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

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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.

*All S/o

*Hidden Characters twitter

*Hidden Characters instagram

*Hidden Characters Tumblr

* Use Google to find Hidden Character’s forum

Anime and Streetwear, its a Homecoming

Anime made its debut in American around the 50s. Since then its become a mainstay, with various facets of American society embracing it little by little. By this point Anime is as American as apple pie. Anime and clothing have had some type of relationship in America since, at least, the 90s. Though this has evolved from unlicensed merchandise to corporate merchandising to it finally having a wider acceptance in the world of Streetwear.

It started with skate decks

To fully understand Streetwear’s incorporation of Anime as an aesthetic. One has to look towards the origin of Anime in American society. Specifically in the 80s, when Anime had its second big run in America with the Robotech series. At the time it was highly acclaimed and had a strong fanbase, as many Americans had never seen that style of Animation with a deep storyline. It went on to influence various artists, one artist is particularly important namely Jeremy Klein. Jeremy Klein is an important figure in the skating world, the man has designed many iconic boards, and was one of the people responsible for turning World Industries into a prominent skating company.

He had quite a wide array of art styles in his early years with World Industries. Drawings that echoed Norman Rockwell with a twist, referenced video games, were punk influenced, very sexual, basic flips, and even an Anime style that was the standard of that era. 1991 was the time that Jeremy released many hit decks, however the one thats probably helped define him was his Dream Girl deck. Released in 1991 for World Industries it was a major release. Jeremy has only given small insights as to why he designed something that obviously was inspired by Anime of the early 90s. It summed up his interests at the time, which were Anime, Mechs, and of course women hence the name. He would eventually take the concept of Dream Girl and expand it to create Hook-Ups Skateboards in 1994. Hook-Ups boards were very controversial as they often had Anime women with big beasts posed sensually. Though he also included various facets in Japanese culture and even gave nods to it in videos and ads. Jeremy’s Hook-Ups boards have since become collectibles, including his older boards.

Though whats important is that Jeremy was possibly the first person to put and sell Anime characters on clothing. This is pretty big, considering that at this time it was definitely not a cool thing in fashion, nor was it even on Streetwear’s radar. Its important to note that Klein used Anime more or less as a mascot for Hook-Ups. Some designs expressed Japanese culture, so in some ways it was a bit educating, though that probably wasn’t the point. Hook-Ups has used Anime primarily in a one dimensional context in order to give the brand a strong identity in the skating world.

Klein would go on to ride for Birdhouse, continuing his style of controversial graphics, and making a few Anime inspired designs.

People like it, let’s sell It

1996 saw Dragon Ball Z  have its debut on public TV. Many kids, and even teens were in awe. DBZ had nearly blasted the doors open for Anime in America. It was nearly a revolution.

Though finding official tees to rep your favorite shows is easy to do today, years ago it wasn’t the case. It was rare for cartoon shows to have tees or hoodies available to people. Even in the 90s. Only Disney and Warner Bros were really making apparel featuring their  most popular animated characters. Companies who made cartoons were only interested in selling toys or action figures to kids.

This lack of officially sanctioned merchandise eventually led to people creating unofficial merch. This is pretty interesting, as companies that owned the rights to certain Animated series may have thought that licensing things other than toys would be unprofitable. Yet people were clearly profiting off other companies’ intellectual property.

I can recall going to Venice beach as a kid and visiting various shops with my siblings. On one of these trips we stumbled upon a shop that carried a multitude of DBZ merch. They were selling VHS, posters, coasters, poker decks, and clothing. In hindsight I know that all that stuff probably wasn’t licensed by whoever owned the rights to DBZ at that time. Needless to say, you could have found shirts at certain swap meets, with Goku or Vegeta. Of course those shirts would never say Dragon Ball Z on them. You could even find some crappy toys that look like the Z fighters.

Thats Un-American

There was obviously a market for clothing with people’s favorite TV characters on it, more so with cartoons. It wouldn’t really be til the first few years of the 2000s that studios would realize that they could make money by putting popular characters on t-shirts. Even when Animation studios did do this, it was a slow relationship for Anime and fashion. In the late 80s Vans had made shoes for Disney, it was the start of making cartoons fashionable, and making them more financially marketable.

It became more typical to find American animated series apparel in retail and department stores. Spongebob would be an obvious example, as countless clothing items could be bought from places like JC Penny to Walmart. Though before that Disney broke ground a bit earlier with their Disney stores, making their licensed apparel somewhat more available, besides having to go to Disneyland itself.

However as American animated shows saw a boom in merchandised clothing, Japanese Animated shows were still on the fringes of society. Eventually bootlegged DBZ items were more or less stopped as Funimation who held the rights to DBZ tried to further capitalize on its popularity. The Early 2000s saw some decent looking tees be released. The tees were pretty straight forward, having prints of the individual Z Fighters. However they were pretty hard to come by. The tees were almost always found in places that sold DVDs/VHS, think FYE. They’d typically be segregated in the Anime section, plus there would only be a few tees. By the mid 2000s DBZ was over, and not much had changed with Anime and fashion. Other Anime series in America continued following DBZ’s method of selling clothing and other merch.

Part of the reason why Anime apparel wasn’t widely available at this time, may have been due it being seen as too foreign. Although shows like Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and DBZ were popular. It was undoubtedly clear, probably to adults and American retail stores, that those shows were definitely not American. Perhaps as a result, these shows became fads, instead of initially becoming classics, on par with shows like Dexter’s Lab, Invader Zim, or Samurai Jack. While Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and DBZ had great fan bases at the start of their first runs in America, eventually it drove away its initial audience with various elements that are found in Japanese Animation.

Things would soon change in the latter 2000s with the mass opening of Hot Topics across many malls in America. Though the store has no viable link to Streetwear, it did serve as a platform for fashion and Animation’s relationship to evolve. While its demographics were strongly held in the goth world, eventually they decided to start selling various Animated series merch. Of course it started with American Animated shows. However Hot Topic soon started looking towards Anime, not as a niche culture, but something that was obviously going to appeal to millions of Americans. As such, something perceived as being on the fringe for years, finally had a much stronger presence.

Triumvir’s last stand

 In 2008 the Recession was officially recognized in America. The world of Streetwear was going through changes. Brands that were thriving before were not doing so well. This was also true with Triumvir, a brand which had quite a rep for their products and concepts. The economic turmoil as well as Streetwear’s doubted financial market caused rifts within the brand.

One of Triumvir’s last great releases were their Street Fighter collabs. At face value the collabs seem uninspired or lazy. They are important, as it was the first time a major streetwear label decided to tap into Anime. Moreover it may have been the first time Anime and Streetwear came together. While most people may think that Street Fighter is wholly a gaming thing and has no connection to Anime, thats not the truth.

The original concepts for the characters were drawn in a very 1980s Anime style, by of course Japanese illustrators. Likewise there was a manga series, an Animated movie, and even an Anime series. With all of this in mind Triumvir had decided to formally collaborate with Capcom. Again this was something pretty rare at the time. The collab was met with a mix of anticipation and hate. People were obviously questioning whether a capsule collection that involved video games and Anime even belonged in Streetwear. Look in the comments section of blogs and you’ll understand why this collab was a bit too ahead of its time.

The focus of the collab was quality and artwork. The first collection was the Shadaloo Psycho Brigade drop. An entire wardrobe that did a good job at balancing Streetwear and Anime. It managed to be stylish, without coming off as being too geeky or otaku. The collab was followed with graphic tees that showcased artwork based off the original concept art for the Street Fighter games. Most of the tees were line art, complimented with watercolor graphics that added a sense of motion to a seemingly flat piece of art. However the concept of the collabs eventually lost interest in the Streetwear community. By 2010 the collabs were over and Triumvir was fading away.

The Street Fighter collabs proved that well designed graphic tees with Anime or video game inspired backgrounds, could indeed be accepted in Streetwear. Triumvir’s collab was something that crossed over into other territories. Specifically into the gaming and Anime communities. Capcom used the collab as a way to generate hype for Street Fighter IV, along was other famous street artists, like Futura. It seemed to work for both entities. Triumvir actually ended up on Wired’s radar, as well as Kotaku, though their respective communities were not as fond of the collab.  It would still be a few more years before any major Anime Streetwear collab would come about. Bape’s collabs with One Piece and Mastermind Japan’s Gundam collabs were major steps in Anime’s relationship with Streetwear in America. As both brands had a strong presence in America, with an equally strong reputation. The Japanese fashion community has typically had a good relationship with Animation/Manga. They know how to treat the medium with respect, but more importantly they see it as part of their society.

Probably the biggest challenge for Anime to become an accept Streetwear element, is Anime’s far flung otaku and cosplay community. Otakus are people who more or less thrive on Anime and its glorification. Though otakus usually come off as being geeky and, well unfashionable. People’s sense of fashion is the last thing Otakus may focus on. Whereas in Streetwear its basically the opposite. Theres also Anime’s cosplay community, which at times can paint Anime fans as being too enthusiastic for something that is often perceived as childish. However due to some high profile collabs with big name Streetwear brands, Streetwear’s view on Anime has finally started to change.

Though the Anime industry has begun to change in a general way. Its become more prominent, things that were once thought to be weird, aren’t seen that way as much. Things like Pocky, a popular Japanese food item which could be seen in various Anime shows, has nearly become an American mainstay. It can found in Wal Mart and other big chain grocers, however 10 years ago, you’d probably be hard pressed to find some. Theres also the fact that every major streaming service in America has a sizable amount of Anime in their libraries. Theres also a huge fanbase of Anime fans, including celebrities, who probably wouldn’t qualify as being otakus. Kanye West is an examaple, as his Stronger video was obviously a nod to Akira. Probably the most damming evidence that Anime has reached a strong acceptance in America, is the 2012 Victoria Secret’s fashion show, in which a model wore a body suit that ripped off Rei Ayanami’s plugsuit.

Don’t trust the new kids?

 Streetwear has grown to great prominence, becoming a legitimate rival to the fashion hierarchy. Stussy is often regarded as starting the movement, while other brands have helped the evolution of Streetwear by adopting certain themes. Such as guns, drugs, women, flipping logos, and most importantly referencing.

Referencing and appropriation of different cultures or scenes have become a very defining characteristic of Streetwear as well as other American industries. Some of the best examples of referencing in Streetwear are tees that try to use the least amount of its source material to bring about a certain mood or idea. Movies are a good examples, as sometimes characters or even phrases have been taken out their context in order to become something else. Heres a good example using Goodfellas, a nice little reference and appropriation by SSUR. It possibly suggests that anyone living the “life” will always meet a brutal end. There has also been the referencing of music icons. This tee, referencing 2-Pac, basically shows its disdain with the current trend of music of the time, circa 2009. There was also Rouge Status’ once infamous gun show tees. That last example is strongly significant because it shows how Streetwear can appropriate things from other cultures and use them to create a strong tone. The gun show design featured guns, specifically military grade weapons, and threw it on a tee to bring about a really aggressive attitude.

All of these examples have taken their inspiration from various corners of American society. America is perhaps where Streetwear is at its strongest. Thats not to say that it is a  purely Western style of design. Various Streetwear brands have popped up in places such as Europe and Asia. Though Eastern brands have a strong unique aesthetic, like Bape and Clot.

In America this is significant, as there are various Asian ethnic groups, who for the most part have never been greatly represented. None Asian American’s love of Anime have ultimately sparked an interest in various Asian cultures. Anime itself has a bigger acceptance in Asia, whether its in Japan, Korea, China, etc. However Asian Americans are not defined by where their parents came from, or the customs they may share with their distant families in Asia. Instead they have begun to grow their own identities and have even had a strong hand in shaping modern Streetwear. Like Bobby Hundreds and Brian from Triumvir.

Though progressed has slowed. Things that are readily accepted in mainstream  America, are what most Streetwear brands use to create their aesthetic. Its why you’ll see more tees that say Fuck in English, but maybe none with Chinese curse words. It’s why you’ll see tees with 40s on them, but not sake. Its why you’ll see more references to American action movies, but maybe not samurai flicks. This also poses the question as to whether or not Anime can be considered a Streetwear thing? The same can said about brands that have done flips on Garfield, the Peanuts gang, and even Disney. People should be able to appreciate well drawn artwork, it shouldn’t matter what the influence is. Anime in particular, with the right artists, can produce very amazing drawings.

Over the last few years a kind of revolution or more appropriately a new generation of American Streetwear brands have sprung up that have brought Anime back into the Streetwear scene. Though more generally they’ve also brought along their Asian backgrounds, fusing together an aesthetic that is a strong combination of American design with obvious Asian undertones. Ronin is perhaps the first of these brands. Having a strong samurai culture theme, specifically the ronins. Their Mugen tee was possibly the first American Streetwear tee to reference Anime, even using it as an aesthetic. It was released back in 2012, since then other brands have been upping the ante and using Anime more as a theme and even motif.

While these newer brands may use Anime, it definitely doesn’t label them as Anime Streetwear brands. It has instead been able to give Asian culture a stronger footing in Streetwear, its also brought back the artist element to Streetwear, it perhaps will even revitalize Streetwear as a whole. Beyond that each brand has their own unique aesthetics that aren’t easily defined. Many of the newer brands like Sequence, Third Vision, and Hidden Characters employ artists to their rosters.

Thats not to say that brands using Anime or referencing Asian customs have to have an Asian background, Jeremy Klein would be an obvious example. Even Hmn Alns, with him styling famous Anime characters in streetwear.

While people may not understand how art and Streetwear’s relationship has been over the last 25+ years, there have been times when the two fields closely worked together. Obey’s Shepard Fairey is an example as the man is a highly recognized street artist, who eventually crossed over into streetwear with his limited graphic tees that showcased his sought after prints. This was also true for artists like Futura and KAWS, whose early Streetwear collabs were highly acclaimed and made brands push Streetwear in new directions. Though as of today Streetwear is in a vexing situation. While the industry has grown to great financial heights, it can be said that its golden age is over. The community has developed a formula to keep money flowing, which many can’t argue with. The biggest brands in the game aren’t really bringing anything new to Streetwear. Likely the lack of artists or new ideas has caused these brands to rely on what they already know how to do, instead of taking risks and looking for new inspirations. In their heyday the golden age of Streetwear, as a whole, was pushed along by multiple people from various backgrounds, today its mostly left to the graphic designers.

This newer generation of Streetwear may be known as the Anime era someday, or not. These guys use Anime, but it doesn’t pigeonhole their style. Many of these brands express a love of Asian culture, but its not their crutch. They’re very American brands, their attitudes reflect this. One day they may be compared to brands like Supreme or Stussy. Another interesting observation is that Anime’s new found relationship with Streetwear is almost an isolated event. While Jeremy Klein and Hook-Ups may have been the first guys to put Anime on their tees, it can’t be said that they influenced the current trend of Streetwear brands doing the same thing. Even though they did collab with The Hundreds on the Dream Girl design. Unfortunately Triumvir may also be in the same boat, though they used Anime as an inspiration, they didn’t use it as an aesthetic per say. Instead their executions were typically straightforward, and their link to Capcom ultimately leaves their designs in the realm of licensing. Not flipping or appropriation, as many Streetwear brands in the past and even today use other companies’ designs without their consent to bring a more authentic feel to their designs. Flipping/ripping is almost always the Streetwear way.

The future looks bright for the newest crop of HB brands. Every year their fanbase grows, and they keep redefining what Streetwear can mean. While their possible precursors are returning to much anticipation. Jeremy Klein has headed Hook-Ups graphics department since 1994, and even retroed his Dream girl design multiple times. This year he finally decided to reissue his old designs from his early days at World Industries. Some of his biggest being Veggies, Chun-Li, and of course the OG Dream Girl design. Likewise Triumvir is looking to make a return in Streetwear, earlier this year they held a preorder for 2 reissue tees. Brands tapping into the vastly unused Japanese art of Anime will continue to break barriers, it can also be said that they’ve helped give gaming and Asian culture a new found acceptance, only time will tell how these brands will change Streetwear in the long run.

Brands to watch, in no order of prominence:

*Dangerers Death Tribe

*Effulgence

*Hidden Characters

*Jeremy Klein

*Motive USA

*Ronin

*Sequence

*T.H.E.

*Third Vision

*Trailing Nimbus

*Triumvir

Interstellar – Survival and Family

Christopher Nolan has been well known for his film making style, everything seems so dark, calculating, dramatic, but with an added resonance of hope. The last three films he directed explored different themes. The Dark Knight explored the concept of heroes, and what makes someone a symbol of hope. Inception challenged people in their perceptions of reality and mental stability. While the Dark Knight Rises was essentially about people overcoming their past and trying to build a future. Likewise Interstellar has different themes. While pegged as a space exploration film/Sci Fi epic, its more than that. Even before the film was released, in an interview Nolan remarked that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was an influence. Indeed both films share a strong Mise en scene. However Nolan introduces some elements of space travel , many filmmakers probably wouldn’t think of when they think of space. Specifically morality, family, and relationships. When people think of space travel, a picture that might pop in their heads are the few astronauts. All of whom are stringent, grounded in a world of science, who probably don’t rely on emotion when making decisions, but rather facts. Family, love, or more broadly relationships are an important theme in the movie. The film is of course held together by the concepts of physics and theoretical time travel.

IF YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE YOU CAN SCROLL PAST THIS

The main protagonist is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA astronaught who is widowed with two kids, his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and his son Tom. Its very clear from the start of the film that Cooper is a typical family man. He has a strong attachment to his kids, although he has a special bond with his Murph. The setting of the movie is very bleak, dosed with an inkling of hope. Its the future, though perhaps not too far off from the present. America’s government, maybe even the world, has devolved into a society dependent on food, more specifically agriculture. Earth is dying, as a result so is the world’s variety of readily available food. The only food source that is still commonly on hand is corn. All the other types of crops have been killed off by blight. On top of that, much of the world is being ravaged by dust storms, causing many people to become sick and eventually die. This whole setting of a world nearing its end continually drives home the concept of humanity’s need to survive. This is reflected in Cooper and his children, as they all react to this idea differently. In Cooper’s case he initially feels that mankind will pull through their food shortages.

In Murph’s room, books fall from her shelf on occasion. This leads her to believe that theres a ghost trying to communicate with her. However Cooper tries to help Murph get over her belief by challenging her to prove the ghost is sending her a message. Through the books falling over, Murph uses an algorithm, and is able to come up with some coordinates. Cooper is intrigued and decides to take Murph to the location.

It turns out that the location is a secret NASA base. Cooper and Murph encounter TARS, a Marine robot. It plays an essential role with humans being able to maintain their morals, TARS also provides some comedic relief. The remnants of NASA are headed by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), someone Cooper worked with while he was still a test pilot for them. Brand explains that NASA’s mission is to try and a find a planet humanity can colonize, aka the Endurance mission. He goes on to explain that years ago a worm hole appeared, that was close enough for NASA to explore. This brings up some interesting questions as none of the scientists are able to figure out why a worm hole is there. Their only conclusions is that some kind of alien lifeforms, or “they,” put the worm hole there to help humanity survive. On the other side is another galaxy, which could have a habitable world. Astronauts were sent to 12 different worlds, aka the Lazarus Missions, to asses their habitability. Brand further explains, that Earth cannot be saved, and that the corn is slowly succumbing to blight. This is major turning point for Cooper, as to him surviving meant providing food for his kids and protecting them. He then feels that he must find a new home for his family, as well as humanity. Brand is able to convince Cooper to head the Endurance mission. Though Cooper is worried that he will never be able to return to Earth in time to see his kids again. As he leaves, Murph is extremely distraught and tries to stop her father from leaving. She deciphers a new message, which suggests that Cooper should stay. He of course does not leave, and Murph holds a great grudge against him.

The Endurance Mission has two plan.  The crew is made of Cooper, Doyle (Wes Bentley), Amelia Brand (Professors Brand’s daughter), Romilly (David Gyasi), CASE (another robot), and TARS. Plan A is to find a habitable world and go back to Earth. So that hopefully Humanity will be able to send out mass colonies, so that humanity will survive. However Plan B is more radical. It would involve the Endurance crew to stay stationed on a habitable world and populate the planet with fertilized eggs. In that scenario Earth is abandoned. This presents a difficult question about moralities. As the fate of Earth is literally in the hands of a few people, who at any time, could decide to leave Earth behind and create a new civilization. Cooper is of course going on the mission believing that Plan A will work, he is further motivated in returning to Earth to see Murph again. Amelia (Anne Hathaway) seems committed to going through with Plan B, if necessary. Though in general no one, save for Cooper, has any strong relational ties to Earth. Nonetheless Cooper continues to think of his family and on occasion argues that the crew must also think of the billions of other people stuck on Earth. Cooper occasionally receives video messages from his son and father, though Murph refuses to send him any messages as she feels abandoned by him.

As the months pass on the Endurance finally crosses into the wormhole and encounters an alien that seemingly shakes Amelia’s hand. While on the other side of the hole three planets are chosen to survey: Miller, Mann, and Edmund. Its noted that Miller is close to Gargantua, a black hole, this will cause time to move slower on the planet than on Earth. Its predicted that an hour on Miller will equal seven years on Earth. While Cooper is against visiting Miller, he is able to figure out a route, which will allow them to avoid losing many years on Miller. Romilly and TARS stay on Endurance. While on Miller its discovered the planet is covered in water and that huge tidal waves are moving across the surface. Amelia is able to grab Miller’s onboard computer. A huge tidal wave approach which hits Doyle, killing him. However TARS and Amelia get to the ship on time. They are delayed from leaving due to the ship having to empty excess water. This greatly affects Cooper as he knows he is losing many years of being with his family, especially Murph. This helps to iterate that time is precious. Not just for Cooper and his family, but for humanity’s survival, as food shortages are likely increasing while hope many continue to decrease.

Amelia discovered that Miller’s ship only landed an hour ago, so her calculations, as well as the other scientist’s are very wrong. She shows how unprepared humans are for traversing interstellar space, Cooper further chastises her for her reckless actions of grabbing Miller’s computer. Once Cooper and the others get back to the Endurance its revealed that 23 years have passed. Romilly, with some graying hairs, laments how lonely and hopeless he was becoming. He helps to demonstrate that the scientists attitude of solitude does little to help them out in space, and in ways impacts them negatively. As a result of the lost 23 years, the Endurance only has enough fuel to visit one more planet and possibly return home.

Romilly reveals that they continued to get messages from Earth, but can’t send any back. Cooper watches the videos over the last 23 years and sees his son grow into a man. However he gets no videos from Murph over the years. The last two videos focus on Cooper’s kids believing he is dead. Tom (Casey Affleck), who has a family and is now grown up, finally lets go of the hope that his father is alive. Whereas Murph (Jessica Chastain), who is now her dad’s age, sends one video to Cooper saying that while she regrets not sending videos to him, shes lived with her decision and is ready to let go of their memories together. This of course fuels Cooper’s drive to get home and back to his family.

Back on Earth Tom is now farming the same crops his dad did, he continues to believe that his family’s survival is dependent on the crops. Murph is now at NASA, working as Dr. Brand’s assistant. She eventually notices that Brand seems to be repeating the same approaches to solving the equation to gravity. Earth is being hit with more devastating dust storms. Hope is fading. Brand ends up in the hospital and on his deathbed reveals to Murph that he solved his equation many years ago. However he requires more data, which is impossible to obtain. He further explains that he believed Plan A wouldn’t work, and the he actually sent the Endurance away to hopefully initiate Plan B.

The Endurance crew debate on which planet they should visit next, because if the next planet is uninhabitable, then they will likely commence Plan B. Amelia expresses her choice of Edmunds, while Cooper chooses Mann. Dr Mann headed the Lazarus Mission and was seen as so heroic that he managed to convince 11 other scientists to join the mission. Romilly is at odds to which planet to choose. Until Cooper accuses Amelia of being in love with Edmunds, and thus it being a factor for why she chose his planet. She concedes she loves Edmunds, but defends her choice, regardless the team heads for Mann.

Planet Mann seems to be made of nothing but ice. They find Dr Mann’s base and discover its in somewhat bad condition. His robot KIPP has been disassembled. They awaken Mann, who is extremely  ecstatic to see them. He explains that while he didn’t have much hope of returning home, he was falling into despair due to prolonged isolation. When questioned about his planet’s lack of life, he persists that theres a lower surface which contains alien life. They are soon sent a video message from TARS by Murph. She informs Amelia that her dad died, then addresses her father if knew that the Endurance mission was a shame. Mann proceeds to explain that he knew of Professor Brand’s true intentions.

This information devastates the crew. Again Cooper’s objectives change. Instead of following through with the journey to Edmunds he plans to take the Endurance home and abandon the mission. TARS proposed an idea in which it will be sent into Gargantua and send the data back to the Endurance so that hopefully they will have enough information to enact Plan A. Everyone seems onboard with the idea. Mann decides to show Cooper the inhabitants of the planet.

They reach a cliff, at which time Mann discards Cooper’s comm link and tries to kill him by cracking his helmet. Mann had faked his findings and disabled KIPP so it wouldn’t stop him. He further talks about survival and that while he has always been a person who prefers to be alone, he couldn’t bare to die alone. Cooper accuses Mann of being a coward, which he sorrily admits to. Not wanting to see Cooper die, Dr Mann heads for the base, determined to assure his survival by moving forward with Plan B. Cooper is able to find his comm and warn the others of Mann’s treachery. Amelia heads to Cooper’s location with Mann’s ship, while at the same time Romilly powers up KIPP only for it to explode. This scene shows that while Mann was seen as a somewhat mythical hero, he is still a human who, despite his high intelligence is motivated by his basic instincts to survive.

The next scene is very intense, as Mann and Cooper’s team both try to beat one another to the Endurance. While Mann makes it to the airlock, CASE has previously locked their ship’s autopilot. Mann keeps trying to manually dock Cooper’s ship, but fails. Desperate he manually opens the airlock, only to be killed by the depressurization. The Endurance is forced into a spin, Cooper is able to manually dock the ship, with some very hard maneuvering. However Mann’s actions have damaged the Endurance. They no longer have enough life support to make it to Earth.

The revelation that Cooper won’t be able to see Murph weighs on him. Again his priorities change. The team plan use Gargantua’s gravity to slingshot them to Edmund, while still planning to send TARS into it to collect data which hopefully will help humanity’s journey into space. Cooper has a short conversation with TARS in which the robot expresses its desire to help humanity to which Cooper and Amelia show regret that they will likely never never see TARS again. Once TARS is ejected into Gargantua, surprisingly Cooper also ejects himself. He likely does this, as he no longer has a drive to live since he will not see his family again. This helps Amelia and CASE escape Gargantua and head for Edmund.

On Earth Murph visits Tom, and notices that his wife and child seem to be sick. She asks Tom to join them at NASA, At which point Tom angrily refuses as he feels staying at the farm will ensure his family’s survival. Back at NASA she persuades Getty to help her convince Tom to move to NASA. Despite Getty’s warning that Tom’s family will die due to dust poisoning, he again stands his ground. Murph sets fire to Tom’s crops on the far side of his property, as a distraction in an attempt to smuggle Tom’s wife and son to the NASA base. While she tries to leave she is drawn back to her room, specifically to an old watch her dad gave her. There shes stuck in thought about the old messages she received as a kid.

Cooper is sucked into Gargantua, he ejects as his ship sustains heavy damage. Strangely he ends up in a mysterious space, theoretically a tesseract. In it he sees various moments in time which apparently are focusing on himself and his daughter Murph. While he cannot pierce the barriers and go into these moments of time, he realizes that gravity is able to travel through the barriers.  Likewise he comes to the conclusion that he was the ghost in Murph’s room as well as the alien that shook Amelia’s hand. Surprisingly Cooper discovers that TARS is alive and has collected the data. TARS explains that “they” created this space for Cooper to understand time. Cooper theorizes that they are a future form of humanity that has evolved into fifth dimensional beings. With all this new information Cooper is able to send Gargantua’s information via morse code to the watch he gave Murph.

Murph realizes Cooper was her ghost, and understands hes sending her an equation. She relates to Tom that their dad is indeed alive and has saved humanity. Back at NASA she is able to solve the problem of gravity, thus allowing humanity to begin preparations for their journey into interstellar space.

Once Cooper has relaid all the data he is seemingly ejected from the tesseract and floats aimlessly in space until he passes out. He awakens in a hospital, believing he is back on Earth. Only to realize hes actually on a colony ship in space. The doctor informs Coopers hes 124 years old. Meaning that his kids have not seen him in 90 years. Though he is informed that Murph is coming to visit him. He is shown a museum which is modeled after his farm, there are various kiosks that feature interviews with people he knows and of course his kids. inside the house he finds a nonfunctional TARS. TARS is given a new battery and both discuss the success of Plan A. Back in the hospital Cooper is finally reunited with Murph, her large family is also present. Both are visibly emotional over finally seeing each other again. They talk alone, Cooper wants to keep Murph company as she is on her deathbed. However she laments that she doesn’t want Cooper to see her die, instead she encourages Cooper to go to Edmund to find Amelia, as Murph insists that her family will see her through her final moments of life. On planet Edmund Amelia can be seen, presumably burying Edmund, with her and CASE being the only inhabitants. An emotional Cooper obliges his daughters wishes, he and TARS board a modern Ranger and set off towards Edmund to retrieve Amelia.

 END FILM SUMMARY

There are different themes about the film that can be examined. Although the main points seem to be the value of family, more broadly love, and even survival. Cooper’s family takes center stage in examining these concepts. Another element is that there is no main antagonist, instead emphasis is put on humans trying to traverse the frontier that is space.

The idea of survival has different meanings for key characters. Cooper’s concept for survival is being able to save his family from hunger, this later evolves into his need to find a new planet where he can take his family to. Cooper is heavily motivated by his deep desire to see his kids again, Murph in particular. When planning out Endurance’s routes he takes extra precautions to ensure that the ship will make it back to Earth. This likely aided him in his fight with Mann, as he refused to succumb to death. Cooper’s actions were heavily influenced by his ties to his family. Theres also Tom, who is likewise influenced by his father’s old idea of survival. In particular his desire to sustain crop production for his wife and child. However this goes to the extreme, in that he believes that the only suitable place to live is on his family’s old farm. Despite experts advising otherwise, though he possibly stays due to his various memories attached to the farm. Murph is a bit different as she believes in a bigger picture of survival, somewhat closer to Brand’s ideals. She heavily believes that humanity must solve the equation that would enable space travel for all of humanity. She is nonetheless motivated by family, as she had a strong desire to shelter her brother and his family from the dust storms. Then there is Brand’s concept of survival. Professor Brand had a very broad idea of survival, he was trying to save humanity as a species, thus thinking of the future. His daughter Amelia, more or less agreed with his ideals. She was determined to save humanity. Of course she tried to make Plan A work, however she would have also followed through with Plan B if needed. Although she has a father, she was obviously ready to leave him behind, so her concept of survival is driven by practicality. While of course being motivated, by a bit of love. Lastly there is Dr Mann. Unlike the other main and supporting characters, Mann seems to have no family or loved ones. He seems alone in life, hes heavily motivated by science, reason, and instinct. Mann saw Plan B as the only option, for his and humanity’s survival. Though he is accustomed to being alone, he understands that instinctively he does not want to die alone. This prompts him to fake his planet’s data as being inhabitable, so that he can hopefully be saved. Of course his actions prove troublesome, as he knows that faking his data will jeopardize humanity’s survival, this could result in his arrest and even death. Mann has little reason to go back to Earth, of course Cooper’s plan prompts Mann to try and kill him. Once Mann is almost docked to the Endurance, his instincts kick in. This proves to be fatal, as a scientist he knew that opening the airlock while his ship was not docked properly would kill him. Being in a desperate situation caused him to rely too much on his instincts. He became too focused with trying to get into the Endurance by any means necessary.

Even TARS and CASE play a significant role with survival and morality. Firstly both are robots, whose primary programming is of course to ensure the survival of their human superiors. Moreover humanity in general. However they tend to almost be a symbol of hope. TARS is often used to lighten the mood. Being AIs they are aware of people’s fear and try to ease their nerves. This can be noted when the team is first launching into space. TARS tells a joke to calm the Endurance team, save for Cooper, as its their first time in space. Later in the film when TARS is reactivated by Cooper, it cracks a joke that it will soon self destruct, in response he lowers TARS’ comedy setting. It likely does this because Cooper has been on quite a dramatic journey, and needs to feel something other than being humanity’s savior. Beyond this both robots seem more human than the humans. In one scene TARS is seen briefly talking to CASE who has been lying dormant for a few years. The exchange isn’t even about anything technical, instead TARS inquires how CASE is doing. Later CASE sees Dr Mann’s robot KIPP, and asks him if he would like CASE to try and fix KIPP. With this questioning, the viewer can assume that the robots have some sense of compassion, if their concern for humans isn’t real, their concern for their own kind is. This is in contrast to the scientists who all seem to prefer their own space, and who seem to either dislike each other or generally show apathy. Even towards the end of the film, TARS decides to sacrifice itself by going into the black hole, without being ordered to. Regardless TARS did not need to volunteer itself, nor did it have to propose the idea.

Finally the last theme to explore is the theme of family, or more broadly relationships. In the case of Cooper and his family, everyone is motivated by their families. Cooper embarks on the Endurance mission because of his family, he never loses hope and he puts more thought into his actions because he knows that in the end he will be reunited with his children. One could that Cooper was able to derail Mann’s plans, because of his strong parental drives. Whereas Mann was dependent on himself. Cooper follows through with his mission as he knows it will save his children. If someone else had been trapped in the tesseract, someone without a family, someone who had no strong ties to another person, they probably would have lost all hope within the tesseract. Family is especially important to Tom, who basically refuses to move his family from, what he believes is the most secure place for them to live. Family is even important to Murph, while throughout the movie she shows great defiance towards her father’s actions, she nevertheless returns to her old room, and examines the old watch given to her by her father. If she really did want to let go of her memories of Cooper, she wouldn’t have picked up the watch. This in turn could have meant Earth’s demise. To a lesser extent, Amelia is also driven by relationships, specifically love. Theres a certain scene in which she explains the importance of love, and even argues that love is something that can be measured scientifically. It likely played a role in her decision to explore Edmund instead of Mann. She seemed so certain that Edmund would be habitable planet, in the end it seems she may have been correct. Her love for Edmund is possibly why Cooper tries to sacrifice himself. He probably figured that Amelia would be more determined to pilot the Endurance to Edmund and continue the mission because someone she loved was on the planet. Even at the end of the film, an elderly Murph reiterates the need for family and love as it acts as a catalyst that can help people achieve more.

Besides all of the various themes sprinkled throughout Christopher Nolan’s Sci Fi epic, there are also technical things that make the film more enticing to see. The entire film was shot on 70mm IMAX film, making it a beautifully shot film. Nolan stated that CGI was used minimally as possible, and that miniatures were used as much as possible. This helps brings a greater authenticity to the movie, and it shows. Theres no sloppy effects and the shots of the ships are probably the nicest things to look at. For science buffs looking for an accurate movie, well astrophysicist Kip Thorne helped make the black hole and other science related elements more accurate. Interstellar’s plot is long and sometimes it might be hard to follow, it may also be hard to understand some concepts. However this movie is worth a watch, and other rewatches.