Tag Archives: fashion

SNEAKERS : ARTIST DUMPS USED KICKS ON FLOOR, INSTANTLY CREATES CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED MASTERPIECE

Hey, you! Yes, YOU! You, the savvy reader of this blog. In case you did not know it, you are an artist!

Well, to clarify, if you aren’t, then you can be. Instantly! Yes, INSTANTLY! What if we were to say that you can be an artist within minutes, if not seconds?  

You don’t believe us. Well, let’s a try a little experimental exercise in art production. You have a pair of sneakers, yes? (If you don’t, that’s fine — for this exercise any type of footwear will suffice.) Ok, now grab those sneakers or loafers or mules or flips-flops or whatever, in fact grab a few pairs, as many as you can muster up really. Got ‘em? Great!

Now find some empty floor space, preferably bleached hardwood floor space and pick a spot near a wall, preferably a white wall. Place those pairs of shoes there, and by “place” we mean just dump the shoes on the floor and leave these as they lie when dropped.

And voila, you, savvy ready, have just created a work of art. In fact, it’s a conceptual artwork. It’s kind of like the artwork titled “Skin” by the awesome Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch pictured in this post. (It’s was recently on view as part of the wonderful and cheeky “Stories of Almost Everyone” exhibition of conceptual art at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.)

You see, you are an artist! (To be more precise, you are conceptual artist!) Great job!

The real artistry here is in the next step: Getting somebody to pay you for this artwork, or at least to devote exhibition space to it.  

Of course, you can always just call the space you dropped those shoes a “gallery” and you’re now an artist with a gallery show. Look at you! You’ve come so far in just a few short minutes.

 

APPROPRIATION: CLOTHING STORE MINES ‘80s L.A. SURF CULTURE TO HELP SELL DENIM

Junk Food Clothing and Levi’s, the iconic purveyor of denim jeans, had collaborated on a pop-up concept store in Venice, Los Angeles.

The store is located on fashionable Abbot Kinney Blvd. and is called Tees & Jeans. It offers customers personalization of the brands’ clothing, which is  growing fashion-and-style trend.

In the service of the selling of these clothes, and adding edge to the shop’s collabo idea, is a retail design concept and interior decor that rips from a specific era of Los Angeles’s pop cultural history: Gritty 1980s Venice and the SoCal surf and music scenes as epitomized by an obscure local band called the Surf Punks.

The clothing is sparsely displayed a minimalist space that feels raw, under-decorated and under-produced. But it is very much produced and every detail has been thought through.

These details include the vintage framed black-and-white promotional photos of the Surf Punks, founds objects like  traffic road signs, and used surfboards covered in dirty wax and scrawled with graffiti, deftly propped up in a corner of the store. (Yet another example of the over-employed cliche of a surfboard as decorative object in a shop or restaurant, as also seen here.)

STYLE: ALL THE OTHER KIDS WITH THE PUMPED-UP KICKS

It’s not news that a pair or two or three or 50 of fresh sneakers is an essential part of the contemporary wardrobe of the working creative-professional (WCP). These can run the gamut of old-school classic Adidas Gazelles or New Balance 574 running shoes ( that — God forbid — you’d actually go running in) to luxxy $700 Rick Owens / Givenchy / Gucci / Dior leather kicks to $50 checkerboard Van’s Slip-Ons to, as pictured here, Nike cross-training kicks (that — God forbid — you’d actually go cross-training in). These Nikes belong to colleague at an agency we work for. The pair are beautifully designed, and, aside from the red swoosh, understated at a glance. On closer scrutiny, there are few details that make these shoes sing: The red pull tabs, beige suede accents, and rounded laces.

. . . . .

私たちの同僚の同僚がこの素晴らしいナイキスニーカーを手に入れました。スニーカーは、現代の「働くクリエイティブ・プロフェッショナル」(または「WCP」)の必須のワードローブアイテムです。 ;)


POLITICAL FASHION: “OBA MAO” T-SHIRT IN CHINA

The graphic on this t-shirt is a cute mashup of one of modern China’s greatest political leaders Mao Zedong (sometimes written as “Tse-Dong”), a.k.a., “Chairman Mao,” and one of America’s most popular modern presidents, Barack Obama. Thus “Oba Mao.”

We imagine a lot of American tourists snap these shirts up. The shirt’s iconic and heroic visual treatment of Obama and inherent Maoist-Marxist symbolism are reminiscent of those t-shirts with Che Guevara’s face that were globally popular back in the early 2000s.

Our friend and contributor Richard took this quickly snapped pic a few days ago while traveling in China. Thanks, Richard!

Photo: Richard Haase. All rights reserved.

HAIRY: WHEN YOUR PERSONAL MODE OF TRANSPORT NEEDS A HAIRCUT

You are looking at this photo and you’re thinking “WTF?” Maybe you’re even mouthing the letters as you think them, a just barely audible sound escaping between your lips.

Maybe you’re vocalizing the question with the actual words instead of the initialism: “What the F*ck?!?!” with an emphasis on the last word. (Assuming you’re at work, your co-workers are glancing towards you for a half-second after you utter this.)

All of these are proper, reasonable responses to the subject of the photo pictured here: A hairy, furry beach-cruisey bicycle parked at the bike rack at the popular Superba restaurant in Venice, Los Angeles.

This hirsute bicycle is either a large fashion accessory, a sartorial lifestyle statement piece extended to one’s transport and/or an art project. Perhaps there’s some functionality — the ride is somehow “softer” (?).  Perhaps it’s all these things. In any case, it looks as if Chewbacca took the form of bike and sprayed Sun In all over his over-follicled body. Amaze.

LOST & FOUND: TOY FIGURES OF ANGRY EDM DJs

During our annual Mew Year’s House-cleaning ritual we uncovered these two toy mini-figures of DJs. We love (and are slightly disconcerted by) how angry one of them looks. The headphones and eyeglasses are a nice touch. The look reminds us of early 2000s and the late “electronic” era. We bought these years ago at Toy Tokyo, a specialty toy and model shops in the East Village of New York.

RETAIL DESIGN: WHEN YOUR “SHOPPING EXPERIENCE” IS A WORKING GARAGE FOR MOTORBIKE REPAIR

The idea is genius, if maybe accidental and gimmicky to the extreme. HWY is a shop on Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park, in Los Angeles, that sells vintage clothing and original branded HWY t-shirts with a biker bent. The clothes racks and merch tables occupy much of the front half of the small store, but seem incidental to the grime, grease and general mess of motorcyle parts and tools strewn around the store, especially the back half of the retail space which is more or less a bike repair space. Essentially a shop turned mechanic’s work space turned retail operation.

CAPITALISM 101: STRANGER THINGS APPAREL SPOTTED IN THE WILD

Have you binge watched season two of Stranger Things? If you have then you know how good it is. Some are saying it’s better than season one. Go figure.

We admit we’ve already seen all of season two of the Netflix original series. It lives up to the hype. Yes, that’s right, savvy reader, it’s still “critically acclaimed”! 

Given its critical and popular success, there’s probably going to be a third season. (Netflix doesn’t share viewer numbers and the show is commercial-free so in audience and dollars terms we don’t really know how successful it is.)

But no matter. As long as current subscribers don’t cancel there Netflix accounts, it’s as a good as a hit. Continue reading

Daydreaming A Little Daydream at Dreamy Daydream

The space at Daydream Coffee and Surf in Costa Mesa, California is great, but it’s missing a few things that would make it perfect: A bed, a TV, and a set of keys to the space with our name on it.

Cleopatra in West Hollywood

When the late legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor appeared in the 1963 film classic “Cleopatra” in 1963, she unlikely never imagined that her likeness would appear as street art on a now hip stretch of Faifax Avenue in Hollywood. But so it is.

Film immortalizes. Street art, though usually ephemeral, has the power to do so, too, when photographed, now more than ever in the hyper image-capturing world thanks to the billions of us and our default digital habits via iPhones, Instagram and other social media.

This wheat-pasted artwork of Taylor will fade, be torn away or scraped off and disappear. But it has indelibly left itself in the memories of its viewers everywhere it appears whether on the streets of LA or as images saved across the global strata of devices and the cloud.

The artwork is signed by “Van” (no relation to the Van of this blog) and was put up on the window of an emptied retail space that has already been on the receiving end of the graffiti-tagging ritual that descends upon storefronts when a tenant leaves. The neighborhood is neither gritty nor overrun with graffiti, but given its hipster retail quotient (“HRQ”), it has become a home for an above-average volume of street art and, with it, the camptrail of graffiti art and sticker-bombed spaces.

This is due to an unusual confluence of Los Angeles geography, landmarks and neighboring institutions that draws an ideal demographic and market for style-centric retail and street art. At least a half-dozen shops catering to serious sneakerheads and street style sartorialists line both sides of Fairfax Avenue in a short segment between Melrose and Oakwood avenues. These include Crooks and Castles, Diamond Supply, Supreme and Hall of Fame. 

The strip is also home to the legenday Canter’s Deli, a long-time late-night hangout for bands and entertainment industry types. Fairfax High School is here, too, where on school days thousands of students traffick in and out of the area.

At one end of the stretch is Melrose itself, one of LA’s most-established and fashionable shopping destinations for designer clothing, high-end and street. At the other end is CBS Television City, and a little further south, Farmers Market and the Grove. For those selling premium, limited edition Nikes and Addidas and complimenting these with hoodies and caps, the neighborhood became an epicenter for a market eager to buy their wares.

As for Elizabeth Taylor and Van’s artwork, she in her glorious, braided Cleopatra hairstyle looks fittingly contemporary. If women (or a dude, for that matter) walked out of the Supreme store with that hair and make-up, it would seem perfectly normal, just another of the myriad styles either intentionally or unwittingly drawing on and referencing pop cultural influences of the recent aughts and late Twentieth Century. Late 1970s disco culture tapped into the chic of the Egytpian-via-Hollywood braids look. It was part of a pornstar’s circa-early-1980’s look in the movie “Boogie Nights.”

For much of her early and middle career, Taylor was a beauty and style icon. She was also the subject of one of the world’s foremost and most famous artists of the post-modern pop-art era, Andy Warhol. Until her passing, she was Hollywood royalty, at the apex of the “A” list before if was even called that, relevant at a distance even long after she was no longer appearing in blockbuster movies and away from the limelight.

In a way then, Taylor is exactly right where she should be immortalized as street art.

Skull of Converse

This decorative installation artwork at the Converse concept store in Santa Monica, in Los Angeles, is a spooky and clever visual conceit. At a distance and without the context of the store, the viewer would likely be unable to perceive that the artwork is comprised of hundreds of Converse sneakers in various monochromatic shades. Up close, the viewer might fail to perceive that the composition of the sneakers forms a creepy human skull-like image. It’s briliant, if a little dark, but edgy and totally “on brand” for the fashion shoe company.

Locals Only

    Last weekend, we stumbled upon this throw pillow with the words “Locals Only” embroidered on it at the Mollusk Surf Shop in Silver Lake in Los Angeles. The pillow is a funny, cute mash-up of old-school, cliched surf-culture sentiment and a folksy, homespun style more fitting in grandma’s living room than a surfer fort at Lunada Bay. It’s not the kind of item that the average surf shop would stock, but then Mollusk is not an average surf shop and Silver Lake is not your average surf shop locale. It’s not a laidback seaside surf haven. That there’s even a surf shop in Silver Lake at all is an anomaly.

    Mollusk originated in San Francisco where it made a name for itself that traveled far beyond the Bay Area. It established a style and a reputation for great taste. And for selling interesting, quality surfboards from shapers who made their boards by hand and were influenced by retro designs. Whether it was a shortboard, longboard for a 1970s-inspired “mid-length” board with a single fin, by and large many of these surfboard makers themselves appreciated design and style and their aesthetic tastes were reflected in their boards. (And, by the way, yes, we surf and we enjoy nerding out on this stuff.)

    Then Mollusk opened up branches in LA. One is in Venice, LA’s infamous and gritty (if now largely gentrified) beach town. It’s not a mecca of great surfing nor great waves. In fact, the surf at Venice Beach sucks most of the time. But it is a block from the beach and central for the greater LA metro area, and it’s a hub for a creative surfer community. Surfers still paddle out into the waves at the Venice breakwater most days in spite of the poor surf conditions.

    Then there’s Silver Lake. It doesn’t have Venice’s location or vibe, but there’s a niche demographic overlap. SLake is home to a class of fashionable creative types (music, film, art, advertising, design), both the moneyed kind and the less-moneyed aspiring kind, and it’s a magnet for a generation of hipsters, some of whom surf or pretend to. Mollusk is right at home here and yet it’s also totally legit, albeit with those ironic, stylish “Locals Only” throw pillows strategically placed in the store.

    “Locals Only” has come a long way.  It was the kind of thing that one often encountered back in the ’70s and ’80s in the form of crudley spray-painted graffiti near remote or hardcore surf spots along Pacific Coast Highway or at a handlulf of certain “localised” beaches in the string of seaside communities up and down the California coast or in Hawaii. It was a warning to outsiders, one tinged with menace, not to surf that beach … or else. This localism was the harder-edged face of surf culture. So to see those words rendered on the kind of soft, cuddly pillow you might cozy up to on a sofa while sipping a cup of tea and savoring the prose of a Maya Angelou novel, well, it’s funny and brilliant.  Its trick is how it both deflates the inherent threat and danger associated with those words while in another way making those words even scarier.

     

    Warm Minimalist Shelf Architecture at A.P.C.

    The Parisian clothing and retail brand A.P.C. recently opened a shop in Silver Lake in Los Angeles. Like may of this French fashion label’s stores, whether it’s in Tokyo, Paris or New York, this new LA outpost has its own distinct interior design aesthetic, different from all the other A.P.C. stores, yet inscrutably “on brand” in its warm minimalism.

    A.P.C. stores embrace the constraints and quirks of the space they occupy and subtly absorb the character of the surrounding neighborhoods they’re in. At the Silver Lake store, the tiered shelving system is the foremost feature of the space. It’s a piece of architecture in and of itself within the shop space, built in smack in the center of the store and easily eating up much of the architectural footprint. Customers can walk through it.

    The plain distilled earthiness of the wood suggests a casual, clean organic aesthetic in sync with the Southern California “canyon spirit” style, but the thin bars of LED lights augment this with a restrained hint of the Hollywood glamor. All in all, it sweetly aligns with the the clothing brand’s style of fashion.

    Monrow at Dusk

    The clothing brand Monrow will soon be opening a retail concept store in this tiny, old California-style bungalow near Venice Beach in Los Angeles. As standard retail practice, the windows of the house-turned-shop are covered with paper to provide privacy while the final interior build-out is being completed. The Monrow signage is up and the lights are on, so the brand has announced itself in the neighborhood. It will be interesting to see what the company does with the space.

    . . .

    ここにファッションブランドのモンローの新しいショップがあります。 この店は、ロサンゼルスのヴェネツィア近所の古い家を占有しています。

    Wes Anderson Directed a Christmas Commercial for H&M

    cometogether

    Auteur film director Wes Anderson has produced an amusing short Christmas film (see below) as long-form commercial for the global Swedish clothing retailer H&M. It’s called “Come Together” and stars Adrien Brody as the conductor of a train carrying passengers through a winter holiday storm. The four-minute film is an exercise in branded content for H&M. Aside from a logo “bug,” branding itself and commercial messaging has been kept to a minimum at the end of the video. “Come Together” is quintessential Anderson in terms of style, editing, production design and cinematography, and it is as visually charming as anything we’ve seen from the director. Anderson has directed commercials for other brands in the past and you can see some of them online at AdWeek.

    “Surf 80s Divine” 

    We stumbled upon this this first-edition copy of the long and precisely titled “Surf Photographs from the Eighties Taken by Jeff Divine.” Published in 2011, this art-coffee-table book presents hundreds of images by prolific and influential surf photographer Jeff Divine that document surfing in the 1980s, a more visually vibrant and colorful decade in surfing history in terms of style, design, fashion and surf culture. The edition pictured here is the house copy at Sandbox Coffee, a cafe popular with surfers in Ventura, California. The book is so well worn that its binding is held together by duct tape.

    Plain Minimalist All-White Leather Sneakers … Venice, Los Angeles

    We recently popped into the Rag & Bone store on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, in Los Angeles, to try on this paired of white leather sneakers. These shoes are as plain and minimalist as can be. We love ’em.