The "letterman" jacket is instantly recognisable as a symbol of belonging. From it’s roots in 50s American college sports teams it signified membership to an elite club- a garment that had to be earned by being on the team. A classic silhouette- part peacoat warmth, part bomber-jacket tough, the two-toned letterman merges sports heritage with references to youth subcultures from practically every decade since the 50s, where it has become an icon of the street as well as the stadium. Nike Sportswear’s limited edition interpretation, irreverently called THE DESTROYER, was always going to be a strictly luxurious affair just as we’ve come to expect from the most premium division of Nike.
What’s in the name? Back in ’06, Nike designers began a mission to re-craft iconic sports apparel in the most-technical materials they could find. The ubiquitous American varsity jacket was an obvious choice for the experiment that would become Nike Sportswear. Raiding the All Conditions Gear (ACG) innovation cache, they found fabrics, laminates and bonding methods that could brave nasty weather but still look fresh. The first letterman’s jacket was for an imaginary team called the Dunk High Destroyers. Limited numbers were produced. The next version got even more technical, but the Destroyer name stuck. The laser-cut, waterproof, bonded zipper became a signature feature of those early hybrids, encapsulating what you often couldn’t see on the products: futuristic functionality that never detracts from a timeless aesthetic.
The NYC edition of the Destroyer Jacket has already hit the Big Apple back in December. To celebrate the launch of the limited edition London Destroyer this week (at Selfridges and Nike’s own 1948 concept store) Dazed pulled together a new kind of “London team”. A group that reflects the attitude and irreverence of London now. 8 individuals who in their own diverse fields (sport, music, art, fashion) are pushing boundaries with an unmistakably “London Attitude”. We talked to them about what their city means to them and a little bit more about what they do, whilst they don the jacket that symbolises their allegiance to the capital. Remember it has to be earned!
DOMINIC WALDOUCK // TINIE TEMPAH
Dominic Waldouck planned on going to Cambridge but joined the Wasps Academy instead and is now a rugby union player for the London Wasps for whom he played the Guinness Premiership Final in 2008. “Growing up I was always quite a sporty kid and I had a desire to play sport, particularly rugby, so I think that desire to win was always inside of me. I believe its taken a lot of dedication and hard work to get to where I am now, although theres a long way to go to achieve what I want to achieve which is to play for England and win a World Cup for England. I think the stereotype of a rugby player is sort of, a bit of a meat-head who doesn’t enjoy cultural activities but I just try and be who I am. The way I’ve been brought up in London, the influences I’ve had growing up makes me, and then I play rugby as well. I don’t see rugby shaping my personality, but it’s just that I happen to be a rugby player.”
London-born and bred MC on Parlophone and DL Records describes his sound as ‘in-describe-able’.
“Basically, I’m a product of my environment. I’ve grown up and lived in London all my life, originally in Peckham in a council estate and then later moved to Plumstead further out. So I’ve experienced the good and the bad to a certain extent and obviously changing schools quite a lot has kind of made me appreciate different cultures. I first got into it MCing when I heard So Solid Crew ’21 seconds’, I could still rap you all the words right now. I had a friend from school who lived a bit closer to the city so he could pick up some of the frequencies of the pirate radio stations like Déjà Vu. He used to just give me tapes of Dizzee Rascal, Tinchy Stryder, Sharkie Major, Kano, so I heard the commercial aspect of garage, pirate and rap but he also gave me the raw hard elements and that became my avenue of going toe-to-toe with some of those MCs and making friends, building relationships with some of them.
The grime MC scene has changed in different aspects since I started. Now it’s more publicised and become more mainstream. I think a lot more people have embraced it and recognised it as a staple sound of British culture and I think it’s a great thing. There’s not so many pirate radio stations anymore where MCs will get together in a room and go back-to-back but I think it’s evolved from there where people are more concerned about making songs or albums as opposed to doing freestyles and doing mixtapes.”
ATALANTA WELLER // ERIC UNDERWOOD
Two-time NEWGEN winning London-based shoe designer attempts to bridge the gap between the wearable and the sculptural
“There’s kind of two parts to my designs for women’s shoes - there’s the more structural, set pieces which I love but then there’s the more commercial collection which is very much in the same vein and has the same feel and the same look but… you can walk in them! To make a technically beautiful shoe that’s comfortable and really sexy as well reflects what I try to do because I think shoes should make you feel fantastic and I love to push the technical boundaries to try and make that happen; be that in the materials or in the process of how they’re made.
I started designing, when I was doing sculpture for my Art foundation, because I’ve always loved architecture and sculpture and kind of, 3-dimensional form but I also love the technical side of making something function because there are so many rules and it’s so exciting to push those rules, to kind of bend them and to see where you can go. They’re also such a tangible size, I really love the detail and working in tenths of millimetres and the precision, yeah, something I love as well.
Winning NEWGEN for the second time was something just really amazing, it’s the best thing to get that endorsement really, from the people you really respect and look up to, and obviously that opens so many doors."
Eric Underwood moved to London from New York three years ago to join the Royal Ballet as a soloist and hasn’t looked back since, dancing a mix of both contemporary and classical roles.
“When I was 14 I auditioned to be an actor and I failed miserably and I walked out and I saw a couple of girls stretching for dance and so I auditioned for that. Since being in London I’ve been able to pursue modelling as well.
If it weren’t ballet, it would be some form of dance dance because I’m just a person who really enjoys movement whether it’s at the Royal Opera House or out on a Friday night.
London happens to be a place that has one of the most traditional ballet companies in the world, probably one of the best in the world. America is quite a young country so you cant find an appreciation for traditional ballet as you’d find in a place like London, Paris or Russia so when the opportunity was presented I jumped out of the window running for it”
FABIEN KRUSZELNICKI // HARRY MALT
Fine Art graduate turned fashion photographer focuses his camera on young new designers, capturing youth in the moment
“I do more menswear photography than womenswear and I work with a lot of young, smaller designers. People like Asger Juel Larsen and I’ve just done a shoot for Jaiden RVA James because they’re doing a new magazine. I did Fine Art at university and I did a lot of installation and photography on that and I’d always been interested in fashion… but I couldn’t really justify doing fashion photography on a Fine Art course so when I finished my university course I took a gap year, decided that I wanted to go into fashion photography.
I like so many different kinds of fashion photography but I think at the moment I’m probably leaning more towards stuff like Jack Pierson as well as like Larry Clark. I like youth, I’m just very interested in capturing that point when people are like just kind of starting off and quite fresh. I like relaxed kind of clothes – not necessarily preppy, just something you might go and wear outside like jeans and a t-shirt. Then sometimes it’s nice to do something very sleek… like where it’s a collection, it’s very nice all together but I’d say generally just whatever the person is wearing because that brings out their personality more.”
Illustrator and editor of Bare Bones magazine uses rough lines and simple approaches to drawing
“I do illustrations – some commercial work for ad agencies and some book designs, magazines, stuff like that. I also do personal projects with friends, like Bare Bones, which is kind of a collaborative newspaper thing, with photography and writing as well as illustration. I guess I ended up doing what I do because I had loads
of really rubbish jobs and thought that drawing pictures would be quite
a good job so I just wanted to do something I thought was fun instead
of something horrible.
I suppose my illustration aesthetic is quite loose, it’s all hand-drawn. I try to capture the ‘thingyness of the thing’ with the minimum amount of lines so instead of drawing a hundred lines to draw a digital camera, I draw it in four or three. It’s quite rough I suppose but what’s important for me is to convey an idea or not necessarily a message but a concept or an idea or a thought. With the image, I quite often annotate them as well."
Dynamic duo Sara and Loren have been bringing back the 90s with their banging parties in Visions in the East End.
“We basically started Work It because nobody was playing Biggie and we just wanted to dance, have a laugh and everything was a bit serious in terms of music when you went out. It was all a bit boring and we wanted to hear Mya, or Lil Kim and no-one was playing it. At first it was very much just our friends, it was like a house party, and I think Visions was a real find because the venue is really important. It’s just like low budget, easy-going, cheap drinks and then by the third one it got out of control. It was more about dancing than standing around and posing which is what a lot of the places we were going to were like so it was a breath of fresh air and that’s why it took off.
Our top tunes can change all the time because we’re there every month, so the favourite ones at the beginning can wear out a bit. But something that always fills the floor is Biggie ‘Hypnotise’… there are winners that we call emergency tunes. A song I’m really into at the moment is Mase ‘Bad Boys’ that seems to be a crowd pleaser. We played Whitney Houston ‘I’m Every Woman’ at Selfridges and all the women in the crowd, even the old ones down to the kids were really getting into it. The video’s amazing because Whitney’s pregnant at the time and then its like got all these female artists in it like TLC, Chaka Khan…"
Former premier league footballer-turned-elusive producer and label owner of Werk Discs, Actress aka Darren Cunningham has been making forward-thinking electronic music, collaborating with the likes of Zomby and is to set to release on Honest Jons
“I’m a creative director, A&R, and producer for a London label for the freshest electronic producers you can find really. I used to be a professional footballer for West Bromwich AlbioN. I finished playing football when I was 19 because of injury. But, music has always been something that’s really important to me. With football you always have to be 100% dedicated to it and I think it’s the same with music as well, so if you’re doing one you can’t really do the other.
With music there’s always been a fascination with trying to recreate A sound, I loved all those early shows like the Tube, primitive kind of chart shows on Channel 4, that was always big memories for me. The most exciting part of it is finding something that sounds completely fresh, completely unique by an artist that’s completely new and seeing that grow basically and seeing the artist progress. I don’t think you can go into it with a view of making money, you have to have just a passion to start with. For me it's that expressionism and art and therapy. I mean, for me it’s a therapeutic thing – whether that’s from an aggressive point of view or a kind of serene perspective, there’s all forms of emotion that go into music.
For 2010’s newcomers I can’t really look any further than Zomby to be honest. All the people on my label have the potential to really go out there and do good things with contemporary music, pop culture music. We’re all interested in pop culture at the end of the day, we like to experiment."
Photography by Laurence Ellis
Styling John McCarty
The London edition of the Nike Sportswear Destroyer jacket available at the Nike 1948 store and Selfridges w/c 8th February 2010.