Phil Chang is a strategic creative at Wieden + Kennedy New York and a member of the agency’s multidisciplinary solutions team, Attack, and has consulted for Nike and Jordan Brand. He hopes to see all of you at Wieden+Kennedy NY's SHOP event between June 16th - 20th. You can follow Phil on Twitter (@heyphilchang) or at Flavors.
"Between ‘04 - ‘08, I went to Dartmouth, which is located deep in The Middle of Nowhere, New Hampshire. I loved college, but like with anything you love, there were (mostly trivial) things about the experience that frustrated the shit out of me. The uniform for girls (I told you, trivial) exclusively consisted of: pink and gray North Face fleeces, Uggs, Longchamp bags, and sorority buttpants. Conformity wasn’t as pronounced amongst dudes (entirely due to general indifference), but: Keystone-soaked boat shoes, even Keystone-soaked-ier frat t-shirts, and Aeropostale cargo shorts to keep the Keystone cans in wouldn’t be too unreasonable of a generalization (pro tip: Animal House is based on Dartmouth).
"For whatever dumb reason, I used this trend to justify buying clothes that were flagrantly way left of anything anyone on campus was wearing. At the time, streetwear provided countless options to fulfill that agenda, even if the majority of said choices retrospectively made me look like I bathed in the runoff from a Skittles factory. I’ve steadily parted ways with a ton of items since graduating in ‘08, so the pieces that have stayed with me have stuck because of the stories that come with them.
"The shirt that I swear this post is getting around to discussing was released by the Hawaiian streetwear brand In4mation in 2005 as a collaboration with the German culture magazine Lodown. I found it while clicking through Evil Monito.com, which was one of the first online platforms that ever featured stuff like: vinyl toys, graffiti, Hong Kong skateboarding and Mos Def in a meaningful, take-it-seriously manner. Several days prior, I had just watched Taxi Driver for the first time, and here was this crazy shirt featuring a big-ass graphic of Travis Bickle wielding two katana instead of choppers, and the whole “Listen, you fuckers” monologue written across the back. Add. To Fucking. Cart.
"Unfortunately, the shirt was sold out, and I pretty much forgot about it until the summer of 2007, when I visited Hawaii to hang out with two of my best friends. While in Honolulu, I emailed Todd, Jun, Rhandy and Ryan, the four dudes who started In4mation, and we ended up chilling at their shop by Ala Moana. Like every Hawaiian I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, the In4 guys turned out to be the friendliest, most kind-hearted dudes I’m lucky to call homies today. As I was leaving, Todd asked me if I wanted a few t-shirts, and the “On The Low” joint suddenly came to mind. I told him I knew it had been out of print for years and it was cool, I didn’t need it, but Todd jumped in his car and came back 10 minutes later with his own “On The Low” tee that he’d dug out from his fucking closet. He told me, “this one’s one of my favorites, Phil, hold onto it!” and that was it.
"Stories like this one are actually common in streetwear. The culture has its shortcomings, for sure, but that generosity and sense of community you don’t find in any other scene are why I’ll always hold onto streetwear as a fundamental part of my identity. Trends in design come and go every day, but no matter how many graphic t’s I grow out of, this one will stay in rotation forever.
"Thanks to Todd, Jun, Rhandy and Ryan always! Cheeeeeeeeeee Hu!"