Snake America is an e-mail newsletter that covers vintage clothing and sometimes furniture, usually for sale on eBay, sometimes on other digital auction platforms.
There’s almost no clothing more difficult to track down online than athletic gear made by Nike and Adidas and Reebok in the early 2000s. There was so much made, in so many different cuts and with such little information about them. They are impossible to search for, even, because they were just shirts and shorts and pants Nike made that were sold everywhere. Because of use and ubiquity, they didn’t last long—like how in the 1950s every kid put baseball cards, which were cheap and everywhere, in their bike spokes because they made cool noises, and now those cards aren’t around anymore. In the early 2000s people worked out (but not their legs) and didn’t save their workout shirts. Nike retroed these 1990s swish pants a bit ago, which were great. They have a nice full cut. These jerseys, which don’t seem to have a real name, are from the era before Dri-FIT, which is to say they’re relatively recent, and not due for a retro yet. The tees are better than some current ones primarily because the sleeves are longer. It’s nice when your athletic sleeves go all the way down to your elbows so you can hide parts of yourself. All Nike’s 2002 World Cup shirts fit generously and many of them are transcendent. Some of them have ersatz collars, which you don’t see much of anywhere. The South Korea jersey is a nice soft fuchsia color and has jagged lines down its side. It looks utilitarian, like something a construction worker on a drug trip in a movie might wear. Similar design lines on other current shirts seem affected. But these work. Is it because, as the 2000s dawned, Nike was in the midst of one of the best design runs of all-time? Is it that the positive energy from the incredible Eric Cantona Nike ads from that era transferred over to the actual jerseys? Or because from the vantage point of 2019, these shirts are in the sweet spot of old and new? Or because soccer players make good models? The answer is probably “yes.”
At the Ferragamo show in June, Peter Saville walked the runway, and I think the outfit he wore looked just as good as some of the better album covers he designed. I liked the clothes and his lined face. It’s probably because the lighting at runway shows is so good. I keep thinking I'll wear soccer jerseys again, but I won’t ever. In college I read English men's fashion magazines and every one was adamant its readers shouldn't wear them. I understand the sentiment: wearing a soccer jersey in England carries a different cachet than wearing it here. I guess it is like wearing a Detroit Lions jersey to church. Even though I don’t watch Eastenders I couldn’t shake the association. So it’s theoretical. My favorite soccer jersey of all time are the ones Atletico Madrid wore during the 2003-04 and ‘05 seasons. That team was sponsored by Columbia Pictures and players had different movies on the front of their jerseys. The jerseys were Nike, too. I have been looking for one for three years too and cannot find any for sale or which have been sold. There's no record of one of these jerseys, any movie—not Big Fish, not Bad Boys II (Dos Policías Rebeldes 2 in Spain), not Gothika, not Closer—being available in any capacity anywhere, and the only real hits are people discussing how great they are and how bad they want one. I own pants older than my parents, one-off items made by multinational corporations and enough mislisted eBay swag to outfit a cavalry. But it would be easier to get a Snapple in the desert than to find this jersey. So I should amend my statement: the hardest thing in the world to find online is an Atletico Madrid jersey with Fernando Torres' 9 on the back and Dos Rubias De Pelo En Pecho on the front, which is Spanish for White Chicks," directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and released by Columbia Pictures in 2004.
I think the bottom part of these coveralls are the best military pants any army has made. I wrote about the Marines' herringbone twill (HBT) monkey pants a few months ago, which are great too. But these are different. They are from the same era but look like they are from the future. They have the very strange and off-center zippers on the side and on the bottom of the pants. I am guessing they are for pilots to store extra packs of delicious gum while they are climbing to high altitude. All those G-forces can wreak havoc on your jaw, and gum runs out fast, so you need extra packs. I read that it gets really cold in small, fast planes the higher up they go, which I bet is why these pants are insulated. I don't think it got really cold in Vietnam, but I guess it did for some of the pilots.
Vintage militaria has always informed up-the-middle clothing, and the cargo pants one sees at the mall are often only a couple cowardly design decisions away from what American soldiers wore in Korea and Da Nang. But these pants got around at a higher level. The only direct descendants of these pants I’ve found are designer. That is...something. There are Issey Miyake flight pants that use the same, or very similar, cut and patterns. They're thinner and a different color, a lighter tan, than the original, and look either more formal or European. They are also missing a shirt. But they are pretty close. There’s a pair of Margiela flight pants, autumn/winter 2011, that aren't very close to the original, and have 4” cuffs, but an almost identical zipper placement. It’s not a coincidence. I wonder how those zippers ended up there in the first place. The photos for both of these listings are worse than any photos I have seen on eBay in years. I think both these sellers turned on the dogshit filter here. Photos this bad is something you really only see on Grailed now. Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoroso said in her book that when she sold on eBay her auctions did better when she used proper lighting and a white background for the pics. Some people on Grailed do that, but it is still the Wild West over there. You can really post whatever you want and eventually, in months or weeks, it will sell. In a year someone will revolutionize the game by using a light meter on their Dries pants and will make 20% more than they would have otherwise, and everyone else will get with the program. Enjoy the deals now, since they won't be here forever.
Originally Appeared on GQ