GOWTU

GABBER: THE ONLY DUTCH YOUTH CULTURE

Hardcore is a musical subgenre from The Netherlands that came into existence in the 90's. Inspired by electronic music, Dutch producers and DJ's merged elements from existing genres to create something unique, whilst providing a basis for development of a subculture that came to be known as gabber. Gabber evolved rapidly, creating a community that expressed allegiance through hairstyles, tracksuits and bomber jackets, completed with a pair of Air Max sneakers. With a legacy stretching back three decades, gabber culture has left behind a trail of influence in music and fashion. It is this relationship between the culture and Air Max that has fascinated us for years.

Hardcore is a musical subgenre from The Netherlands that came into existence in the 90's. Inspired by electronic music, Dutch producers and DJ's merged elements from existing genres to create something unique, whilst providing a basis for development of a subculture that came to be known as gabber. Gabber evolved rapidly, creating a community that expressed allegiance through hairstyles, tracksuits and bomber jackets, completed with a pair of Air Max sneakers. With a legacy stretching back three decades, gabber culture has left behind a trail of influence in music and fashion. It is this relationship between the culture and Air Max that has fascinated us for years.

We’re kicking off with a retrospective exhibition about design heavyweights Anthony ‘Bones’ Harrison (adidas & Arista Records) and Masta Lee (Patta & GOWTU). Both grew up with strong passions for a wide range of countercultures, and a resulting ethos to create in their own individual manners. A curated collection of works and personal artifacts such as sneaker models, ad designs and album covers shed light on a shared belief to create through personal perspectives and intuïtion. Springing from both individual contexts, two bodies of work emerge that deliver unique aesthetics as they truly stand out and break with the regular. Discover how Lee mastered sneaker design through Patta’s collaborative projects, and how Anthony would go on to produce projects for Whitney Houston, Patti Smith, The Notorious BIG, Graham Parker and many more.

Masta Lee (NL)
Coming from a background in skateboarding, DJing, fashion and photography, Lee is a self-taught polymath who’s expertise spans a significant number of creative fields. Born in the 70s, he first handedly experienced the emergence of several countercultural styles and music genres. The indebted attitude to stay true and unique to one’s own stylistic choices still serves as a blueprint and source of inspiration for his creative endeavors. Following his own path of passions would lead Lee to working on some of Patta's most celebrated designs and directing the brand’s media outputs, to now being GOWTU’s Art Director.

Anthony ‘Bones’ Harrison (UK)
From an early age Anthony’s wide ranging taste in musical styles and fashions next to his interests in product packaging, football jerseys and album covers were early predictions towards a career in design. Having started his career through internships at Jive Records and The Source magazine, Anthony landed his first design role at Arista Records rising to Art Director at age 24. Fast forward and he would take on senior roles for global sportswear corporations such as Nike and adidas. As Senior Director of Design Culture at adidas, Anthony’s current role is about inspiring and nurturing the design community.

Commemorative BYBORRE Pouch
In celebration of the occasion, Lee, Anthony and GOWTU turned to their friends at BYBORRE to create a commemorative pouch and fabric. As the design duo ventured into a new medium through BYBORRE’s Create™ textile design software, the resulting knit reads “Do it to death, Do it to do it” in the ever bold Cooper black typeface. J Dilla’s invigorating line in unison with the serif typeface aptly echoes the duo’s shared stance on culturally indebted design that unapologetically follows its own narrative. Free from corporate KPI’s and democratic market conformity, and always from a strong cultural vision and a passion for distinctive aesthetics. The commemorative pouch, produced in a limited run, will be available for purchase at the event.

In October 2019 we sat down with DJ/producer DJ Drokz, visual artist Boris Postma and entrepreneur Muisz van Gemert to reflect on a remarkable part of Dutch cultural heritage. The article unfortunately never saw the light of day, but we feel this is still one of the dopest topics we got to touch on as an agency so here it is.

DJ Drokz is a prominent figure in the scene who found his way into music through hip hop and house. Young Drokz had to work hard to satisfy his records and sneakers-cravings, and this lifestyle is reflected in the culture: "Gabber is a working class culture. Work hard during the week, go hard in the weekend to unwind, that's basically it.

"A DJ and sneaker fanatic bar none, Drokz is an expert in shutting down venues, as well as drop sneaker knowledge. The Air Max played an integral part in the culture, he explains: "Dutch youth has always been passionate about Air Max, regardless of music genres. It's a street shoe with stature. As far as gabber goes, we came up in a time when sneakers were not considered the correct attire in nightlife."

In the spirit of challenging the status quo, it makes sense that gabbers embraced the 90s era Air Max silhouettes at their events. Since its inception, gabber culture has gone through many phases, spawning subgenres and finding new enthusiasts worldwide. Boris Postma, a second-generation gabber and researcher of the culture, took it upon himself to observe and document the global community.

Boris' interest is a direct result of his past as a gabber, and an extension of his passion for comics, games and anime, piqued by visual and sonic similarities. Boris eventually found his way to Tokyo, where he documented the local scene, establishing the foundation for his 'Planet Core' photography series in which he captures the unique aesthetics of a global phenomenon. “I want to create an understanding and recognition by showing the human side and nuances of this often misunderstood subculture. "From a style point of view, gabber culture clearly made an impact: Its influence can be seen in streetwear and sneaker culture, as well as in haute couture: "They clearly take direct inspiration from the gabber style.

"Muisz van Gemert is a prime example of lasting passion. In 2006 Muisz experienced her first “wow-moment”: the energetic music and crowd gave her a burst of excitement and sense of belonging: “Asa child I grew up with a reserved attitude.

The community helped me develop as a person and turn awkwardness into self-confidence. ”Gabber is still as big as she remembers: “just more evolved and less tribal.

There’s more fragmentation within the music, fashion, and overall attitude .“The culture is no longer geographically linked. Its development and influence can be felt worldwide. ”While waxing nostalgic, she makes it clear that she also embraces technology as tools to spread the culture, and allowing subgenres to come into existence: “I foresee a bright time ahead for our culture, with more diversity, more styles, and maybe even more beats per minute."

”The vibrant 90s saw the emergence of many subcultures, but few have embraced the Air Max line age quite like gabber did. From the Air Max 90 on down, the runner silhouettes quickly evolved into cross-cultural icons in gabber culture. Over the years, both gabber and sneaker culture have evolved, but the heritage always remains."