effulgence – In the name of effu, I will Punish you

Of the many newer Streetwear brands that have sprung up, its easy to forget them. There are numerous reasons for this. The most common being that a brand is too common. Post 2008 many senior brands had withered away. Although many people never question what came before the current trend or recent era of Streetwear its somewhat important to look back at them in order to better understand a particular San Francisco based brand. Today there are numerous trends throughout Streetwear, ranging from sweatpants, to particular colors, to collabs, to blank tees, to all over prints, to yearly themes, etc. Before the end of the Golden age of Streetwear things were different in that there weren’t as many trends happening at once. There was no common formula most brands would implement in order to sell their clothing. You could say the need to standout drove brands to be more creative. In many ways effulgence is a byproduct of the golden age of Streetwear, yet its also part of the newer wave of Streetwear brands that stick out like a sore thumb.

Mind you sticking out is not a bad thing. If 10 brands were lined up next to each other, they would definitely need to stick out. Pre-2008 many brands were delving into the world of underground hip hop or golden age of hip hop in order to be inspired. Many tees were dropped that implemented hip hop in a stylistic way. Not necessarily in a boisterous or corporate hip hop sense, but with an aim to be more enlightening. Abcnt, early Obey or Akomplice tended to portray hip hop in a less commercial light. At times they showed lots of expression through their designs, which tended to be more vibrant, yet still maintained a cohesive theme, usually about people resisting the lies of Big Brother or corporations.

Effulgence has been around since 2009, meaning the brand was at the tail end of Streetwear’s Golden Age.  While a system has evidently been put into place that runs the economics of Streetwear, many brands will not survive. Theres a lot of factors that can and often do kill brands. One of which being their size. The biggest brands have the most products on the market, so its easy for them to more or less decide what will and does become the norm in Streetwear. Theres also an established link that holds all the big brands together.

However effulgence is in a unique position in that they can say they are part of the original Golden Age, yet its not part of the collective that drives Streetwear today, instead effu is part of a newer wave which ultimately has its own sphere of influence. What makes up this sphere is that many of these brands have gone back to silk-screening their tees, the owners attended college, some use concepts of vaporware, they tap into Anime, they’re 90s kids, but most importantly they are very creative. The brand is solely run by effustephen.

Classy effulgence packaging .

The driving force behind effulgence is its appreciation of Hip hop. Going back a few years they made an impressive tribute tee to Hieroglyphics. Though the past is the past, it still says a lot about the brand. For summer 2015 effulgence looked to music and Anime. As far as the entire drop is concerned the hip hop products are arguably the ones that stand out the most. However effu has also placed a hand in the Anime community as well. Overall the drop is very 90s-centric. Effu’s logotype returned in two different colorways. The tonal salmon colorway sticks out more, as you won’t see too many brands using that shade of orange, furthermore its color loosely echoes the Pokemon Magikarp. So you know if you wanna show Magikarp some love. There’s also a pink logo tee, you know because pink is manly as fuck.

Logotype tee.

Backtracking to 2014 effu made a clean looking Pokemon inspired tee, dubbed Jenny/Joy. Ultimately removing the color and some of the definition from both iconic characters. Allowing people to admire the contours of the women. For their Summer 15 drop they made a Mega Man tee. Mega Man,  has had a long history in the gaming industry. Capcom created the character in the late 1980s, his name is Rock Man in Japan. Although Mega Man didn’t reach the height of his popularity in America until the 1990s. While he is primarily a video game character his origins are also rooted in Anime. As Rock Man’s concept art is definitely Japanese, the series later had its own Anime series. Effu’s Mega Proto tee shows Mega Man clashing with his nemesis Proto Man, rendered as line art with a sense of motion, you can really feel the mood of this classic rivalry. Though the Mega Man series has arguably waned this tee is a reminder of better days.

Mega Proto tee.

One of the instacops from this drop was their Sailor Squad tee. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, known as Sailor Moon in the US, has had a long and successful history in Japan. Its difficult to summary its legacy, but beyond the original mangas, its had numerous spinoff books, it became an Anime, had numerous seasons, there was a few movies, there was even a live action series. Then it eventually ended, however its legacy was so great that it was recently revived and after numerous delays premiered in 2014. Sailor Moon is a quintessential 90s cartoon. Most kids from that era will likely recall waking up and changing the channel on their old blocky tv. There were a lot of shows back in the day, but Sailor Moon is a classic mainly because of the dynamics of the characters. The show had lots of silliness, you couldn’t really take anyone too seriously, yet the show also had some very dark moments. Effu’s Sailor Squad tee is interesting as their execution is fairly simple, all the graphics are white, there are no other colors. The front shows a small Luna with the effu logo, while the back shows the entire Sailor Squad with the effulgence logo. You can almost compare the back design to Charlie’s Angels, the juxtaposition of the women and the logo just look that way. Other than that, the emphasis of the tee seems to be the design of the characters. There are many details that could have been missed if color were included, so its obvious effu put thought into this graphic. The pose of the women perfectly embodies the Sailor Scouts and does them justice.

Sailor Squad tee.

Finally we have the Hip Hop inspired stuff, which is an import aspect of effu’s aesthetic. The wildest of all the tees was the Ghost Maiden tee. Its a combination/tribute of Ghostface Killah and Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie. Ed the Head sports a hockey mask, making him a “ghost,” its a nice lil flip of Maiden’s World Slavery artwork with the effu logo on the bottom. Much of Iron Maiden’s aesthetic is kept, giving it a metal feel. Though the back is different, we see a much bigger ghost maiden graphic drawn as line art. While below we see “tour dates” which are all references to Ghostface Killah. What makes this really unique is the fact its printed on inside out tees, so you won’t see anything like this from any other brand. However the piece de resistance is probably effulgence’s Makeveli Coach jacket. Effulgence wanted to utilize a do it yourself aesthetic, so effu made a bunch of patches and sewed it onto their jackets. It feels very clean and not too rough around the edges, yet still feels unique and not commercial, most of the patches are references to the 90s. Such as 2pac, Mike Tyson, Death Row Records etc. Overall the drop is very memorable, it shows that effulgence is still a brand to be recognized in  Streetwear.

Rips not included.

Maiden Ghost tee.

Makaveli coach jacket. Navy on navy violence.

*Pronounced effulgence, no capitalization.

*effulgence’s instagram, twitter, facebook.

*effulgence’s forum.

*effulgence’s website.

*effulgence’s webstore.

Anime and Streetwear, what about the Otakus & Cosplayers?

Continuing from this previous examination of Anime’s relationship with Streetwear we’ll talk about the other perspective. Specifically the Cosplayer and Otaku (Anime) communities, it’s important to understand that both communities are not the same, even though at times they can be very closely related. Some very basic concepts of Cosplay, depending how far back you wanna go, can said to have some resemblance to Halloween. It bares a stronger link in early 20th century America with Sci Fi fans, who would make their own costumes, as America’s future seemed full of technological possibilities. As for Otakus, its origins are of course from Japan. However its original meaning, postmodern Japan, has greatly changed. In Japan Otaku can definitely be used in a derogatory way, although it may not be used definitely that way. Now how and where do these two distinct communities fall on the fashion spectrum, and what do they have to do with Streetwear is somewhat speculative. They are non the less important in understanding what Anime and Streetwear are, and what they can be.

Asteroid Blues tee by Hidden Characters. Second Version.

Streetwear’s origins can be found in skating, other athletics, hip hop, among other things. Skating is particularly important as Jeremy Klein, an influential skater, had adopted Anime and Japanese culture as one of his early motifs. While hes known for many things in the skating world, he eventually help create Hook-Ups, a skating company thats distinctively influenced by Anime, in the early 90s. It can be suggested that Jeremy Klein started America’s relationship with Anime and clothing. During this time Anime was still a virtually unknown subculture. More than a decade later, Triumvir decided to introduce Anime to Streetwear in America. The results were very mixed. Not too long after Triumvir ended their Street Fighter collabs other Streetwear brands began to take Triumvir’s work a step further, ultimately creating something different. Ronin, a NY streetwear brand, may well have been the first. Though now there are many others, however they don’t bare a resemblance to Hook-Ups or Triumvir. Many of these newer brands are headed by Asian Americans, and so they have a different perspective on the art form that is inherently Japanese.


Theres a lot of people who can and do identify as being an Otaku. For awhile the term was relegated to small venues/places within America, it was a way to understand who was a fan of Japanese Animation. As the word was used in non dubbed Anime. Eventually this changed. As Anime covertly invaded America’s underbelly of disenfranchised youth and adults, something was ultimately cultivated. Overtime this manifested as a way for people to describe themselves, in a positive context. You can think of someone who plays sports as an athlete, they might use that word to describe themselves. This is essentially what Otaku now means to cultures outside Japan. If you’re an Otaku, you’re basically saying you’re a big Anime fan, or you may be using the word to associate your love of it and maybe even Japan. However in Japan, the word is not universally used this way. Originally it was used to describe something, not necessarily someone. It apparently referred to someone’s house, so just otaku not Otaku. After a while it transformed as a way to shame people. Referring to people as Otaku meant that they were obsessed with something, to a severity that it affected their overall wellbeing. You can possibly akin it’s meaning to addiction, which is never a positive thing. With Anime’s growing influence in Japan, as well as its economic benefits, the word Otaku isn’t 100% bad, but you have to understand that its not universally linked to Anime. Its apparently tied to negative obsessions. As foreigners tend to import words from other countries, Japan’s word otaku was also imported, through a misunderstanding, people now have a positive word to describe themselves.

What Otaku brings up on Google.jp

However its important to understand the idea of what Otaku means is somewhat murky. Like who came up with the meaning behind the word? Who’s in charge of its meaning? This lack of definitive meaning, outside Japan, gives the concept of Otaku a somewhat fluid meaning. Some individuals may use it to say they’re hardcore Anime fans. In another context some people may just use it to invoke an association to Anime, think instagram or twitter. However you can’t use one word to describe the Anime community. As with many pastimes, hobbies, lifestyles etc some people may be more into it than others.

Kanye West’s music video for Stronger is overall a great music video. Its also very much a tribute to the 1988 Anime movie Akira. At one point Kanye West even entertained the idea of working on the remake. So its very obvious that hes into Anime, yet hes never actually describe himself as an Otaku. Of course hes one example, of celebrities who love Anime, but aren’t “Otakus.” The late Robin Williams was also a fan of Anime, so is actor Christian Bale (Batman), who worked on an Anime movie. I’ve personally never meet a fan of Anime who described themselves as Otaku. There are people out there who would fit the bill, however they may be a fan of Japanese culture in general. Interestingly enough a designer, possibly an Otaku, for the 2012 Victoria Secret fashion show ripped off Rei Ayanami’s plugsuit design.

Is Batman an Otaku?

As to why this is significant in America, simply put something that was considered on the fringes of society are basically part of it now. Hot Topic is a prime example of this, as they carry many stuff an Anime fan would want to buy. In general theres way more stuff, licensed and unauthorized, that an Anime fan can now buy. Whereas a few years ago people would have to go to import shops. Anime culture itself has expanded overseas, into Europe and even South America, where its fan base is steadily growing. Theres also more expos devoted to Anime, while AX is probably the biggest, in between there are many other expos that pop up.  AX is arguably a cow cash, with many big and independent vendors. A place where many quintessential “starving” artists go to peddle their artwork, or Anime fans/Otakus try to sell stuff in order to survive or make some kind of living.


The term Cosplay isn’t actually that old, it was coined back in 1983 by a Japanese man named Nov Takahashi. Hes credited with helping give an identity to the then unnamed Cosplay community in Japan, which has ultimately doubled back to America, eliminating what came before it. So does that mean that Cosplay was inherently a Japanese phenomenon? Not exactly, in a way it can be said to be a culmination of Japanese, American and European concepts. To the people that find it odd, cosplay’s roots go far. Depending on where you want to draw the link, in its basic form Cosplay is essentially people dressing up in garments, that wouldn’t be considered normal clothing. Working on this you can say it has some relations to either Sanhaim or even guising in medieval Europe. If you wanna get modern about it, you simply have to look at Halloween. If you wanna get more modern about it, look towards Sci Fi expos in America. Samhain was a Celtic tradition that would mark the end of spring and the beginning of winter, which was associated with death. It was a time where people would honor the dead, and wish to see ghosts of their relatives, yet in the same vein people would dress up, so that ghosts wouldn’t try to possess them. Guising occurred during Hallowmas (All Saint’s Day), people would dress up and go door to door begging for food or money. As compensation they would either sing, dance, or pray for someone’s deceased loved ones. While early 20th century Halloween in America is usually associated with kids dressing up, make no mistake adults were also into it, albeit to be scary instead of cute.

Early 20th century Halloween in America.

If you really wanna gauge when contemporary concepts of Cosplay came into play, you have to look at the Sci Fi community. They’re arguably more or less the precursors to Cosplayers, as they used the term Costuming. Think of early fantasy novels, magazines, or films. Such as Wizard of OZ, HP Lovecraft’s works, or Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Their worlds were often set in modern day contexts, playing around with the idea that there could be worlds vastly more intriguing than our own. Eventually science began to modernize, and fantasy novelists played with the idea of overtly advanced societies. The 1939 Futurama Pavilion showed how designers were becoming enthusiastic of a futuristic America. This same year the first Worldcon was held, this is where you essentially have the birth of Costuming. People would dress up as some fantasy based creation. By the 1960s America had developed a great interest in space and so came the birth of Star Trek and later Star Wars, along with their devoted fans. This all occurred before the advent of Cosplay in Japan. What sustained Costuming, was people’s desire to be part of an idealized fantasy world, one that could be vastly more exciting than everyday life. By the early 90s there were already Cosplayers at Anime Expo. Anime was instilled into the 90s kids, and so a silent coup was forming. As these kids became adults, Costuming was replaced with Cosplay.

Cosplay today.

What can characterize a Cosplayer is that they’re wearing a costume of a character from a popular show or animated series. While in the beginning Cosplay may have been exclusive to the Anime community, thats not the case today. You can go to other places outside of Anime events or expos, like Comikaze and find “Cosplayers” dressed up as their favorite comic book or video game characters. In some cases people may not even be familiar with the characters they’re Cosplaying as. So the term Cosplayer is somewhat ambiguous.  Most people are just happy to find other people dressed as the same character, so it doesn’t matter whose costume is better. Ergo the classic Cosplay group photo.

However there is another aspect of Cosplayers, one which is basically considered a lifestyle. For these people, Cosplay takes a more serious role in their lives. These type of people may frequently buy/make costumes as well as wigs. Many hours are painstakingly put into the construction of accurate or over the top renditions of any Animated character. Some form relationships with photographers, they frequent conventions year round instead of once a year. Cosplaying another gender isn’t looked down upon. Some times its a sustainable way to live, maybe even profitable. This is due to social media, as the higher the following a Cosplayer has, more endorsements they can get. In some cases they may make money, though not always.

Get a 9-5

One of the integral aspects of adulthood is getting a steady job. This is unavoidable. Though theres different ways you can ultimately support yourself, without having to get a conventional career. Ultimately this is where all three communities can find a common ground.

In the years following Shawn Stussy’s creation of Stussy, the brand transformed from a small operation into a multi million dollar business. Thats not to say its origins have been 100% conventional. Moving onto the 2000s, there was an influx of newer streetwear brands, many of which maintained a level of financial success. While the numbers weren’t extraordinary it was sustainable. Eventually in 2008 the recession hit and more or less leveled the playing field. Many of the bigger brands called it quits. While many of the smaller brands used this to their advantage. This was the genesis of the big streetwear brands of today. Such as The Hundreds, Undftd, 10 Deep, Huf, etc. Many of these brands found success because they built relationships with their customers. They threw parties, or sponsored concerts, held skate sessions, and most importantly they maintained a presence on social media.

Funimation CEO.

Concerning Anime, there is money to be made. The bulk of this money is probably made in Japan where Anime possibly has its largest following. Looking at things from a business perspective it’s not too hard to understand. Every year theres a lot of new Anime and Manga series’ being created. If the series is a hit they create tons of products that can be sold or they can simply license out their IP (intellectual property). This is typically how most of these companies make money. Funimation holds the American distribution rights to most of the big Anime shows from Japan. While Funimation does the dubbing for these shows, its more than that. They do probably sell dvds, but its not as profitable as licensing. Funimation can simply license out any show to other companies for a fee. The easiest way to understand this is Hot Topic and Anime. They make and sell clothing or accessories featuring popular Anime characters. As for the why, its extremely inexpensive to make clothing on a commercial scale.

That isn’t to say the little guy can’t get in on this.

The Anime kids

 What these independent Streetwear brands, the Otakus, and Cosplayers have in common, is simply their appreciation for the art form that is Anime. Theres also the dilemma of economics. Ever since the recession hit America, career opportunities have become harder to cultivate. While certain industries have boomed and busted, America’s apparel sector has continued to grow. As Anime’s influence has continued to thrive, it has become its own market within the world of fashion. There isn’t a dominate entity which rules Anime apparel. Theres just a bunch of random companies here and there making money off the backs of many graphic designers. So profits are very centralized with these businesses.

Uniqlo is a player within Anime fashion.

Anime Kids have struck out on their own, hustling in a lot of different ways. The Anime fans who can draw, typically try to sell their art on line, or do commissioned artwork. Some Cosplayers also do this, although they may try to sell prints of their photos more so than their artwork. Conventions are especially important because theres a lot of money to be made, people gotta survive. Interestingly enough some Anime kids decided to go into apparel.

This is ultimately where all three communities are doomed, yes doomed because it’s unavoidable, to collide with one another. As such it’s important this happens sooner rather than later. For a few reasons. No doubt there will probably be people in the greater Anime community who would be against the idea of a union between streetwear and Anime. Either because they want to keep Anime “pure” or possibly because people from the Streetwear camp have mocked them in the past. However its important to understand that Anime and streetwear/fashion have already developed a relationship in Japan. So this concept isn’t a new or foreign idea. As for the streetwear brands that use Anime, it’s important to know that the owners of these brands are fans of Anime. They’re Anime kids who grew up in the 90s. They aren’t just exploiting Anime, they’re familiar with the source material their brand’s are appropriating. Some brands to look into would be Hidden Characters, The Heated Environment (THE), Effulgence, Ronin, etc.

T.H.E.’s take on Anime is very minimalist.

In 2015 here was an incident involving Anime artwork. There were allegations that Ronin had wrongfully used an artist’s work as a tee shirt design. While this is wrong, in the end Ronin did the right thing, and the artist was compensated. While the incident was initially negative, people should take some positives away from this. One of the major problems with running a clothing brand is creating something that people will buy. Graphic tees are essentially the heart of streetwear. If you wanna make some Anime inspired tees you may want to go to Deviantart and commission an artist to make the graphic, you may even want to start a long term business relationship. This way the starving artist won’t stay starving. Just remember not to rip off smaller artists, you should only consider appropriating from businesses that are already making lots of money.

Some Anime kids have had a slow start in fashion, so there are some things they should consider. Specifically supply and demand in the world of fashion. If a certain shirt sells a lot, the brand will usually restock said item. This will often lead to certain products going to the sales rack, this isn’t bad for bigger companies like Uniqlo, as they make their products very cheaply. You may not want to go this route if you’re doing everything independently. Streetwear’s strategy has almost always depended on exclusivity. Meaning that even if a particular shirt sells very well, they probably will not restock that shirt, it adds more meaning to the design, among other reasons. Such as storage, keeping a stack of tees in your house for long periods of time can be bothersome, likewise you’ll probably want to focus on your next release.

Effulgence freebie.

Although newer brands might initially be at a disadvantage, one thing that can work for them is having people sponsor or cosign their brand. This is where the Cosplayers come into play. Instagram is a place where you’ll find a plethora of models, depending on their amount of followers they might be asked to cosign a brand. This can range from free products to being paid. Usually they’ll just take pics of whatever random shirt or pair of kicks they’ve been given and tag the brands. So theres nothing too fancy about this, however models are a dime a dozen, they almost always accumulate their followers through sex appeal, so much of what they do is purely business. Cosplayers are vastly different, there are some who do modeling and may identify as one. However others do not. Dedicated Cosplayers usually become their own tailors. They have an understanding of fabrics, they can measure, more importantly they know how to cut material and sew it together. This is important in Streetwear as many people that start out, eventually want to branch out into cut n sew, it can be slow process though. Cosplayers cosplay for different reasons. Some are motivated for their love of costume design, and so may cosplay characters they aren’t familiar with, while other do it in order to make a living. These type of Cosplayers may not actually make their own costumes, instead they may just go to a tailor, which is essential in this community. For those that do make their own outfits, they are typically the ones with a deep passion for the characters they watched as a kid. They also tend to go out and take very creative photos, usually with a photographer they love working with. Of course this usually doesn’t add up to an income. Some Cosplayers get sponsored, though no actual money may be made. In the world of Streetwear, newer brands may want to have Cosplayers cosign their brands. Mainly because in a sea of atypical models, Cosplayers stand out more. Seeing that theres already a good amount of Anime fans in the Streetwear community, these types of relationships may work well. Cosplayers stand to grow their fan bases, as well as possibly make some money.

Left: Mostflogged, right: Tattobot

Speaking of Cosplayers two important ones are Tattobot and MostFlogged. Not too long ago these women created an Anime themed fashion brand called Anime Trash Swag. Glamourous, colorful, hentai, macabre, spunky, and of course Anime, sum up what ATS is all about. The brand seems to focus on the Anime community, many of their items are custom made giving everything more of a personal feel. Though their appeal may lean towards women who want to be loud and stylish, they also have some stuff for men. Beyond this they are Cosplayers, they make their own costumes/wigs and go to various cons, and have a great following, so things look good for them and ATS. You may also want to look at Stahli’s Cosplays. The range of her work is pretty dope, you may recognize some characters, while other are a bit obscure. Something to take away from this is being able to stand out. Cosplayers do this by making their costumes a bit different from a characters design or using unique materials, theres also photograph. They may edit their pics or they may have someone else do this. In streetwear when brands go into cut n sew you definitely have to learn to make your products stand out, so keep Cosplayers in mind.

Canadian Cosplayer Stahli.

Most importantly each of these communities needs to have an understanding with one another. Streetwear today is motivated by status, exclusivity, as well as a desire for quality products. They’re not all snobs though. Anime fans will of course buy Anime stuff, but clothing may not be on their wish lists. So don’t hate on their style. Cosplayers can be artistic and stylish, but are mostly looking to have fun. Some even wear Cosplay attire as their “normal” attire. Learn to respect their craft. Streetwear brands should try checking out Ax or other Anime cons to gain inspiration, or possibly sell their merch. Anime fans curious about Streetwear may want to go check out some Streetwear brands that tap into Anime, or possibly Fairfax. Cosplayers may want to start a relationship with brands who will pay them. No one knows how big Anime and Streetwear/fashion will become. Not too long ago the 80s were all the rage, but today is the day of the Anime kids.

*The first part of Anime & Streetwear.

*TattoBot’s Instagram.

*MostFlogged’s Instagram.

*Anime Trash Swag’s website.

*Stahli’s Instagram.

Diamond x Undftd – 05′ vs 14′

Diamond Supply Co has had quite a meek history, for many years the brand made little to no money. The brand didn’t make $1 million til 2011. Since then Diamond has flourished financially, while maintaining its skating roots. One of its most memorable years was 2005. During this time Nick Tershay, the founder of Diamond, was living in LA and was prepping for the release of Diamond’s Nike SB shoe. Needless to say the Tiffany was a great success, not only for Nike SB, but also for Diamond Supply Co. Both brands increased their presence in skating and streetwear. In order to make 2005 a bigger year for Diamond, the brand had set up a collab drop with Undftd in order to commemorate the release of The Tiffany.

Arguably the biggest tee that Diamond dropped that year was their collab tee with Undftd. The tee itself took many cues from Diamond’s much admired “Tiffany” Dunk. The most striking aspect of the tee is the Undftd logo done in a croc style. While the Diamond script logo is layered in the Undftd logo, but within the confines of the logo itself. Unlike newer Diamond tees this tee has a neck tag, it lists Diamond’s website. Which is odd because most blog sites will cite that Diamond opened their site in 2006. The neck tag also stats that the tee was made in the USA. Furthermore the fit seems to be the same as regular Diamond tees of today. Likewise the side tag can still be found on the 05 tee, its classic red embroidered “Diamond Supply Co” text was still used. An extra tag on the left sleeve was included, Undftd’s logo is displayed.

In 2014 Nike SB sought to recapture the excitement that used to regularly follow every SB release. In doing so they once again came to Diamond Supply Co and thus the Diamond High was birthed.  Nick Tershay said in a 2014 interview that he originally wanted the first Dunk to be a high top. Unsurprisingly the drop was everything both brands wanted it to be. The Diamond Hi sold out quickly, many SB veterans reminisced about the 05 release. While newer SB fans were able to get their own experience that echoed the original Nike SB drops. So all in all the release met everyone’s expectations.

It was only appropriate that Diamond should ride the wave made by the release of their second Tiffany inspired kicks under Nike SB. As such there were many Diamond Dunk Hi inspired tees that came out this year. The most interesting one was the Undftd tee. By itself the tee was one of Diamond’s best tees of 2014, like the 05′ version it takes many cues from the Nike SB x Diamond Dunk. However thats not to say that they are very alike.

For one, the front graphic on the 14′ tee is overall slightly smaller. This is also true for the Undftd sleeve tag. Oddly enough the longsleeve tee actually fits a bit longer than its short sleeve predecessor. It should be assumed that since Undftd sold these tees on their site, that they probably used their own blanks and printed the tees with their own connections. Unlike modern Diamond tees this longsleeve has a neck tag, which stated the tee was made (probably printed) in Mexico. The color on the Diamond text is a slightly different shade of teal, it looks like theres more blue than green. As a result the 2014 tee is closer to the color Tiffany than the 2005 tee. Lastly theres the Diamond side tags. Both have the same embroidered text of Diamond Supply Co, yet they are still, surprisingly different. The differences are very small though.

Nonetheless both tees are executed fairly well. However comparing the two, the collab tee from 2005 looks and feels better. The print looks and feels nice. While the crocodile print may seem over the top, it really isn’t. Of course the graphic mimics the skin of a crocodile, it chooses a more subdued pattern. A design thats good, but isn’t trying to be loud and grab people’s attention. This is even clearer from a distance. As the finish on the Undftd print looks like its closer to having a matte or possibly semi-gloss finish. Whereas the Undftd croc logo on the 2014 shirt is slightly smaller, and the design looks more boisterous. Its possible that the designers were aiming to draw a closer link to the Diamond Dunk Hi, as it looks like the patterns are somewhat similar. Theres also the fact that the graphic seems to have a glossy finish, so you know you will probably be noticed wearing this shirt. On the left sleeves of both shirts, each has an embroidered Undftd tag. However the tag on the 05 tee is a decent size and would be easily visible. For some reason the tag on the 2014 shirt is only half the size and would probably go unnoticed by most people. This is strange considering the 2014 collab is visibly louder. Though on the inside of the left cuff an embroidered “UNDEFEATED” can be read. On the right forearm of the 14 longsleeve theres another graphic, a combination of both Undftd’s and Diamond’s logos. While the logo is ok, its not as dynamic as the frontal graphic, both logos are rendered in white so they kind of just blend together. Then theres the neck tags, the tag on the 05 version has no embroidering, but instead is a printed graphic. It doesn’t feel irritating at all. The neck tag on the 2014 version has embroidering, which isn’t bad. However the material of the tag feels flimsy, and while it isn’t annoying, you may feel it rubbing against your neck, so in the long run it may get annoying to feel the tag.

Lastly theres the availability of both tees to consider. Both are equally good tees to have, if you’re a fan of either brand. However its obvious that more tees of the 2014 Diamond x Undftd longsleeve were made vs the 2005 Diamond x Undftd tee. If you’re wondering why, you only need to look at both releases in their context. In 2005 Diamond was a small brand, with ambitions that were not within reach. Nick has gone on to say in various interviews that he didn’t have much money, and couldn’t afford to have his tees printed in mass quantities. As a result he probably made the tees himself, if thats the case there may have been 50 or maybe 100 tees made. This is reflected by the fact that there are so few tees left. At this moment I can only recall seeing 4 tees on sale over roughly the last decade. Compared to the 2015 reissue, theres way more available. Given most they were released last year, they are still much easier to find and buy in any size most people could want. There was way more hype for the 2014 release, as this time around the legend of “The Tiffany” had swelled to great proportions. So much so that the collab tee had gained its own following. As a result both Diamond and Undftd were prepared for this drop. Indeed both brands made a pretty penny that day. Regardless people will still remember the kicks as well as the tee for years to come.

Converse the Decades – Check Your Laces

2013 saw Converse’s First String division reintroduce the world to a classic era of the Chuck Taylor All Star. The 1970s First String Chuck Taylor All Star. The shoes were pegged as reproductions. All in all the shoes are decent at trying to be an actual 1970s era All Star. However hiccups here and there stop it from being what it sets out to be, instead it should be thought of more as a retro than a reproduction. The following year Converse Inc introduced the general release 1970s Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, which is widely available, but less accurate than the 2013 FS version. One detail that Converse Inc got wrong when having manufacturers produce the shoes were the laces, an easily overlooked detail.

For one the most obvious way to tell the laces are incorrect, are the length, the laces that come with the retro 1970s shoes are about 60 inches. The standard laces that used to come with Converse All Stars were 54″ laces, while 45″ laces came with the oxford models. For some unknown reason Nike put longer laces on the Chuck Taylors, maybe so people could play with the look of their laces. This is also true for Nike’s Dunk and Air Jordan 1. Another thing is that the laces on the retro models are shorter width wise, while the aglets on the retro laces are slightly longer.

Another curious observation is that the vintage laces seem to be made of higher quality cotton vs the retro laces. When looking at the retro laces theres alot of fraying, despite the fact that the shoes haven’t been worn out very much. Despite the vintage laces being at least 35+ years old, there is no fraying whatsoever. Meaning the retro laces may tear sooner compared to the vintage laces.

Furthermore the retro laces aren’t actually white, but closer to an off white. This was probably done in an effort to give the shoe a more vintage look. Possibly in an effort to emulate the vintage laces that come with All Stars, as the white laces can become oxidized naturally and thus have developed a slight yellowed look.  The vintage laces, actually did not get oxidized, although the glue of the packaging and even the glue on the aglets did get oxidized so they have a slight yellow tint to them.

Finally the last thing that makes the laces incorrect on the Chuck Taylor All Star 1970s reproduction is the weave of the laces. While from a distance they look the same, a closer look shows that they aren’t. The vintage laces are very stretchable, while their length is 54′ they seem to be able to stretch up to about 58′ which is a good amount. The retro laces aren’t as stretchy, and can only maybe stretch an extra one or two inches, not that anyone would want laces that long. Funny thing is, that even other laces made by Converse Inc, which seem to use the same weave pattern as the vintage laces, also don’t possess a great deal of stretch. The laces found on the 2011 Converse 50475 seem to have the same weave pattern and maybe even the same specifications, however it doesn’t stretch a great deal. It possibly will give out another inch or two, furthermore the laces are fraying a fair amount.

Probably the only downside to the white vintage pair of Converse athletic laces is that due to their age some of the ink from the print found on the wrapper that covers the laces rubbed off onto them. So there was some tiny spots of black and orange specks on the laces. However after washing them, on the lowest wash setting and using Woolite, it seemed to take care of the ink situation quite well. That also brings up an important thing, cotton of course is a natural fiber made by plants. People who work in the cotton industry can probably tell you that as time passes, the fibers may weaken. As a result it would definitely be a good idea to either soak vintage Converse laces in water or spray them with water from a spray bottle before you use them. This way if the fibers are weakened, you may be able to revitalize them.

The 1960s saw Converse try and make the All Star available in more colorways. This is possibly because schools wanted to match their Chucks with their team colors, as before the 1960s Chuck Taylors were only readily available in black or olympic white. Converse laces seem to have been on the market perhaps as early as the 1940s. So its no surprise that Converse would eventually offer colored laces to customers, besides the default white laces. Though the particular style of laces that were used for the 1970s Converse All Stars seem to have been in use since the 1920s and were discontinued some time in the late 1980s. The reason being that the laces on the All Star had been changed to the style common on today’s All Stars was probably due to the Chuck Taylor no longer being seen as an athletic shoe. As a result it can be difficult to find vintage laces, white and black are the hardest to find. So if you’re someone who loves the 1970s era of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, but can’t afford to buy a pair. You may want to buy some vintage Converse laces for your 1970s spec Chuck Taylor All Stars so that they’ll look more like their vintage predecessors. Prices will likely vary depending on which color you’re looking to buy.

If you’re looking for vintage 1970s era Converse laces, the easiest way to tell whether they’re from the 1970s is the labels on the package. Eltra Corporation owned Converse from 1972 to 1979. So vintage Converse laces from the 70s will likely have a graphic that says “an Eltra company” on the front of the package. Such as the image below. However if the package doesn’t say Eltra on it, its possibly from the Allied era of Converse. Allied bought Eltra in 1979, though they kept making Converse laces, so the packaging omits the Eltra text.

Converse x Koh – The Most Minimal Chuck Taylor Ever

2008 was Converse’s 100th anniversary, it was a big event, followed by some very big releases from the centennial company. The release people would probably remember the most are Coverse’s Century pack collection of Converse All Stars. However 2008 also began a bit of an ambitious venture for Converse, namely the Converse 1Hund(red).

The concept was developed through Converse’s partnership with Product (Red), which began in 2006. The relationship was pretty simple, Converse would make some red colored kicks or apply Product (red) branding to their items and a percentage of the money would go to fighting AIDS in Africa. However things got very interesting once Converse unveiled their 1Hund(red) artists program. Ideally a collaboration would yield one great shoe and maybe one collab every year afterwards. In the case of 1Hund(red), Converse sought to celebrate its 100th anniversary, so it was decided that 100 different artists would be asked to recreate the Chuck Taylor All Star.

Of course with so many different people working on this project, some designs out shined others by a wide margin. In particular once famed artist, Terence Koh’s design was probably one of the best designs if not the best design that was spawned from the Converse 1Hund(red) project.

At the time Terence Koh was acclaimed for his performance art shows, as well as his lifestyle. He was greatly obsessed with the color white, usually being draped from head to toe in all white garments, this usually carried over into his artshows. Though he also did photography and painting. For his collaboration with Converse he chose, possibly in a preemptive move, to create the most minimalist Chuck Taylor ever. Koh’s efforts, probably have created the most minimalist All Stars to date. Its no secret that various luxury and artisan brands have desired to create Chuck Taylor clones in a lux ad minimalist way. Common Projects is the best example, as their Tournament shoes are clearly inspired by the Chuck Taylor silhouette.

However taking something simple and turning it extremely minimal may ultimately lead to a loss of the original design’s essential elements. Koh was mindful about keeping the soul of the Chuck Taylor intact. This would include the branding, toe cap, and sole design. While the overall shape and functionality were masterfully disassembled. Generally speaking Koh sought to eliminate the seams of the Chuck Taylor, as well as give the shoe a statue like appearance. As a result you will not see many visible stitches on the exterior of the shoe, furthermore the heel of the All Star does not contour to the wearer’s heel and ankle. Instead the ankle is straight, helping promote Koh’s concept of a “statuesque” Chuck Taylor. The sole design is virtually non-existent, in essence its a piece of rubber with the outline of the All Star sole. Both the exterior and interior are constructed of a soft full grain white leather, while the footbed is merely covered with a thin layer of leather. The back of the tongues have a tag which gives a brief explanation of the Converse 1Hund(red) project, the last piece to look at is the graphic on the interior of the left shoe which marks Koh’s design as #1 of 100.   The being that the Koh x Converse All Star is an ultra minimalist concept, it has a very slim profile. The sidewall is so thin, the All Star heel label actually overlaps it. There are only 6 eyelets, making this sneaker a mid top, instead of a high top. White coated Product (red) branded air vents. Product (red) air vents and eyelets were essentially the only way to identify Converse x Product (red) sneakers. Most seams were hidden. The reinenforcement stitch is the only pronounced exterior stitching. Converse (red) label sewn onto footbed. The sneaker’s backstay is sewn inside the shoe instead of outside, this probably helped the shoe keep its shape. Although the All Star has a straight heel, it does have a plastic heel, which also probably maintains the sneaker’s shape. A brief explanation of 1Hun(red). Embossed All Star logo.

Converse white label. Full grain leather laces. Unlike most leather laces, the tips have been given an angular cut and full gain face has been folded over to hide the raw side. White cotton laces were included, they’re actually thicker than the standard All Star laces. There are no eyelets.

#1 of 100. This particular pair apparently belong to an associate of Koh’s. Although the shoe was made in 2009, the quality of the sneaker is far better than anything Converse Inc has released in the last few years. Though the shoe’s design is impractical for various reason, its still wearable. While the shoe was hyped when it first came out, it has since fallen into obscurity. They are very hard to find, but the value probably wouldn’t be over its MSRP, which was $150.

*All s/o.

Converse All Star Revolution – The Last Modern All Star


Everyone is more or less familiar with the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star. The most known iteration of the shoe was introduced sometime in the late 80s. However the All Star has undergone many changes throughout its near century of existence. There have been a few “modern” versions of the classic canvas basketball shoe. The first being introduced around the late 1920s, equipped with an all leather build, another version having a welt style sole. Converse’s 1970s Pro Leather was the next version, originally being called the Converse All Star Pro Leather, with an all leather upper and a different sole design made for comfort and traction. 1996 saw the release of the All Star 2000, which had Converse’s Helium technology.

When Nike bought Converse in 2003, there was little hope that the brand would regain a strong footing in basketball. This same year the brand had signed on Dwyane Wade to head their basketball division. At the time it was a pretty good choice for both parties. Wade was a young athlete heading an iconic brand, while Converse had a promising athlete to boost the brand’s reputation. Through this partnership, the last modern All Star would be created.

The setting was 2006, Wade’s next signature was purported to be called the Wade Revolution. What made this significant was the approach to its design. Beginning with the suede and leather Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars of the early 1970s, the “pro” All Stars began to have a more distinct look, which separated them from their canvas predecessors. However the Converse Wade Revolution would combine the original look of canvas All Stars circa the 60s, with Converse’s modern technology to create a shoe that would bridge the gap between Converse’s golden years and their modern era. This would mean that there would be an All Star with another athlete’s name, other than Chuck Taylor. It probably would have been christened the Converse Wade All Star Revolution.

However for some unknown reason, Wade decided to pass on the Wade Revolution, instead he went forward with the Wade 1.3. There are only maybe one or two images that show the Revolution with Wade’s star logo. This wasn’t the end of the All Star Revolution.

Despite Wade passing on the design, the shoe was eventually released in 2008, as part of Converse’s Century pack. The original samples had a nylon upper and sported a leather tongue. Its link to the original All Stars being a star patch on the lateral sides of the upper, pinstripes, toe cap, bumper, and even a heel label. Sample lows were also made, they didn’t sport the star logo. Despite the shoe having an original release date for 2006, the shoe was never given a general release. Instead samples were handed out to eager people who wanted the shoe, while supposedly only Converse China, also part of Converse Inc, is thought to have made a small run of the Converse All Star Revolution.

In 2007 Converse had made plans to created a special pack of converse kicks that would commemorate Converse’s 100 years of existence. There were three different All Star models chosen, the All Star Revolution being one of them. However the Century version does deviate from the earlier samples in that it does not have a nylon upper, but instead has an all leather build. In ways this takes away from the Revolution’s athletic design, and makes it more of a luxury or lifestyle shoe. The all leather upper was meant to mimic some 1933 black leather All Stars, which were custom shoes made for the New York Rens. A black basketball team, whose exploits made them a team to be reckoned with, in the pre NBA days. It was thus dubbed the All Star Revolution Black Fives.

Unlike Nike’s Lifestyle signature shoes of today, the All star Revolution B5 still retained all of its technological features. Still containing helium cushioning, and even something reminiscent of Converse’s shoe within a shoe design from the late 90s. 2008 was the only time the All Star Revolution was released. This may have been due to Converse’s athletic division being close to its demise. Since Converse’s future in basketball looked dime, there was probably doubt that releasing more pairs of the Revolution would help give Converse a stronger standing in basketball. In this respect, the Converse All Star Revolution was the last modern All Star sneaker.

Its interesting to note that certain design aspects of the Revolution seem to have been utilized on Converse’s Chuck Taylor All star cupsole shoes in 2010. Much of the design cues don’t make the cupsole All Stars a modern basketball, it merely gave the Chuck Taylor a more contemporary feel. In late 2014 leaked photos were shown of a new Chuck Taylor All Star, one that was sporting Nike’s fairly new Lunarlon technology. Even curious-er was the ankle of the shoe, which looked like it had some extra padding. Though the upper of the shoe is whats really odd, as it had a collage of the entire Nike Inc family, that includes Hurley and Jordan Brand. The Lunarlon sole isn’t so alarming, as Nike has been implanting Lunarlon insole within Converse’s Con line of skating shoes since 2012. In 2013 Nike announced it would be selling Cole Haan, which was basically Nike’s luxury line, which almost had no obvious links to the swoosh. Nike had hinted that it desired to pay more attention on its core brands. So with that said, perhaps Nike is getting ready to bring Converse back onto the hardwood circuit. If so this would mean that Nike may draw strong links to all of its brands, which in itself may lead to crossover projects. Its difficult to gather what that Lunarlon Chuck Taylor All Star could represent. It may be released in 2015, or maybe it will be a one shot sneaker, meant to celebrate the All Star’s 100th anniversary. Til then, at least  we can reminisce  about the All Star Revolution. Though they are difficult to find, they are out there somewhere. I have personally seen four different All Star Revolutions pop up on Ebay, so try looking there first.

Early samples and designs of the Converse Wade All Star Revolution. Note the Wade All Star patch on the tongue.

Samples of what would have been the first run of the Converse All Star Revolution.

Converse All Star Revolution Black Fives. Extra brown waxed cotton laces were included.

The All Star patch, draws a link to the original canvas All Stars.

The Converse Century logo, was only used for special Converse shoes in 2008. The leather upper was artificially distressed, this is very obvious on the stitching for the panels, as they serve no actual function.

The bumper has a retro feel.

The Heel label is a bit odd, as most of the Pro All star shoes, starting with the Pro Leather omitted heel labels. The logo makes it look more like a Chuck Taylor.

Overall the All Star Revolution’s sole is a combination of nostalgia and modern tech. The shoe’s bumper, pinstripe, and heel label definitely make it look like a Chuck Taylor. Though the bottom of the sole is more interesting. A patent pending mark can be seen towards the front of the outsole. So its unclear if Converse owns the patent to the sole. Looking at the first picture, you can see that they built helium sacs into the sole. Furthermore the shoe is vulcanized. trying them on, they almost look like boots, but they’re pretty lightweight.

The tongue is perforated, off white waxed laces with metal aglets can be seen.

All Star embossed on tongue.

The heel of the shoe wraps around the wearer’s ankle, however the collar shoe expands outward. When putting on the shoe its somewhat difficult, because you can’t actually put your put into it easily. Theres an elastic stripe sewn into the collar. So you have to actually pull back on the ankle and slip your foot in.

The 2008 Black Fives label embossed on both inner tongues. a Converse Century pattern is adorned on the entire inner lining. The lining itself is probably derived from Converse’s shoe within a shoe designs. Both the Converse Smooth an He:1 used their unqiue system. The booties would wrap around the feet tightly. while the shoes would give the wearer a good feel of the ground. on the All Star Revolution this lining is distinctly separate from the sneaker’s interior. Yet it is attached onto key parts of the shoe, like the tongue and collar. Its because of this lining that you can’t just insert your foot into the shoe, you’re forced to slip it on, cause it fits like a glove.

Sample info.

The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star cupsole, released in 2010, takes design cues from the All Star Revolution.

Lunarlon insoles become the standard on all Converse Cons skating shoes.

This all Lunarlon Converse Chuck Taylor All Star may or may never be released. It may be a sign of the Nike Inc family making more crossover products.

*All s/o, circa 2008.

Hidden Characters – They Came From Below, Like Marauders

2014 is quickly coming to an end. Every major brand has already dropped their most hype releases. A certain red rectangle comes to mind, as well as some big releases by Kith, Raised By Wolves, etc. However many other brands go ignore, though one brand in particular has really proven itself to be highly sought after: Hidden Character. Though unlike many of the hype brands of today, their products have continually been sought out for their designs, and not so much for the “label” mentality, which has come to dominate streetwear over the last few years.

HC’s last two drops of 2014, going along with their desire to not follow a set style, are different from one another. Their October drop coincided with their one year anniversary, though they really did save the best for last, namely their December release.

The Day the Music Died

Music is  an almost a universal medium. Sometimes we know the words of lyrics by heart. Other times we have not idea what the artists are saying. It could be argued that music is restricted by its region. The American mentality is that foreign music has no place in America, and vice versa. For the most part this is usually true, save for a few hit foreign songs here and there, a la London Calling, Paper Planes, even Gangnam Style. Among others. The Early 2000s was a transitioning point for hip hop, gangsta rap was basically dead and rappers were looking to talk about money and success. Many of the biggest rappers were from the South and East. Though other rappers may not have been given heavy exposure, they did have a following. Such as Jurassic 5. The 2000s also saw the premiere of an Anime that had strong hip hop undertones. It was also acclaimed as famous Japanese producer/DJ Nujabes worked on the show to produce some choice tunes that helped shape the world of Samurai Champloo, making it a crossover hit in both Japan and America.

HC’s October drop was very much a tribute to music, and was a bit riskier than what they have done in the past. People may recall that Hidden Character’s Spring 14 release came with various patches, that everyone wanted. Unfortunately the brand is sticking to their no re-release policy. HC did give extra detailing to something most brands usually don’t put much effort into designing, the neck tags. Turning something that most people don’t give much notice to, into a somewhat collectible item. It was a risk, though their biggest gamble was a more personal item. Influences for this release are primarily cemented in music, however one artist is given more significance, HC also shows off more of their drawing skills, while Anime only helped emphasis certain themes.

Nujabes working on Samurai Champloo’s audio was a pretty significant thing in of itself. Beyond that he put in work with various hip hop acts, working with rappers in Japan as well as in the American underground hip hop scene. He often went for a more classical/jazz style, using instrumentals from the piano, bass, drums, among other musical instruments affiliated with that genre of music. This allowed other artists to create a style that seemed more sophisticated in nature, combined with lyrics that were relevant to their era. Its what some hip-hop acts were striving for, a sound that echoed the studio era of music production, but were very relate-able to the struggles of the world. Nujabe’s style concerning Samurai Champloo was very unorthodox. Usually music, or audio, is only supposed to be in the background. People may not notice it, but its there. It gives life to fictitious worlds in film, video, TV, and Animation. With bad audio, its easier to unravel these worlds. Nujabes gave hip hop a bigger role in Samurai Champloo, allowing the genre of music to give the main cast a certain flair, while also using it in an expressive way to convey a sense of drama or comedic relief. The music of Samurai Champloo may be his most well known work in America, however internationally hes better known for his hip hop compositions. Unfortunately he died on February 26, 2010 due to a fatal car accident in Japan.

Music was a general theme used for HC’s A/W pt 1 drop. Early on, Children of the Corn were referenced in previews. The group was made up of rappers from Harlem: Big L, Bloodshed, Cam’ron, Herb, McGruff, and Mase. The group never made it to the big leagues. Though Cam’ron would go on to Mainstream success. While Big L has been given posthumous recognition in the hip hop community for his lyrics. Cam’ron is given a small reference for this drop, though Big L would be given a standout tribute in the second drop. Beyond this, other rappers, big and small, are also referenced through their lyrics. Giving people the opportunity to discover these, at times, overlooked rap artists.

Hidden Character’s lookbook for A/W 2014 was shot entirely in black and white, unlike their Summer 14 lookbook. A bit of an irony considering color was used more this time around. You get a feeling of aggression, fearlessness, and camraderie. Some of this does crossover into their graphics, though it comes off as being more of an artistic expression. Three tees made up this release, their first baseball jersey, as well as their first go at cologne. As usual fans of the brand eagerly awaited the drop date, and everything sold out fairly quick. Part of this was due to their Nujabes tribute, which was the well designed and very anticipated. Their bb jersey was given a personal touch, as it had some nicely executed embroidery, labeling, and tackle twill typography. Fallback: ROY was cleanly drawn, it allowed HC to maintain an individual identity. Perhaps their most peculiar, yet still highly desired item was their Snake Oil fragrance. Part 1 of their A/W collection was released shortly after their 1 year anniversary.

The I Won’t Cheat baseball jersey was more or less Hidden Characters showing off more of their diy skills. In some ways it was more of a warm up for their Pt 2 cut n sew items. I Won’t Cheat was made of a subtle burgundy poly blend. The fit was more true to size, unlike traditional baseball jerseys. What made IWC a standout piece was the tackle twill letters, and custom embroidery. Tackle twill is the standard material that most sports teams use, it has a certain look to it, you just can’t get with silk screens. It gives better depth to typography, and an overall ruggedness to garments. The text wasn’t too elaborate, however the use of tackle twill gave the letters more of a pop. Moreover the twill seems to have been heat sealed onto the jersey instead of sewn. Their cherries design, shown earlier in 2014  was finally implemented. It was incorporated into the small baseball patch made by HC. The embroidery of the patch is quite intricate. Its something many brands may not think they could pull off due to all the details, yet HC managed to make the patch. Its interesting to note that the cherries design had a bit of controversy earlier this year, as someone inferred that HC had plagiarized the design. However HC proved that wasn’t the case. A custom red “Characters” label around the hem rounded out the design. Ultimately making a garment that wasn’t too loud, yet was very unique, a baseball jersey that any fan of the sport can wear.

The Reflection graphic tee was the most hyped item in the drop. There were many elements that alluded to Nujabes. The front of the tee has rows of text, Reflection is at the top. It basically describes the design work. Various paralleling designs can be seen. In the kanji text below, one reads Nujabes’ birth name, while the text next to it is his artist name. Written below is Nujabes’ real name in english. Below that is a track from the second Samurai Champloo album. The last line indicates his birth, while also subtly praising him on his music. Looking at the text from a distant, theres an almost parallel like placement of the words. The back portion features a nice rendition of Mugen and Jin battling, another use of “reflection,” while Purgatory is seen in the background. The details put into the duo’s clothing is pretty amazing, though it may be easily overlooked by people. Hidden is written below the two swordsmen, finishing up the design is another song by Nujabes written at the bottom. Two cws were available, navy was the rarer of the two. As it was initially a family/friends exclusive. The navy cw also had different colored prints, ranging from pink, lavender, to off white.  The tee is less of a nod to Samurai Champloo, and more like a tip of the hat to Nujabes. The other tee was dubbed Fallback ROY (Rookies of the Year). Unlike Reflection, ROY was strictly a Hidden Characters tee. There are no references to take away from the design, and in ways it helps gives the brand a stronger identity. The front of the black tee sports a pocket, with a simple “Hidden” tab. The right sleeve featured the text “Fallback” with the complimentary words: “HDNC: S-RANK.” Fallback has a metallic like feel, while the inner words give the graphic an old school arcade feel. Possibly from the late 80s. The back ROY graphic is the best. Showing, what could be, two inner demons battling one another. The one with the bigger horns, likely Hidden Characters, being the obvious victor. That character with the big horns has actually appeared in a past graphic from earlier this year, so it may be some sort of mascot or symbolic of HC. Perhaps akin to what Ed the Head is to Iron Maiden. Regardless the original artwork is skillfully drawn, with plenty of detail. It gives off a feeling of boastfulness, though 2014 has been a great year for a group of young adults, who created an unexpectedly popular brand. Making ROY a tee for anyone who likes original artwork, or clean graphics. All the tees came with red neck tags, every tag was unique as they featured lyrics from different songs, by different rappers. There didn’t seem to be much overlap in featured artists. Music artists featured ranged from mainstream to virtually unknown, so people will likely have to Google the lyrics to figure out who these rappers are. Making the tags almost as collectible as HC’s patches from their S14 drop.

Lastly theres the Snake Oil cologne. While many brands have ventured into this territory, many others have not. Its almost always one of those final frontiers brands undertake, that go along with years of testing. Though not caring for the rules, HC jumped headfirst into making a small batch. A mix of China musk and mink oil made up the concoction. The name itself being an homage to a misrepresentation of what a product can do. The three headed snake label furthers that idea. What made it truly covetable is that HC actually made custom wood boxes for the fragrance, instead of putting them in cheaper cardboard boxes. The Snake Oil was shipped out with condoms, giving a guy everything he needs for his night out.

Overall the drop was pretty solid. With numerous small details that helped make every piece in A/W Pt 1 enticing to anyone who wanted quality workmanship, a unique sense of design, and an execution thats against the grain.

From Purgatory with Love

While 2014 has been a solid year for Hidden Characters, it would have been easy for the brand to phone in their last release and drop some average designs, or possibly even skip their A/W pt 2 drop. However the brand decided to end 2014 on a high note, making this release more inclined to their dedicated fans from the past year. There were various tees available to grab, the uberly hyped “Hidden” Hidden hoodie, and 9 uniquely dyed shirts. HC also decided to make new patches. Making this drop half experimental, half fan service.

While there was no strong theme for the majority of these items, there was one item that did have a concept. The Put it On tee, acts like a bridge from pt 1 A/W to pt 2. The tee strongly draws a link to Big L, while also tying in his defunct group Children of the Corn, HC throws in a bit of their own charm making something that has a 90s feel, with a small amount of macabre thrown in. The front of the l/s is pretty simple, though the the right cuff has some text from a Big L song. On the back we get a bit more of HC’s dark modern sensibility. A collage of images comes together, drawing subtle links to Children of the Corn as well as possibly acting as a warning. An image of Big L, having a vintage feel, draws in people’s attention. A Child Shall Lead Them can be read in the same image, its a nice little reference to Big L’s group Children of the Corn. The overlapping text of Put it On, balances out the tee, making it more for Big L fans. The repetition of the eyes, may just allude to the gangsta era of the 90s, when people needed to have eyes behind their back. Put It On is dope, because the use of Big L and the symbols throughout make it somewhat of a nostalgic item, however it doesn’t try to be an obvious 90s tee.

Probably their most ambitious project to date were their oxford shirts, the BDUs also made a return. While their past cut n sew projects haven’t been too big, they did try to add a more personal touch to them. They grabbed some white shirts, and hand dyed the top portions of them. However dying materials is not an easy process, nor can anyone predict how partially dying a garment will look. The end result yielded 9 unique dye patterns. Instead of going back to completely dye them, which would have created something more uniform, HC opted to go with the misfit dyes. Ultimately making something that feels more diy in the process. Labeled as Oxford A-I, the shirts have an uniform look, something most brands aren’t looking to make. While HC may have wanted them to look a certain way, it definitely fits into their concept of not wanting to fit in. Overall the oxfords have a mature look, with a more personal feel to them.

While both the Put it On tee and Oxfords had their fans, probably the most hyped items of HC’s last 2014 drop were their Hidden “Hidden” hoodie, and Mystery bundle tees. The H”H” hoodie was more of an experiment by the brand. Using 2 layers of ink, an under layer of regular ink, with a top layer of 3M ink. 3M is made reflective with either particles of glasses or aluminum. The experiment entailed allowing the 3M ink to slowly degrade the stencil. This would mean that H”H” hoodies printed after the first hoodie, would begin to look slightly different with each passing print. Its because of this reason, that fans went into a full on frenzy, causing the site to almost crash. Probably the second most sought after item, was Hidden Character’s Mystery Bundle tees. The bundle came with two tees, there were a variety of prints. Some were based on older designs, while others were new designs. Some may think the older designs count as rereleases. Thats not the case. HC changed certain details or in other cases theres missing elements from the first designs. Moreover the tees don’t seem to have a set focus, other than HC just making randomly cool designs. This may be a jumping point for HC to release their og graphic designs as prints for 2015, which they have already alluded to. Regardless the Mystery Bundle tees were met with much praise from fans. Both the Hidden “Hidden” hoodie and Mystery Bundle tees were the must cops from this drop. Everything about them represents what HC is about.

Over the past year Hidden Characters has grown, cultivating a decent sized fan base. While the numbers may not impress the people who have been in streetwear for years, the fans keep coming back. They’re obviously attracted to the brand’s concept, and thoughtful graphic designs. Hidden Characters has also managed to end 2014 as the third most commented brand on the HB forums, breaking a triopoly on the forums that has been headed by Black Scale, Diamond Supply Co, and Supreme for much of the forum’s history. While this may not mean much, it does show that the newer streetwear brands are finally gaining a foothold in the industry. So streetwear may have a future afterall. Perhaps Hidden Characters will lead the way, while the older brands fade away. Though its unknown what 2015 will hold for Hidden Characters, regardless fans are patiently waiting, til then stay hidden.

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