Category Archives: Footwear

GRAND OPENING, GRAND CLOSING

colette1997openingad

Nike, Comme, McQueen and Canon in the same product mix? It’ll never catch on. The place will be lucky if it survives into the 21st century.

Fast-forward two decades.

It’s a fond farewell to Colette at the close of this year and it’s easy to forget just how mind-boggling their approach was when it opened those doors in 1997 — grander than just another sparse boutique, that styledesignartfood combination was something very different. There were influential stores globally long before colette, but it was one of the few to actively engage with the streetwear realm credibly and without condescension. Now, the idea of grabbing a drink, an import magazine, stationary as a souvenir, 35 pound t-shirt or an item of clothing worth thousands is a business model we’ve come to expect. On first visiting 213 rue Saint-Honoré, the exhibition section, book area, pre-stream edits of import DVDs and oddly democratic blend of high-end and my interests on the same rack opened my eyes to a lot of new things. It looked like the work of a discerning eye rather than just another blog reaction. Of course, in 2017, the rest of the world has caught up, and it’s easier than ever to grab the same selection in other key cities or online, but while a trip to colette hasn’t caused me to impulse buy of late that it did a few years back, it’s not fizzling out — in a quintessentially Gallic move, the Colette who put her name to the store is stepping down in December and without her, Colette goes too. A lot of stores studied the moves this Paris institution made, but few could steer it to the very end like Madame Roussaux and her daughter did.

NTV

The NTV (Nike TV) project was a set of short films that were used internally and at retailers circa 1986. I’d heard rumours of what it consisted of (like Michael Jordan acting as presenter), but assumed that it was long gone. Jordy of Shoezeum obtained the tapes and put some snippets of them on his Instagram account — it’s very interesting, with some ultra nerdish elements like a tannery piece on the soft performance leather they introduced that year in addition to some Sesame Street style elder/younger chatter with Jordan. Even the familiar elements on the tapes, like the dynamic ‘Men at Work’ commercial for the Air Force II (which premiered the aforementioned leather) with Buck Williams, Charles Barkley, Alvin Robertson, Moses Malone and Sidney Moncrief going at it in the gym seems to be twice as long as the version you might be familiar with (incidentally, I really want to know who directed this advertisement). That video originated from Nike veteran Bruce Fisher’s collection and he upped some smart phone footage of the AFII extended cut on YouTube.

HALF OFF

halfoffnike

A while back I schemed to put something together regarding the relationship between hardcore and athletic shoes, but the task seemed colossal when it came to research and, crucially, I’m not qualified to write it. The connection between hip-hop and shoes has been mined to mediocrity in pursuit of content and, like some cultural fossil fuel, all that seems to be left — bar those untold stories and archives from those who were there — is fumes. In a cynical world, the do it yourself, self-powered earnestness of it all seems like the antithesis of a marketing grand plan. This ad from a 1986 Maximumrocknroll is just one of thousands of moments — the southern Californian band Half Off (rest in peace to Jim Burke) had a cult following and they briefly had a ‘zine-powered war of words with Youth Crew folks as mentioned in this Noisey Billy Rubin interview from a couple of years ago. The hand-drawn Vandal style Nike with the Terminator/Big Nike style lettering is a nice touch and on that topic hardcore connoisseur William Cathalina has put together a sneaker-centric ‘zine called Shoegazer, with issue #2 dedicated to shoes and the scene. The first run of 25 is long gone, but it’s worth giving him a shout via Instagram to see about a second run.

ACCEPTING YOUR SUPER HUMAN SPEED

I never noticed this compilation of Zoom Air adverts from 1997 on YouTube before — a star-studded collection of athletes in ‘Accepting Your Super Human Speed’ therapy group — that includes Gail Devers wearing the Zoom Spiridon alongside fellow endorsee Michael Johnson. 20 years later, the Spiridon seems to have found an audience again, after a spell in sale rack purgatory. On that subject, the recent boom in popularity when it comes to Errolson and the NikeLab team’s ACG reboot proves that simply resurrecting the old stuff was a smart move. When it game to marketing, the very nature of that division put it in a strange rustic-tech rocky terrain where jock boasting, Futura sloganeering and a collision of rough-hewn neon aesthetics all collided to create a fair few gems promoting some product that is probably better loved in 2017 than it was appreciated commercially on its debut. Old All Conditions Gear commercials and in-store videos were a curious bunch that included great stuff like a Shane MacGowan Sinatra cover and an eccentric Champs one that concludes with an allusion to possible sexual assault at the hands of hillbillies. Continue reading ACCEPTING YOUR SUPER HUMAN SPEED

GOLD STANDARD

lesilverbook

Books on athletic shoes are done to death. However, there’s always room for exceptions on the shelves and it was good to finally devour the contents of this particular one. A while back, before digital dominated, Nike commissioned some fascinating publications to coincide with campaigns. The world doesn’t need another bluffer’s guide to bestsellers with Q&As with the usual suspects. What it needs is untrodden informational terrain and Le Silver does the job. Written by Lodovico Pignatti Morano — editor of the flawless Ideas From Massimo Osti — the book is a 152 page anecdotal history of the Air Max 97’s role in Italy. I believe it’s culled from around 97 interviews and, curiously, despite its defiantly local nature, it’s published in English. Club kids, DJs, store managers, graffiti writers, rappers, stylists, editors, professional footballers, scooter boys and motorcyclists all break down the core appeal of Christian Tresser’s design between 1997 and 2003. Best of all is how the author retains the contradictions of any good origin story — there’s multiple accounts of different pioneers said to be the first to bring the shoe to Rome or Milan, some participants dismiss it as ugly, there’s tales of the shoe flopping initially before the sudden surge and plenty of corroborating tales regarding the impact that Georgio Armani putting it on the catwalk in early 1998 had locally. Very hardcore, very niche and beautifully designed by Munich’s Bureau Mirko Borsche, channeling that spirit of streamlined futurism that — according to some subjects — may well have driven the core appeal of this ostentatious entry into an already bold franchise. Incidentally, it also operates as a fairly comprehensive book on the popularity of the Air Max Classic/BW in Italy too. Well worth 22 Euros, even though that 16 Euro shipping fee is a little aggressive. Le Silver is the gold standard in shoe-related books. There are plenty more images of it and its contents right here.

MORE STORE

mowabbazona

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I had to make a fourth return to SHOP TOUR CANAL OFICIAL and their abundance of 1990s’ retail wanders. You can’t fake this era of sport shops and those shelves are ripe with masterpieces that everyone took for granted at the time. Even the budget takedown crap has turned to gold. This is the kind of thing that makes YouTube better than any terrestrial or cable channel. It’s 1992 and 1994 embodied in a few minutes of grainy camerawork and excitable chat, but alas, A Sports USA of 148 E Flagler St, Miami is apparently a luggage shop nowadays. Continue reading MORE STORE

FOOT LOCKER 1991 SALES

Salutes to Hugh MacEachern and Rewind Eats the Tape for uploading these 1991 Foot Locker sale ads, with enthusiastic men in referee shirts banging on about bargains. You think trainers are a big deal now? Slicing cash off Air Jordans was enough to justify a moment in between primetime TV shows decades ago. That said, America seemed to get the good stuff that was omitted from the Brits. I never saw the grape Jordans (back before the numbers you had to just state the year as a differentiator) on sale where I lived, let alone with money off.