MICHAEL DUPOUY‘s ALL GONE books have become as significant as the products they showcase. Launching back in 2007 with the now very hard to find 2006 edition, these bibles of street culture have become highly collectable. As reference tools and documents of important releases, they’re unrivalled. With the excellent new 2014 edition just hitting the shelves, we took some time to speak with Michael while he was in town for the book signing at FOOTPATROL to find out a bit more about the project…
TDD: Let’s start with some background on the book series. What gave you the idea to start compiling the first All Gone book?
MD: I started off as a journalist, back in 1998. I was working at Sportswear International, where I was writing in French but for the German issue. I was still studying at school and a friend proposed that I wrote a book on urban culture – street, hip-hop and that kind of thing – because I was talking non-stop about it. I was completely influenced by the USA at that point. I ended up starting a company with my friend around the time that the web exploded – everyone was on the internet and talking about being online. We produced an HTML newsletter that we used to send out every week about the stuff we liked. That newsletter became quite popular and after a few months, I became close friends with Colette and we started to work with them. We launched a webstore at the beginning of 2005 and as I was receiving products and shooting them for the store, I started to wonder what I would do with all this information. People were saying that the web was going to kill off print, but I didn’t think so. I’m still completely addicted to paper and I love magazines and, of course, books. I thought that they could support one another, instead of one killing each other off. And that’s how the first edition happened. Firstly, all of the products were easy to get, and secondly, I wanted to create a beautiful object that would pay homage to the products I love. So this book was a way to document things that disappear so fast. The internet is a wonderful tool to speak about the present and the future but not really cool to talk about the past. I made All Gone to document the culture we love so much.
TDD: I see the All Gone books as a filter. They feature the best of the best.
Yes! And it’s becoming harder and harder. If you compare 2006 to now… oh my God! Every day, I go online and make a selection of things I think are cool and could be included in the next book. By October, I can see what there is. To give you an idea, the new book started off as 400 pages long and we had to take it down to 256. We have to make the balance between sneakers, books, toys… I try to have a good balance between everything in the book: colours, styles, products and geographic zones. The more I travel, the more I see that this culture is global.
TDD: One thing that I love about the books are that they’ll remind me of things that I maybe hesitated on buying when they dropped… but when I look back, I realise that they were some of the best things of that year. And then you end up trying to track down the item months later!
Ha! Yes, even with me, if someone asks what was really good back in, say, 2008, I really need to have the book in front of me. Time flies so fast. It’s so hard to remember. When you have the books together as a group, it really does act as a bible or encyclopedia. At the beginning, people were unsure whether to trust them as accurate. The first book sold out very quickly, but the 2007 edition took almost 3 years to sell out. People started to care more about the book around 2008 or 2009 and those editions were super easy to sell, thanks to the web. Finally, instead of being an enemy, the web is completely compatible and helped people to discover the book. I’m so happy that the book has become something that people like to collect every year.
TDD: At what point of the year do you start to collate everything together into a book?
I try to be better organised than when I first started – the first one we did in November! We try to get the production of images started in September or October. But I am working on it daily and keep in contact with everyone in the scene. Everyone wants to be part of the book, so I’m lucky enough to receive stuff in advance. Even if it’s not physical stuff, I at least get advance notice.
Even though I’m here in London doing a signing for the new book, I’ve been working in my hotel room on the 2015 edition!
TDD: Your books are highly respected for their amazing production quality. The attention to detail – spot varnish, foil blocking etc. – is incredible. What made you decide to create a premium high-end product, rather than go for the simple inexpensive, and perhaps more profitable, option?
It goes back to the earlier point: when people were saying that the web will kill the magazine, it was because people didn’t really respect magazines. You read them, you keep them by the toilet… You know! I wanted to talk about the finest objects, so they have to be in a well-manufactured book that you’re going to keep forever. I want to create something that pays homage to the products themselves.
TDD: Onto something that people have been talking about recently… The LA MJC X DIADORA N.9000! How did this collaboration come about?
Firstly, I was talking to Diadora in regards to other things, not necessarily the All Gone book. I was talking about how the brand is seen in France and that I remembered it from back in the day, and we decided to meet up. We went to Italy, where I visited the factory and met the president of the brand. I told them that I liked what they’d made throughout 2014 and that they had pages in the book, which they didn’t know about at that point. They didn’t know that we’d done a special shoot with the Patta N9000 already for the book. I said that if they could move quickly enough, I could make a new design to associate Diadora with the finest of street culture. And they jumped and said, ‘Of course! Please make the design as fast as you can!’. I showed them the cover of the book before anyone had seen it and instead of doing something crazy, we used that design on the sockliner and inside of the shoe. The outside colour just went really well with the inside pattern. I don’t want to do too much merchandise with All Gone – we do a few t-shirts for the stores sometimes, but that’s all – which is why I kept this shoe as a friends and family release. They went to the people who helped me write the book and those who have respected my work since day one and let me do signings in their stores.
I have received so many emails about the shoes… It was unbelievable! You can tell people that there may be more Diadora designs from me, but not right now…
TDD: That sounds amazing. Thanks for talking with us – we look forwards to seeing the 2015 edition of All Gone!
ALL GONE 2014 is released by La MJC in a limited edition of 3000 copies – and is currently available in-store at FOOTPATROL. Get involved!
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