Sports footwear will probably be the thing that sends me under. It doesn’t take long to get yourself stereotyped as a “shoe dude” – tougher to uncategorise yourself. Not the worst thing in the world, but at the age of 31, you don’t want to be perceived as the sort who wakes up in a cold sweat at the notion of missing the Cool Grey Jordan XIs at Christmas time. That’s not healthy. For all the cynical taint (having worked with most of your favourite brands at one time or another, you’d have to be murmuring on Lithium not to start sneering at the retrospective preoccupation, and the fact line art renders anything shit), but periodically you’ll see something that cuts through the crap – well-to-do fifty-something tourists in Lunar Racers. A pensioner with bicycle clips resting above a rarer Terra Humara makeup (before the reissues). And the image above.
Sat on the hard drive, from someone prone to right clicking and clipping any instance of unexpected sneaker (trainer?) wear, this is a personal favourite. Taken by my good friend, Miss Joanna Chaundy, during a trip to NYC in 2004, at around 4am, it’s become some odd talisman whenever hype fatigue kicks in – these are sneakers worn for necessity, yet the mystery man (are those decorator’s overalls? Is he homeless?) is flossing with a flashbulb aid. The Scotchlite ‘N’ on those New Balances is gloriously at odds with the drab surroundings.
I’ve long had the brand pinned as maintaining a certain democracy despite their place as budget busters back when they dropped the $100+ 1300 back in the mid ’80s. Maybe it’s the minimal marketing budget compared to bigger companies, the Flimby and Boston factories keeping a level of manufacture close to home, or perhaps it’s the low price point on the 574. The 991 has long been the triumphant nerd’s choice – look at Steve Jobs’s feet pre-Nike – as well as the clued up everyman’s pick. This bearded man doesn’t care who, why or how, but the shoes are serving their purpose. There’s a gloriously composed purity to the proceedings caught here. It makes me like the NB more than any mega budget, contrived “viral’ campaign. And I’ll take this look over any number of side-parted Hitler Youth-alikes in the snapshot quest for true street style. This guy needs a lookbook appearance. I love this photo.