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.
There are at least two things wrong with the title of this blog post. The first is that only two out of the five items listed were on sale, which I guess means I must have pretty expensive taste. The second is that (brace yourselves) I hate the world haul – when it became the norm for fashion bloggers to commandeer a word that was last used by pirates, I’m not sure. Not to mention the fact that several dictionaries indicate that the word has particularly close ties to describing ‘fish or illegal loot’. So yeah, not a fan. But ‘January Sales Haul’ makes for a much snappier blog title than ‘Stuff I bought, some of which was on sale and some of which was full price, that I’d like to post about because I think you guys will like them’.
Denim Jacket When I was first starting out in the world of #fbloggers, I wrote something about finding the perfect denim jacket. I’m sad to say that I’ve since outgrown my ‘go to’ denim jacket, so have been on the hunt for a new one for a while. Although I’ve always liked the idea of sherpa linings, they remind me a little too much of Hyde from That ’70s Show, played by Danny Masterson and pictured here on the left. Judging from the picture below, taken last year, Masterson clearly became a little too attached to ’70s fashion during his stint on the show…
The issue I have with sherpa linings is that they tend to make you look like a big, shapeless sheep. While I’m sometimes willing to sacrifice fashion for warmth/comfort (just ask anyone who caught a glimpse of me over the Christmas holidays), it didn’t feel like the right choice with Spring supposedly just around the corner. I was thrilled to find my new jacket in Urban Outfitters’ Urban Renewal section – the sheepskin collar offers some differentiation from the thousands of washed out Levi’s jacket lemmings and doesn’t mean sacrificing the jacket’s lines. Less thrilled about the £65 price tag, but you gotta do what ya gotta do.
Gant Rugger Shirt Despite some uncharacteristically questionable service from Gant the other day, since remedied by an apology from the company and the receipt of TWO replacement pairs of socks, I couldn’t resist splashing some of the gift card I received for Christmas on this handloom Oxford shirt. I already have a ton of check shirts with colourways made of red, white and blue. Managed to mix it up with some green this time. As with every Gant Rugger shirt I’ve bought, it’s incredibly soft and has that ‘oh my God, I want to live in this shirt’ quality to it.
New Look Denim Shirt If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that last year I posted a preview of New Look’s S/S ’13 menswear line. In that post, I mentioned a denim shirt with some subtle Aztec touches. I stand by my assertion that tribal prints are over, but I think that this shirt gets around that – the detailing is more reminiscent of Native Americana than the gaudy prints that dominated last season. Pictured below? A/W ’13, ‘duh.
Air Jordan IVs This marks the only time I’ve ever really treated myself on a pair of shoes. I think I’m probably going to do a separate unboxing post about them to keep the sneakerheads happy.
Eastpak Backpack When I found this at a third off the usual price buying it was an easy decision, as I’ve wanted an Eastpak backpack for a while. Lord knows I’ve had enough exposure to them at skramz and hardcore gigs. Although Eastpak produce some pretty crazy designs…
…I was mindful of Oscar Wilde’s advice - ’Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’ I figured that although camo is a bit of a trend, it will also last me a long time without looking dated. And since the bag came with a 30 year guarantee, that can only be a good thing. It will appear again soon in a ‘What’s in my bag?’ post…
Can you reach any conclusion about my ‘~ trend predictions ~’ for 2013 based on this wardrobe refresh? Lots of denim. I suppose it’s also pretty notable that I’m stepping away from really prominent, flashy branding on clothing and making more of a statement through accessories and shoes instead. As practically fluorescent snapbacks and epilepsy inducing prints become more popular on the high street, I envision my own style becoming more stripped back and ‘classic’. It may be worth pointing out that street style shots from LCM have shown a lot of other guys doing just that. But apparently not the girls…
You could be forgiven for thinking that they’ve come straight from the Instagram of an affluent male fashion blogger. But you’d be wrong. The photos come from none other than Miami Heat’s starting shooting guard, Dwayne Wade. It would be easy to think that Wade is an anomaly, one basketball player of many with an interest in fashion. In fact, you don’t even have to look further than his teammates to find more examples of men inclined to dress not just well, but adventurously. Take, for example, LeBron James’ manbag-cum-purse, pictured below.
Esquire have even written about an entire blog post about a shirt that LeBron James wore to a recent press conference. While its writer isn’t a fan of the shirt, I think it’s a pretty sharp look. And I find it incredibly refreshing to see men in the public eye making an effort to look good. With the exception of David Beckham and Thierry Henry, it’s difficult to think of many footballers who take such good care of themselves.
So why the title? This blog doesn’t talk about fifty of anything. Well, the grey comment is a reference to the fact that trends that have traditionally been seen as synonymous with ‘black culture’ are seeping into ‘white culture’ and vice versa. I’ve previously written about the phenomenon of young white men dressing like the, predominantly African American, members of Odd Future who, in turn, dress like middle aged white men used to in the ’90s.
Although I’ve noticed myself wearing more preppy clothes over the past several months, I’m still keen to embody some of that…swagger (that’s the first and last time I will ever use that word) that guys like James and Wade seem to exude. That swagger (ok, twice) is noticeably absent from many of the men I call my ‘style idols’, like Dallas Green (pictured above).
Under no circumstances does this mean my style is going to transform completely. However, I’ve noticed a slight transition in the way I’ve been mixing things up recently. For example, I’m already planning a trip to JD Sports (my de facto choice for trainers for men) to pick up these bad boys -
It’s tempting to equate dressing well and looking good with playing basketball. After all, it’s traditional for American high school ball players to wear shirts and ties on game day. Maybe being a baller is the key to being fashionable. Then again, maybe not.
NB: JD Sports sponsored their mention in this post. That has no bearing on the rest of the content in this post. Clearly.
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 will probably come as a surprise to no-one that I’ve never been much of an athlete. While I have no-one to blame for this but myself (and maybe one or two bad genes) I can’t help but feel that in this respect, among others, I was born on the wrong continent – as a youngster, the only sports I showed any promise in were baseball and basketball. Typical me. Of course I would be good at two sports that the British school system showed (at the time) almost zero regard for. So sports slipped off my radar, leaving me to spend all my free periods listening to Dashboard Confessional and Thrice CDs and thinking about growing a flicky fringe rather than spending them in the gym or on the court.
My failure to make a mark on the world of sports is one of my biggest regrets. But now, it seems I have a second chance. A Maximuscle project challenging guys to get stacked in three months was recently brought to my attention by the lovely Amy, of Wolf Whistle, and I signed up. First step was to take all my measurements, which are posted at the end of this post if you’re interested (I have no secrets now…), so I could measure growth at the end of each month. Never did figure out how to measure my cup size though.
I also wrote a food diary for my nutritionist (that’s right, I have a nutritionist! Eat your heart out, Patrick Bateman), Gareth, who talked me through some diet choices and workout tips. So, I pledged to ditch a lot of the junk food in my diet and am now eating chicken, lentils, eggs and spinach like they’re going out of fashion.
My body goal has been the same since I was about 16 – look less like Edward Norton in Fight Club and more like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. With a renewed commitment to making it happen, not to mention a BOATLOAD of Maximuscle products…
…I felt like maybe I could finally make it a reality. But somehow, it still didn’t feel like quite enough. The gym is a place of performative masculinity – how much you can lift is equated to how much of a man you are, and you’re never ‘done’ with increasing how much you can benchpress. Hence bodybuilders devoting years of their life to lifting more and more weight…While there’s no doubt I’ll be benchpressing more at the end of three months, setting a particular weight target to hit didn’t feel quite right – it felt like too arbitrary a measure by which to define success or failure.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been thinking about my youth a lot (my 25th birthday is this month and I’m having a mid-twenties crisis…) or maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too many One Tree Hill reruns, but I’ve been playing a lot of basketball recently. I think I’m still as good at it as I used to be…though I’m not sure you’ll see me in the NBA anytime soon. But there’s one thing I could never do on the court as a kid that I always wanted to. Despite my height, I never came close to being able to dunk. There’s something incredibly powerful and majestic about watching someone tear through the air and smash a ball through a metal ring. It’s practically poetry in motion. I had found my target – to be able to dunk by Christmas.
Two weeks in and things are going well – I’m lifting more, and more often, jumping higher and eating better. Well, except for that Nando’s yesterday. But even that failed to give me a food baby or make me feel sluggish, so I’m hoping that I’ve supercharged my metabolism enough to be able to cope with an occasional treat. I even have a bit of a sore arm from hitting a punchbag awkwardly yesterday. Imagine that…me with a sports injury. ME. My dad would be so proud. Well, not my dad; he bakes and drinks pink Prosecco. But someone’s dad.
As for what posts come next? Well, that’s kinda up for grabs. I may have sweet-talked the beautiful people at Nike into sending me some Hyperdunk+ shoes, which I’d be using to measure my jump progress, but they’ve yet to arrive. If there’s anything you guys want to see me write about on the journey (diet tips, what exercises I’m focusing on…), let me know in comments or on Twitter. That’s it until next time, wish me luck…