There are lists everywhere right now. End of the year is a perfect time to bang them out to keep that content moving. I wrote a quick one for my friends at Sole Collector before realising that I’d omitted loads of good things (in fact, I’ve picked up shoes in the days following the list submission that deserved some placement). If you’re looking to write a top ten of the year’s best with any modicum of integrity, I recommend leaving it until the year has fully concluded and taking some time to collate it. In this case, I did none of those things. With the freedom of a top 20, this would have been a bit more varied in terms of brands and silhouettes. As it stands, it simply highlights how dull and middle-aged I am when it comes to sports footwear. For the most part, I still don’t understand the need to put reissues of reissues of classics on a pedestal. It’s a given that a black and red Air Jordan 1 is amazing, but it belongs on a top ten of 1985 list (maybe the mid 1990s at a push because retro basketball still seemed quite novel), except there weren’t “best shoes of…” lists back then because they were too busy keeping it moving rather than wallowing.
You can’t beat a spot of crass holiday commercialism from an interesting era, and this is a good example. This 2001 Christmas card from Nike wishes us a happy holiday using a bizarre array of shoes. Many of the designs are very much of their time (the Air Max Willy might be one of the oddest titles for a silhouette ever), but it demonstrates a real appreciation of some of the most uncommercial Nike models and a commitment to mule fits. Why was the Air Huarache Plus included? Nothing says seasons greetings like an Air Superfly.
When I can’t think of something interesting to put here, I always chuck up a shoe page from an old issue of The Source as a distraction. There’s a brace of yellow accented greats here that evoke an era and the Reebok Apogee DMX 2000 is the champ — you NEVER see that thing anywhere anymore despite its popularity back in early 1998. A lot of great design came out of that DMX era (which, coincidentally, corresponded with the veteran MC of the same name’s ascent), but there’s very little online that catalogues it. Maybe there is some Geocities mirror site from Japan out there, but it’s been bumped down the Google rankings by a slew of new jack crap.
There was once a time when, between Complex’s staffers and a squad of freelancers, every conceivable list that could be written was written. People complained about clickthroughs/orders/decisions and all of that other stuff. Post 2014, there were a lot less in favour of more features, opinion pieces and interviews. In fact, the only people still peddling that click-through thing are those “You won’t believe what XXXXXXX looks like in 2016!” clickbait sites that, curiously, Mike Tyson seems to be paid to promote on Facebook. I vowed never to write another, but my friend Matt asked if I wanted to write the top 35 Air Force 1s, which then became the top 21 Air Force 1s of the 21st century. No matter how much crap is thrown at that shoe (and those laser etched ones with players’ faces on and the majority of the 2007 anniversary rollout hurled a lot at them), it’s a design with a very special place in my heart. You could write a top 35 co.jp release only list, or simply put together a hit parade of Euro exclusives — since 2000 there’s probably been a couple of thousand variations worldwide, and the shoe was already 18 years old by that point. This was a personal list with a slight prejudice against some sacred cows (for instance, a lot of patent versions have aged appallingly and Entourage was a TV show for dickheads). Looking back, it’s bizarre to think that something as simple as a familiar shoe made to look a bit like a Timberland boot could blow my mind conceptually once upon a time. But blow my mind it did, hence its high-ranking on the list which you can read here or by clicking the image above.
Nothing much to report here, but this shot from a 1998 Vibe fashion shoot is still incredible. 1998 seems to be a focal point for a lot of current looks and the decision to shoot couples in front of painted backdrops like an Albee Square Mall style romantic snapshot made this one of the best. Ladies in the alternate Air Max 98 with the Total Air are keepers. Add some ACG F.I.T. gear and you’ve got a powerful look that captures an era.
I seem to stack up sportswear related ephemera to the point where it’s going to be the cause of my Collyer brothers style demise. There’s been plenty of curiosities that bear the swoosh or the three stripes throughout the years (foodstuffs, torches, jewellery etc), but the recent NikeLab ACRONYM Presto Mid release instigated some solid tie-in gear with the assistance of the excellent Kostas Seremetis, whose artistic vision is as prone to occasional aggression and disruption as Errolson Hugh’s design. Continue reading UNNECESSARY GREATNESS
I haven’t got too much to say this evening, but I’m always surprised that a lot of the more interesting Nike apparel hasn’t made a return in these thrift-and-resell hype days. Some old creations resurrected using Tech Fleece or F.I.T. fabrics with accompanying shoes from the eras? I’d be down. Though it’s unlikely that I could pull off a Sharks basketball vest. These snippets of catalogue line art from between 1987 and 1988 are the tip of a particularly lurid and excessively patterned iceberg. Continue reading MORE OLD GARMS