What's the SPYPLANE color of the year?

+ FRESH workwear from NYC; deep-cut Nike ACGs; Mach 3+ "PERSONAL SPYPLANE" intel

Part of what makes Blackbird Spyplane the no. 1 source for “Unbeatable Recon” is that occasionally we post 24-hour open calls on Instagram for custom-recon requests…

YOU, the beautiful & blessed SpyFriends, send in yr BURNING Qs about life, love & the jawn sciences, and we, Jonah & Erin, answer them in the newsletter, in a recurring series we call “PERSONAL SPYPLANE.”

Today it’s time to get “personal.”


1. “Pantone 🙅 — What’s the SPYPLANE color of the year?”— @pleatherwood.jpg

Erin used to forecast color trends professionally 🧙🏻‍♂️, so this is a question SQUARELY on her turf. Since we are the “no. 1 source across all media for non-hierarchical thinking,” though, it’s against our nature to elevate any one single hue to 2021’s top slot, much less s**t on Pantone’s official selection of yellow and gray (two colors we bang with, but ehhh…??)

That being said: Here at “Spytone,” RED is where our heads are at for ‘21!!

We’re specifically talking about BOLD reds, like the one that caught our eye when we were checking out Lemaire’s FW21 show and saw the head-to-toe BLOODY denim (?) fits above … This is the kind of blazing red that gets a MAGNIFICENT BULL CHARGED UP!*

*(Love & kindness to all of earth’s animal cuties, and f**k bullfighting except in occasional metaphorical form.)

What is it about this red that grabs us?? What’s its appeal right now??

Well, shout out to neutrals, which are established legends in the game, but ASK YRSELF, is this really the time for half-stepping in some OATMEAL?

IT’S NOT! After a full year of death, stasis, and isolation, BLAZING REDS summon up feelings of vibrancy… COMRADESHIP… and pulsating LIFE! … along with darker undertones of mortality, reactionary nationalism and the ULTIMATE FRAILTY OF THE FLESH, BABY !!

Don’t trust us, trust VIBEY PSEUDOSCIENTIFIC EXPERT Dorothee L. Mella, the self-published author of Color Power, a very cool 1981 book we recently tracked down after Spyfriend Molly Young tipped us off to it.

Mella writes that “when a person introduces a new color into the wardrobe… one may be replacing a conditioned pattern of response” or “awakening the self for a brand new experience.” That’s exactly what the doctor ordered!! But Dorothee, what attitudinal and physical properties does red specifically promote?

Red “repels loneliness and multiple types of insecure mental states.” O word? Red “stimulates sensualness.” Go on! Red “aids respiratory ills.” DAMN I GOTTA COP SOME BOLD-RED GARMENTS PRONTO!!

We salute several members of the bold-red “gourmet pantry,” e.g. PAPRIKA, TOMATO, CHILI, CHERRY, and BIG-BODY CLARET! But our favorite CRIMSON hue right now is one we call “Robby Müller Red,” after the cinematographer on Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas

R.I.P. Harry Dean Stanton the god ROCKING that desert-dusted “Robby Müller Red” cap in Paris, Texas… and salute Nastassja Kinski PUSHING that “Robby Müller Red” whip…

We re-watched this the other night on Criterion, and it remains a beautiful & devastating film about the WEIGHT of regret and the POSSIBILITY of redemption in the wake of LIFE-UPENDING TRAGEDY… And in scene after scene RADIANT ‘80s reds blaze off the d*mn screen.

There were a bunch of ALL-RED-EVERYTHING looks on the FW21 runways besides Lemaire — including at Alyx, Études, Marni, Heron Preston, Dries Van Noten, and Marine Serre — which won’t arrive in shops for a few months...

But there are some BLAZING RED joints u can cop right now. We r feeling this Tender Co. (underrated brand!) flannel pullover above left & the Rachel Comey chino ensemble above right. Aimé Leon Dore’s SS21 “Vintage wash” red sweater has a great pop to it, too….

We found a BUNCH MORE DOPE red joints — new and secondhand — for the LOW and lovingly placed them in the Blackbird Spymall for you…

More DOPE red joints in SpyMall


2. Will workwear ever fall off? — @ericbonster

If u keep it to classic pieces (as opposed to “creative contemporary reinterpretations”) then no, workwear will never fall off because it’s firmly ensconced in the “eternals pantheon” — i.e., there are times when a black canvas double-knee pant will be more or less “on trend” but there will NEVER be a time when it’s NOT GOOD.

Same goes for a well-worn chore coat: That s**t has achieved “worn trucker jacket” / “worn Barbour Bedale” / worn “bleu de travail” immortality status, meaning u can work it into virtually any ensemble at virtually any moment and AVOID FIT-BRICKAGE.

Besides the canonical workwear name-brands, whose s**t is best copped secondhand for a variety of reasons, we f**k with meticulous Japanese homage-payers Real McCoys 8-Hour Union — and also with the YOUNG NYC UPSTARTS Randy’s Garments, which currently has a mere 386 IG followers despite offering a FLEET OF BEAUTIFUL WORK-JAWNS, all made in New York.

Randy’s is dropping its SS21 collection this week, and designer Brandon Portelli told us a bit about the brand, whose first season was FW19 but started off wholesale-only: “I’ve worked for a couple companies in NYC that produced everything in the garment district, so after a few years I learned what’s involved on how to produce things here,” Brandon said. “The mission with Randy’s is to bring back American workwear to what it once was and be nothing more than that. Real straightforward workwear with the highest quality of construction & fabrics.”

No more no less !! Also?? “All the midcentury American companies had really funny labels and ads and so forth,” Brandon said, “and somehow that got lost as well.” So Randy’s came thru with a DROLL CARTOON LOGO!!

Randy’s Garments is on IG here and their webstore is here


3. Is corduroy dead and gone or was it never resurrected to begin with?! — @zeekhammers

So, from approximately ~1980 till ~2000 — a 20-year run !my dad wore nothing but wide-wale corduroy trousers in black and brown with toasted Chucks and, when the weather was crisp, a Barbour with fraying cuffs that he copped for the low when he lived in London in the ‘70s…

That was the man’s uniform for 2 decades. Imagine that!! He locked it in and said, “f**k trends, I’m good,” which is one of the loftiest, most enlightened states any eternally-questing jawns enthusiast hopes to achieve. (Papa Spyplane has since transitioned to, like, discounted brown chinos from RL and “Club Room,” with black Rockports whose soles he periodically re-glues using SHOE GOO™, on some ‘waste not want not’ s**t.)

All of which is to say that corduroy has def been having “a moment” — the 18 East Japanese cabled-corduroy joints were 2020 stand outs — but the way I feel about cords is basically the same way I feel about workwear: This s**t is securely in the pantheon, floating above trends, so it can be “more or less hot” but always retains a critical baseline of cool.

The real question is whether YOU are cool enough to commit to IT like Papa Spyplane !!


4. Most slept-on ACG shoe?? — @grindthemovie

Nike launched All Conditions Gear in ‘88 and put out some recognized (slightly staid) classics off rip, like the Pegasus ACG and the Wildwood, but the line’s most widely beloved era, for good reason, is the Tinker Hatfield / Steve McDonald early ‘90s golden age, which is when ACG came into its own with models like the god-tier ACG Mowabb, along with its handsome brother the Revaderchi, its extremely mild-mannered cousin the Yewtah, its relatively obscure son the Mowabb 2 — pictured above in a fire khaki / blue / gold colorway — and its mostly forgotten RUGGED nephew the ‘94 Air Mada Mid, below right:

Jump to the present & we are on the record as enormous fans of the 2020 ACG Mountain Fly, which Erin rocks on the regs, & whose designer, Nathan VanHook, we interviewed here.

But if u want that HIGH-GAS SLEPT-ON ACG heat, u gotta explore the years in between … YUP, we are talking about that late ‘90s / early ‘00s SpY2K-era sweet spot!!

Few slept-on ACGs are vibier the ‘96 Air Lava Dome 2000, above left, which is SICK and RARE (and which we probably wouldn’t take on a demanding trail but which we would rock on an “unbeatable mid-afternoon neighborhood constitutional”??)

That’s probably our favorite pick. Interestingly it’s a “transitional model” — the next year Nike swapped in the divisive “Two Lungs” ACG logo, which marks the moment when DOCTRINAIRE MOWABB-WORSHIPPERS (yr boy included) basically stopped paying attention to ACG until Errolson Hugh showed up and as a result we DOZED upon several designs that have aged surprisingly well.

Case in point: the Skarn (which had a recent renaissance thanks to a re-release and Organic Lab Dot Zip type love); the Air 150 Approach Boots; and the Air Tumac Low, which has appealing Merrell “45° Jungle Runner” energy and is the slept-on ACG runner-up in our book

HONORABLE MENTION: The Tinker-codesigned 2018 Ruckel Ridge. Longtime BBSP readers know how a couple years back I ruthlessly swaggerjacked SpyFriend Jonathan Lukacek aka Bandanna Almanac and copped the exact Gunsmoke / Magenta ACG Ruckel Ridges I saw him wearing at a pop-up for Kyoto natural-dye LEGENDS Tezomeya at Paloma in San Francisco … (This is my favorite colorway but I’m not mad at the “Light British Tans” either.) Nobody checked for the Ruckels so you can find lidless outlet pairs on eBay pretty commonly…


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