When did we stop ‘progressing’?
I’ve been bored at work recently. Being bored at work gets expensive. You are earning money sitting there (well if you do an office job at least) but when you are bored, you surf the net and find all sorts of things you can spend money on.
You suddenly find yourself obsessing over trainers or shoes, a jacket for spring, even though you’ve only just sorted the winter big coat. The money goes out as quickly as it comes in.
As part of this boredom, I’ve become quite addicted to websites which essentially just collect things. Endless pictures and copy/paste marketing briefings of trainers, exciting streams of regurgitated GIFs of classic films, and “casual culture”. How do people afford to buy and then blog about so many pairs of rare trainers or pseudo-mountaineering equipment? I have no idea.
I have my reservations about how the accumulation of products (in this case clothing) can be regarded as something worth blogging about or indeed can be perceived as cutting edge or creative. I say that, but I still find myself entirely sucked in by it, with great enjoyment.
I should be reading about impending war in the Middle East or corporate tax evasion, but instead I’m intently reading about Jena City Lads’ acquisition of some dead stock Adidas Marathon Comps or a rare smock anorak on Oneupmanship. I soak it all up. I draw the line only at the current obsession with overpriced socks (not to mention the recent spate of tweeting photos of sock and expensive footwear pairings).
Yet for all my enjoyment, obsessing and unnecessary expenditure I notice a worrying trend. We are no longer progressing. The marketing spiel is always of brands, harking back to their stock of a previous era.
A late 70s Fred Perry polo shirt, classic Levi designs now reproduced with modern methods. We are sold a convincing backstory about a “piece” (it’s never just clothing, it’s always a piece), about its history and authenticity, and then we are landed with the heavy price tag.
I flipped open the recently published entire collection of the fanzine The End the other day. Retrohawkers-extraordinaire Adidas have naturally seen a “casual culture” bandwagon passing by and have leapt on it, with a prominent logo on the front cover and various adverts on the inside cover. What disturbs me most about this though is not the picture of the Kop (clearly a new photo, not one of the old terrace), but rather the Forest Hills featured. Apparently its revolutionary design at the time meant it was one of the lightest shoes around.
People bought those shoes, I assume, because of the fact that they were top of the range. So when did we stop buying top of the range, technically advanced products and start just buying what was popular 20 years previously? Somewhere around Reebok Pump and Nike Air Max? Apparently anyone with a pair of original Adidas Münchens shouldn’t wear them. The material the sole is made of would now crack with age.
That sounds like an inferior product to me, so why are we all considering buying the re-release? Come to think of it, when did we just start rehashing our subcultures with it. Teds, punks, skins, “casuals”, repeat to fade?
Of course, if we were to really buy the state of the art and the practical we would be wearing those Nike shoes with springs in them, so clearly this approach does need some work.
Even my favoured NBs in their modern mode would look ridiculous anywhere other than the running track. Nevertheless we must demand that our outfitters strive for innovation and style.
No longer the common brown, unforgiving sole of an Adidas “Original”. No more Japanese denim based on a 1950s blend. We demand ventile and merino, or stuff that hasn’t even been invented yet. Shoes that stay cool in summer but keep the cold of the winter ice beneath our feet away from our toes. Jackets that breath but close so tight as to no longer require a scarf to keep the draft out. Jeans that don’t slacken with wear.
No more lazy remakes and rehashes of past glories, we want technology and fine design that goes beyond where it appeared to end in the Osti Archive. Always forwards, never back!
In fact, the military tend to get a lot of the technologically advanced stuff first. Goretex etc. Once this war in the middle east is all done and dusted, I want whatever the winning team’s soldiers have been wearing. Anti-radiation onesies – THE terrace look for 2015…
- This article features in issue eight of A Fine Lung. To buy a copy or any other back issues click here http://www.afinelung.com/?page_id=3765
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