed immediately. In places, it’s reminiscent of the Spine Dungeon that Mysterious Al curated for us back in the early 2000s.

On any given day, you might find a few ‘borrowed’ (ie. stolen) graf flicks, some amusing images and perhaps a few xenophobic rants. All part of a day’s work for the HYB team. Not being led by the aim to please PR teams – or anyone in fact – has heaped a little bit of legendary status from those in the know. And they coined the now-popular term for wheat-pasting stencil bastards, ‘art fag’, first.

When I heard that they were releasing a limited set of t-shirts in conjunction with the good guys at Topsafe, I knew they’d be good. And they are. None of your standard multicoloured screenprinted vomit means that the styles get to speak for themselves. You’ve got a Robert Crum-esque technical illustration from Horfe contrasting with the simple raw style of Egs’s lettering and then Finsta’s comic book style going up against Hefs’s buckled brass section characters. I’ve opted for the Siege 52 design for myself, simply because it says that it ‘hates my blog’. Can’t argue with that.


Horfe and Hefs


Finsta and Egs


Siege

Against standard Trashfilter protocol, I’m gonna copy-and-paste a bit from the press release that accompanied the announcement, to give a little background to the project:

The line features artwork from an international lineup of artists; Horfé from Paris, Egs from Helsinki, Finsta from Stockholm and Hefs and Siege from London. Using the Hurtyoubad name as a common theme the artists have lent their well established aesthetics to the tees.

When my tee arrives, I’ll update this post with some more pictures. In the meantime, I suggest you join the Hurtyoubad Facebook page and have a look at the other photos from the shoot they did for the tees: very nice indeed!

They’re available in three sizes – M, L and XL – and are £25 each, plus a bit extra for postage. At the time of writing they’re selling fast, so get over to the Hurtyoubad store right now: http://hurtyoubad.bigcartel.com.

Go on: right now.

— update —

The tee arrived – and not only is it as good in the flesh, but it’s got a glow-in-the-dark printed neck label. I’ve noticed a lot of the sizes are selling out, so best get in quick.

éS x Atiba Jefferson | Square Two model and book

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

Collaborative projects with photographers have slowly become more and more frequent over the past few years, to the point that you could almost categorise it as its own subgenre of footwear. And, why not? It’s not an easy job, no matter what anyone thinks. I remember watching Skin Phillips painstakingly shooting pictures of Paul Shier years ago at my local spot and being amazed at the patience and effort that went into getting results. I was lucky enough to tour around France with Ollie Barton a few years back with Shier, John Rattray and a few other skaters and can remember his professionalism throughout the trip. I can’t imagine turning up to countless spots and having to stand still and work while everyone else gets to skate.

Atiba Jefferson’s contribution to skate photography is undeniable. For almost 20 years, his work has featured prominently in a variety of publications, such as TransWorld Skateboarding (TWS) and The Skateboard Mag. He’s taken some of my favourite skate photos of all-time – the Jeremy Wray triple set at the San Diego Sports Arena, for example – and when TWS dropped the ‘Chomp On This’ video (where they turned the cameras onto the people who were normally behind the lens) in 2002, Atiba had one of the best sections.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

To be honest, when I heard about this collaboration, my first thought was towards the book that comes with these shoes. I’m a sucker for photography books and the thought of an Atiba-dedicated volume excited me: I cleared some shelf space in anticipation. I probably didn’t need to clear as much as I did, as this isn’t one of those overly-laden examples that weighs 14kg and takes up a foot of shelving real estate. It’s more of a sit-by-the-bedside publication than a coffee table art project. Covering the last 15 years of Atiba’s photography for éS, there are some amazing shots in here: City Stars-era P-Rod, Eric Koston killing rails, a particularly dope Rattray portrait, lots of team shots, Tom Penny… a shot of Rick Howard riding for the team (I never knew he’d ridden for éS, even though it was a gap filler after his DC days)… lots of McCrank goodness, Justin Eldridge, PJ Ladd, Muska, Ronnie Creager… the list goes on. It’s only when you look at this book that you realise just how many incredible riders éS have supported over the years. It’s a really nice book and showcases the photography perfectly.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

The Square Two model could definitely be worn as a skate shoe in itself, but I have a feeling that it deserves some time away from the griptape. éS is a core skate brand and therefore doesn’t really opt for ‘leisure’ shoes in their product range, but these would be a perfect pair of ‘chillers’. They’re smart enough to sneak you into a VIP booth, but still have the skate shoe aesthetic. You’ve still got all the good stuff like the STI footbeds and the durable vulcanized outsole, but it’s kept clean and simple on the uppers. Throw in a little embossed film roll on the tongue and photographic details (the footbed artwork features Bobby Worrest and Danny Garcia, whilst you can tread all over Rodrigo TX and what looks like McCrank on the soles) and you’ve got the perfect sign-off.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

As always, éS sling in some spare laces so you can switch up the colours a little and the box features a nice little Kodak logo reappropriation that made me smile. That’d look good on a shirt, now I think about it…

A really nice pair of shoes and a fantastic book from a brand that is still at the top of the game. You can probably find these in your local store, but if you need any pointers, check out the product locator on the éS site.

We’re gearing up for a Trashfilter interview with Atiba shortly, so watch this space!

Sneaker Tokyo vol.2 | Hiroshi Fujiwara | Shoes Master book

hiroshi fujiwara

There’s no point pretending that there was some higher-level theology drawing me towards this book: Hiroshi is undoubtedly a clever guy, but it’s his aesthetic awareness that is so appealing. Without having looked through this book, I knew it would be packed with lots of images that would have me drooling – the accompanying text is almost a bonus.

Hiroshi runs through his sneaker archives by brand, featuring the usual players along the way but also throwing a few curveballs in too. I didn’t expect to see Northwave, Airwalk and Timberland sandals in amongst the Nike and adidas gems, but that just adds to the book’s appeal.

I’m a huge fan of Hiroshi’s design contributions, so it’s nice to see pictures of his HTM (Hiroshi, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith’s collaborative series for Nike) models and the Fragment designs. The Footscape pages in particular are great to see and the small glimpse into the Monotone series from 2001 should inspire some people to dig those out again.

hiroshi fujiwara

Shoe porn aside, the pages of copy in here are actually pretty interesting: this is far less of a magazine with a hard cover and much more of an actual book compared to some recent publications. There’s documentation of his travels around Asia, with interviews from Hiroki Nakamura (Visvim), Kazuki Kuraishi (adidas) and Takashi Imai (Madfoot) and a nice discussion section with Mark Smith from Nike.

hiroshi fujiwara

Something that would normally grate with me is the use of worn (in some cases heavily worn) shoes, but here it makes perfect sense to feature them. Hiroshi is less of a sneaker collector and far much more of an informed connoisseur and fan.

Another Japan-only publication, thanks to the joys of auction websites, you should be able to locate a copy reasonably easy.

Make Friends With The Colour Blue (MFWTCB) | Blueprint Skateboards DVD

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Skate DVD reviews are probably one of the most time-consuming things to prepare. You need to watch the film repeatedly, make notes, occasionally do a little research, take screengrabs (which is trickier off an actual DVD than from downloaded content) – and then write it all down. As a result, I try to stick to the cream of the crop. Blueprint’s latest film, Make Friends With The Colour Blue (or MFWTCB, as I’m going to refer to it from now), fully deserved my time.

Blueprint is one of the UK’s finest exports and something that all skaters over here feel an affiliation to. When we heard on the grapevine that the company was going through a difficult patch a while back, we kept our fingers crossed things would sort themselves out – and with Paul Shier and Dan Magee steering the ship, it’s clear that things are on the up again. Look through the Blueprint video archives and you’ll find one of the strongest back catalogues of skate film history from any company. The exposure might’ve been limited to Europe mostly, but with ‘MFWTCB’ things have gone global.

And with a global reach, you need to adjust things accordingly. The Blueprint team is now international with a few new additions from the US, some continental Europeans and the backbone of UK riders, making for a well-rounded feeling to the proceedings. There are still plenty of the expected homegrown references (rain puddles, grey rooftops, Greggs bakery shops), but this has less of a ‘yes mate, we’re from the UK’ vibe and more of a ‘it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at’ feel. I’m a big fan of the traditional style, but this time you really feel that Blueprint’s arrived on an international level. And, to be honest, things like the Marty Murawski promo and the week at The Berrics have all reinforced this new feeling of growth. ‘MFWTCB’ feels like springtime after a long dark winter.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Enough babble: on with the review. Kicking things off with a ‘this is our mate’ intro, Dave Mackey has a short but amusing pre-title sequence section. He skates fast, spends a fair amount of time on the floor and does a dope bluntslide up and over an angled ledge. The title sequence follows, nicely edited to ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ from They Might Be Giants (with a couple of little references to the band’s original music video in for good measure). Colin Kennedy is first up, with a super-fast, super-powerful section from one of the original members of the team. Great music too. Next is my old mate Paul Shier, who shares the same music with Colin (as they did back in 2001’s ‘First Broadcast’). I grew up skating – and filming – with Paul at Fairfield’s in Croydon and every time I see him these days, I jokingly remind him he’s ‘not getting any younger’ and he might ‘need to think about a future career’. Well, he can put the job applications on hold indefinitely: this section is probably his best yet. It’s so good. Lots of speed (a quality that seems to run throughout almost all of the Blueprint team), plenty of amazing combination tricks and lashings of style. Without peaking too soon, this is definitely one of my favourite sections. Congrats Paul. My Fairfield’s pride is at optimum levels.

Sylvain Tognelli from Lyon, France is up next with a great section packed with flippery and shove-it lines: he does a perfect fakie 360 flip/switch manual/pop-up on this disgusting-looking icy road gap. Bench-king Danny Brady follows with an as-expected gem of a section – loads of nice lines and a few rather unique tricks to make you hit rewind. His half cab bluntslide to flip out was particularly memorable. Thoroughly good.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Tuuka Korhonen from Helsinki shares his section with Arizona’s own Marty Murawski, whose ‘Make Friends With Marty’ promo video apparently utilised a lot of his recent footage due to camera compatibility issues. It’s not an issue though, as he still rips it here. Tuuka’s lines of tech balance nicely with his bigger stuff and I liked all the little ‘rewind’ tricks he does. It doesn’t need saying that Murawski is a fine addition to the team.

Fuck YES: Chewy Cannon. If you’ve seen his part in the adidas ‘Diagonal’ video, you’ll be well accustomed to how good this dude is: his blend of power and style is perfect. Lots of solid and confident tricks, executed with finesse. Adding to the Blueprint US roster, Boston’s Kevin Coakley has an amazing collection of footage. Fakie flip/switch crooks on the Pyramid ledges in NYC, lots of nimble-footed quick hop action over and down steps and blocks and a sick frontside tailslide to drop off on a big block/red brick bank combination. I really liked his music as well: Cheap Trick’s ‘Oh Claire’ was a great choice.

I’d sympathise with anyone having the duty of following Coakley’s section, but Sheffield’s Jerome Campbell has got what it takes. Loads of great tricks and lines (the catch on his flippery is always spot-on). Neil Smith’s section is next and although his part in 2005’s ‘Lost and Found’ was good, this is a real progression. Big BIG ollies (the one over the rail to bank is massive) and some smooth tech makes for another stand out part of the film. The huge nollie heelflip down the steps blew me away. I liked him wobbling the road sign as well. The guest clips of teammate Tom Knox (no, not the Santa Cruz guy) are also really impressive: I look forwards to seeing more from him in the future.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Nick Jensen is the second half of the Royal Family to feature – and, as you’d expect, his section is a testament to how natural he looks on a board. Powered by the sounds of Portishead’s ‘Sour Times’, he shows a vast array of tricks with plenty of style. He switch ollies the Liverpool Street station steps (where I broke my ankle back in 2002) and makes every difficult nose blunt transfer and grind-flip combination look incredibly easy.

And so we get the final part: curtains duty deservedly goes to Mark Baines, who’s been at the forefront of UK skating for over a decade and is showing no signs of slowing down. Super good. Plenty of tricks that no-one else does, all executed at vast speeds: half-cab nose grind, nollie big spin out, switch backside heel noseslides and lots of manual trickery. To be fair, the closing honours could’ve gone to a number of the team riders here, but I’m stoked that Baines took the podium. Check out his ‘leftovers’ in the little DVS promo film that is doing the rounds online.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

This is definitely a DVD to come back to. I liked it upon first viewing, but it’s the subsequent viewings that have really made it a firm winner. At only £10, you’re doing yourself a serious injustice if you’re just watching downloaded clips on your computer: this is one to experience in front of your TV set. Well done to all who made this film possible: Blueprint are truly on the up and up.

www.blueprintskateboards.com

London Burners book (Prestel) | graffiti book by Jete Swami

Another day, another new graf book. Can anyone else recall when there were only a handful of books on the subject? ‘Subway Art’, ‘Spraycan Art’… a few obscurities from the ’70s and early ’80s… and a small selection of foreign language books. That was about all my library consisted of, at least until the early ’90s. In the past couple of years there have been some substantial publications, at last moving back to the hardcore graf subject as opposed to art gallery catalogues and stencil guides. There’s been some serious horseshit put onto the bookshelves in the past 10 years, so it’s nice to see a return to quality again.

And, on the topic of quality, we’ve got ‘London Burners’ here. I only found out about this book when Amazon threw it up as a suggestion based on my previous purchases. With so much crap out there, my interest in graf books has waned slightly over the past few years, but this one seemed to stand out above the torrent of street art nonsense that was presented to me. The cover alone – daytime full-colour Tube panels – had me nudging towards the virtual shopping basket.

The publisher’s blurb on the back cover sells the book as a ‘photographic project’, which is true to a certain extent. But whilst the photos are pretty consistently good throughout, it’s the graf inside that will have you drooling. No wall pieces, no pages wasted on crew poses or paraphernalia: it’s almost 100% pure London train action. Plenty of action shots are included, but the bulk of the imagery inside consists of pure train panels. Steel, steel, steel throughout.

It’s a fairly concentrated representation of the London graf community – one main crew dominates the majority of the content – but that’s no bad thing, as the pieces on the whole are top notch and haven’t been plastered in other books or magazines. The text in the book is minimal, preferring to have a few pages of missions, chases and opinions rather than in-depth interviews or profiles – but what’s included is cool to read.

Another worthy addition to your bookshelves, ‘London Burners’ will sit nicely between Crack & Shine and London Handstyles as the spotlight on homegrown graf continues to shine. At around £12 from various online places, you’re much better off spending the money on this book rather than a £15 ‘graffiti magazine’.

Now, where’s Skore’s book got to?

Cult Streetwear | a book by Josh Sims

I’ve got to be brutally honest: while the title of this book is probably the best way to sell it to a mainstream audience, the term ‘streetwear’ makes the bile rise in the back of my throat. Maybe it’s the non-committal nature of the word, maybe it’s because every leisure brand claims to fit into the category… I’m not sure.

But, that said, this book by Josh Sims does include a fairly broad range of brands and goes beyond the usual high street selection. I picked the book up out of curiosity (and the sharp 123 Klan illustration on the cover was certainly another reason) and once I started flicking through, I realised that the content was actually much better than my first assumption. Old, jaded and sceptical: that’s me.

Google the book and you’ll simply find a load of hype blogs copy-and-pasting the press release from the publisher’s website, which isn’t very useful. Let’s take you through some of the contents…

Split into three sections – Streetwear, Sportswear and Workwear – there’s a good selection of brands, profiled in alphabetical order. Kicking off with our friends at Addict, you get a one page bio of the label, with quotes and background information, before launching into a series of spreads showing design elements, garment shots and other interesting paraphernalia.

Other featured brands in the streetwear section include A Bathing Ape, Fuct, Goodenough, Maharishi, Neighborhood, One True Saxon, Stussy, Triple 5 Soul and X-Large. There’s a great section on Zoo York, which shows some of their old adverts (pre-Ecko involvement), along with some board graphics and I liked the unexpected Mambo showcase, with the page of original display cards and adverts too.

Moving into the Sportswear area, we kick off with a little section on adidas, before moving to Burton (the snowboard brand, not the UK high street retailer), Converse, Fred Perry, Lacoste, Nike, Puma and Vans. Nothing really unexpected in there, but it’s well-chosen and nice to see all in one book for once. The Workwear section is one of the most interesting (if short) parts: I liked seeing the Carhartt catalogue covers from the ’60s and the Dickies pages particularly.

The book doesn’t try to cram misinformed statements or cultural observations down your throat, preferring to stay factual and present easy-to-digest breakdowns. For that reason alone, I think it’s well worth picking up – a real asset to the bookshelves.

The only copy-and-pasting I’m willing to do on here are the book details, so here they are for you:
Paperback / 900 illustrations / 208 pages
292 x 220 mm / ISBN 978 1 85669 651 7

Deathbowl To Downtown | Skateboarding in New York City DVD

deathbowl to downtown dvd

To say that I was excited about seeing this DVD is an understatement: I’d been reading about the production for a while on various websites, blogs and magazines, and I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would reach the UK. Luckily for all of us here, the distributors realised they had a gem on their roster and made sure it was available for all.

Skating in New York had a beginning far removed from the Californian image of a long haired surfer guy weaving in and out of crowds on the sidewalk. And, although drawing a parallel might seem like a tenuous link, skating for us here in the UK wasn’t like that either. Cold winters (anyone else remember that dope Zoo York ‘wind chill factor’ advert and the Blueprint ‘we thrive on cold winters’ messaging?) , dirt, traffic, no legal spots… these are things that we shared with the NYC skaters. They had the Brooklyn Banks, we had South Bank: tolerated skating locations, but far from legal until more recent years. They have Supreme, we have Slam City. I could make a million of these connections, but that’s not what this review is really about.

I didn’t need any endorsement or positive reviews to know that this was going to be a real representation of skating in New York City. The role call of who was involved in the production and included in the footage was more than enough validation. Rick Charnoski and Coan Nichols were behind the excellent ‘Fruit Of The Vine’ film back in the late ’90s, which focused on the hunt and uncovering of backyard pools – another worthwhile viewing session, if you can find a copy.

deathbowl to downtown dvd

deathbowl to downtown dvd

So, what’s the film actually like? The main feature (ie. disc one of the double DVD pack) is phenomenal. It takes you from the very start of skating in NYC, from the ’70s and brings you up to around the ’98 or ’99 era. The photos and articles I’d read in Transworld or the Supreme/ Metropolitan/Zoo/Illuminati/Rookie/Shut ads I’d clip from Thrasher were great, but there really wasn’t too much visual material outside of that. Zoo York’s ‘Mix Tape’ or the incredible Eastern Exposure series were my first proper video introductions to what was happening on the East coast, but I knew there was more in the archives somewhere. So, that’s what you get here: the story of skating in NYC, with historical context and plenty of background information.

There’s nothing to question here. From Chloe Sevigny’s role as narrator through to Futura talking about the Soul Artists or Pete Bici, Bobby Puleo and Jefferson Pang on the ’90s Zoo York movement, it’s all totally legit. It was good to see the Sheffey and Coco Santiago shots from the first Shut era in there too: I remember seeing those in the magazines at the time.

deathbowl to downtown dvd

There’s a bonus disc with a whole host of extras – well worth the price alone – but the main feature is where I’ve been hitting rewind again and again. With the passing of Andy Kessler in 2009 and the loss of others such as Harold Hunter, Justin Pierce and Ali, this is a timely tribute to all those who’ve ever put urethane to concrete in New York.

deathbowl to downtown dvd

I suggest you hit up the official website here, and place an order at your favourite online film source. Peep the YouTube trailer below:

adidas ObyO | MTN Boot 2

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

You can sit and approach a shoe ‘review’ in a number of ways: sitting and rewriting a press release is one way that works for some people, as does finding other online reports and copy-n-pasting their text as a quote. The day you see that here on Trashfilter is the day you have permission to extract my teeth with a hammer. I’ve had these adidas MT 2 boots here by my desk for a few weeks now, waiting for the chance to wear them: the all-white uppers aren’t going to be too forgiving in the London winter.

Kazuki Kuraishi’s subtle approach to design has long been celebrated in the Far East. Although he’s primarily recognised as one of the lead designers at Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design, his work as a freelance designer over the past decade has resulted in a strong and consistent portfolio. adidas’s longstanding relationship with him culminated in 2008 with the launch of the ObyO (Originals by Originals, in case you were wondering) range: a series of products that reflect Kazuki’s attention to detail, love of technical fabrics and his characteristic muted colour palette.

I first met Kazuki in 2005 or 2006, when working on a research project for adidas Originals: I found myself lost in Tokyo for a week, but managed to link up with him for a short interview in the Originals store in Harajuku, before a short earthquake scared the hell out of me. Since then, I’ve watched his understated and strong design skills infiltrate wardrobes on a global level, somehow managing to make something that reads as ‘basic’ more interesting than you could ever imagine.

In his initial footwear strike in the ObyO range at the end of 2008, the black, white and red ZXZ Waterproof model really stood out to me. I’ve made enough regrettable purchases over the years to know when to leave the credit card in the wallet, but it was clear from initial rumblings that supply wouldn’t meet demand on these. With a Gore-Tex® upper, you could punish the hell out of them without destroying things – I’d love to pretend I went hiking on the fells with them, but the reality was a blur of walking round the streets of Soho, hopping on the Tube and drunken stumbling home.

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

The original MT Boot came out the same time as the ZXZ, but whilst it was nice, I went with its low-cut partner. This time around, the second incarnation of the MT Boot gets my vote. Available in two colourways (a more traditional black and dark blue combination is out there too), the white and green ‘tennis’ colourway is pretty interesting. Summer colours but partnered with a heavyweight construction means that the fear of being caught out in a rain shower can be laid to rest. A leather toebox might not be breathable for hot days, but a little style over function isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the reinforced leather toe eliminates the distress of tourist footprints ruining the ice-white look. Opinions seem divided on the strange attached-to-the-side tongue, but it actually works well, is comfortable and stops you having to fish around inside your shoe when the tongues move the side. D-ring lace fastening is all good with me too and I like the extended length right down the side of the shoe as it makes your foot look a little smaller. There’s no Gore-Tex® on these, but the ballistic nylon will meet the demands of most and looks great.

It’s Kazuki’s excellent attention to detail that really makes these stand out. The tongue labels, the green heel strikes and embroidered inner sole all give a true premium feel to a shoe that already ticked the boxes. I might return to this feature with a performance update once I’ve broken them in. Initial reports are extremely good.

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

One heads-up for anyone interested in buying them: check the sizing very carefully. The first pair I bought were way too tight, after following the same sizing as I did on the ZXZs. I’ve gone true to size on these, but it’s debatable whether I should have gone up an extra half-size in the end. Time will tell…

Nike SB | Fluff book

I have to be honest – although I consider myself pretty well-informed in anything skate-related, this book initially confused me. A little exploration and research quickly informed me that Fluff is a respectable skate mag based in Holland, with a little more focus on creativity than most other magazines. Flick through a copy of the mag and you’ll notice that photography is given a priority over pages and pages of text.

So it’s very appropriate that Nike SB collaborated with the Fluff guys to create this incredibly impressive promotional book. My buddies Ray and Pete sourced us a copy (thanks!) to check out on Trashfilter and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks combing through the weighty lexicon: at 610 pages in length, it’s incredibly heavy (we’re talking around 4-5kg) and will give you dead-leg syndrome quicker than a long-haul aeroplane flight.

Photographer Marcel Veldman was given creative freedom to give his insight into the 19 European countries that form the background behind the visuals. You get plenty of full-bleed action, lots of great sequences and enough text to give you something to sit and read once your retinas retain their focus.

A very limited (ie. a rumoured 12 pairs per country, to coincide with regional exhibition spaces) Nike Bruin model was created as well, in a very nice light grey suede and canvas combination: the as-expected ‘overnight queue’ system kept the hype levels at a premium. Standing outside a closed store overnight in the depths of February’s icy conditions shows dedication!

The book must have taken a hell of a lot of hard work to compile and in some ways it’s a shame that it seems to be a limited item, considering the amount of skaters who’d probably like to own a copy. That said, it’s free (seriously!) and there do seem to be copies available through selected skate stores, so check if your local skate store has any left.

Check out the Nike SB Fluff website for more information.

80s Casuals | book review

I’d read that the 80s Casuals book was coming, but it was my ex-colleague Mr. Warnett who ensured that I dug into my pockets and purchased a copy with his own excellent write-up. Like him, I’m not a by-product of the casual movement, but that certainly doesn’t mean that the appreciation of fine clothing and footwear isn’t of interest. The closest I ever had to a living reference was my own uncle. His love of Sergio Tacchini, Fiorucci, Lacoste, Fila and adidas influenced my early sport shop trips, before I went the way of Beat Street and focused on a more b-boy aesthetic. That said, my continued obsession in several items (particularly jackets) wasn’t a million miles away from the casual connoisseurs. The working class ethic mirrored my own upbringing to a certain degree: like Gary, my polo shirts were more likely to have a glued-on shark motif rather than a crocodile on them. Mum certainly wasn’t paying £30 for anything credible like that.

Dave Hewitson and Jay Montessori’s labour of love has manifested itself in this great collection of images, facts and stories. There’s a foreword from director Nick Love, which seems fitting after his recent ‘The Firm’ revisit, and a short introduction before you get right into things with the adidas footwear section. Trimm-Trab, the eponymous Lendl range and the obvious Forest Hills are all featured (amongst many), with some great in-situ photos and classic advert scans. I’m all for nice clean product shots, but seeing the shoes in the casual environment really helps to tell the story of the movement. There are a couple of great pages about the Wade Smith store, which took me back to begging friends to find me pairs of Gazelles when heading up to Liverpool in the early ’90s: if there was one place in the UK that defined the term ‘treasure trove’, this was the spot.

Seeing one of my top three shoes ever with its own page was another highlight. The Nike Omega Flame didn’t immediately strike me as being a model that tied in to this world, but my personal memories of the shoe are of trying to convince my parents that my 8-year-old size 3 foot would be ‘fine’ in the size 9 display model in the shop. I’m still on the hunt for a reasonably-priced pair.

Clothing quite rightly takes up the remainder of the book, with pages and pages dedicated to tracksuits, jackets and denim. Flicking through brought back memories of queuing for Chipie and Chevignon, whilst the Stone Island crew left me a little confused: I knew I liked the jackets, but at that time I had no true cultural reference point for them. I didn’t stand on terraces and I was more likely to be painting the trains rather than catching the 6.57 from Portsmouth.

A good sized book – A4 is always preferable to ‘pocket sized’ – with 168 colour pages, this isn’t a quick flick through. In fact, whilst it probably shouldn’t be classified as a ‘sneaker reference’ book, it’s got more credibility than many publications lumped into that whole genre. Limited to 2000 copies, the £20 price tag should guarantee that it quite rightly sells through quickly. Buy your copy from here: http://www.80scasuals.co.uk/book.html

Personal Effects | Hiroshi Fujiwara

When you’ve been crowned ‘the Godfather of streetwear’ by your contemporaries and followers, you’ve got a lot to live up to. And if anyone is going to qualify themselves for the accolade, then Hiroshi Fujiwara is probably a pretty good contender. His work for various brands over the past years has often been interesting and his attention to detail and thought process is something to aspire to. Add to that, he’s a very personable chap as well: he popped into the old Unorthodox Styles/Crooked Tongues office back in 2003/2004 along with Nike’s Mark Parker and Tinker Hatfield and we enjoyed meeting him.

This little book is nothing more conceptual than a little visual list of some of Hiroshi’s favourite items that he’s picked up. And when I say ‘items’, it’s as broad as it gets. You get a page of text (in both Japanese and English) and a photographic plate of each item, which ranges from technical Burton jackets, through to Gibson guitars and even his favourite elastic bands and artificial sweetener! Something like this could easily be a tasteless display of self-indulgence from others, but the little descriptions and the feeling of passion behind the selections makes for a very interesting snapshot of Hiroshi’s world.

Although this seems to be a Japan-only release, it doesn’t seem too hard to find if you have a quick search online.

All City Writers | graffiti book

Newly published books on the topic of graffiti seem to be getting released weekly. I remember when hunting out unseen graf books would involve visiting poncy art book stores and then being coaxed into dropping £40 on some obscure German-language photo book. The old Zwemmer book shop on Charing Cross Road in London was a prime location for these, but hardly the most appropriate place to hang out unless you liked being with stuffy art types. We’ll do a proper write-up on some of our favourite graf books down the line.

The peak of the ‘street art’ interest in 2007/2008 had every fake writer producing watered-down and uneducated shit (seriously, has anyone seen the ‘Urban Cookbook’? I’ll be addressing that particular crock of shit in my graf books feature), so it was often hard to see through the haze of nonsense to find the good books.

I first heard of ‘All City Writers’ in the summer of 2009: it had a cool styling to the press release and website, and the claims sounded a bit too good to be true. I mentally scribbled it down as one to watch for if I ever saw it on the shelves (I’m not blindly buying any art/design/graf books ever again, after being disappointed with my Amazon orders so frequently). I wasn’t sure when it’d be out, so I was pleasantly surprised to have found it when we went to the Cartier graf exhibition in Paris: it stood out on their table of publications for sale, so I grabbed a copy. I say ‘grabbed’, but the realism is that I struggled to pick it up, as this thing is a beast! With 410 pages and a good inch-and-a-half thick with a hardbacked cover, it’s not something to take off the coffee table without a forklift truck. That said, leaving it there for posing points is a total waste, because this thing is packed with features, interviews and knowledge that you’ll want to read. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a graffiti book with so much interesting text.

The angle is mainly European, but that’s not to say there aren’t lots of US contributions. The first half of the book is the story of writing in Europe, showing how the influences of NYC spread across the oceans and infected a whole continent. The second half of the book focuses specifically on Italy, documenting the rise and growth of the scene there. That might turn some of you off, but trust me when I say this isn’t throwaway content by any means. The images and stories are incredible and it’s clear that the six years spent putting this book together were well spent.

One of my favourite sections was the comprehensive story about T.C.A. (The Chrome Angelz) and how they developed from Zaki Dee’s Trailblazers into one of the world’s most highly regarded crews after their subsequent ‘Spraycan Art’ exposure. Thought Mode 2 and Bando and the guys didn’t hammer the trains upon their European travels? Think again…

Drax, Elk, Coma and Don contributed some great content on the London scene, which was enough reason to buy the book anyway. Real history from the people who created it and not some kid who’s been taking flicks of his best mate’s stenciling career.

There’s a great timeline in the opening chapter that puts the European graffiti movement in parallel with the NYC scene – and plenty of interesting stories about the European writers making their first trips to try their hands at painting the NYC subway system. There’s nice features with various graf magazine editors (including a breakdown of what went down with the guys at Xplicit Grafx when the Parisian crackdown took place a few years back) and a lot of images from some of the best fanzines that have been part of the scene.

For the £30 or whatever it’s retailing at, this is one of few books that’s worth the money. At the time of writing, I’ve had this three weeks and I still haven’t finished reading it. Available from most of your usual online book vendors – and you can check out the official website here.

‘Né Dans La Rue’ Fondation Cartier graffiti exhibition, Paris

“This exhibition traces the origins of the graffiti movement while offering a panorama of the diversity of contemporary writing”. A Cartier-backed history of graffiti? With the right people involved? Really?

Casting my ill-conceived preconceptions about fashion houses trying to connect with youth culture aside, once I’d seen the photos from this exhibition begin to appear online, I knew I wanted to go and see it for myself. The days of wanting to go and see graffiti in gallery spaces have long gone for me, but the opportunity to go and see some genuine artifacts from the pioneering days of New York’s graf scene was too good to resist. A quick Friday night hop on the Eurostar (courtesy of my good lady) gave us a full Saturday morning to spend checking the exhibition out.

Approaching the exhibition space from Raspail Metro station, it’s pretty clear you’re in the right area: the front of the building is surrounded in wooden hoardings covered in graffiti. Whilst that’s all well and good, it was the ‘graffiti taxonomy’ (see Evan Roth’s site for some great background shots) on the glass facade that stood out. Individual letters from a wide range of different writers in Paris, showcasing the diversity of tag styles in the same geographic region. It reminded me a little of Rammellzee and Phase Two’s explorations into letterforms, but without the scary costumes and complicated technospeak.

Once you’ve paid your €6.50 and go into the grounds, you’re confronted with a massive chrome dub (courtesy of Amaze) and a walk around the back of the glass showroom reveals a hut with Seen throw-ups, a Shepard Fairey wall and a couple of other bits. All good, so far…

Upon entering the exhibition hall, a friendly-but-firm voice told me ‘no photographs please’. I think my speechless expression said enough: you can’t claim to be presenting graffiti in its truest form without allowing complete freedom to let people document it themselves. Luckily, it wasn’t very difficult to take a few low-key pictures as we walked around – the staff were busy monitoring a class of schoolchildren, so it was pretty easy to get a few point-n-shoot shots. But this was one severe black mark to the organisers, especially considering I’d held out from buying the exhibition catalogue in the UK (Magma sell it for a fiver less) so that I could buy it from the ‘official’ vendor.

The ground floor has a selection of large freestanding walls, with art from a variety of different writers and artists on there. A couple of things stood out (such as the Jon One sculpture-framed piece and the Delta wall), but it was clear the downstairs section was where the real treats were being kept. In the first room, there was a cool handstyle animation on loop (by Evan Roth and Katsu), facing a wall with two nice Part One pieces on. Seen’s recreated ‘Hand Of Doom’ piece filled another wall, but the true gold came in the form of two exhibition cases with original sketches and blackbook pieces in them. Dondi and Tracy 168’s sketches looked as good in the flesh as they did in the books. Seen’s original sketch and photos of the ‘Hand Of Doom’ wholecar was pretty exciting to see, having looked at that piece again and again in ‘Subway Art’ over the past 20 years. Henry Chalfant’s contribution was great to see: a wall of photographic prints, featuring both well-known subway panels and a couple I hadn’t seen before. There was also a large presentation case with a transit worker’s uniform (as worn by Seen when painting trains) and a door with lots of classic NYC writers’ tags scrawled on.

Walking past a cool/weird Blade piece (a list of writers who’d died, bordered by mirrored walls and tags), the next room had a large projection of ‘Style Wars’/’Wild Style’-era footage, surrounded by some vintage canvas works by Futura, Quik and Lee. The highlights of this room were the Lady Pink/Lee denim jacket and the ‘Aboveground’ gallery poster, following on from the MTA’s anti-graffiti campaign. Walking out of this room takes you down a tag-battered catacomb and back into the main room. Exhibition over? Not quite.

As I pushed my way past over-zealous kids on the stairway, I went up onto the first floor bookshop, where I was quite literally blown away. I had to stop in my tracks to take in the comprehensive selection of graffiti books. They had easily over 100 different books there, ranging from just-released tomes through to various exhibition catalogues and classic publications. I’d only intended to purchase the official guide to the exhibition (which I still did), but also ended up with the Blade monograph, a signed copy of the ‘Seen City’ catalogue from his 2007 show – and the recently-released ‘All City Writers’ book. I also found ‘Stations Of The Elevated’ on DVD, which was an unexpected surprise. Posters were reasonably priced at €6 and everything was properly browsable before purchase. The best collection of graffiti literature I’ve seen in one place, for certain. With our arms weighed down with books, we left and went to see what Colette was saying, en-route back to Gare du Nord.

This is by no means the comprehensive history of graffiti that it promises, and some of the modern pieces are a little questionable in terms of relevance, but it was fully worth visiting. We thought we’d snuck in to see it before the planned closing date (which was originally set to be November 29th 2009), but they’ve just extended the duration until January 10th 2010, so plan a weekend to Paris before it finishes and have a look for yourself.

Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. 261, Boulevard Raspail, Paris 75014
More information: http://fondation.cartier.com