What I didn’t realize while it was happening in the 1980s and 90s, and even up until this year, was how successfully Public Enemy branded themselves in an era when “branding” wasn’t a buzzword or something that everyone was trying to build, bereft of skill as they may be.
Even today, if you blast Public Enemy in your office at what is considered more than a reasonable volume, it will likely be received as a “statement” of some kind, just like when you hear a commercial for the latest U2 album and know there must be a new Apple product out.
The Public Enemy logo, a silhouette of a b-boy in the crosshairs of a gun sight, stood on its own merit independent of the group and became a defiant fashion statement against oppression (perceived or real), e.g. Edward Furlong as antagonist John Connor in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” who wears a PE shirt for the entirety of the movie.
1986 the construction of the logo, magic markers -white out copy machine -Exacto knife ..no computer or Photoshop pic.twitter.com/67SV6vFK2H
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) August 3, 2014
Iconic still today, sunglass company Arnette Eyewear launched a limited edition Public Enemy Collection as a part of both its “Uncommon Projects” initiative and the 25th Anniversary of the song, “Fight the Power.”
“I like to wear sunglasses, but I don’t like to wear sunglasses at performances,” the group’s Chuck D said to Rolling Stone. “We decided to do this because we were tired of not having things for people. We’re not going to go do some lucrative vodka shit, where it’s the rapper goes big and has his own vodka. I can’t do that. I’m not part of that one. But I hope these do well.”
Built on the classic look of Arnette’s Witch Doctor frame, the Arnette Eyewear’s Public Enemy Collection sunglasses come with interchangeable black and white arms that feature the logo on one side and the classic “Public Enemy” name on the other.
The presentation of the glasses in a Public Enemy branded box heightened the experience. I felt like your 90-year-old grandma opening a Christmas present gingerly so she didn’t tear the paper. The box was so cool, how could I just rip it open? It’s being displayed in my home as you read this.
The interchangeable arms and their coolness cannot be overstated. When I was feeling a little lower key, yet still crisp, smooth and badass, I rocked the black arms. But when I felt vibrant, outgoing and flashy, the white arms absolutely killed it.
From the minute I pulled the shades out of the box, the quality was apparent. Sturdy and perfectly weighted, even though the arms are removable, you are not sacrificing quality for vanity or flexibility. The arms are solid and there is a special key you have to use to take them off.
But how do these glasses function “in the field?” I needed a suitable testing environment to really gauge the impact of these glasses. So, I took them with me on my trip to the town that Bud Light built, “Whatever, USA” and wore them for the entire weekend.
Though partly out of frame, here’s me and the glasses meeting Vanilla Ice together:
Here’s me and the shades (mostly the shades) interviewing former winner of “The Voice,” Cassadee Pope:
For as iconic as Public Enemy is, I finally found someone to rival their notoriety:
I cannot say enough good things about these glasses. The attention to detail, homage to rap history and overall quality make them a must have for any Public Enemy fan.
For more information on Arnette Eyewear, visit www.arnette.com.