ANOTHER BLOG + Steven Vogel .interview 002.

Here is a 'back number' interview I did with independent writer Steven Vogel early last summer after the release of his book STREETWEAR- Insiders Guide. Despite the somewhat unattractive title the book is very honest and intelligently written. Nonetheless, the interview turned out to be a interesting set of Q&A and actually demonstrated one reoccurring theme throughout his book, the Internet and how it has almost single handedly shaped the way street culture is organized. Having exchanged everything for this interview via e-mail was something very ironic for me.

First off, can you give us a little bit of your background and information on what you’re currently up to?

I’m a skater, musician, fan and writer. Most of my past time I spent partying, skating and / or making music or fretting about music, and occasionally I write for a living too. Currently, or for the last year I’ve been working with Burton on all their special projects which has been very enjoyable. Mostly, I sit around play guitar, think too much, sometimes write the thoughts down and drink too much.

What motivated you to start your book STREETWEAR?

I have always liked writing and the subject matter is second nature to me, and in combination with my previous endeavors one thing led to another. It wasn’t as if I woke up one morning and said to myself “well damn Vogel, time to write that streetwear book today.” It all came about quite organically.

In the book you chose a host of persons to discuss their thoughts and roots in culture. What is it that you see in those individuals that represent the essence of street culture?

For one, the majority of people I chose we’re either friends, colleagues and / or people who’s work I have been into over the years. After that I chose some other contributors based on their contribution to the whole to bring a little subjectivity to the table.

Blogs have played a major role in the development of streetwear, one that is positive or negative depending on the person. Do you feel that they can ultimately ruin the true meaning of street culture, putting focus more on hype than the people and ideas behind it?

No. Blogs cannot, lazy people that rest on their laurels can. There are some blogs and web magazines out there that really do contribute creatively and intelligently to the whole, which is great.

With the recent explosion of the fixed gear bike culture and New Rave, what place do you feel they have in street culture?

Well, that’s for each one of us to decide, I am hardly anyone to tell other people what is cool and what not. If people are into it, right on, that’s their gig and if they have to call it street culture to escape their sheltered suburban hell, cool. All I know for myself is that I couldn’t give a shit about New Rave, or rave in general, I have always hated that shit. I never understand the co-relation some people, especially in Europe, try to create between dance culture and what I am into and wrote about. Someone once told me it was all about looking hot in a club, but that’s bullshit. When I grew up I was never let into these “cool” clubs wearing what I wanted so I spent my time skating at night and hanging out with my friends. That’s something people really forgot today, being into what I wrote about wasn’t cool in 90s.

What ultimately makes a particular movement ‘accepted’ in culture? Is it just based off the fact some respected people are into the subject?

Interesting point, I never really thought about it like that and yeah you
are right. It's an interesting discussion whether the "fans" determine what street
culture is or those who provide the goods that constitute street culture.
It’s almost a catch 22 situation, chicken and egg sorta thing. That's why I don't consider myself to be so much a part of what this subculture has turned into. I think I am still stuck in the 90s.

What is the current state of street culture, where do you think its going?

Again, that’s something very individual I think. I know people who are completely fed up with it all and still participate in it every day because it is their job. On the other hand I also know people that after 20 years are still very passionate about it. I guess I am trying to say that you cannot generalize it, I think there are parts of what used to be street culture, which have removed itself from the greater part of it and new elements, have together. Some say this youth sub culture is becoming the new “urban” and to a certain degree I can see those signs as well, but there will always be an angry rebellious underbelly to it, that it is not urban outfitters conform.

Tell us some of your favorite young talent in street culture. Who are some brands/people you feel are promising, focusing more on substance than hype?

A young new brand, that’s a tough one, I really like Garbstore out of London, and even though it’s young brand, the person behind it has been at it for a long time.

In regards to American, European, and Asian corporations which do you feel have made the best attempt to understand street culture?

None, even though some American corporates have hired some interesting people, it will interesting how well they will do within the corporate confines.

To me doing a book solely on the streetwear aspect of street culture opens up a lot of possibilities, would you consider making a series of books focusing on different aspects of street culture?

Absolutely not, and maybe yes. At this point in time I am really not interested in making another book on youth culture, especially one that focuses on clothing. Maybe on Music or on People, that could be interesting.

Any last words?

Enjoy yourself it’s later than you think.

Black Lodges│Steven Vogel

Interview originally recorded on 4 June, 2007

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