The nineties weren’t bad. When people collaborated on projects, nobody slapped the presently ubiquitous X between collaborator names. They shoved that X right up there in the only name that matters–the singular brand-name. Executives at companies like Nike enjoy staring robotodreamily out their windows, surveying little fish-bowls like Portland and scheming up new ways to force-feed the notion that they’re not only relevant, but, get this–iconic–down culture’s consumption-addicted blogschlong-worn throat.
Manipulating your perception keeps their cool-consultants, marketing, advertising, publicity and street-team resources busy. Brands today are as iconic as their pockets are deep, their publicists are connected and everyone’s favors are owed. Beyond that, their products are what they are–the same crap they’ve been churning out for the past 20 years in a new colorway on another blog. There’s not much mystery there. There’s no sincere, primal cachet. There’s little style. There’s nothing to merit a glance back 15 years from now accompanied by the single-note sonata of a heartfelt pang of nostalgia for the story of why something was. In the nineties, the dotcom-induced virus of chronic entrepreneurial masturbation was neither as accessible nor pervasive as it is today. Creative people did creative shit because they were creative and they could. They had style to say, and damnit–that saying was gonna be said.
A few organizations came to epitomize merit-based brand-cachet in those years. X-girl was one of them. Kim Gordon, Daisy von Furth, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, Andy Jenkins, Chloé Sevigny, Mike Mills, Free Kitten, Sonic Youth, The Beastie Boys–they didn’t just wear the stuff–they were all involved in it. They packaged it their way. The shop was their shop. The cuts were their cuts. The visual vernacular was their vernacular. They sampled wisely from a disparate past and a pop-then, but the wells they pulled from were of their personalities–as opposed to the pong-like tedium of the inter-brand quoting so pervasive today.
Anyway, I’ve got a bunch of old catalogs scanned. I’m making animated gifs of them. This first one is a xeroxed/stapled mini-zine they did in 1994. I’ll post the others in the future if this one goes well. If it’s not animating for you, shut off your fucking iPhone and get on a real computer.