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The Monday Media Diet with Bijan Shahvali
On details, hooligans, and OverDrive
Tell us about yourself.
Born in Los Angeles and now based in New York City. I founded Intramural, which began as an online vintage store and has evolved to also operate as a consultancy helping brands with things like concept development and sourcing design references/archival pieces.
Describe your media diet.
For current events and news, it's usually the New York Times or BBC Newshour on WNYC in the morning. After that, I’ll look to the Public Announcement daily newsletter for a round up of interesting articles.
My favorite ‘newsletter’ comes each morning to my inbox in quantities of approximately 60-80. That newsletter is, of course, my eBay saved searches, which compile all results from the previous day into an email for each individual search. After I go through all of those, it’s Blackbird Spyplane (the most consistent source for learning about a new brand or getting a refreshing perspective on trends). Even though it makes me feel old sometimes, I always look forward to seeing who is next up on Perfectly Imperfect. Opulent Tips is always a great read. I find the experience of Sam’s Herb Sunday is really pleasant and engaging. There’s something really nice about simultaneously listening to a playlist curated by the very person being interviewed or written about.
I do a good amount of driving for sourcing and most trips are around 1-2 hours so it’s pretty perfect for podcasts. I’m not so much into the storytelling ones, typically it’s interviews/conversations - Throwing Fits, How Long Gone (the Monday eps with the weekend scene reports help keep me in the know of my native LA), Popcast, Bandsplain (the Kool Keith episode is essential listening). I enjoyed Bradley Carbone’s interview on the Art Career Podcast, so have been starting to incorporate other episodes into the rotation. I started listening to Lauren Sherman’s The Debrief - they are shorter in length so I’ll typically listen during a subway ride and save longer pods for the sourcing trips.
What’s the last great book you read?
My friend Jacob recommended to me Charlie Porter’s What Artists Wear, which I devoured pretty much immediately. I am very curious about why we wear and buy what we do and I think by examining what artists wear Charlie Porter helps us to better understand it. It explores the functionalities in different garments for creating art, but I think the book also asks the question “is self-expression a valid function of a garment?” I think yes.
What are you reading now?
I am about to start Phil Thornton’s Casuals: Football, Fighting & Fashion: The Story of a Terrace Cult, which explores the subculture of football hooligans in the UK wearing expensive sportswear like Stone Island and CP Company. My buddy Enrico recommended it to me after a recent conversation we were having about one’s clothing serving as a communication tool or signifier. With the current popularity of those brands, I think it’s a great case study of understanding how trends can go from a grassroots level to global.
What’s your reading strategy when you pick up a print copy of your favorite publication?
My approach is similar to when I am looking for parking in my neighborhood, where you usually have to do at least two laps around before finding a spot. It’s very visual, I take mental notes for cues of a potential space - who is walking and has keys in their hand, which car looks like it is just doing a delivery, etc. When I pick up a print copy, it's the same approach - I will thumb through the whole thing at least twice taking mental notes for a potential starting place - who/what is in the photograph, who took the photographs, headlines, etc.
In my vintage sourcing efforts, I come across a lot of the older print magazines, which I typically go through to look through and collect for any style inspiration in the advertisements or art direction that might be interesting visual reference material. More recently, out of curiosity, I have been reading more of the articles in an effort to get a better sense of the zeitgeist of that particular time.
Who should everyone be reading that they’re not?
Dick Hebdige, whose writing provides a framework for understanding subcultures. His book Cut n Mix is a great exploration into the different subgenres of Carribean music that very eloquently lays out how they split and emerge as a result of different circumstances like geography, immigration, and politics. Since our product is cultural nostalgia, I think it is really important for vintage dealers to be familiar with the specific factors that contribute to the development of subcultures. We are also constantly trying to predict what from today will be big vintage-wise in 15-20 years, so having a sociological lens helps to better contextualize youth culture that is currently happening.
What is the best non-famous app you love on your phone?
Plane or train?
Plane. I very much would like to be a train guy, it sounds very sophisticated. Sort of like the travel equivalent of “I liked the book better than the movie.” However, at this point in my life, I guess I am more interested in getting to places faster and spending more time in the destination. Also, the entertainment options on planes are just so much better. You mean to tell me I can watch 5 straight hours of Impractical Jokers on JetBlue and then end up in LA? Sign me up.
What is one place everyone should visit?
Toronto. I was there last March to set up and launch a month-long pop-up I was doing with Wrong Answer. There is a great tight knit community of creatives there, but without any of the cool-guy shenanigans you so often encounter in New York or Los Angeles. Eat at Milou. Shop at Better Gift Shop and Lost & Found. Everyone said I had to come back when it's warm, so I look forward to doing just that.
Tell us the story of a rabbit hole you fell deep into.
My friend Alex runs an instagram account called Tags & Threads, which is a rabbit hole of obscure clothing tags and labels. His books It Takes A Little More and Guide to Vintage Champion feature a combined 1000+ archival Champion products from over the last century and are great for nerding out on the historic American sportswear brand. (BS)
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Thanks for reading,
Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN) & Bijan (BS)
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