Category Archives: Footwear

CLASSIC IMAGERY

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My friend Nick Santora has far greater fixation with sports footwear related imagery and ephemera than me. He runs the Classic Kicks site, social accounts and podcast and used to run the fine NYC store of the same name. He just made the plunge into publishing, but is keeping it as pixels for the time being. That doesn’t stop the visually inclined, 124 page Classic Kicks #1 from being designed as if it was on paper, down to the quality of design and page size. The inaugural issue has a ton of content (that’s content in the good sense as opposed to the gushing stream of content for content’s sake that is making anything useful harder to find using Google). If you’re a nerd, you’ll mess with this project — the old adidas and Fila ads are worth the price of admission, but the chats with Nike ad gods Chuck Kuhn, Bob Peterson and Bill Sumner with accompanying reproductions of some of their work, while — most importantly if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time — renaissance man and reggae archivist Roger Steffens shuts down that rumour that Nike’s mysterious Rasta Man samples were made for Bob Marley. Deeper than the usual shoe coverage and it’s best viewed on a tablet, though I would spend big on a physical copy. Well worth your £2.99 or digital subscription fee.

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SIGUE SIGUE FUTURA

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To some, Sigue Sigue Sputnik were one of those press-inflated flops of the 1980s, billed as the new thing — a glam sci-fi band with a loose dystopian dress code and apocalyptic Droog-like art direction, but incapable of maintaining the momentum of their Giorgio Moroder produced breakthrough. I think they were one of the great acts of that moment — a post Generation X creation who made a record that defines its era and maintained a mystique that had me fascinated. The sense of swindle and piss-taking that pervaded their work had some serious marketing dollars behind it. That promo extended to a 1986 MTV takeover called Sputnik Network Television that user result has upped onto YouTube. Presented by Tony James, who introduces Peter Gabriel videos, interviews shadowy record execs and Jennifer Gray, quizzes a spaniel and takes phone calls a young Futura 2000 is art guest, painting throughout in bike courier attire. Lenny gets a lot of screen time, mentioning his Fila boycott, but citing the brand as, “Sort of a street Gucci of 1986,” and expressing embarrassment at his Clash-produced solo single. A fantastic time capsule of its era that — as Lenny’s mention of his t-shirt line indicates — sows the seeds for plenty of interesting things that followed.

GOALS

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During a recent European excursion (all will be revealed at some point in the next few weeks), I got to learn a little more regarding the cultural history of ultra-comfortable French and Portuguese made casual footwear. Mephisto has become a source of fascination for me — the antidote to over marketed obviousness — and showcased alongside several other archive images, including some German and French league shirts and Mephisto branded hoardings at pitches, this (according to my source) lower league club’s late 1980s kit included this incredible Hummel goalie shirt with Mephisto sponsorship and an image of the brand’s trademark Rainbow silhouette. It’s a thing of wonder. If you know, you know. Those demonic M’s on the collar are a magnificent touch too.

THE DUNK DAYS

My contempt for most contemporary shoe-related documentaries is pretty well-documented here, but this Vice Sports documentary on Dunk SBs is good. Fifteen Years of SB Dunk: Stories From the Inside Out feels true to the original spirit of the shoe (which I always felt reached its apex in late 2005) and is a fine companion piece to the Air Force 1 production from 10 years ago. Having been interviewed for it, I was gutted that an appearance from me would mean I could never watch the film, but fortunately, my rambling answers were excised from the final cut. Which meant I can view it, take notes and talk about it right here. Wild that these things went from around 150 at Slam City to NikeTown status, but they were pivotal in creating the blueprint for contemporary hype.

1991-1993

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First things first, rest in peace to Tycoon To$h. All us disciples of Tokyo streetwear owe the man and the culture he brought, from new wave to a local interpretation of hip-hop, a fair amount. Major Force inspired Mo’Wax and Mo’Wax inspired…well, you get the general idea. On the topic of early 1990s gems, the superb Webm8 site keeps bringing the gems, with nuggets like this fit-inducing two-minute retrospective of 1990-era ‘fits that was shown on MTV Europe in association with Swatch back in the day. Lots of crap and a few fakes in the mix, but to be fair, there was a lot of that my wardrobe back then. Shouts to everyone who used to watch this kind of stuff intently to take notes back in the day.

1993 OPENING

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An abundance of footage of the 1993 opening of a Miami Nikeshop branch recently appeared on SHOP TOUR CANAL OFFICIAL’s YouTube account. If you look at this site relatively regularly, you’ll know it’s my favourite channel for the way it dwells on the products in shops from yesteryear. That ACG selection with the LE Huaraches in the mix is particularly appealing here and, as usual, you need to be Brazilian to understand some of that dialect, but the shelves do the talking. Suits, basketball showcases, execs, some Night Tracks in a display case and people in short denim shorts dancing solemnly to new jack swing are just part of the launch festivities. A nice little snapshot of a moment in time that’s rarely documented.

WHITE FORCES

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Continuing the recurring Air Force 1 theme of the last few months, I threw together an attempt at a history of the ubiquitous white Air Force 1 for Complex. I would love to know how many pairs that specific iteration of the AF1 has shifted since its debut, but one thing is for sure — contrary to reports, it definitely debuted several years before 1997. Right now, brands are falling over themselves to force a footwear phenomenon on young people with their pop ups, event spaces, panels, careful drip feed of numbers and blood advertorial onslaughts. It makes sense, given that the social media herd mentality, plus hundreds of thousands of new converts to resell, generally makes creating hype far easier. But the white Force never had that push initially (though later down the line, its numbers were deliberately reduced to increase their demand). You can read it right here.