From the Email Archives — A Tribute to Gary Warnett

I rolled over to my side and engaged in the unhealthy act of checking my phone. My heart sunk.

"Eugene. It's Joy. I wanted to let you know that Gary Warnett has passed away today."

Gary Warnett (or GWARIZM) may not be a household name but in the world of sneakers and streetwear, he was truly influential in a sea of fake influencers. His sharp wit and assessment of the culture that he loved brought tremendous value. It was all at a time when we were in between worlds.

The offline world was being translated onto the web and somebody needed to serve as a bridge. A bridge that brought knowledge but also kept a generation honest on what it was like “back in the day.”

I met Gary on the greatest media trip of all-time, the 2008 Nike Pre-Olympic trip in Beijing. I was familiar with Gary’s work and I had long known that he was the standard to strive for in the industry which at the time, and even now, has only a handful of prolific journalists.

One evening, it was the two of us aimlessly standing around amidst some BMX demo. I recall being slightly nervous. It’s that feeling you get when you’re in a conversation, and you feel like you shouldn’t be there because you’re intellectually a few rungs down.

 

I think it was Gary’s humility and self-deprecating humor (maybe that was just the Britishness), that immediately put me at ease. There are a lot of things people will associate Gary with, and they’re all tangible. It’s the GORE-TEX, the white T-shirts, the Champion, the encyclopedia of sneaker knowledge, and a love of dogs, but that’s oversimplifying him.

What Gary brought forth was the ability to inspire you to want to know more, to realize honesty wasn’t something to shy away from, and that you should hold people accountable for the culture you care so much about.

There are moments as a writer or communicator or whatever you choose where the words just flow. It’s natural and calming. You’re not fighting the words, and you realize that it’s because the impact somebody has had on you is clear.

Thank Gary for that.

The below is an interview I did with Gary for my old personal site, EugeneKan.com (lol). Conducted over two weeks in January and February of 2010, we fired off long-winded emails and were simply shooting the shit. I only got to see Gary now and then, but almost eight years later, this exchange is the one that still sticks in my mind.

 


 

From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 01:52am

Hey what up Gary, thanks for being down with this… means a lot to get the chance to speak on a different platform with my peers. Just to get some minor stuff out of the way.

Imagery
-A picture of yourself
-Pictures of your everyday, maybe a workspace
-Pictures of that embody what you do
-Maybe some personal self-taken imagery that you found compelling (can you include a caption as to the image’s importance as well)
-Ideally high resolution (or at least 1200 px wide)

So onto the first question…

What’s going on Gary? Could you start off by introducing yourself and what’s your “claim to fame” these days?


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
1/26/10

What’s good Eugene? I always find introductions hard as I’m atrocious at selling myself.

My day job is working on Crooked Tongues, which means some word stuff and working with Charlie and the rest of the crew on some creative and retail-related bits and pieces. In my spare time I write some regular bits for Dazed & Confused, some other crapola online, and I’m talking to folks I respect a great deal about some other outlets for my over-enthusiasm.

I always stop a good distance short of calling myself a writer or journalist as those are titles I’d need to work significantly harder to earn. But conversely, I wouldn’t want “blogger” as my occupation in a local paper report if a bus mowed me down tomorrow. That’s my motive for self-improvement with the letters and paragraphs. So I haven’t got a claim to fame – my claim is that I’m an elevated fanboy. Well, only elevated in that occasionally I get interviews passed my way, which is always odd. Odd but flattering.

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Tue, Jan 26, 2010 at 03:39pm

Haha, I wonder how my obituary would read as well. Your response largely mirrors exactly how I feel. We’re at a point where a blogger in our industry is (still in my opinion) not a super desirable status. I think in some ways we still want to play the cool guy and leave the term blogger to the tech-industry to revel and embrace. I have noticed that through your personal blog GWARIZM you touch very profoundly on some, for lack of a better term, real niche, and underground shit. I sometimes force myself to Instapaper your articles cause I figure it’ll be good to learn something along the way. How does a personal blog and platform fit in and compliment all your other mediums such as Crooked and Dazed & Confused?


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
1/27/10

Yeah, at the end of the day, you can play cool guy, but we’re all just pushermen for the brands. I keep the blog – which is just some hobbyist self-indulgence, totally separate. It works on three tiers; that blog is at the bottom, free from the world of corporate dough, and keeps me sane. Crooked is next up, and for us, it’s still a labour-of-love, but it’s also a business, and thankfully it’s doing well. I guess we all have to toe the line – that’s why you’ve got this site too isn’t it? But obviously, we have to be diplomatic while giving the loyal readers what they want.

I would never slate something straight-up when we could be praising something else, but we try not to hyperventilate too much, or copy-paste press releases. No disrespect to those that do – many, many sites update a lot more than we do. And who actually reads copy beyond the nitty-gritty? I guess we’re kind of quaint in that regard. Today we had a great meeting and chat with Gourmet – a brand I’ve got a lot of respect for, which makes me realise why I love this industry, but then we got an angry phone call from another brand who thought they’d been dissed in the news section. I guess some brands are more than a little insecure – with good reason. When I started writing for the site, I knew Steve who was doing a lot of the news text was critical of weak retros, bad quality control and all that, so I decided to imitate that stance which is really born from bonafide passion for the subject matter.

It’s nice to have stepped up retail to the point where we can put money where our mouths are and buy what we’re feeling. That way we can link retail in without any insincerity. So yes, towing the line is a motherfucker. But I think we’re still more vocal than the majority of other sites, which is something we’re proud of. And everyone lives in fear of “sell out” barbs, but honestly – the second you’ve said something good to benefit a big corporation you’ve pretty much sold out. I’m comfortable with that. The site’s never been built on advertising, so the retail side is our bread and butter. If it wasn’t for that, I doubt Crooked would be around. I know it wouldn’t seeing as it was pitched as an online store to start with.

At the top, repping a total extreme, pieces for Dazed have been largely advertorial based, and in the footwear zone, but it’s nice to give smaller brands or more oddball releases some shine too. I get a fair amount of autonomy, and the folks there are dedicated to their craft. The ends justify the means, plus I like Dazed as a UK institution, and the styling is always outstanding in that publication.

I love print. I declared myself a writer one day and ended up reviewing hip-hop for a load of titles that folded, as well as SpineMagazine.com in 2000, which obviously birthed Crooked later that year. I was pretty terrible – super sycophantic. I got reprimanded for that by a magazine editor, and it was the most useful telling off I ever got. Maybe it birthed a monster. I skipped from music to sneakers as my target freebie of choice – you can’t YouSendIt download a shoe. I’ve probably Tweeted it before in a feeble attempt at humour, but if music journalists are all failed musicians, sneaker journos are failed music journalists.

Back on the blog topic, be careful Eugene…I’m always amending those blog entries when I find an omission or that I’ve got something wrong! I treat that site like a fanzine. Editing a WordPress entry is easier than breaking out the Tippex for typos. I actually only found the spellcheck about a month ago. Going back to blog entries I did on TMI in ’08 and Slam and Black Lodges last year, I found I enjoyed writing about stuff that gets me hyped. So it’s a hype blog of sorts. I hope some of the enthusiasm rubs off. Movies and hip-hop are my main loves, so they’re present. I also regret some of the earlier entries that were a pale imitation of A Continuous Lean and The Selvedge Yard – though to be fair, I see a lot of that. Remember when Hypebeast knockoffs were all over the place? It’s the same with wack sites telling me that wearing some jeans and a Woolrich jacket looks quite good. Really? No shit Sherlock! I just want to create the kind of crap I’d be pleased to discover while aimlessly Googling.

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Thu, Jan 28, 2010 at 12:04am

We surely walk along the same lines with both personal and commercial platforms to tend to. I’d take a guess that like myself if nobody read your blog it wouldn’t really affect you. But in regards to your work-related writing, I think you do have a little bit more room to work than I do with regarding Crooked Tongues thanks to a well-established editorial voice. In all honesty, nobody comes to Hypebeast for the literature, it’s all about the images… oh and the release date and location. But at least your ability to truly tell it how you feel makes me a bit jealous at times. We’ve all but figured that for us at Hypebeast, our strength lies is in objective views of relatively pointless products.

Or maybe I would just find it that difficult to write without being overly critical cause I’ve succumbed to the notion that what we do IS a business and the best interests of my viewers sometimes come into play as well. Oh Kanye did what… INSTA-POST!!! Do people ever tell you that they feel as though you’ve over-intellectualized some of the topics you speak about? Sometimes I feel that for people to get the point and maintain interest you may even have to dumb down your writing and references cause even I’m often left scratching my head haha. But at the same time, I can appreciate it that beyond the sneakers and the T-shirts lies an intelligent bunch of personalities that drive our passions.


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
1/28/10

I think you could be being a little hard on yourself there. Hypebeast’s level of writing is strong – it gets the message out there and does its best to keep it correct. Plus Kanye fascinates me – he knows how to work the internet buzz better than any corporation.

The interviews and features have been excellent too. I know everyone’s giving their interviews lofty titles now – ‘McDonald’s: Redefining Beef’ type shit! But I think it still needs to have strong content and yourself, Kevin and the crew are bringing depth, when to be fair, given the popularity and the necessary, you don’t necessarily need to. It’s got to be tough too in the current climate where furniture, modern art, books, grooming products, music, and movies have fallen into the hype lexicon? It’s cool for us because it’s just sneakers.

All the majority will ever want – quite understandably, is the facts. Truth be told, most product led sites are based on the elevation of something that could be deemed pointless, but it holds a certain resonance for a certain somebody and makes them happy. Which can only be a good thing. It was entertaining when Hypebeast developed a surly attitude around ’07 for a few months though. I’ve written things sarcastically then felt like shit because I’ve had a moment-of-clarity when I remember reading the site and taking it very seriously as a fan and I’ll feel I’ve abused that.

If people need to go Google, then, to be honest, I’m doing my job badly! I hope no one’s thought to imitate the Crooked writing style. Otherwise they’re gonna get the same flak too.

I’m always getting told I’ve gone overboard on the references. And truth be told, it makes me feel bad, because It’s crazy that anyone would read my writing – especially with my cavalier approach to punctuation. I’ve never over intellectualised, because I lack the intellect. I think people mistake insecurity for intellect. I’m just padding stuff out to fill two paragraphs. Plus, when your output is lower than other sites on the news front, you can’t just copy a press release. That same need to babble on is where criticism creeps in.

A few years back, brands weren’t phased by online, but now they seem to treat that coverage like they used to a paper press clipping. So they’re more liable to catch feelings and start whining. Some PRs treat any online like it’s worthy, and that can be like taking a clipping of a parish council newspaper in terms of coverage which is hilarious to me. There’s cash in confusion though, and the blog culture has got some public relations folk scrambling around like the Three Stooges.

Shouts to the good PR and comms folk who help me out daily – and they know who they are, but there’s some terrible PRs out there. I’ve found most folk in this industry to be cool, but some brands stumble with the blank-eyed PR characters they employ to rep at a trend level. It’s some call center script-type shit when I’ve spoken to some people, and it reflects on a brand badly – get some passion! Same goes for piss-poor press releases. I’ve had a brief dalliance with comms, PR and writing releases, so I feel partially qualified to vent. Though I have been sent press releases I wrote, which is a little creepy.

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 01:22am

Without resorting to a bit of an industry circle jerk, I appreciate the words. The Crooked Tongues crew is too legit, and I think your ability to tell the story through so much info dropping is admirable. At the end of the day, I think we’ll both agree, there was a time when blogging fell to the depths of media trash. While it still exists in many forms due to the virtually non-existent barriers to entry, things are changing for the better. The days of being the next High Snobiety, Slam X Hype or Hypebeast and making money through Google Adsense is probably a bit off their rocker. How long can you rip off the big site’s word for word before the money doesn’t equate to the efforts?

Actually taking the term “Hypebeast” in a broader sense hasn’t been all that difficult. The cheap little tactic has always been the co-sign. See who’s co-signing and see if it’s worthy. Far from a hard fast rule, but it helps you frame things properly to set up for filtration. Ok that sounded a bit over-analytical, but there are things at the tip of the iceberg that are newsworthy outside our usual content, but unless we’re sure of it, ain’t nobody going to catch feelings if we don’t put it up.

On the PR note… let’s release a book… “How to Do PR Online for Dummies” haha. While not to offend my PR friends, some people just come so incorrect, you can’t tell if it’s a lack of understanding or just a general lack of intelligence. Moving on though… I remember a few emails ago you dropped this little ditty on me “I’m a Brit, so we revel in people’s failures and told-you-so’s…”. Is there something intertwined into the culture of Britain that promotes that sort of thinking? How does it apply to footwear and fashion?


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/2/10

Exactly on the PR front. Seriously – brands if you’re looking for someone to communicate your brand, holler! I want to go corporate soon. I’ve always been perplexed by the profitability of copying hype site posts word-for-word and being called ‘Urbanhype’ or some such shit. Maybe they know something we don’t know and are pushing Maybachs on the adword loot.

On the main topic, I believe Morrissey’s ‘We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful’ sums it up in one line, but the great British attitude has long been to build them up and smash them down on the perception they’ve become too big for their boots. London in particular definitely feels like it’s on the up in terms of creativity and positive spirit, but it’s full of disparate tribes. Obviously, I’m not privy to what goes on behind the scenes, but NYC, Paris, and Berlin tend to have a mix of high-end and street level, whereas London is so sprawling that there seems to be little crossover. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an excellent sense of community with my friends in the industry, and I’m sure the recession has created a few unlikely alliances, but we Brits have a tendency towards the scowl. I like that, because I’m pretty patriotic when it comes to perceptions of us – I love the idea that we’re ultra critical. I think we should excel in writing and critique – that’s one beautiful stereotype I wish we could maintain in our work, but honestly, I see a lot of bullshit getting feted over here. You know what? I wish we were MORE cynical!

I guess the UK’s offerings to the world of fashion courtesy of some subcultural booms are well documented, but most of the best are a “fuck you” at that cynicism – some weekend warrior hedonism mind states. I think timeless pieces like our knitwear, tweeds, countryfied leather shoes and waxed coats were made for a customer who wanted something classy but quiet and long-lasting with minimum fuss – basically the byproduct of our reserved ways, so that’s got to be a good thing…it generates a nice style legacy from these shores. Anger is our energy, but we’re not as vocal about it as some of our Euro-spending neighbors…

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 03:54am

I don’t think I could make the jump to corporate dollars, not right now anyways… I don’t have any little Eugenes running around that I need to feed and put through school. London’s scene seems to mirror a bit that of Hong Kong’s. But I must concede that I’m not all that knowledgeable of who is exactly in cahoots with who, and who isn’t. I just always got the feeling that people had their own agenda and it was ALWAYS their needs first and foremost without a true sense of community. Or maybe I was unfair to extrapolate the consistent behaviors of drunk bankers in Lan Kwai Fong on the weekend as the general sentiment throughout Hong Kong’s creative scene. I personally try my best to not be that “too cool” guy that doesn’t say hi, instead choosing to remain dormant in my bedroom blogging 24/7… ok jokes aside it seems as though British cynicism is like… like Canadian generosity? Both parties feel like they have the need to play it up because it’s ingrained into their cultural roots.

It’s funny my next question was, in fact, going to touch upon exactly what you just slated at the end of your response. The so-called “reserved” ways of British fashion and more notably sneaker culture… does that mean that 98% of the time a shoe pitched to most Brits embodying earthy tones, black and gray are an automatic sure-in. Now I haven’t visited the CT forums for some time, but back in the day, it seemed to be a slightly generalized statement that could be used to describe the tastes of your British brethren. Actually, this notion was something confirmed by some heads at New Balance as well. Has this changed with a new generation of sneaker “buyers?”


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/2/10

I think dormant is the best route. Most ‘cool guy’ types out there are just jabbering on and on but aren’t saying anything. Maybe they get some promo tat thrown their way, but they’re wanking for change really. I do think there’s a uniquely British aesthetic when it comes to snea…sorry…trainers and it’s ingrained in our lifestyle. Taking the climate into account, pub culture love of clean running styles and some of the oddities that became legendary via football terraces…which paradoxically tend to be tennis, handball and training pieces. I’m still pleased with the reception to our take on the adidas London. Now that’s a shoe that’s got to be a mystery to anyone outside Europe. Slimline and made for lifestyle rather than any performance in the first place, I’m sure some bike types were feeling the shape, but I love the regional nature of a product like that. DC has the Goadome, NY (Brooklyn?) has Ranger Boots, then there’s weird stuff like the Sorel Caribou…I know I’m comparing some performance pieces here…and we have the simple training shoes. I’m sure each looks goofy to a different market.

I think there’s a justified restraint on our part – bits like the New Balance 1300, PUMA Dallas and Nike Bongo that I grew up wanting were always in neutral shades. There’s a certain eloquence in the design language of drabness. People just want something they can wear straight out the box time and time again. In Japan, Oshmans and United Arrows often implement that same approach to shoes time and time again, and it pays dividends. Looking at the market, I think there’s more earthy or clean, tonal bits in favour. All black everything, the whole ‘Made In The USA’ craze, etc. So Crooked’s forum heads were right all along! That new conservatism that crept into subcultures at street level globally just reinforces what they were saying years ago…

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 08:39pm

It seems the British stance to trainer fashion is a bit of a paradox. On one side of things, you were deemed to be old-school and behind the times with ultra-classic styles and a penchant for all that was authentic, and exactly as we’ve seen, this is what is the dominant theme these days. Yet when things turn the corner once again as they always do and we’re all on some ridiculous pieces of footwear design with a 3-month lifespan, the British movement will once again be saddled with the title of being behind the times.

From a brand that was best known for its promotion of sneaker culture and now also peddling sneakers, was the addition of this new role a difficult one? Did you or Charlie have any previous retail experience?


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/5/10

Ha ha! I’m pleased that trends will come and go, and that we’ll stay constant, doing what we do. Things will move on, but personally, my tastes are a mix of the sensible and slightly stranger. I don’t understand the preoccupation with adopting your new “thing” and then ditching everything else. It’s tunnel-visioned and pretty one-dimensional. I know everyone’s trying to play the pseudo intellect at the moment, and it’s totally unconvincing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got plenty of non-sneaker designs in the cupboard, but I’m not taking some hand-sewn, authentically remade human blood dyed moccasins, constructed by 150-year-old craftsmen by the banks of the Mississippi because some herb is telling me they’re better than blowjobs. Cheers, but I’ll stick with some Blazers.

While I’ve left the cap on my haterade bottle loose, if I’m honest, personally I’d like to be deemed behind the times. If you’re chasing “cool kid” status, you need to fix up, but if you’re thirty or over and chasing that validation, well…you’re beyond help… influencers… opinion formers? What’s all that shit about? I find it depressing. It doesn’t help that those assigning “cool” badges are usually burn-outs on an idea hunt. Maybe I’m quaint in my ways, but my idea of a cool kid is someone with specialist subjects and genuine passion rather than some vapid walking skim-read. We have access to so much information, and motherfuckers are still without a clue? It’s baffling really.

Speaking of getting a clue, neither Charlie or I had any prior retail experience. I did work experience in a comic shop, but that just involved reading ‘Punisher: War Zone’ and blaring the ‘Judgment Night’ soundtrack. Things done changed since then! We knew how to promote stuff, but buying was difficult. Wander into a showroom with signs of weakness, and you’ll be cajoled into minimums of 1000! Sometimes as a fanboy it’s hard not to gravitate to the older stuff, failing to remember a broader customer base. The dream is to sell the basic, staple models alongside the flossier stuff – remember Rivington Club selling some Saucony performance bits next to top tier releases? That’s my type of shit. By appointing a buyer, we can consult heavily, but not be bogged down with Excel and phone calls. Things have taken shape these last few months, and we’re pretty pleased with the progress. We’re learning every day, and it’s still pretty fun. Hopefully, an impending relaunch of the site will bring everything together and help things run more tightly.

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Sat, Feb 6, 2010 at 05:55am

I think that’s perhaps one of the best ways to describe a cool kid. But up until 3 minutes ago, I had never really put too much thought into what it represents. I think that the whole goal of trying to achieve this cool kid status or Hypebeasting out of control is an unfortunate one that finds its roots in a culture that has let down certain individuals. Probably a bold statement… actually yeh it is… but the justification of self-worth through the products you consume… why can’t society just love people more, and we wouldn’t have this problem haha. But then again, I see nothing wrong with true passion and love for any subject, however obscure. It’s better than not having a reason to like something.

Buying must be a harrowing experience for you guys. You seem to know EXACTLY what you like but of course at the end of the day, as a business, you need to sell for a greater audience. I’m actually far from familiar the whole ordering process when it comes to a retailer, but if all the new updates I see every day on Crooked Tongues are any indication, I’d say you guys have pretty much nailed it. I’m not sure if I credit the sneaker designers, or you guys cause it seems as though there’s little in the form of ugly, unwearable trainers.


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/7/10

Good points – I’d never thought about it that way. I love material items, and I’m sure they fill a void in my life. Society will always push itself to the point where the population needs a form of escapism. A lot of my friends laugh at the whole hoarder thing – for the most part, few of my best friends have any interest in any sphere of the subcultures I’m obsessing over. I used to think they were crazy to not feel the same sense of feverish excitement over a tape, movie screening, shoe or t-shirt that I was, but as I get older I start to realise I’m the one with the problem! But it’s great to just be preoccupied with something that’s got enough depth and reference points to just keep moving ad infinitum, even if that means it has a tendency to feed on itself during slow news weeks. While I think my blog output is a little too stuck in the past for its own good, I try not to become some prick who decides that everything post-2000 is shit. That’s the kiss of death.

We try to buy product we’re feeling…maybe we wouldn’t wear it all, but it’s got some authenticity at some level. By not wearing it, I mean I personally can’t wear slimline designs like the vintage Gazelle, but I still consider it a masterpiece. There’s a lot of people not feeling my Griffey Max retros either because it’s all subjective. I mean, shit, I’d happily just wear three or four silhouettes until I die, but that attitude isn’t conducive to good buying. Bar those still making the gimmicky concept stuff I think there’s less ugly stuff out there – there’s some pointless bits if you’re a purist, but I think the recession may have put a dampener on some of the really bad shoes. It probably got sampled, but a lack of purchases at sales time meant it never made the cut. We still can’t buy into the truly experimental performance pieces, but it would be great to have them instore at some point. That recent Pegasus GTX runner is good, and had some crossover potential, but I respect Nike’s decision to keep it on the performance side. After all, that’s what the brand’s built on. With the Ashiko boot, we love it, but we’re aware it splits opinion fairly unevenly. Still, we wanted to buy into it and support it, but the next challenge is conveying the weight, texture and feel online. Physical retail is a far more tactile experience.

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From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 02:40am

I too love material items, there’s something about product design that I really appreciate. Industrial design’s satisfaction of aesthetics and function is the foundation of many of the products I enjoy and seek to obtain. And having said that, that’s why I look at some segments where you can really own something that’s top-of-the-line, looks badass and performs to boot. Sports cars are out of my reach but folding knives, pens, flashlights, notebooks, they’re all the dumb shit that you can own something of high-quality without breaking the bank.

No doubt the whole recession brought two divisive forms of thinking, people thought #1: tough times brings out the simplicity and timeless aspect of design or #2: time to go balls out and make something truly memorable and crazy to offer that differentiation. While I saw both sides, #1 seemed the much more legitimate argument. I wonder how many shoppers keep in mind the disconnection they face when they shop online? Do they know that perhaps a good feeling about a product can and might turn into a sure-buy if they see it in person? Despite what Hypebeast essentially is, a glorified buyer’s guide at times, I still don’t really know how our readers shop. I rarely if ever buy clothing online cause of my stupid proportions and I simply can’t risk it. But are others quite willing to make the jump? Hopefully, the Internet becomes a buyer’s tool rather than solely a place to buy. That’s how I’d like it to be anyways.


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/8/10

The disconnected part of online shopping is something we’re trying to minimise on Crooked at the moment. Not being able to try on or touch is a big thing to miss out on – I’ve always been a little gung-ho, so I rarely try on instore, but I know the majority do. By tightening the delivery and returns sides of the buying experience, there’s a safety net of sorts, and allowing published feedback regarding fit, quality, etc. Just trying to be as detailed as possible with the copy… being an old fucker, I was obviously raised in a time when visiting the sports store was an exciting thing, seeing new releases, handling technologies – of course in the late ’80s and the early ’90s they were plentiful, begging for booklets and promo materials…sorry if I’m getting carried away in nostalgia land, but we want to push that on the site. We’re not at that ideal point now by any means, but it’s a target. At present we hope the enthusiasm outweighs the cynicism on there and proves infectious.

I like the buyer’s guide feel of blogs showing items like Hypebeast does. It enlightens me, and it’s funny how much stuff has me immediately running it through and inner, decisive flow-chart to determine the most efficient route of getting something. Chances of getting it at retail? Possible markups due to unavailability? Do I have a connect who can hook me up? Should I go straight to eBay? It’s kind of fun. I’m sure as time goes on, blogs will expand the retail side like you did with the Subcrew and Zeitfrei adi pieces. Why not? Shit, you can hype it up as much as you want to determine desirability. It’s like insider trading!

For the most part, on hype blogs, everything, from shoes to an overpriced piece of GORE-TEX is within reach of a working income minus dependents. That’s a hefty generalisation of course, and the focus on more and more luxury goods in the current confusion can negate it, but I think the feasibility of ownership makes all the difference. It’s all aspirational to a certain consumer, but predominantly reachable.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 04:40pm

I think that what you might be able to effectively do is usher in a new way to buy shoes. I’ve always been a firm believer that while you cannot replicate the offline experience, you can take various steps (however more tedious) to sort of strive for that ultimate goal of providing a similar offline experience… but online. Alas, it’s still a light at the end of the tunnel dilemma, you’re never going to reach it, but you should still very much strive for it.

We can all lament how the Internet and globalization have taken away from the fact that everything is so accessible, products, information, and all that jazz. But I guess you’ve also seen the transformation of product acquisition 2.0 where different factors are now coming into play whereas before, it was a matter of being there at that point in time. If anything it was less heart-breaking, if you weren’t at that particular store, you probably would have never even known about that release!

Kevin and I have spoken about taking a more retail side of things, but from a product perspective, it seems like a double-edged sword. It’s true that you can blast your own product at the click of a mouse button, but even then people can very easily become tired of it. I remember drawing out the Zeitfrei preview process and seeing people bitch about the close-up macro shots haha. So on that note, aside from your own medium, you had better hope you have good connections elsewhere I guess. Fortunately, I’ve developed some good relationships along the years, but outside of online I really have little correspondence with my print-media counterparts… and we still know that print media is very much still a respected platform.


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/10/10

Acquisition 2.0! I still get a kick out of flicking through old copies of Boon and Relax, and seeing projects that totally went beneath the radar for me. Now you can RSS and Google Read to your heart’s content, but do you ever find it curious that so much stuff pre-Hypebeast, HS or Slam just seems to have vanished from the internet? Lost in site revamps or maybe the good stuff was on Geocities, I find myself wondering if some stuff even existed. Thank god Being Hunted keep an excellent archive…Freshness content seems to have sustained too, but I do forget about the mad Japan-only stuff like the R. Newbold x Slam City collection or Gravis’s shoe with Supreme. Sometimes it’s nice to be surprised, but for all the wistful talk, I’d rather be in the loop.

Print press is a really overrated thing. I’m a total printhead, and I still wonder why I get excited if I see my name in print. I sometimes wonder if it’s just an old PR guard terrified of the digital era, or it’s just tradition to take print seriously. Few newspapers seem to cover anything with any level of reliability, and while I love Wired, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair – I’m a sucker for eight-page investigations, just being in print aren’t enough for me. I’m not going to congratulate you just for porting what I could see online into a paper stock. My expectations are vastly higher when I’m shelling over the cash – I expect excellence. I guess that’s why folk take it so seriously. Magazines like Sang Bleu, Paradis, Lurve and Purple will always be superior to the online experience, but honestly, I’m finding it harder and harder to find what I want. I used to buy fifteen or more titles a month and wince at the eighteen Euro ones, now I trust the costly quarterlies or ‘zines from out of nowhere, rather than the monthlies scraping the barrel. But the workings behind the scenes, from experience, are different to the more informal goings on in the blogosphere. It seems like a closed circle – that’s why public relations folk can charge so much, and I guess it needs to keep that mystique to thrive. Folk take certain aspects of it very seriously, to the point of self-parody, but I think that should theoretically keep it ahead of the democracy that online provides.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 05:08am

I’ve always viewed the Internet’s weakness (and I feel it’s appropriate for all powerful and mighty things to have weaknesses) is that its content is still curated. Niche cultures or products are only available for sharing IF somebody chooses to share it. So having said that, it’s definitely the chance for something to get lost in general on the basis that one doesn’t deem it important enough to share with the rest of the world. And luckily maybe through a combination of things such as lack of infrastructure, lack of digital cameras and generally people having a lot less time to waste on computers, you don’t have an abundance of interesting product archived cause, so few examples existed in digital form.

While print may be losing ground from a respectability stand-point, relatively speaking and I think you’ll agree it does garner more respect than print. I think the unfortunate aspect of the web is that it has some my negative by-products that take away from the experience. The overabundance of spam, unfiltered mass content and the fact anybody can claim a soap box, the lack of barriers to entry have really opened the doors to a wide spectrum. You have real good shit, but you have a lot of terrible shit that drags the average down I think. But of course, I’m focusing on the negative aspect of it all, print gets slaughtered by online by sheer numbers and interactivity. What are your takes on the re-birth or salvaging of so-called print via eBooks and readers?


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/11/10

I think with the sheer information onslaught, if you’re savvy enough to run a bullshit filter psychologically, there’s so much great stuff online. Someone’s into anything you want to find out about. Looking at searches that led to my blog, it’s funny how many people were running the same searches that I was running that were just finding disparate crap, so I hope I’ve sated that need for at least a couple of individuals.

I really love reading, and I enjoy just letting a paperback, or magazine get battered and espresso stained, so I found the notion of some fucking robo-book difficult from a conceptual point-of-view. I don’t get the Kindle at all. It’s the literary equivalent of those dumb arse plastic cigarettes that look like crack pipes. But I’m aware that I’m an enemy of progress in that regard. I think the industry should be wary. It would be pretty sad to see authors and publishers ruined by torrents, RARs, ZIPs, and all that other stuff. But I can understand where the iPad and tablet boom will take us, with subscriptions, updates and the potential access to information, and can you imagine Google Books at the moment without having to use a cursor? I’d be happy to be able to flick through the Vibe and New Yorker back catalogue, even if it is just a simulation of the browsing experience. But seeing as I’m a Luddite who finds paying for MP3s strange, whether I ever feel inclined to buy a digital copy of a book or regular publication is doubtful.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

From: Eugene Kan
To: Gary Warnett
Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 03:28am

I’m a firm believer that pretty much anything can be institutionalized with time. That is with enough repetition anything can become mainstream. Reading as you and I know it today will have a very different connotation in 5-10-20 years. The difficulty lies for us who have had experiences on different sides of the coin. Personally, I’ve adapted these weird reading habits where I need everything condensed into a narrow column so that my scans across the lines only occupies a few words before I jump to the next line. I read print for the first time a few weeks ago with a book, and at times I felt myself struggling to stay focused. Not sure what’s wrong with me, I’m fucked if I ever go back to school haha. I just hit the word count feature on Google Docs… 5526 words. About 5426 words more than an average Hypebeast blogpost I do (about 70 words per post haha). Any last words from your end? What can I expect out of Gary Warnett apart from more great write-ups on Crooked Tongues?


Eugene Kan | Managing Editor | Hypebeast.com | EugeneKan.com
Tel: +011 852 6392 6163
Email – eugene.kan@hypebeast.com
AIM: eugenekanHB | MSN: eugene.ps.kan@gmail.com | Skype: eugene.ps.kan Twitter – http://twitter.com/eugenekan | flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eugenekan

From: Gary Warnett
To: Eugene Kan
2/12/10

AND IT ENDS! 5000+ words? Fuuuuuck!

Man, if I didn’t have such a long commute into London each day, I would become illiterate…e-literate? It’s easy to assume everything should be summarized for a skim read. I like Twitter because it’s basically, brevity boot camp if U dnt wnt 2 resort to text talk.

In geeking out we’ve pushed that word limit Eugene. Let’s be honest – no one is reading at this point in this feature. We’re free to say what we want.

But seriously? Next up? I have no idea. More punishingly referential paragraphs on sports footwear, ummm…Tweeting nonsense…more blogs – actually I need to get more frequent on that – twice a week is pretty piss-poor. Hopefully, I’ll be writing some non-shoe stuff for some friends’ print magazines, maybe doing some stuff for the new version of a site that got me blogging in the first place. I feel lucky to do what I do for a living, but I don’t want to get typecast as “sneaker dude.” New Crooked is coming, and it looks really good. Then…well, then I want my corporate gig. When you’re pushing 32 you need to fall back and let the next generation…actually about three generations…take over if you’re talking about sneakers all day. I’m old, and it’s a young man’s game. Thank you for the intense level of conversation. You know I could talk shit all day.

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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