How did everyone else make their initial personal discoveries into this world? What was your initial touch point? Was it a certain tee shirt brand? A certain pair of kicks? Or a certain blog that put you up on game?
Because that's what made it feel so special back in the day. As I recall Bobby Hundreds mentioning on a podcast, it was like knowing what the secret handshake was. We were never in the secret boys club, but we were always digging. For me, the gateway drug always seems to lead back to two entities: Digital Gravel & Evil Monito.
Digital Gravel (1999), the independent streetwear e-commerce website that supported so many new brands. Just the idea of being able to explore, discover and obtain something new from the internet that was also in itself, new. (Side note: Does anyone remember The Diggers Society? And what's crazy to me is that I just discovered that Hutch LA was directly tied to Digital Gravel via The Harsh Truth.)
And, of course, Evil Monito (2001) and the enigmatic Rickey Kim kept me utterly curious for nearly two decades. An intellectual, articulate and unassuming Asian American providing his perspective on shit that was cool. And to think Evil Monito just announced a comeback..
This took me down memory lane. I began thinking of brands like Obey (1989), Alphanumeric (1998), Fiberops (2002), The Hundreds (2003) and individuals such as Alyasha Owerka-Moore, Shepherd Fairey and Bobby. Remember the Alphanumeric engine graphic? It blew my mind seeing worlds collide like that. There were so many brands I discovered during this golden age. I have an image in my head of lying on the carpet floor of my ex-girlfriend's parent's house with a set of headphones on and listening to Jeff Carvalho and Rob Heppler (The Weekly Drop) interviewing Lupe Fiasco while he was speeding across the Brooklyn Bridge in his Range Rover. It took me to another world. It felt surreal and as if I was sitting there in the backseat, like a fly on a window. There were just so many brands to discover.. from 3Sixteen to Gourmet to Mishka..
Reflecting back, it was seeing new things I had never imagined materializing through visual design, and being able to pair it with discovering the people behind these creations that brought about a sense of intrigue and inspiration that nothing else has ever compared to. And the various messages quietly flowing underneath it all. After twenty years, streetwear, has been the one thing that has kept my mind interested. That and Hip Hop (back then). It's like continuously receiving pieces to put together an endless puzzle.
I've recently stopped picking up new pieces. The picture has gotten so large that it's hard to interpret now. Either that or I'm just old(er) and no longer interested in the same way. Here's a link from an old interview w/ Neek pre-Anti Social Social Club before he blew up. Thank you streetwear for keeping me interested in creativity for such a long time. For changing the world. And for flipping the status quo. The underdogs have quietly taken over. And most don't even realize it yet.