Thursday, 22 November 2007

Get Down with the Goosedown

I can't actually remember the very first time I saw a Leather Goose Jacket being sported by one of Hip Hop's great artists of the 80's but it may have been a certain James Todd Smith looking fresh in 1986, after release of his debut LP "Radio".
If it wasn't Cool J that introduced me to the Goose Jacket then it was possibly the release in 1987 of Eric B & Rakim's "Move the Crowd" 12" on 4th & Broadway records which showed Ra in the background looking serious as ever in a V-stitch Bomber Goose in Black leather. That was it for me, I had to own one of these jackets. Furthermore Run DMC rocked these throughout the 80's and were also seen wearing them on their classic LP from 1987 "Raising Hell" with the shocking green/purple and mindbending orange/blue negative cover prints. (I remember hearing these covers caused some epileptics to have fits!)
However, my favourite Goosedown action has to be from the film "Tougher than Leather" which also starred Run DMC. During the club scene, the camera pans across the dancefloor to reveal several homeboys wearing Gooses in varying dope colours. My favourite being the powder blue with black fur - what an awesome jacket! Another classic record cover showing how dope these jackets is the 12" cover from Public Enemy's "You're Gonna Get Yours". Below you can see a black one, a blue one and even one in red being sported by PE's crew -
they knew what time it was! But it wasn't just the artists themselves to be seen in them - these jackets were widely and cheaply available and worn by hip-hoppers and homeboys alike.

There were many companies in the US producing leather goosedowns, but the first and original jackets were made by GOOSE COUNTRY, and DOUBLE GOOSE COUNTRY. Despite many imitators, some good and some bad, these were the real deal leather jackets available in bomber form, or 3/4 length, and with or without the real fur collars. Available in every colour you can possibly think of (I have seen pink and even bright yellow) and the freshest thing to be seen in when winter draws in. And believe me these jackets were super warm - keeping the average knucklehead toasted as he hit the streets. In NY these were available across all boroughs, and in Manhattan the places to find them were Orchard St and Spring St (just off Delancey Street). Prices were not particularly high because these Korean manufactured coats were designed mainly with the purpose of keeping warm rather than for fashion - it was only that the Hip Hop community did what it always did & took something run-of-the-mill and made it uniquely it's own.

Back in the 80's one of the only places to get your hands on one of these incredible jackets in London was a very small basement Hip Hop shop known as 4 Star General in Carnaby Street. George and Everton, who ran the shop back then, were some of the first guys to travel to NY in order to buy a stock of these Double Goose jackets and return to the UK to sell them. Even back then (circa 1986/87) these jackets were expensive at £350-£400, but where else could you find one of these and dress like your Hip Hop heroes?? Sadly for me I couldn't afford to buy one at that age (16 years old) but the feeling of wanting one never faded, even when the Hip Hop styles changed and rappers stopped wearing them.
Now you don't need me to tell you that life runs in cycles, so I knew eventually these Goose jackets would be in favour once again. So in the mid 90's when I finally could afford to, I made the pilgrimage to NYC - the home of Hip Hop. The Rocksteady Crew were holding their Anniversary Jam and this provided the best excuse for me to hit the streets of New York for a 2 week Hip Hop holiday. My intentions were to take in a few of the Rocksteady events, check some NY Hip Hop clubs, rinse the record spots clean of their dollar bins, grab some really fresh sneakers, and of course continue my search for the elusive Goosedowns!

I travelled to NY in '94, '95 and '96 and despite my best efforts trawling the tri-boroughs no-one seemed to be able to tell me where I could find an old stock of these vintage coats. From Canal Street in Manhattan to Gun Hill Road in the Bronx, I spent days taking the train uptown and downtown, taking in the graffiti spots as I went, but every day ended fruitless. We had a few close calls though - with some store owners taking us through the back only to be disappointed with other moth-eaten stock they wanted to push on us, thinking we were naive tourists! In '95 and the following year my close friend and brother from another mother Break DJ Leacy (RIP) also made the trip to our "mecca" with his brother Aidan Orange. Now if anyone would track down these coats it was him. James Leacy had an unrivalled passion for all things Hip Hop, and his journeys to New York lead him into a career as a break DJ at many of the US B-Boy championships in the late 90's and early noughties. When Jim did something, he did it to the fullest degree, never giving less than 100%, and the same went for his search for the Goose Jacket.
It was the late 90's after Leacy had made many trips over to the capital of Hip Hop (where I had now given up my search) that the phone call that I had been waiting for finally came. Nothing could prepare me for the story I was about to hear. Jim had been going every year since my early visits, and every year he would head over to the same spots and re-visit the stores and warehouses where we had learned that Goose jackets could be purchased back in the days. Jim's connections led him to one warehouse in particular out in the tri-borough, where he had been repeatedly refused access to the back of the store to allow him to search through their old stock. However his persistence had eventually paid off, and the owner who had become sick of the site of him but admired his balls in coming back again, told him he could finally search through the loft space at the very top of the warehouse. Jim told me he had to climb up some rickety ladders to gain access to the storage loft, and under years of dust and some god-awful 80's leather jackets he found a "pile" of original goosedowns still in the polythene covers. HOLY SHIT! Of approximately 20 jackets though, most were rotten or had simply disintegrated over the years, but luckily a handful at the bottom of the pile were still as fresh as the day they were made. Jim being the great friend he was, called me up on his return and took great pleasure in hearing my heart miss several beats when he told me. I must have sounded like a kid on the night before Christmas! He was gonna give me first refusal on them.
So, it took me over 10 years, but eventually I got my sticky hands on 2 original jackets from the 80's. One a V-Stitch Bomber in beige leather with brown fur, and the other a V-Stitch Three Quarter Length in dark blue leather with fox fur. In that very pile he also found the most amazing bottle green example with black fur. My classic old school image was now complete, but little did I know that 10 years later these jackets would become collectable and highly sought after by other old school fools like myself (just watch 'em sell on eBay!). And of course you can now buy the French made Double Goose jackets, which are of amazing quality and designed to be as close a reproduction of the Double Goose Country originals as possible (check out their website and peep their Camo edition above). YMC (You Must Create) also produced a jacket along the same lines but it fell short of looking good in my honest opinion. If you wanna cop an original yourself then I suggest you trawl through eBay's vintage clothing section on a regular basis, and have at least a couple of hundred pounds (approx 400 dollars) at your disposal. You won't regret it! ..and you will never complain of the cold again!

Kid Dyno

20 comments:

sportbillybreaks said...

This brings back some b-boy gear mems. When i think of the classic goose i see MC DUKE 'Miracles' 12" cover and the Point Blank MC's cos of the cover to 'What The Party Needs', my first sight of those jackets as a young UK b-boy..definitely a very cool jacket.I need one.

Anonymous said...

Dope Article! Oldschool Heads over here in Germany also love those jackets, but they are very hard to track down. I just bought two similar-looking jackets. Perhaps I can send you a pic if you want.


Pro-Ski-1

Daily Diggers said...

YO Pro-Ski-1,

thanks homeslice we would love to see your photos....please mail us at...

dailydiggers at homail dot co dot uk

You're right these jackets are hard to find in nice condition, but do not give up your search!! A friend of mine (DJH) bought one just 2 weeks ago in near-new condition. Not cheap though!!

Dyno

manphat said...

dope stuff double d crew! it's so refreshing to know that there are crazier hip hop geeks than me, still goin off like you were biz markie...freeeesh!

Daily Diggers said...

hey manphat good to see you up in here!

I can't think of a better thing to be addicted to.....than Hip Hop. We love this shit like you do!
...and we wouldn't change a damn thing.

Please feel free to suggest an idea for a post. Or even submit one yourself manphat? Got a crazy wax collection? I bet! Got some ill Nikes in the closet? I bet! Or some old school photos you wanna share with us....just hit us up at the HQ.

Keep doin' the do!

Real HIP HOP lives

the KID

Phill Most AKA THE SOULMAN said...

GREAT POST! I am so mad that i don't have any pics of myself back when I had the black v-stitch bomber with the black fur collar. I was stylin', yo! Green Kangol, black and white Coca Cola pullover, green stonewashed jeans , green Filas, stopwatch around the neck and that black goose. D-O-P-E all day, G.

Anonymous said...

i wanna get a goose but dont know where to go can u tell me where i can get my own from??u can get at me on myspace

myspace.com/sexy_haitian_boy

Daily Diggers said...

Philly Phill - mad nice to have you passin' thru!

haha I can imagine you looked hell-a-fresh in ya goose with tha matching Kangol & Filas. Yeeeaaah boyyeeee! I still have my Fila hi-tops (sneaker flix at the bottom of the page).

Oh if only we could return to the days of Fila BJs, Goosedowns, Racoon Hats, Kangol Sniper hats Cazals etc. etc.. And I can't forget Dapper Dan wear and Girbaud jeans too LOL!

Them was good times!

Kid Dyno

celondelon said...

If anyone can help me get my hands on a black short V classic with fur collar size small, in black I will be eternally grateful.

A said...

I got a brand new , I will say that agin brand new one that I may want to part with next month when I take all my stuff out of storage ,it is navy blue and its so new that the smell is still there, if you recall all of that stuff britishers(shoes) the leathers gooses had that distinguished smell get at me bogardz@gmail.com also I got a brand new(peel) the plastic off the dial ,Lasonic tr-931 , you should of seen all the stuff I had to throw away !

Stevio said...

That's a great post fella. I got my first one on the LES during my visit for New Music Seminar in '88 in black polished leather in v-stitch. And another for a mate in rhinoskin finish (like the Nike AJ IIIs). But do you remember those stores in Soho in the early-mid 90s that had the v-stitch vest jackets? I'm still fiending for one of those! adidas made something similar a couple of years ago.

Daily Diggers said...

thanks Stevio glad you enjoyed the post. Man, do you have any photos of you in your Goose?? IOr do you still own the jacket?

Years ago I saw a v-stitch vest jacket in beige leather (same as my bomber goose) - looked fresh! I have tried to find one since, and cannotso I guess these are super rare!


happy goose hunting!!


Dyno

Anonymous said...

Double Goose is truly the best brand on the market now..I rock leather jacket since the 80's and for me that's the last brand to release top quality material to date.

Peace out y'all !

Ollie Teeba said...

"Years ago I saw a v-stitch vest jacket in beige leather (same as my bomber goose) - looked fresh! I have tried to find one since, and cannotso I guess these are super rare!"



I gots one of those in beige. Bought from Passenger in Beak Street in 91 or 92

also picked up a white one off the bay a couple of years back

Ollie Teeba

Dan Duce said...

Being broke in 86, I finally bought and rocked a midnight blue Double Goose Country in 87 from George's 4 star. I wore that coat till it literally fell off my back! I would sweet my ass of at Jams, but I had to wear my jacket! To me it was the epitome of a hardcore BBoy jacket. I still have it, Although my Wife insists I get rid of it. Whilst living in NYC I managed to track down allot of Goose downs, singles and doubles. The BX always came up. Orchard street was totally dry, so was canal. Myself Jim (leacy) and Nucleus all trooped up to Hunts point in the late 90's on a Goose Down mission and luckily came up tops. I got a fresh mint double Goose Down for my wife, a crazy white single, a couple of nasty reds, a dark green and a navy blue. Jim and Nucleus almost cleared the place out as they got there before me, but persisted, digging through mad sheep skins and rat shit to get to the hidden stash. We also found allot of Mock necks that my Homeboy Kwon from Queens still rocks to this day.

Daily Diggers said...

Hey Dan...real good to see you up in here. YO thanks for elaborating on the BX finds with Leacy...although Jim never showed me those mock necks!!

If I remember correctly you rocked a black (blue?) v-stitch bomber when we took a coach trip to BATTLE OF THE YEAR in Germany 1994. The year they graffiti bombed our coach!! LOL

Them was good times......

Please keep in touch Dan. you can reach me at kidbiscuit@hotmail.com
Oh yeah I see the dope TUFF CITY covers you designed...I LOVE the one with the sky blue Goose!!!!

Keep rockin' them 2 copies tight!


Kid Dyno

Wellgosh said...

Double Goose V Bombers are available at UK based store Wellgosh.

http://www.wellgosh.com/acatalog/Double_Goose.html

Anonymous said...

It's great to hear of the persistence of your friend in searching for the holy grail of B Boy jackets
I still own my OG V bomber in black I have even requested to be buried in it lol
I must admit though that it shows signs of wear with a scratch to the left arm where I had a bit of a punch up with some rival writers in 87
I have been trying to no avail to track down a friend who had a grey 3/4 with matching fur collar
I recently dug out my V from storage only to find the Cazal 623 were missing but now know Cazal have reissued them so a pair in black & clear white with gradient blue lenses are as we speak on their way direct from Cazal
To view my V please go to Flickr & search for Boast One

Thank you for reading
Boast One Zulu Nation since 1983

Daily Diggers said...

Hey Boast.

good to see you up on here. Thanks for taking the time to post such great comments. I'm laughing at the eye-jammy you gave that other writer!!

The v-stitch will always be the ultimate hip hop attire. Those images of Rakim, Run DMC, Cool J etc. are imprinted on my brain for ever. Like you say put on your Goose with Cazals and BOOM! there it is!

Crazy respect to you man.

Kid Dyno

Roody said...

Loving tha Goose. I have a V-Bomber Navy in pretty good condition. Bought from the General in 87! Had to save wages for a long time to afford the goose country from 4 Star...Lost the fur collar along the way...I would love to get hold of another collar to make the jacket complete again!!

Also have an original Black Tommy Boy Carharrt jacket...been my writing jacket for years now so has many layers of paint...

Keep rocking the originals and the old skool