03
Jun
10

One Guy’s Daily Tip: Classic Sneakers


It’s the weekend.  You’re on the way out the door and herein lies the dilemma…  What kind of shoe are you going with?  Loafers are too formal, and you’re not feeling flip-flops.  That leaves everyone’s Saturday afternoon favourite, the sneaker.  The only problem with the sneaker is that over the last 30 years, shoe manufacturers have worked really hard to screw them up.  Somehow, it became a necessity to install air pockets, Formula 1 inspired cushioning systems, breathable and sweat-wicking liners, air pumps, and giant logos.  Not only that, but they decided to advertise these additions on the actual shoes, so your new adidas now say “Quik-DRY” or something like that in small letters on the side, or have a Nike swoosh the size of your forearm.  Most modern sneakers are seemingly designed to look like you have orthopedic foot problems or are preparing to run a triathalon later that day.  (Continue reading after the jump)

The question for me is, do we really need $300 million worth of lab-developed technology in our shoes so we can run across the street for a bagel?  For the runners and athletes out there, that’s what your running or basketball shoes, etc are for.  When it comes to your Saturday sneakers, the biggest style favour you can do yourself is to keep them simple.  That means going back in time to when they made sneakers without the “Pump”, “Air” or “Quik-DRY”.  The type of sneakers that go with anything you’re wearing and always looked relaxed, classic and cool and doesn’t sometimes leave people staring at your feet and saying “he wore sneakers with that??”  Best of all, without the useless, quasi-technological crap that modern shoes have, classic sneakers tend to be cheap, so you really have no excuse not to have a pair sitting by your front door.

Here are three of my favourites:

1.  The adidas Samba – The Samba has to be the best deal in Sneakerdom, at $50 a pop in the U.S.   Available in white or black, with the classic three stripes, a gum rubber sole (so they provide great traction in the wet or on ice) and  subtle, tonal suede at the toe, you can’t miss with these.  Originally developed for indoor soccer, they’ve become a staple of street style and can be spotted on everybody from Ewan MacGregor in ‘Trainspotting’ to Roger Daltry, lead singer of The Who in concert.  I’ve worn out two pairs of these and it’s become a ritual when I visit New York to pick up a new pair of $50 Sambas at the adidas store in SoHo.  More details can be found on the adidas Original website.

2.  Converse Jack Purcell:  These shoes are having something of a renaissance, spurned by a major marketing campaign I’ve seen in magazines lately.  Nonetheless, they’re true classics and I’d wear mine even if everyone else in the city was wearing them as well.  They have a flat rubber sole and moulded rubber toe cap that features a subtle groove that’s come to be known as the Purcell’s “smile”.  JP’s are available in either canvas or leather (I went leather as I sometimes like to pair them with slightly more dressy clothes, but canvas is just as cool) and in a range of colours.  There’s also a subtly updated version by John Varvatos, if you like your classic sneakers a little more upscale.  Inspired by an apparently famous Canadian badminton player, you should be able to score a new pair under $80 and I love a pristine pair of white Jack Purcells at that price…  Check out Converse’s Jack Purcell website for more info.

3.  adidas Stan Smith:  When someone says “tennis shoes”, these are what they’re talking about.  The Stan Smiths were, surprise, surprise made for tennis player Stan Smith.  In order to fall in line with the decorum demanded in the tennis world at the time (one can only imagine the sh*t-storm if they saw Rafael Nadal now), they’re plain white with a subtle bit of green at the heel and tongue.   Once again, more info can be found www.shopadidas.ca/originals, or, more particularly, here.

For added style, wear these shoes without socks in the summer (shoe balls might be a good investment as well if you take my advice with this…).  If none of the above suit you, I’d also recommend checking out the Nike Cortez (below at left, available from Nike.com, the Onitsuka Tiger (in the middle, available from OnitsukaTiger.com or sneakers from Fred Perry (on the right, available at Fred Perry).  But keep the sneakers simple, gentlemen.


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