Do you remember how excited you used to get when you were a little kid and you bought a new pair of shoes? Remember wearing them around the house and trying to convince your mum to let you wear them in bed? I got that feeling back yesterday. I’d seen the Area 72 Air Max 2013 online a while back and thought it was…interesting. It reminded me a lot of the Air Mag from Back to the Future II, which looks (somewhat oxymoronically, since it’s supposed to be from 2015) a little dated and plain in comparison.
As the release date drew closer and closer I tried to figure out whether or not I was going to get a pair, but it wasn’t until the day before that I was overcome by a desire to splash out on them. It was no longer a case of just wanting them, it felt like I needed them. I’m going to get into why I think that was the case in a future blog post, but I’m so happy I took the plunge. I haven’t worn them outside yet, but they’re abnormally comfortable (I’m starting to believe all the spiel on the box about it being made of materials from outer space…) and I feel like a character from Space Jam when I wear them. Which is totally the dream, right?
It’s rare that getting a shoe feels like ‘an experience’, but that’s exactly what Nike have done with the Area 72 collection – from the custom paper wrapping to the glow in the dark soles (gloriously impractical) and all the colourful detailing, it feels like something from another world. Move over Air Jordan IV, I just found my new favourite shoe.
There are two things in life that I never ‘got’. The first, one I still don’t really get, is pubs. Maybe it’s just a Newcastle thing, but the concept of going out and not getting drunk enough to think it’s acceptable to proclaim the person you met in the toilet your best mate and give homeless people regrettably large sums of money before waking up on your friend’s sofa with sick in your hair is…weird. To this day, whenever someone suggests ‘just going for one or two’ I make a face like I’ve opened a packet of salmon that’s gone off. The second thing I never used to get is running.
Until a couple of years ago, I was like one of those supporting characters in rom-coms who ends up lagging behind a quiet, but actually super fit, mate (probably played by Hugh Grant or, since it’s no longer 1998, maybe Ryan Reynolds) who proceeds to chat up some other curiously in-shape misfit while I fall into an artificial lake in the background because my legs have gone numb. Then, last year, I ran a 10k ‘survival race’ with 10 obstacles in just over an hour. I realised, actually, I was not bad at running; I just used to be really lazy. During this survival race, people literally stood and clapped as I ran past. Clapped! Turns out that applause for putting one foot in front of the other was exactly what my ego needed to realise that running isn’t so bad after all.
But it wasn’t until today that I realised how much impact a decent pair of running shoes can have. I recently managed to pick up the shoes pictured above (the Nike Lunarglide+ 4 if you want to give it its fancy name) for the quietly knocked down price of £66. Since then, they’ve gone back up to £90. This is either due to the fact that I’ve told everyone I know about these shoes (I literally rang my estranged uncle to tell him about them) and Nike whacked the price back up, or they’ve sold out of the epilepsy inducing colourway that I purchased. I usually find myself with a bit of ankle and foot pain after a long run (which I probably should have taken as a warning sign, but I assumed it was just my useless body falling apart prematurely), but after a 5k run in these babies? Nothing. Nada. I could honestly go outside and run another 5k. If you too get sore feet after a long run I can’t recommend these shoes, or something similarly ‘specialised’, enough.
Now I know what you’re thinking. ‘This is all a bit first world problem-y, isn’t it?!’ Well actually, smartass, it’s not. It’s also a huge, and much more serious, third world problem. In fact, 300 million children worldwide don’t have an adequate pair of shoes. Meanwhile, 790,000 pairs of shoes end up in landfills every year. To draw attention to this issue, my friend and fellow fashy blogger Madison Hughes is doing a project called Febshoeary which involves her wearing just one stacked pair of heels for a whole month. To work, to the gym, to go shopping…to do everything. She’s getting a lot of funny looks and, despite what this picture would suggest…
…she’s actually doing pretty well. I encourage you all to donate, offer her support and/or chuck a Compeed blister patch at her if you see her in the street. Good luck, Madz, only 15 days to go.
Finally, to end this shoe mega post, I came across this great video by ESPN to celebrate Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday. It probably comes as no surprise that I’m a big fan of the Jordan brand, and this vid neatly summarises a lot of the reasons why. I present to you, ‘It’s Gotta Be The Shoes’ -
Hello there. Long time no speak. I wish I had a story of adventure and excitement to explain why I haven’t blogged for almost two weeks. Unfortunately, I don’t. I’ve been pretty busy with work but time just seemed to get away from me. Anyway, I’m back now, and I’m sure you all managed just fine without me.
Remember that scene in Jingle All The Way where Arnie is trying to buy a Turboman action figure for his son (who ended up becoming Darth Vader…) on Christmas Eve and all the shop assistants just stand there laughing at him? This is pretty much what I experienced when I tried to buy a pair of Air Jordan IVs a couple of days after their release date. A quick confession: despite the fact that I’m a fashion blogger, I really don’t spend that much on clothes. The reason I do so few OOTD posts is that I only seem to wear about four outfits on a regular basis – you’d all get bored of them very quickly. Then, the one time I was prepared to spend a pretty sizeable sum of money on a pair of shoes, I couldn’t find anywhere that would take my money. But all was not lost – I eventually managed to cop the last pair of Air Jordan IVs at any Foot Locker in London. I know this because the guy who served me told me so, like he wanted to give me a medal or something. Someone in the queue actually congratulated me on my purchase, and I’m pretty sure I heard someone applauding on my way out…
But back to the point at hand. The other day I was shopping and thought I’d see if anywhere had any Air Jordan Vs in stock. Not because I was willing to splash £125 on ANOTHER pair of extravagant trainers (at least not yet anyway…), you understand, just because I was curious. Size? Had them in stock. Niketown? Had a ton of them. Foot Locker? Practically had a wall of them. So what’s the deal? Well, some industry experts (ok, ok it’s just me) think comparatively slow sales of the Air Jordan V might be due to the resurfacing of this picture -
Even though the above picture was featured on the cover of SI way back in 1990, lots of Instagram commenters on Nice Kicks’ repost of the image thought it was much more recent than that. Perhaps that’s because the issue the cover highlights hasn’t gone away – although most of them don’t receive a lot of mainstream news coverage, killings over sneakers (especially Air Jordans) still happen pretty regularly. Is this a clue as to why AJ5s aren’t moving as quickly as a lot of releases? Although there’s no denying that the AJ4 is pretty distinctive, they can look like an old pair of Etnies if you drape your trousers in a particular way. Contrast this with the Air Jordan V and the distinctive red shark teeth on its midsole. However you wear your trousers, there’s no hiding that. Is it possible that people are avoiding this iconic pair of shoes because of fear?
Attitudes towards shoejacking online range from bravado – ‘I’d kill a [expletive] before I let him take my Js’ – to sombre; one Nice Kicks commenter told of an African American man jumping an Asian boy outside of a shoe shop, beating him senseless and taking his sneakers. He highlighted the fact that none of the ten plus people passing by came to his aid. It’s bad enough that we live in a world where people get mugged for mobile phones and wallets, but the fact that some people value a £100 pair of shoes more than somebody’s life is truly sad. Not to mention pretty damn scary.
JD Sports asked me what my favourite trainers are and why. This is my answer. Click that link above for a chance to win some trainers. You know you want to.
Once upon a time, a basketball player named Charles Taylor (‘Chuck’, to friends) met with a group of men who made shoes. He complained of chronic foot pain, likely a case of a plantar fasciitis similar to the one I recently grappled with, and asked the brand to produce a shoe for him. The resulting shoe was the All Star, a shoe with a silhouette second in star factor only to the Coke bottle.
But all that was a long time ago. So how is it that, more than a hundred years later, someone like me owns somewhere in the region of ten pairs of All Stars? Simple. Somewhere down the line, long before Nike acquired Converse in 2003 and Converse started being worn by everyone from Willow Smith to…my mum (yes, really.), Chuck Taylors became the shoe of choice for skramz bands in the ’90s and onwards, like Off Minor and Fugazi. Even if the pictures are inevitably pretty grainy…skramz kids don’t do Instagram.
Hell, they’re even included in three of the infamous, and massively tongue in cheek, guides to dressing like an emo that make up Your Scene Sucks.
To this day, 90% of kids at skramz shows are inevitably wearing either Converse or New Balance trainers. Unless you’re at a Comadre show…there, Vans are pretty much compulsory. Especially if you’re in the band.
Anyway. I got to thinking about why Converse shoes have become so prevalent, and I think I’ve figured it out. Skramz has always been, to some degree, pretty anti-fashion. In the same way that glam metal was defined by big hair, make-up and studded leather, skramz fashion looks more like it’s come from Gap -
And you can’t rely on turfing up old skramz merch on eBay – Saetia played their final show to just 40 people and Orchid even had a song called No, We Don’t Have Any T-shirts. I think one of the reasons so many skramz bands and fans wear Converse is because it’s just about the only form of uniform possible. Of course, all that has been diluted from 2000 onwards, with the post hardcore militia and metalcore fans also wearing Converse, not to mention celebrities, mums and One Direction.
And I can’t work out if that’s a good or a bad thing – I have to admit that I can’t help being one of those people who hates it when stuff that they consider to be ‘theirs’ becomes popular. That said, if it means that in another hundreds years my great grandkids will get to wear Converse, I guess it’s a price worth paying.
Ladies and gentlemen, the eagle has landed. Ever since the Nike Foamposite One Galaxy (a little too OTT for my tastes) dropped, I knew there was a shoe like it out there that was on the ‘just enough too much’ side of ‘way too much’. Today, with the release of the Nike Zoom Rookie Galaxy, I have found it.
With a price tag of circa $300 or £200+, it’s unlikely that I’ll manage to snap up a pair but I can always dream. Although I don’t mention sneakers all that often my blog, I’m really interested in the aesthetics of them…even though I don’t think I’ll ever get caught up on all of the history. I’m particularly interested in the way, despite this supposedly being a time of austerity, there’s still so much hype around them, with people camping out for days to get their hands on new stuff and collections selling out in a matter of hours. Not to mention the fact that a lot of brands seem to be trying to outdo each other in the zany stakes. Take, for example, the real ‘Space Jam’ sneakers, the Jordan XI…
…which was released in 2009 and is relatively minimalist and toned down. Then compare this with the Zoom Rookie Galaxy, which has GLOW IN THE DARK SOLES.
Don’t get me wrong though, I think it’s amazing that guys are becoming more comfortable expressing themselves through their shoes. Louboutins have been lusted after by ladies for so long, it’s nice to get a taste of that ‘these shoes will change my life’ emotion that I never really ‘got’ when watching Sex and the City.
If you DO get round to picking up a pair, make sure you get your girlfriend to wear some Black Milk galaxy leggings, and you pair your new kicks with this t-shirt. You’ll get MAJOR points from me if you do.
It’s not often that five girls concurrently ask me to betheir boyfriend. Of course, it’s worth pointing out that they’re offering to act as a beard to sneak me into a bar near Bond Street that’s hosting a Next event they’ve convinced me to gatecrash. Yep, I pretty much have the best blogger friends around.
Getting past the bouncer is the easy part, the saloon door moment (you know, the moment when a stranger walks into a saloon in a cowboy movie and everyone falls silent) comes when I walk into a bar FULL of girls. Already slightly buzzed on Babycham, I lean into Amy of Wolf Whistle and whisper ‘everyone’s smiling at me and I don’t know if it’s because they all know me or if some weird collective flirting thing is going on.’ ‘Well of course, everyone knows you, Stu,’ she replies. I’m not sure if she’s being sarcastic. Babycham buzz fading fast, I manage to acquire two free drinks pretty much immediately (the Gatecrashers’ Manifesto is pretty much ‘gatecrash hard, drink fast’) and am dubbed ‘Two Drink Stu’ by Becca of Fashion Train, who I instantly love.
Despite admitting to not having been invited, Next give me a VIP pass and invite me along to the lock-in anyway. They even gave me the same amount of store credit to spend as everyone else. I have to say, this is pretty stellar of them – even just letting me crash was nice of them, but gifting me products too was above and beyond the call of duty. WELL DONE, NEXT. There’s probably a moral in there somewhere – maybe it’s confidence can get you places, maybe it’s brands fear repercussions of turning people away, maybe it’s just that Babycham makes me absolutely irresistible…
The shopping experience itself was sublime. Admittedly I spent almost no time in the menswear department, instead lurking with Law, Maria and Hayley in the womenswear bit…doing nothing for my hetero rating, as per usual. I’ve always seen Next as something of a ‘safe’ choice, hence me spending my store credit on navy desert boots (pictured at the top of this post) and some wintery cable knit socks…
but the lock-in proved me wrong. The womenswear department in particular had some really quirky numbers. I fell in love (not in a creepy way though ~) with a pink lace blazer, which I ended up picking up for a special someone but haven’t yet managed to get a picture of them wearing. Whatever Tanya tells you, don’t listen to her; it WASN’T for me…
Massive points also go to the DJ, who not only looked the part but played some massive tunes. It’s not often that I have to fight the urge to get down with my bad self when I’m in Next. Credit to the photographer who snapped the following pic – I tend to forget to take ANY pictures as soon as a drop of alcohol passes my lips.
So yes, thanks for a great night, Next! And well done for proving that you ‘get’ social media and blogging – it would have been very easy just to turn me away from the whole thing, but you made me feel more welcome than I could have hoped for. And I didn’t even have to pretend to be anyone’s boyfriend.
For as long as I can remember, the phrase ‘deck shoe’ has been synonymous with Timberland. In fact, one of my favourite pair of shoes is a pair of Timberlands, pictured above, that my dad gave me about a year ago. Given that he wore them for close to a decade (yes, really) before handing them down to me, it’s nothing short of a miracle that they still exist. I’ve had shoes that have packed up in less than a quarter of that length of time. Literally, the very molecules that composed them have just ceased to exist and I’ve had to replace them.
As such, I was hesitant when Chatham Marine offered to send me some of their deck shoes – ‘It’s ok,’ I whispered to my Timbies. ‘I’d never try to replace you guys like that.’ Time passed and I came to my senses, realising that I’m NOT in fact in a monogamous relationship with my shoes, and I let Chatham hook me up. My first impressions were good – they felt comfortable, yet sturdy. Even the laces seemed tough. Always useful when you trip over your own feet as often as I do.
Against the advice of the manufacturers, I’ve managed to get the shoes completely soaked on two separate occasions (I was testing how they’d cope if I fell overboard…obviously) and, although they’ve required a little re-wearing in afterwards, they’re still going very strong. All Chatham’s stuff comes with a two year guarantee, but there’s no signs I’ll need to make use of that as of yet. Whether they’ll last nine more years after that? Well, I’ll have to wait and see.
Before I begin, a quick thank you to Handpicked Media, Halpern PR and UGG Australia for inviting me to check out the new collection during LFW and gifting me the Hannen boots pictured below, which I’m wildly in love with. Other than that, no-one’s had any influence over this post – I’m a free elf, baby.
Someone recently remarked that I tend to blog about the world of blogging and fashion writers more than I actually write about fashion, so I’m going to start with something for them – my most powerful fashion memory. I was still at University when UGG boots took hold over 80% of the female population, and I was massively jealous. As I accumulated (many) pairs of Vans and stiff leather (forgive me, I was young) loafers, I remember looking at every girl’s feet and thinking ‘man, those look comfy’. Of course, buying a pair wasn’t an option – not merely because the £200+ they cost was already earmarked for pizza and vodka (oh, and books and stuff), but because they ‘weren’t for dudes’.
One Christmas, when I was on holiday in New York, I saw a guy wearing a pair. He had this James Dean quiff, mouth hanging half open in that Abercrombie and Fitch model sort of way. I remember him wearing a vest (even though it must have been subzero temperatures) and all these necklaces, and he had one leg of his skinny jeans tucked into an UGG and the other coming down over the top of the other one. He seemed to be walking at three-quarter speed with the louche mannerisms of a Bret Easton Ellis character (minus the coke), and emanated this sense of effortless chic and cool that I spent the next several years trying to imitate. We caught each other’s eye for maybe half a second. No doubt the experience was incredibly brief, but it was somehow charged with this pseudo-cosmic sense of significance. It led me to confront my own fairly stagnant sense of style, mess around with my hair, even go as far to study my own features in the mirror. Umm, but not any more than is totally normal. In forcing me to re-evaluate my definition of what it means to have style, not to mention my perceptions of gender normality, I owe a lot to that boy in New York. And UGG.
I have no doubt that UGGs becoming the de facto choice of footwear for everyone from celebrities and mums who shop at Waitrose to rahs and chavs (even if the latter wore fakes that did that weird ‘collapsing inwardly on themselves’ thing) was incredibly rewarding financially. However to a certain extent it also alienated the male market, in the UK at least. If they still exist, those pre-conceptions will be totally shattered by their latest collection of men’s shoes; it’s bold, has fantastic detailing and is utterly masculine. While Dr Martens and Timberland boots are practical and durable, I would never describe them as handsome or elegant. These are two of the first words that sprung to mind when I saw UGG’s new stuff. And not to mention, the leather they use smells AMAZING.
P.s. No, I never did get a pair of Classic Medium UGG boots when I came back from New York, but at least now I finally have a pair of UGGs to call my own.
Some pictures of UGG’s 2012 collection follow, if you’re into that sort of thing:
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a man dancing with a BMX. So here’s a man, Alain Massabova to be specific, dancing with a BMX. I’m desperate to make a pun about Swan Lake, so I should move swiftly on before that happens. Swan Brake. (Sorry.) Seriously though, I haven’t found an extreme sports performance this effortlessly balletic since I stumbled across skateboarder, Kilian Martin (widely regarded to be the next Rodney Mullen).
Anne Hathaway. As Catwoman. On the Batcycle. I’m more excited for the release of The Dark Knight Rises than Samantha Brick was that time she went to a mirror factory. If you can’t wait until the release on July 20th, there’s some cool teaser footage in this 13 minute preview.
Trying to describe the music of Port St Willow in words is to do them a disservice. However, if I had to try, I would say this – one part dreamy synth pop, one part American Football…the band, not the sport (though maybe that effect is largely due to an errant trumpet in On Your Side) and one part Bon Iver. In the same way that it’s difficult to imagine the epic, pensive shoegaze melodies of Holiday being constructed in any studio, it’s difficult to listen to the album in a normal environment without it threatening to shut down your brain and transport you somewhere completely different. Hence the album name, I presume. Completely transcendent.
Last night I somehow found myself at the VIP opening of the Christian Louboutin exhibition at the Design Museum, rubbing elbows with Bip Ling, Alexa Chung (kidding, they had people to stop the likes of my elbows getting anywhere near Alexa’s) and err…Christian himself. It took about six seconds for me to start feeling underdressed.
There are people who would protest shoes being in an art exhibition. I am not one of these people. The English actor Peter Ustinov once said that “if Botticelli were alive today he’d be working for Vogue.” If you want to go a little more lowbrow (and I always do), The Devil Wears Prada‘s Nigel states in a monologue that “fashion is greater than art because you live your life in it.” (Side note: A good 60% of the men in attendance looked a lot like Stanley Tucci.)
One of the highlights of the exhibit is a 3D burlesque show (like Tupac at Coachella but…more boobs) featuring Dita Von Teese. I tried to take a video, but I have an iPhone 3GS so it looked absolutely terrible. Sorry. For Louboutin, sex and shoes are inextricably tied – ‘What’s sexual in a high heel is the arch of the foot, because it is exactly the position of a woman’s foot when she orgasms…so by putting your foot in a heel, you are putting yourself in a possibly orgasmic situation.’ Whether or not you buy into that philosophy, the fetish section of the exhibition definitely pushes the borders of fashion and, indeed, art.
Something strange happens when you’re around the work of Christian Louboutin. You start to get this feeling that everything you know is wrong – how else can a man who spent his youth sneaking into movie theatres and watching showgirls have created one of the most iconic symbols of recent history (both in fashion and popular culture)? How else can old Guinness cans and fish tails inform design in such a way that it makes women want to part with thousands of pounds? It is, for want of a better word, magical.
Is it a coincidence that Andy Warhol also began his illustrious career in the art world sketching women’s shoes? Maybe. Or is there something inherently artistic about the curve of a shoes? Louboutin himself thinks so – “When I do a shoe, I want a woman to look at how beautiful it looks, not how comfortable it looks.’ The fact that most of us will never be able to be afford a pair of Louboutins makes their appreciation as art even more grimly appropriate. But standing in a room with hundreds of them, it’s difficult to be too sad. A lot of themes appear in that big room – theatre, entertainment, sex; they’re the obvious ones. But there’s much more going on than that – an exposition of the creative process, history, industry, beauty, love. It’s all there – you just have to look for it. For of those of you who are interested in shoes – go and look at the shoes. For those of you who are interested in art – go and look at the art.