Posts Tagged ‘hot pants’

Of Denim, Dynasties and Destiny

May 1, 2022

Like the krill-scented belch of some deep-dwelling leviathan, a discordant breeze this week did blow. It was the ‘wind of change’: Tyshawn Jones announced on the Internet that he would depart the FuckingAwesome team, for a destination yet untold. Na-Kel Smith would be joining him, and for the first time since ‘Cherry’ it felt as though the expletiveamania juggernaut Jason Dill had built via junior high class photos around this generation’s ‘LA Boys’ was beginning to sputter — sort of like if in ‘Tha Last Dance’ Jordan and Rodman had quit the Bulls after a few championships to start their own expansion team that will also sell ‘pre curve’ trucker hats and airbrushed towels.

Jason Dill long has said FA was ‘for the kids.’ But strictly speaking is was not by them; perhaps it was inevitable that the tweens Dill and Anthony Van Engelen plucked and provided the platform to achieve big-fish status at one point would strike out on their own, but it leaves to burble the question of what might have kept them within the FA fold?

The answer plainly is jeans. It is a knowed truism that in 2022, year of the grub, if you cannot command a $35 pricepoint for a cotton t-shirt, you have no business being a skateboard company. And yet, with the price of a cup of gas thundering higher and supply-chain snarls and snurls reducing the product-slinging pro to a beggar for mismatched trucks, forward-thinking companies have staked their future on a more lucrative and precarious sphere — designer jeans, that fibrous endeavour that immortalized Antoine Boy’s horn and made Marithé and François Girbaud into 13th Ward icons.

Forced into the wilderness for years first by cords, then by Dickies, Carharts and assorted chinos, jeans now are the stuff of kingdom-making and eternal glory. Polar, once a Nordic upstart consumed with frontside shove its and male nudity, is now a de facto jeans company, made into an international dynamo by its zeitgeist-anticipating Big Boy line, which has been projected to occupy significant capacity levels on Maersk Line ocean freighters. Supreme remade the much sought-after Blind jeans of peak World years, putting the company’s current zombiefied incarnation, when they brought out their own version, in the unique position of aping an homage. Primitive is not so far off, marketing Tiago jeans endorsed by a noted Big Boy client. On the other hand, the strength of the Palace Jeans franchise doubtless played a role in forging its partnership with Stevie Williams manual accessory maker Evisu and more recently the Calvin Klein alliance, one of the more powerful collabos of recent vintage*. Bronze, Quasi, Theories of Atlantis and others all offer customized jeans with branded trademarks.

And what of FA? It is impossible to deny that as a company, in utter reality, they sell jeans. And yet the relatively few models proffered upon the open market of their digital storefront are outnumbered by neon-coloured corduroys, polar fleece sweats with stylized eyeballs on them and surf shorts adorned with graphical representations of babies fistfighting in the nude. To be sure, FuckingAwesome is a power in board sales, but with a fortune to be made hawking jeans to the parched and crypto-rich masses of our day, can FA truly be said to be a jean dynasty worthy of wanton worship and a $150 MSRP?

If FA had committed earlier and more fully to dominating the jeans game, would its pants-related earnings have made Tyshawn Jones and Na-Kel Smith think thrice before leaving a company drenched in denim riches? Or to adopt a ‘Kriss Kross’ position, is it rather that FA ought to instead lean even further into developing and selling graphical boardshorts? Is it time for the forward-thinking pants mogul to make a countercyclical bet on brown cords and boot-cut pants ahead of an inevitable ‘04 nostalgia wave?

*Are those Shaun Powers jeans u are wearing?

Made To Measure

May 31, 2012

Who profited most from the great fashion wars of the 1990s? Was it the denim tycoons, thumbing thick wads of dollar bills earned by selling reams of earth-toned fabric stitched together to make World-branded pants? Was it the hedge fund moguls who sold short the stock of Vision Street Wear just as berets and tank tops fell under the scrutiny of parking-lot fashion police? Perhaps the midpriced mall retailers such as Gap and Ralph Lauren who somehow managed to briefly appeal to otherwise streetwise and snobbish LA ledgelords? Maybe the Dickies executive who refused to give up on a market that at first viciously rejected Ed Templeton’s gentle embrace of highwater-styled “butthuggers?” Or the venture capitalist soothsayers who backed those textile alchemists that fused spandex with denim just as Jim Greco and Ali Boulala began to raise the wrist?

Over a decade later the landscape has flattened. A sort of fashion equilibrium has settled over the industry, matching the anything-goes mindset now prevailing across teamrider recruitment, video part chemistry and skatepark layouts. The peaks and valleys offered by yesteryear’s goofy boys and Hot Topic bracelet shoppers was superceded by the more sober-minded white tee/brown cord/Half-Cab set, sensibly fitting flannel shirts and the more recent revival of the raglan sleeve. At the same time the critical fawning over “Dog Town and Z-Boys,” combined with a solid 25 years’ worth of material to chew over, gave licence to a decade of mythmaking and nostalgic navel-gazing that at its nadir gave rise to a ponderous web blog site on the internet futilely attempting to ‘make sense of it all’ through wordy postings.

Assessing the current state of affairs in succinct, 1000-word equivalent snack-sized servings is the recently introduced Skartorialist site done by Kingpin/Blueprint affiliate Sam Ashley, which puts a pockmarked urethane spin on the moment-to-moment fashion photo blogs that have given rise to a bustling Ebay trade in pocket squares and Sears catalogues from the 1950s. It probably helps that Sam Ashley operates in close proximity to Londoners who have generally proven themselves to possess a more refined level of taste when it comes to fashion choices, Paul Carter’s striped Osiris swishy pants notwithstanding. The site’s frank presentation and skateboard-as-staple theme may have crossed the radar of the OG Sartorialist, who featured not one but two skate pics this week.

This is a concept well suited to an audience as prone to pick nits over personal dress to the point that a passing comment about one’s preference for plain-black t-shirts (versus the more typical plain white t) can prompt a freewheeling and at times soul-searching discourse on the psychological and moral divide between the black- and white-T camps, and how this may or may not reflect a similar but much-older debate revolving around corresponding color choices in women’s underwear. The site also provides for the sort of self-benchmarking popularized by Hotornot.com, and in this spirit I was encouraged to see Angus Morrison sporting a throwback Powell Peralta shirt similar to a ‘winged ripper’ number I got the other day, on some youthful dream fulfilled by disposable income that’s probably a sure sign of some middle-age doomsday ahead.

The role of outfit choices was cemented several years ago by a scientific poll conducted on the Slap message board, which found a majority of respondents agreeing that a bizarro outfit can detract from an otherwise legit photo, or video clip. The Skartorialist blog seems to keep time as folks in one corner of the world decide where the envelope needs pushing and where it is already folded nicely. For better or worse most of the dudes in the pics so far wouldn’t draw a second look at your typical mall or football stadium or Dave Matthews Band concert, which raises some interesting questions. Has the appetite for risk-taking on big handrails gone up at the same time dudes have become more wary of looking like a fool on the street? Does this conservatism mean sacrificing any role as early adopters of long-running themes? Who will start and fund the next JNCO? Are tall, stripey socks this year’s 59fifty hat? Do the duotoned pants backed by Garrett Hill and more recently Neil Smith represent the final frontier?