Putting together the visual research boards for “Chasing Mavericks” was a chance to revisit the works of seminal photographers who documented youth culture in the 90’s.  In the big scheme of things, there were 3 separate youth movements happening in 1994: Grunge, hip-hop and the pop commercialism of Beverly Hills 90210.  The West coast also had its own regional thing going on with the hard-core punk scene. I spent the early 90’s in NYC, where my downtown world was made up of the hip-hop clubs I worked in at night, and PAPER magazine where I interned during the day. All the guys I knew wore baseball caps and crazy baggy pants. The girls wore cheap white tees from the kids department at Kmart and combed the thrift stores for 70’s vintage. Grunge was something you heard on another radio station, and 90210 was a TV show no one watched.

My directive from director Curtis Hanson was to be true to the time period but not alienate a modern audience. Picking up the past, the photographers I turned to first for inspiration were East Coast/West Coast counterparts, Ari Marcopolous and Ed Templeton. Marcopolous had been around just a little bit longer (starting in the 80’s in the NY art scene) and had shot a lot of people I knew from the clubs in NY where I worked at the time. I moved to LA in ’94, where I quickly became part of the booming music video scene and started working as a stylist’s assistant.  It was around this same time that Templeton was starting to document the SoCal skate scene.  It was a world I was barely aware of, as the urban sprawl of LA polarized the various subcultures – you found your group and you stayed in your group.  The only person I was aware of who zig-zagged back and forth between all the different scenes was Spike Jonez. It was one of his many special powers.  Becoming immersed in Marcopoulos’ early 90’s work was like walking down a familiar street.  Entering Templeton’s world was turning a corner into a dirtier, grittier alleyway.

Out And About is a Marcopolous anthology published in 2005. It is divided into sections: Skaters, NYC, and 1993-1997.  In terms of the wardrobe for “Chasing Mavericks,” for the boys it was basically as I remembered it. Heavy cotton tees with 1” ribbing at the neck and itchy tags. Mad baggy jeans and khakis, the occasional pookah shell necklace and web belts.  Simple graphics, cheap plastic watches, backpacks. Vans and Cons. Phat Farm, Stussy,  Jive Records and Supreme. Pull on hoodies and beanies. And a lot of weed.   Out And About became my tee shirt Bible, and it was here that I found the bones I needed for the characters of “Jay” and “Blonde” and “Sonny.” But just because I was familiar with this time period, didn’t mean my wardrobe crew was. I created focused and intense photo galleries on my computer that I shared with everyone who was working with me. My scanner nearly blew up. I found my ladies in Ed Templeton’s Deformer. Ed’s then girlfriend (now wife) Deanna was captured in all her teen glory and she became my muse. But more on the ladies in a later post.

Following  Curtis’s directive allowed me to recreate the looks of the time, but adjust for the things a modern eye would find ugly.  With the boys, it was about not taking the baggy moment too far. Levi’s, Dickies, Carharts, Polo – they all had their place. I became militant that all the tee shirts had to have a 1” neckband, and actual tags in the back. We scoured the thrift stores for old Hanes and Gilden’s that were still a little stiff and boxy. If it looked like it could possibly be from American Apparel it was dead to us. The same went for the sweatshirts. I got most of Jonny Weston’s (“Jay”) key pieces from a vendor at the Fairfax flea market in LA. I worked closely with Dickies to make sure we had the style of pants that have remained unchanged since the 90’s. And Vans gave us a whole run of Half Cabs for Jonny that were almost identical to the ones they sold in ’94. I found a few pairs of vintage ones online and in a costume house, but not nearly enough to cover the multiples we needed. Between what we needed for Jonny and his stunt doubles we burned through nearly 15 pairs in various different sizes.

I found  a few photos and notes from the Mavericks continuity book, and thought it would be interesting to look at them against the inspiration pics.  Enjoy.

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