Remember Dead Shoe Scrolls? Back in summer 2000, Mr Mike Chetcuti’s graduate project catfished footwear connoisseurs by posing as an online store that had access to a mysterious warehouse of deadstock adidas and uploaded scans of old catalogues (which, at the time, were particularly elusive). It preempted/influenced Crooked Tongues and made Mikey loads of enemies who registered interest and then got no more communication after getting excited about obtaining some Di Castella Rotterdams. It looks crude now, but back before anyone cared for SEO, sticking some links into a collage of scanned images seemed impressive. In the 13 years that have passed, everything seems to have devolved to the point where the connoisseurship that Mr. Chetcuti tapped into seems appealing all over again.
Things pertaining to sports footwear that aren’t the actual shoes are often shit. If graffiti is involved, the outcome is bound to be terrible and when streetwear is brought into it, it’s usually even worse. I’ll give the shoe boom another 15 months before it begins to deflate. Most things are targeted at a demographic who like five silhouettes and think that anything else is crap. Remember when seeing someone in Footscapes indicated that they might be a likemind? Clock someone in retro IVs in 2013 and there’s a fair chance that they’re the guy who was wearing TOMS 15 months ago. But this isn’t a world for the jaded thirtysomething – it’s for kids and they seem to be enjoying themselves, so who am I to piss on the picnic? The hardest thing to nail is the exhibition. Shoezeum-style themed displays? No thank you. A hip-hop soundtrack? Too obvious. The same selection everywhere you look? What’s the point. Competitions that reward the bloke who spent the most on a pair of shoes are too distracting too. If your brand sponsors an event that’s 90% Nike, that’s a baffling waste of a marketing spend. Salutes to my friend Mr. Gary Aspden and the team that put together the Spezial exhibition in London – nothing but 3-stripes on display and a soundtrack comprised of instrumental Eno, Bowie and Boards of Canada. They didn’t even label a single pair and it’s all the better for it. Spezial is a nice catalyst for folks to do their homework. All brands should focus at least some money on this kind of passion-project rather than dwindling it on local celebrities.
Having seen Gary and co putting this together at high-speed since they talked about it in early May (complete with a 100 page hardback book and resurrection of www.deadshoescrolls.com), they’ve raised the bar nicely. Go visit Spezial before Saturday or hunt down the copy of the book, which is riddled with anecdotes from the characters who make up footwear hoarding’s past (including a few CTers) as well as pretty pictures.
Some brands seem happy without catering to the nostalgia factory – Benetton keeps on going, even though I’ve never known anybody to buy anything from there for over a decade. The Wu seemed to be on a crew crusade to namecheck it back into popularity, but those rugby shirts and sweats definitely had some moments where they were out there on both sides of the Atlantic (as well as their Euro popularity), uniting hip-hop disciples and terrace types in their admiration. The salmon pink and navy rugby was particularly powerful, and Too Much Posse’s Benney tee is a great tribute to the brand’s heyday, complete with the primary colours that remind me of the holiday-bought rainbow fade bootlegs and the stitch logo tee fakes that definitely had a moment on my school playground. This shirt is way, way better than the homages to Hermès that are out there right now.
On the bootleg front, nobody gives Mark White from ABC full respect for his Chanel guitar in the When Smokey Sings video. The whole promo is amazing, but the double Cs on that instrument make it. This is a slick piece of 1980s excess that deserves more recognition.