As we went to London for a talk with adidas SPEZIAL mastermind Gary Aspden, we also had the chance to chop it up with his good friend DJ Goldie – who is featured in the latest SPEZIAL FW 2017 lookbook. From starting out as a b-boy and graffiti artist during the 80s to pioneering Drum & Bass a decade later, all the way to starring in a James Bond movie and being honored as a Member of the Order of the British Empire, this guy came a long way and left his footprints in a huge variety of different fields. During all these years, Goldie always kept a natural passion for street culture and its fashion in particular. He’s a long time Stüssy Tribe member, stays rocking a set of 24 gold teeth and of course has been repping the Three Stripes ever since his b-boy days. Time for a tête-à-tête with a legend.
Goldie, do you remember when you first met Gary?
I’d heard about him a long time before I actually met him. Michael Kopelman, who brought Stussy to the UK, used to talk about him all the time. He said, “Gary is very serious. He’s a very serious cat.” I’ve met my fair share of serious cats before, but I’d never bumped into him. This was in the 1990s. And he had heard of me before, back in my b-boying days.
We all know that b-boying was a big part of your life. And finding the right trainers and apparel was a big part of it. Tell us, how hard was it to find stuff before the digital age?
Oh man, to find out the source of something was so hard. And b-boys had a code – it was like, when you knew where something was from, you wouldn’t tell anyone. The whole thing about holding back the style was just as important as owning it. We always wondered where you would get fat laces. And then we found out that we were actually looking in the wrong place. You had to go to a haberdashery shop that sold material for fucking sewing classes for women – and then I would buy it and I wouldn’t tell you where I got it from. You gotta find that shit yourself!
Now we’re in a very different age and you can order almost everything online. How does that change the game?
You can order it on eBay or whatever and you can get it. You can pay silly prices and you can stand in the queue. And you can buy third-party from Supreme and pay ten times more… I get it! But there is something about collectability in the things we can’t have, and sometimes I believe that, as much as everything is at our fingertips, the things that you don’t see on the Internet are the things that you want.
So supply and demand is still the thing, right?
I saw a guy the other day and he had a brand-new Range Rover Velar. His wife is the woman who owns Storm, the biggest modeling agency in the world. Tim, the husband, has a brand-new Velar; he’s the first one in West London to have it. And I look at this car and say, “I’ve never seen one. Wow. Why do you have it?” And he says, “Well, I just wanted to be the first. I’ll sell it next month.” And I think that, to an extent, that’s something I will never get rid of.
It sounds like hunting, but without the meat on the grill, right?
Yeah, it was definitely like hunting down your prey. But the whole point I’m trying to make is, I like the whole b-boy ethos and the idea of something that came from the terraces. B-boy culture was kind of designed as the fallout from people who had enough. If you’ve seen the documentaries and read your history bibles, you know what the whole gang thing did to New York. It tore people apart. So we are very lucky to have this cross-breed of fashion that came out of this despair. And that’s what I like about culture, man. For Gary, and for us, street culture became our parents. As the dads were too busy being alcoholics and being crazy, the terraces were our fathers. And the arts, graffiti, and breakdance became our mothers.
As someone who’s seen the rise of all these cultures, what do you think about the SPEZIAL collection which, in a way, tells that story from a contemporary angle?
The way I see it, it’s like this: sometimes you like the retro look of a piece because it counted for something back then. But you don’t want it like it was originally. Because maybe the shape wasn’t perfect or the material was shit. SPEZIAL is different because it has the quality. I took the top off the other day – you feel the track suit and you notice how there’s a little bit more weight in there. And I also believe in the person that’s doing it. Gary’s belief system with the brand, after hours and off the payroll, is something purely out of passion. I also love the idea of something coming from the football terraces and crossing over into b-boy culture and becoming something collectible.
How important is the past today?
You need to refer to the past! The most important things in life are love, time, and memory. Because without these things, there’s nothing. You have to go back to go forward. Some of the best retro designs and some of the best car designs have proven that point. Like the E-Type for Jaguar – that’s a good example. They tried to go somewhere else and somewhere new, and it didn’t work. They had to start going back to the original shape, but with a new idea.