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

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