Alexis Petridis on Joy Division merchandise

Certain artists always seem immune to the possibility of the corporate tie-in, maintains Alexis Petridis, not least the legendarily gloomy post-punk band Joy Division. That has changed.

We live in a world of Jimi Hendrix-branded energy drinks, U2 iPods and John Lennon glasses. Nevertheless, certain artists always seem immune to the possibility of the corporate tie-in, not least the legendarily gloomy post-punk band Joy Division. That has changed with the news that sportswear company New Balance has commissioned two pairs of trainers inspired by the band.

One features the cover artwork and the catalogue number of their 1979 debut album Unknown Pleasures, while another displays the Factory records logo and the cryptic slogan One of One Made in Macclesfield. They are the work of Dylan Adair, perhaps the only man in history to listen to Joy Division and think of sports-casual footwear: he previously designed a similar trainer for Nike featuring lyrics from Atrocity Exhibition, the harrowing opening track from the band's second album Closer.

The trainers are likely to remain prototypes but they are not the only improbable Joy Division-related product available. Yo! Sushi currently offers its takeaway customers the Love Will Tear Us Apart salmon and tuna box set, a selection of sashimi, nigri, maki and salad with tangy sunomono dressing, the latter presumably ideal for ridding yourself of "the taste in your mouth as desperation takes hold", as the song's lyric had it. The box set forms part of a menu on which every item is named after a classic song, including the Relight My Fire prawn yakisoba and the Sexual Healing salmon sashimi.

"Some of them are a little more tangential than others," explains a spokeswoman for Yo! Sushi, when asked what the link was between Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis' agonised meditation on the break-up of his marriage - originally released a month after his suicide in May 1980 - and coriander-seared tuna and beetroot-marinated salmon. "It's not so much that we're making an affiliation to Joy Division, it's just that it's a great song."

If nothing else, the products are timely. This year sees the release of Control, photographer Anton Corbijn's long-awaited Ian Curtis biopic. Rumours that it will be accompanied by a tie-in with McDonald's - involving a new jingle based on the lyrics of Decades ("portrayal of the trauma and degeneration, the sorrows we suffered and never were free ... I'm lovin' it"), and the Ian Curtis Happy Meal - remain unconfirm-ed at time of going to press.

Have you spotted any more Joy Division merchandise? Email us at


Alexis Petridis

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