Better Badges

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Better Badges was a London, UK, button-badge manufacturer, started in 1976 by Joly MacFie. During the years 1977-1984. BB became the leading publisher/merchandiser of punk badges - exporting millions worldwide from their offices at 286 Portobello Road. As the only readily available process camera BB's facilities were used by many punk designers, including Jamie Reid, to produce artwork for single sleeves etc.

After buying printing equipment in 1978, Better Badges began a program of subsidizing, producing, and distributing fanzines. Successful titles included Jamming! and Panache. Promotional materials were also made for budding UK labels such as Y, Factory, Mute, and Rough Trade. Some artists, such as The Raincoats and Young Marble Giants used BB to publish small booklets.

Later successful titles included i-D, Kill Your Pet Puppy, and Toxic Grafity, which included a flexi-single "Tribal Rival Rebel Revels" by Crass, mod zine Maximum Speed, and the quirky Coventry zine Ded Yampy.

As punk badge sales declined around 82, Better Badges had to give up its fanzine program. Facing a large tax bill, Macfie sold the business to the staff in 1983 and moved to the USA. He currently shoots video of bands in NYC for his website PUNKCAST.

A short walk from Rough Trade, at the far end of Portobello beyond the Westway, stood the former premises of Sixties underground paper International Times. By the late Seventies it was occupied by a company called Better Badges. Wearing your allegiances--political or musical--on your lapels was the thing to do in those heady days, and Better Badges was the market leader. But the guy behind Better was no "breadhead." An original hippie who had worked as an editor at International Times and legendarily hadn't cut his locks since 1968, Jolyon McFie started an idealistic "print now/pay later" scheme to help fledgling fanzines like Jamming get off the ground. The editors could then lug the copies down the road to Rough Trade, whose burgeoning distribution network would get them into independent record stores across the nation. Simon Reynolds, Perfect Sound Forever

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