We Are Isle

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Isle Skateboards - Studio Series

Today, Nick Jensen, Paul Shier and I launched Isle Skateboards: a new home for some of the incredibly talented skaters who used to ride for the OG Blueprint brand. There’s no question of ever trying to replace what Dan Magee, Shier and everyone had done previously: without any doubt, Blueprint changed skateboarding forever with its unique aesthetic. Seeing what’s happened to the brand since the original team left, if you’ll pardon the pun, is heartbreaking. Many of my favourite skaters rode for Blueprint at one time or another. Mark Baines, John Rattray, Franklin Stephens, Rob Selley, Flynn Trotman, Danny Brady, Colin Kennedy, Chewy Cannon… the list is endless. And that’s without including Shier and Jensen.

Isle Skateboards - Push Pull

Being involved since day one of discussions about Isle has been a great experience. Nick Jensen is a fantastic art director and we spent months honing the visuals and communications before releasing anything. For as long as I’m involved, nothing will ever be released on Isle unless both Nick and Shier are backing it 100%.

The Push Pull series was inspired by something that Nick and Shier had seen and liked, whilst the Studio series was compiled from objects and images that Nick had collected and which were then arranged by the both of us. My brother Phil stepped aside from his day job at U-Dox for a couple of days and took care of the photography for us.

There are a number of things happening behind the scenes since we launched. My role has been formalised into ‘creative director’ but that is the broadest use of the term ever: I’ve been hopping from photo shoots and board graphic duties to copywriting and website development constantly. The first run of boards is due to arrive by the end of April 2013. I can’t wait.

The early feedback has been great so far and we appreciate the support.

Check out the website here: http://isleskateboards.com.

Isle Skateboards - T-shirts

World Pigbait

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World Industries stickers

My homeboys Ray and Pete popped over earlier and after watching (for the 800th time) the Busenitz vs. Cole BATB Game of Skate, we talked about a forthcoming trip to see our homeboy Paul Shier in L.A. The area of Torrance came up in discussion which reminded us of the old World Industries office address and the stickers they’d send out in return for a dollar or two back in the early ’90s.

Lots of my old skate stuff from those years has disappeared in house moves or when times got hard, but I’ve still got loads of stickers and catalogues (and pretty much every issue of Transworld, old Poweredge, Slap, Dirt and a load of other mags).

Funny seeing some of these sticky bits of vinyl sell for $50+ on eBay today.

Nike Air Trainer SC

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Nike Air Trainer SC

Nike Air Trainer SC

Nike Air Trainer SC IIs? No thanks, I’m not really a fan. But the first incarnation, the Air Trainer SC, oh yes.

The shape (which is almost triangular in profile), the colours, the wide tongues and the panelling… absolutely amazing, even after all these years. Look at those colours!

These 2009 retros are up there with the best bring-backs of all-time. Excellent construction, great materials and very close to the OGs.

Nike Air Trainer SC

The SC II was spoiled, in my opinion, with the toe strap. I might border on corrective shoes at times (friends and colleagues are well aware of my Kukini and Seismic fetish, for example), but I really don’t like toe straps. And with all the panels going on already, it seemed like a push too far, at least cosmetically.

Nike Air Trainer SC

Nike Air Trainer SC

Nike Air Trainer SC

Bo certainly did know.

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In other news, please check out the new site I just worked on with Ry(ouki). If you’re based in the UK and looking for trainers, then this will cut your online searching down to a minimum: www.thedropdate.com. All Ry’s idea, but he brought me along for the journey. We hope you find it useful!

adidas ZXZ KZK Waterproof (Obyo)

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adidas ZXZ KZK Waterproof (Obyo)

A good example of my stupidity: I bought these when they dropped, sold them – and then ended up re-purchasing them again at a vastly-inflated price. That’s just how I roll.

Kazuki’s product design for the adidas Obyo series has been amazing. Not everything has been to my tastes, but that’s fine: I’d rather see a few things wander out of my comfort zone than a million colourways of the same old models. Where the KZK products really get my attention is the attention to detail and use of premium materials. Almost every item, whether that’s footwear or apparel, has clever construction and functional additions to clean shapes. I met and interviewed Kazuki in Tokyo for an adidas project back in 2008: language barriers didn’t stop us having an interesting conversation (even though an earthquake temporarily disrupted proceedings). He’s a quiet considered chap but actions speak louder than words.

And these ZXZs are no exception to the rule. Amazing brogue-quality leather on several panels is offset with Gore-Tex waterproofing and an unusual colour selection for what is effectively a running silhouette. Flipping an athletic shoe to almost dress shoe levels might have been done before, but it’s rarely looked this good.

I’d kill for another pair of US 8.5s to keep on ice.

adidas ZXZ KZK Waterproof (Obyo)

adidas ZXZ KZK Waterproof (Obyo)

adidas ZXZ KZK Waterproof (Obyo)

Home is where the art is

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Home is where the art is

My flat is rarely tidy, so I thought I’d take a few photos while it was. This time has already passed though and all that’s left are these three images. I treasure these moments.

Home is where the art is

Home is where the art is

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

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New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

I won’t pull the ‘Yeah, I was wearing NBs before they got exposed’ card, but I played a role in the whole UK factory’s willingness to do collaborations. I went up to the New Balance headquarters with C-Law and Kahma, representing Crooked Tongues for the first collaboration we did with them back in 2004. It took a full presentation, a lot of meetings and discussions before we persuaded them to let us do the project. It was new to the brand and they were a little unsure on how it would be received. And, if we’re honest, we were probably nervous as well. But the shoes sold out instantly, leading to many more projects with Chris and the good people up at Flimby. I’ve got a couple of custom one-off pairs (think Nike iD, but using any offcuts of fabric in the factory room and limited to one-of-one) that I’m particularly pleased with.

I’m deviating from my blog post, but never mind. These are the CM996s that came out in January 2012. Another three-way co-lab from some of the top brands out there – and one of the nicest colour mixes I’ve seen. Blue and yellow certainly works for me.

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

The construction is good and they’re probably going to retain their value if you’re buying for investment purposes, but these were made to rock with denim in my opinion. If they’re sat on your shelves, you should crack them open as soon as the nice weather kicks back in.

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

Thank you chaps! Always a pleasure.

New Balance CM996 (Stussy x realmadHECTIC x Undefeated)

Nike Footscape Woven Chukka (Bodega in-store)

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Nike Footscape Woven Chukka (Bodega in-store)

I’ve already confessed my love for the grey low version of this model here, but when the friends-and-family edition showed up, I couldn’t resist them. As an in-store exclusive, there were limited pairs around (350 is the figure I’ve seen online) but I think these would’ve been a success if they’d been made a general release.

Nike Footscape Woven Chukka (Bodega in-store)

Adding a little extra material to the uppers pushes this shoe up to a mid-top, but where the other hazelnut release went down the road of slick leather uppers, we’re sticking in nubuck territory with these. Another shoe that deserves to be worn with shorts rather than full-length trousers or jeans, I’m gonna have to keep these aside until the sun makes an appearance.

Nike Footscape Woven Chukka (Bodega in-store)

The Bodega logo sewn into the heel tab is a nice touch too.

Nike Footscape Woven Chukka (Bodega in-store)

Nike Footscape Woven Chukka (Bodega in-store)

Nike ACG Air Approach 150

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Nike ACG Air Approach 150

Without a doubt, these are crown-status ACG shoes. I first saw a pair in a Nike advert in an issue of Details magazine, back in 1996. The UK only officially received the tan/blue/yellow colourway, which I bought and proceeded to wear to death: they started out as ‘Sunday best’, then became everyday wear, then became skate shoes (yep!)… and finally became my graf painting shoes. I wore them to pieces, but they lasted a good 18 months.

Nike ACG Air Approach 150

Nike ACG Air Approach 150

They were in most sports chains in London, even ending up in the sales racks after a while. I couldn’t afford a second pair to keep on ice at the time and when I finally had enough cash, they’d disappeared. I spent the next decade trying to find them again in my size.

Nike ACG Air Approach 150

Thanks to eBay, not only did I find them in that same old colourway, but I also managed to get the original US-only colourway with the hot purple and red accents. And that is what I’m wearing today.

If you thought I didn’t have at least one more pair stashed in the attic, you’d be wrong. I’ll always love these. Classic ACG styling, extremely durable, lightweight and very comfortable. There are several other colourways from ’96 out there too, including a nice grey-green colourway that was originally a women’s colourway.

Nike ACG Air Approach 150

Nike Air Max 95 (ACG-inspired Premium iD)

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Nike Air Max 95 (ACG-inspired iD)

Back in the Crooked Tongues days, we’d often get invites to check out various launches and previews. There was so much going on that it was sometimes easy to forget just how lucky we were – free shoes, opportunities to meet industry people and trips abroad were very much part of the programme for several years. This seems to be as good a place as any to say thank you to anyone and everyone who ever hooked me up with anything.

These Nike iD Air Max 95s were created at the UK launch of the Nike iD Studio in NikeTown in 2006. As well as the standard models, materials and colourways, there were additional fabrics and options available to us exclusively that night. Due to the number of people queuing up for appointments, I made my visit a quick one and freestyled these 95s with the assistance of my buddy and Nike Studio designer for the evening, Charlie Shazer. I tried to go for an ACG-inspired look, but added a little extra pop with the orange accents.

Nike Air Max 95 (ACG-inspired iD)

When they turned up a few weeks later, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the options when they’re in front of you and you’re under time constraints – but (without blowing my own trumpet) I like these a lot. And now that autumn’s in full swing, I’m wearing them a lot too.

Thank you to Nike UK (particularly A-Cyde), Russ, C-Law, KJ and everyone who I ever worked with at U-Dox and Crooked. That was a stressful, hectic and interesting time of my life.

Nike Air Max 95 (ACG-inspired iD)