Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Dogs and Chinese Allowed

We've just made a limited number of our NO DOGS AND CHINESE ALLOWED shirts available.

The shirt is inspired by the supposed signs in foreign-run concession areas in China, particularly at the entrance to the Huangpu Park in Shanghai – and also depicted in a scene in the film FISTS OF FURY. Although research has shown that this sign never really existed as it is depicted in the film, the scene itself was a triumphant moment for an underdog hero that worked wonderfully well as a pop-culture attack on prejudice, and as a boost in racial pride for Chinese audiences in 1972.

This, according to, is what the sign actually looked like:

The photo is from a Chinese book, the translated title is “The Bund - History and Vicissitudes”, edited by Lou Rongmin, Shanghai Pictorial Publishing House, circa 1990.

More reading about the legendary sign:

Monday, September 7, 2009

10 Observations About Magic Marketplace Summer 2009

Not a big restroom.

I just spent the week in Vegas, making the rounds and checking out all the latest trends at Magic Marketplace, the largest apparel and accessory trade show in the U.S., a huge event where buyers and retailers from around the world converge to find the latest and coolest fashions. It's actually three separate trade shows, Magic, Pool and Project - each with their own unique vibe.

I've been to a few Magic events, although I skipped last year's. I attended this year's show in hopes of finding some new items for and I found some very cool designers to work with.

Here are ten observations from the show:

1 • POOL has grown since the last time I attended, and was definitely the highlight. The last time I was there, it was held in a massive tent outside of the Magic events inside the Hilton Convention Center, and although there were some cool independent clothing lines, the mood was quiet and there were also some booths with stuff that struck me as more appropriate for an arts & crafts show. This year, it definitely had the most vibrant and creative stuff, and there was a lot of hustle and bustle.

2 • I heard that the last Magic Streetwear in February was a "ghost town," and my impression of last week's Magic is unfortunately no different. For example, the last time I was at Magic Streetwear, Rocawear had built a two-story building for a booth, and this year they were showing their line out of the back of a truck. There were a lot of asian companies with cheap-looking "hip-hop" gear. All of the crazy hustlers of the last few years were gone, replaced with a lot of incredibly garish, bedazzled eyesores that I couldn't imagine anyone in their right mind wearing out of the house, except if they wanted to be featured on There were a handful of cool accessories, particularly in the S.L.A.T.E. section, but for the most part – it was pretty lame.

How will I ever get through these crowds?

3 • I'm always amazed how many people who paid for a booth at this event complain of their hangovers on days two and three. It's a constant through all of the Magic events I've been to over the years. How can you expect people to seriously do business if, when I approach your booth for information, you're glassy eyed and complaining about your Vegas partying too much? Hilarious!

Streetwear so loud it makes you deaf.

4 • Ed Hardy completely dominated the Streetwear section of the Convention Center, with huge billboards, bits of motorcycles strewn around, and a catwalk with big fake flames ... flaming. The comment I heard the most around the convention center was "I don't get this Ed Hardy thing." Everyone was wondering how long people would continue to buy this stuff.

Can you sense the excitement from this picture?

5 • There was also a lot of UFC and cage fighting streetwear, for all the shoppers who need something to wear while they are cage fighting. UFC set up a ring for fighters to stand around in, and unenthusiastically pretend to spar in. It was riveting!

6 • I think it was Lana Fuchs from Billionaire Mafia who I saw on a local TV news spot, talking about how much she keeps it real, and I could swear there were a couple of things about her that were definitely not real, including her ridiculous accent.

7 • Project was a sprawling event that smelled like perfume and body spray, but actually had a couple of cool lines.

8 • You can't beat Steve McQueen for cool, and so having an entire clothing label named after him that showcases his style can't help but be cool. It's sort of a mashup of LeMans, Papillion, The Great Escape and The Sand Pebbles, with military designs mashed up with a Johnson Motors motorcycle look.

9 • I'm a huge fan of graphic designer Saul Bass, so the other standout at Project for me was an entire line devoted to vintage Pan Am bags, prominently featuring Saul Bass' classic Pan Am logo.

10 • I met a few very cool, friendly people with some creative companies at Pool and Magic, here are a few standouts:

Urban Aid – Overnight kits for unexpected sleepovers and other ladies "survival" items!

Watto – Cool sculptured metal belt buckles!

Blue Platypus – Very cute tees and designs!

The iTie – I wasn't sure what to expect when I stopped by to check out the "as seen on TV" item The iTie, but they actually had some very cool ties, including some with vintage military/aviation patches, including a very stylish Flying Tiger tie.

Retro-A-Go-Go – Killer vintage accessories photo frames!

Revenj – Designs that are sort of like Seijun Suzuki and Meiko Kaji's illegitimate child, on acid.

I'll be headed back to Magic & Pool in February, and hopefully the economy and creativity rebounds a little more by then. I'll certainly be anxious to see if Pool continues to grow as the most fresh and interesting part of the event!

Zerosaur vs. Wolf-Human!

Kaiju! Zerosaur against Wolf-Human! Battle for Controlling the Outer Space!

Vintage Japanese monster trailer for a ... t-shirt by Shelf Life Clothing Co.!

Godzilla, Gamera and Ultraman, move over!

Ifukube-like music by Brian.