Solaris on tour: London calling Part 2

Bright lights, big city. So if you are not really culturally inclined then London has a lot of damn good shopping options as well!

Although classic streetwear locations like The Hideout, BAPE London and the Stüssy London Chapter closed down yonks ago, the town is littered with other great options to get rid of your hard earned cash for some hip garms!

One of my favourite stores in London is the DPMHI store in Great Pulteney Street. Not only is Maharishi one of the OG’s in the Street Wear game, but the store looks absolutely fantastic: Camo tiled floors, Japanese armour and a selection of the finest Urban Vinyl really makes this location special!

I love the connection between art, fashion and music and Maharishi is championing this mix with their embroiled art pieces by Futura and Neckface up the walls, it’s great jackets and pants and collaborations with musicians like Travis Scott.

You don’t need to walk long to hit up the next spot: Just around the corner from Maharishi is the latest brand to kick up a stir in the Hypebeast scene… Palace Skateboards.

Ripping a massive page out of Supremes playbook, Palace is like the rowdy British cousin of the US streetwear giant who,  instead of listening to Capone-N-Noreaga, raved through the early 90s to 2Step and UK Garage.

The shop turns up the swagger with it’s Versace style floor tiling and a Rolls Royce grill mounted to the wall. And if you still don’t believe the place is fresh, cool and dope you better believe my homie Jonah Hill!

The rest of the shop is following Supremes approach of less is more with a clean shop space with a TV screen mounted on it’s white walls showing skate vids. Don’t forget to grab some overpriced silly merch on the way out: I recommend the  £1 Palace matches…

Talking about Supreme… let’s just say we have history together! 

Of cause I had to drop by the Supreme store also. When the London store opened 2011 I expected for the hype to die down a little, but what do I know: It went straight through the roof!

Queues every Thursday morning ( aka Drop Day ) were a regular sight on my way to work. No shopping luck for me this time tho, but at least I got a good birthday present for a close mate!

To cover all awesome shops in the centre of town is futile, so let’s just say I had a good ol’ snoop around my favourite haunts for sneakers, records and magazines like Reckless Records, Foot Patrol, Size?, Oi Polloi and others!

When I was heading back east I had to have a quick check around Bricklane as well. Rough Trade East is great for record collectors and stores like Son of a Stag are perfect for finding some great denim and menswear.

Rare Japanese denim threads for the urban cowboy… 

The shopping gods finally revealed some treasure for me when I checked out the Good Hood Store further up in Shoreditch. As late January is traditionally Sale season I was able to pick up some wicked WTAPS Vans for such a nice  price that I was able to afford an additional Eric Elms Kilroy coffee mug as well. Result!

What can I say: London always delivers! There is so much cool stuff to do, buy and see that things can be overwhelming. I might do a little shopping guide for London soon, but in the meantime you can read Part 1 of my London travelogue here or buy yourself a ticket to fly to this great city. It will be well worth it!

C’est ne pas un SUPREME

  Illustration by Tomii Studio
Illustration by Tomii Studio

I don’t know if it’s my age creeping up to me, but the whole current Streetwear game leaves me pretty cold these days: There is just nothing out there that excites me! But maybe that’s because I spend already half my life obsessing about brands and woke up to the fact that it’s a never stopping hamster wheel of craving the next hype item… and then what? 

Once acquired, the magic quickly fades and you have another overpriced piece of stuff gathering dust on your shelf. True story.

Still, me slagging off brands would be a massive hypocrisy: I love brands and their beautifully designed logos that trigger a pavlovian reaction whenever I come across them. Those little condensed nuggets of meaning and belonging that are universally understood and instantly get my excitement levels up with their promise of worth and desirability!

They are a bit like Jellybeans: Devoid of any real nutrition, but packed with artificially heightened flavor that keeps you hooked and come back for more!

So although I try to stick to more accessible and neutral brands like Uniqlo these days I still love a well branded item. And actually, the sillier the item the better! And who is the KING of silly branded items? Oh yes, that must be Supreme…

With it’s bold branding ripped off ehhh INSPIRED by the collage art of Barbara Krüger, Supreme has the perfect identity to splash over basically any item they goddamn want to! 

The Supreme hype is so strong that it even corrupts the minds of vegan saints like Morrissey: How shocking to see him switch to the dark side of shameless brand advertising! I understand Moz though… everybody just loves a crisp box logo tee. Especially when you don’t have to queue for it!

Supreme’s accessoires game really leaves me flabbergasted season after season: Do they have a designated dude who is just employed to smoke a lot of weed and dreams up all these weird items? Toothpicks, Post-It Notes, Fire Extinguishers… BRICKS?!

This randomness sometimes propels the company for me from mundane brand expression to, dare I say it, art. Maybe head honcho James Jebbia is really more of a fine artist embracing Dadaism instead of being the boss of a fashion retail empire?

Who knows such things. All I know is that the following items are all legit and got released by Supreme at some point in time. Crazy! Especially the latest collection has some real winners: That Supreme brick is just fantastic as a bold exercise in showcasing the power of logos and branding.

Now as fun as the above items are, I feel Supreme should stop holding back and go a bit further! I have my own wishlist of household Supreme items I personally want to see on the shelves…

Here are my Top 5 items I still want to see released:

1. Supreme Bucket™ – Mundane yet essential in any flat or house. Instant CLASSIC! 

2. Supreme Teabags™ – Getting teabagged was never so HYPE!

3. Supreme Toaster™ – Seriously Supreme… why is this not existing already?

4. Braun x Supreme Heater™ – Supreme brings some heat… again!

5. Dunhill x Supreme Tie™ – Because everybody needs a day job to afford all this stuff!

More Streetwear FYAH! can be spotted here:

Shoutout to for creating amazing streetwear based illustrations!

KAWS Mania: Making moves with Brian Donnelly

Uniqlo dropped the bomb this week and revealed the pieces of their upcoming collaboration with pop artist KAWS! I am very, very happy about what I see, not only because the bags and shirts look great and are affordable but because it’s funny to see how I am growing up alongside my heroes of the past. Time to reminisce about the rise of KAWS and my favorite pieces and collaborations that explain how Brian Donnelly made the leap from painting panels at Disney to the top of the art food chain in 2016.

1997 – Bus shelter interventions

Let’s start with the KAWS bus shelters: What a great idea defacing ads with your own brand! KAWS clean style fused perfectly with the beautifully shot adverts, raising his art in the process. Instead of destroying the ad this could be seen as his first ( illegal ) collaborations with high value brands as the slick visuals of the source material were always preserved if not enhanced by KAWS colourful and witty style.

Funnily enough the toys Medicom created based on the bus shelters are the cheapest and most readily available toys in his catalogue. Weird as I think they are a lot of fun and the concept is great!

  via JeremyRiad
via JeremyRiad

14 years later and the collaborations became a bit more official! Again I really think this is because of KAWS ability to create graphics which are so crisp and clean that they don’t feel out of place connected to high fashion and lifestyle brands. I wonder when he creates his first capsule collection with LV!

1999 – The birth of designer toys

Covered this part of his contribution to the Urban Toy phenomenon in my blogpost about Designer Toys here. Still it’s worth mentioning them again as they represent the first of many collaborations KAWS created in Japan where the scene embraced him first. I doubt he would be as popular and well known as he is now without the fandom of NIGO of BAPE fame and the support of the emerging street fashion Harajuku scene consisting of brands like BxH, Neighbourhood and Undercover. I am still loving the idea that a brand can embrace fashion, art and toys in one go.

2005 – Big in Japan

It’s good to have people who believe in you and push your career forward. Being one of the favorite artists of a mega rich Japanese streetwear mongul certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world! Nigo didn’t only commission a lot of pieces for his private art collection, but had KAWS create a whole season for his mega hype fashion brand BAPE. This didn’t just include pieces for the clothes line but artwork for his music label Bapesounds and covering his Bape Cafe in Tokyo with artwork as well.

  via Hypebeast
via Hypebeast

Some of my favorite pieces from the BAPE x KAWS era are the early toys and the CD cover for Japanese singer Cherie. I was lucky enough to pick some of these items up on my trip to Japan in 2007… 

A honorable mention goes out to ex Deee-Lite member Towa Tei who was one of the first people ( apart from Nigo ) who commissioned KAWS to do some artwork for him… Japanese people just have great taste!

2006 – Original Fake

Next step in the quest for world domination was opening his own store in Japan together with toy company Medicom. The Original Fake line felt decidedly less cartoony and more upmarket compared to the designs he did for BAPE. Architects Wonderwall created the impressive yet understated looking store and I am still annoyed about the small Japanese sizing of the goods! Most of his later toys were released via Original Fake as well and queues used to form around his impressive Tokyo store on the regular. In 2013 KAWS pulled the plug on this business venture to concentrate more on his art hustle and less on the fashion retail side of things. I am sure though that he learned as lot about crafting his brand from this venture.

His final season can still be viewed here…

  via Wonderwall
via Wonderwall

Pharrell – Back to the USA

  via Upscalehype
via Upscalehype

As much as Pharrell caught the BAPE bug from Nigo, he caught his KAWS obsession as well. This early picture of Skateboard P rocking a diamond encrusted pendant based on a KAWS Blitz toy shows how hard Pharrell was riding on the KAWS fan train. I feel Pharrell can be credited for bringing KAWS back to the US alongside fellow NIGO bro Kanye West after he reached cult status with devoted collectors in Asia.

Pharrells public endorsement put KAWS back on the radar of a more mainstream western audience. Creating Kanye West’s “808 and Heartbreak” album cover art was just another step winning America over. He should go on creating massive sculptures for the MTV Music Awards and Marcy’s Day Parade…

Art Hustle – Rubbing shoulders with the fine art world

KAWS learned a lot about collaborating with the right people during the early days in Japan. He proceeded to hand pick his art collabos to not over saturate the market and work with credible artists that would add an extra dimension to his art. People like Pushead, Hajime Sayorama, Yue Minjun and Robert Lazzarini gave his companion extra flavour and elevated his toy to sculpture status. And that Murakami became a big fan too might not surprise anybody…

Blowing up dolls

Talking about sculptures: Blowing up his companion character to insane heights started very modestly in 2007 with taking the 1000% size concept of Medicom toys to the next level: The 4ft Companion was born!

Sizes grew with time and impressive sculptures were created for exhibitions in Malaga, Switzerland and Hong Kong to name a view. KAWS cartoonish style gives his massive sculptures a very surreal edge and allowed him to break into the art world. 

British KAWS lovers are fortunate to be able to see his Companions until June 2016 in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Read my write up of the YSP exhibition here! 

Selling out… by selling out

KAWS is great at keeping prices for his art high but offering accompanying merchandise that’s still desirable but affordable to the masses as well. As original art sells in the upper ten thousands middleweight collectors can still buy a pieces of KAWS via his limited print editions which are not cheap but the closest a normal person can get to owning some KAWS artwork. When it comes to the masses KAWS follows the same approach of high fashion houses like Chanel or LV: You might not be able to afford a handbag but you can still pick up a low cost item to feel part of the gang!

 via The AlleyGallery
via The AlleyGallery

Some merch from the YSP shop… not a piece of art put a piece of KAWS nevertheless…

XX for the masses: KAWS x UNIQLO

Now here we are, at the dawn of the next step of KAWS pushing his creations to become household names! Whilst other artists might be called “Sell Outs” for collaborating with a company doing mass produced fashion, this collaboration just feels natural. Especially with Nigo being the current creative director of UT at Uniqlo! Personally I am excited and already picked my favorite pieces.

The toy nerds won! Next KAWS might give a space shuttle his trademark teeth and crossed out eyes as the sky apparently is not the limited to a business savvy pop artists like Brian Donnelly!

Queuing for trainers: A survivors tale

With the latest colourway of the Yeezy Boost 750 about to drop I thought it would be fun to share some experiences I had regarding hype, greed and trainers. Well, actually two experiences!

Two experiences about doing the most committed thing a sneakerhead can do to gain possession of a rare pair of trainers. No, not re-mortgaging his Granny’s house to buy them on eBay ( he could do that too )  but to camp outside the store days before the official in-store release day. 

Crazy you say? Well, with sneaker hype for rare pairs going through the roof a night spent on the street can actually make sense money wise, with resellers being able to double and even triple their investment. Still perplexed? Well, check out this TED talk by Josh Luber, founder of, who explains the situation to the uninitiated:

So anyway, are you with me now? GREAT!

Going Apeshit

The first time I stood outside a store before opening time must have been around 2005, back in the days when A Bathing Ape was heavy on their USA expansion and their London Store was going strong. Staff at BAPE were notoriously tight lipped about the release dates of popular items, a tradition now upheld by Supreme employees everywhere! 

But one special day I got the heads up that a special hoody I had obsessed about was due to drop the following week. Wow!!! It was a hoody created in collaboration with the raising graffiti star KAWS featuring a very special reworked version of the famous Bape camo pattern.

I’d say a lot of the limited edition culture in streetwear was kicked off by this Japanese brand as it took a cue from high fashion and created extremely limited streetwear pieces for the few people in the know. Once the items sold out they were gone! It was even rumoured that the owner and designer of BAPE Nigo would burn left over stock and sales in the BAPE store were unheard of!

The collectable nature of the clothing created a tribal society where peeps wearing special pieces and rare items would get the most respect. A trained geek eye could spot a 1st Generation Shark Hoodie from miles away and would bestow the owner with praise, credibility and respect!

Never heard of A Bathing Ape? Have you been living under a rock? Even Jonathan Ross knows about Nigo and his empire! 

Still no clue? Geez ok… then get ready for a little streetwear history lesson:

Are we back? Good…

I will never forget the look on my managers face when I told him that I needed half the day off to stand outside a store to buy an item of clothing.

I ended up at 9AM outside the store in a queue with a teenager who brought his grumpy dad along and two die hard BAPE Headz which were deep in conversation about camo patterns. I overheard that one of the guys came down all the way from Scotland for this, stayed over his sisters place last night and made his way to the store this morning to get lucky. Now that’s dedication!

The giddy anticipation once the staff arrived and started to get out the items, the plastic of my credit card rubbing against the sweaty palm of my hand and the unbelievable rush to the head once I got the item in this big luscious bag with the ape head on it… I think I never handed over £175 quicker and happier in my life! Horrible I know but amazing nevertheless.

I know what you must think now: This was the event that hooked him! From then on he had to be addicted to the thrills of queueing up for artificially number restricted items!!!

Well, not really. But I definitely got hooked on the feeling of the pleasure and pain that comes with being a collector on the hunt!

Return to the planet of the (B)Apes

Fast forward 8 years and I am still in London, still hooked on collecting. A good friend of mine with similar obsessions stayed over for the weekend and with the release of A Bathing Ape x Adidas collaboration looming we joked how crazy it would be to queue for these kicks like the suckers we saw on blogs and websites. Camping in the rain in the bitter cold just for a pair of shoes… ha ha ha, what a stupid thought!

We would never be THIS stupid, right? RIGHT?

Image via Vice

As we already started drinking in Soho I suggested we could at least attend the release party at the Adidas No.6 store to get some free beers and check out the models of the collaboration that were about to get released the next day. They were nice, no doubt. And the beer was mighty tasty too.

Images via TheSneakersbox

As the time went towards 11PM and the store was about to close we suddenly got approached by a guy ( yep, there is a pattern here: queueing is mostly a dudes game! ) who asked us if we would queue tonight for the shoes. He was the keeper of the queuing list and could offer us a good spot if we would give our names and get in. “Which spot would we get?” I asked. “You guys would be the 10th in line” he responded. How grown up and organised… TEMPTING!

What can I say, 5min later I was outside the store, the door locking in front of us and my mate rushing to my place to get a camping chair, sleeping bags, water and more beers! And so should my first camp out in the middle of Soho begin.

The night went quicker than expected, there was a bigger queue outside the official BAPE Store a couple of  streets away and time was wasted strolling through Soho at 5AM to get a coffee at Bar Italia, go for a pee in one of the side streets or having a chat with the other geeks waiting in line, all wrapped up in their camping chairs, fiddling with their iPhones or trying to sleep.

Ultimately we were actually even lucky the we stayed outside the Adidas Store as it opened a whole 2 hours before the BAPE store! So we left Soho each carrying three boxes of shoes containing the whole BAPE x Undftd x Adidas collaboration past the tired and grumpy stares from all the people still having to queue yet another two hours to get their hands on their pairs… What a camp out success!!!

Two years later: A SUPREMEly cold night

Whilst being at yet another launch of limited crap with free beers my good friend Alex from that first queueing experience fires me a screenshot about a very special shoe collaboration to be released.

As you can see another geek pattern emerges my dear reader: Collaborations! Being it Ronnie Fieg, Kanye West or Pharrell Williams: Collaborations make the hype world go around and sometimes even stand on it’s head. A bit like in this case…

OMG the Jordan 5 x Supreme drops in less than 13 hours!!!

Now, Supreme and Jordan Brand are heavy hitters of streetwear and the hype game so this was big big news. Especially as Supreme London would be the only store doing an in-store release in the Western world and that crazy desert camo pattern on the Jordan 5 already caused me many sleepless nights when the project was originally announced. I was already quite drunk and had time on my hands on the following day. Damn…

So this was a no brainer really: Off I went, quickly gathering supplies and heading out towards Soho at 1AM for my second queueing experience!

And what a crazy night that was! The queue was already 200 people deep with BAPE hoodies and Supreme allover outfits out in force. Quite some people looked like they joined the queue in a hurry the second the news dropped as they sat on the sidewalk just wrapped in a thin jacket with no camping seat or sleeping bag… hardcore!

Me on the other hand didn’t just pack my silly red Supreme thermos can which holds exactly one cup of hot tea, no I actually carried a whole hot water bottle with me which I happily shared with the freezing youngsters next to me. Good queueing karma and all that… Geek Grandpa knows! 

When dawn arrived the crowd got moving and started packing up the camping gear to form an orderly queue. Another thing I learned that night: Chinese girls must really, really, REALLY love their boyfriends!

I can’t believe how many young girls stood in the freezing cold the whole 13 hours just to get their boyfriend a pair of Supreme Jordans! My mind was spinning!!! If I would have proposed a similar thing to any girlfriend I ever had I would have got a slap whilst she laughed in my face for suggesting something such outrageous!

And very rightfully so!

After nearly 13 hours queueing we reached slowly the front of the store. People started to get unruly and there was a nervous tension in the air. Somehow it dawned on me how crazy it is to queue for such a long time just to get a pair of shoes. How good the marketing of Supreme is to inspire people to commit such acts of pure insanity!

Whilst I had a mini existential crisis amongst a weird mix of Supreme fanboys, Hypebeasts and greedy Resellers, some people kept cutting in and the atmosphere got more and more unpleasant and tense. There was a real thick cloud of greed in the air that stained the once peaceful vibe of a shared consumerist obsessional experience gone mad.

As it was way too late to get philosophical now I knew I just had to go Zen, ignore the pushing and shoving and concentrate on getting what I came here for: A  pair of white Supreme x Jordans Size UK 8.5! 

( I went for the white colorway in the end as the black and the white versions were Supreme only and would not get released by Nike as well like the desert camo colourway. See, I am clever after all… going for the rarest of the rare!  *pads himself on the back* )

Of cause I told myself repeatedly: This is crazy but at least I can resell them for some extra money if I change my mind about owning them! Making a profit would be the sensible and grown up thing right? Well what can I say… I still have them. 13 hours of waiting kinda made me emotionally attached to these shoes. Weird…

My 5 top tips for correct queueing

1. Dress to impress

Never dress down when queueing! Put on every piece of limited edition Hypebeast crap you can find, you are not queueing for food stamps but expensive clothes after all. So you might as well just go all out for it !

2. Be smooth sleeping rough

Get your camping chair, get an umbrella, get your hoodie, hat, gloves and Supreme face mask on! Supreme is not releasing camping items and thermo cans for nothing! Plus nobody wants to see a dude frozen to death outside a store in a skimpy jacket and flip-flops!

3. Don’t be a stranger!

When one is waiting in a queue like an idiot, despised and mocked by 99.95% of earths population passing by, you need all the bromance you can get to not get emotionally scarred for life! Share sneaker stories, offer to look after peoples place during urinal breaks and just chat shit. 

4. Know the deal

Where is the 24/7 coffee place that can provide shelter, food and a toilet? When does the closest McDonalds open again in the morning? How many pairs are getting released and what’s your number in the line? 

and the most important one…


Pushing in front of people who waited in line for 12 hours straight might be tempting but is not cool at all. So isn’t talking shit, stealing from peeps who are asleep or throwing attitude around. This is already horrible enough so nobody needs another sucker to cause more static.

So what’s the gist of this story?!

Am I mad? Do I have any regrets? Yes and no. Yes because it feels horrible to be a pawn in a game of money, greed, hype and shameless consumerism. No because the experience was somehow weird and fun as well. Would I do this on a regular basis? HELL NO!

But would I GENERALLY queue again for a rare pair of kicks? Never say never…

So when and where are the next Yeezys dropping? I  AM READY!

Solaris over and out!