A TIME BEFORE HYPE

This entry is part of an inadvertent trilogy. Sports footwear rarely crops up too heavily here (there’s other outlets for that), but having bemoaned the lack of release for Wieden+Kennedy’s ‘Sneakerhead’ documentary and the demise of San Francisco’s Harputs, how about a moment for a more innocent age of advertising, as America and Canada’s local papers hawked some shoes deemed classic nowadays in a variety of ways? Seeing as the inbox is trembling under the weight of any number of hastily cobbled together and cynically synthesised “virals,” there’s always time to look at some ’70s and ’80s artworking.

There’s a glorious lack of reverence for the subject matter. No self-referential nonsense, and no knowing smirks, with retailers given an evident freedom to sell these as pure performance pieces, rather than retrospective objects-of-obsession. Nike Pegasus “BLEMS”? Bermudas hawked alongside microwaves? Hunting safety classes booked while copping adidas Conductors? The cruder the artwork, the more appealing it becomes. I’m fully sold on the Nike “Air-Port.” Wieden+Kennedy were top of their game at this point, but there’s a charm to each of these matter-of-fact creations that’s enough to revive my occasionally lagging love for the subject matter. Sadly I’ve mislaid the 1985 one where a store can barely give away those pesky “Nike Jordan Canvas” -even for the grand total of $20.

It’s a barometer as to how far things have come when this pure approach to hawking product is infinitely more appealing than the round edges and winks of contemporary marketing. The shelves are heaving with books on the topic of training shoes…sneakers…whatever you want to call them, but even if your love is dead, dying or barely there in the first place, seek 2005’s ‘Blue Ribbons’ book made in conjunction with Nike Japan, and authored by Mr. Takatoshi Akutagawa. Fully translated, it’s beautifully written, has a mine of information I’ve never seen anywhere else, and is flawlessly designed.

Looking at the price hike on old ‘Free & Easy’ back issues, it might have skyrocketed in price, but if you see it sub-£30, invest or regret. The jump-off for Nike’s VNTG line, and just preceding the BRS Air Max release, it’s a perfect guide to the golden age of Nike running. This video from The Shoe Game is devoid of the usual stuttering bluster from no-nothings or the usual band of single branders – Khalli’s got knowledge and some interesting pieces. Less sure about LA Gear, but the Lendls? Boom. The circulated video of the Parisian apartment with the Nike Elton Johns in the mix still takes the crown. I’m not a collector, just an appreciator, and in the case of these ads, there’s a certain joy in seeing sacred cows being treated like cattle feed.

As a major tangent, but a necessary one, seeing as I’ve been getting steadily more and more excited about the release of this Australian crime thriller. For ‘Animal Kingdom’, the great trailer is nicely complemented by this superior poster art. Bring it on.