Saturday, 9 July 2011

Chicks in Kicks

Where Function meets the Fantastic!
In school I was the always the first kid to jump onto a fad, becoming obsessed with slap bands, slinkies, hyper colour tee-shirts, scrunchies, Super Mario on the commodore 64, New Kids on the Block or Reebok pumps.
I was into anything that was fresh and new, the future was always bright in anticipation of the next big craze regardless of how temporary it was.
One of the big crazes, that for me wasn’t so temporary, was my obsession with sneakers…I begged my mum for Reebok pumps in primary school, Converse one stars and Vans in early high school and later became obsessed with ASICS Tigers and Air Jordans.

I had a brief affair with high-heels in my late teens but that only lasted until I developed a corn on my toe so big, my brother nicknamed it ‘Wilson’, as in ‘Wilson’ the ugly soccer ball from the Tom Hanks movie ‘Castaway’.
As cruel as his jibe may seem, he did my skeletal system a real favour. I ditched the heels and shifted my personal style towards something more practical. 

Sneakers tend to spark obsession in a lot of people, these people are commonly known as ‘Sneaker Heads’ or ‘Sneaker Freakers’. Sneaker Freakers connect emotionally with their shoes, fetishising them, often collecting and never wearing them. I'm more interested in how they have become a crucial and integral part of the ‘uniform’ which many of us wear, to show we subscribe to one sub-culture or another. 
Here’s a Shannon O’Shea style run down of one of my very favourite fashion items – Sneakers! Let’s start with some back-ground:

Sneakers are also known as trainers, sandshoes, gym boots, joggers, runners, gutties, tennis shoes, gym shoes, or canvers...

The ‘Sneaker’ is a generic name for the Athletic shoe primarily designed for sports or other forms of physical exercise, but in recent decades has come to be used as a fashion item. 
In the late 18th century, people wore rubber-soled shoes called plimsolls; there was no right or left foot.
Around 1900's, the U.S. Rubber Company came up with more comfortable rubber sneakers with canvas tops, called Keds. (Still around today)
By 1917, sneakers started to be mass-produced; they got the nickname 'Sneakers' because they were so quiet a person wearing them could sneak up on someone else. BOO!

After World War I, the U.S. turned to athletes as a way to demonstrate patriotismThe U.S. market for sneakers grew steadily as young boys lined up to buy sneakers endorsed by football player Jim Thorpe and Converse All Stars endorsed by basketball player Chuck Taylor
After Chuck’s endorsement in 1923, they became known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. These are the best-selling basketball shoes of all time.

Here’s my very favourite brown Converse All Stars:
And a picture of a Pirate Girl I illustrated a few years ago wearing All-Stars:

In 1924 a German dude named Adi Dassler, created a sneaker that he named after himself: Adidas – little did he know, school children on the other side of the world in Australia would years later invent a genius acronym and taunt other kids wearing the brand, by stating that it meant ‘All Day I Dream About Sex’...and obviously to a 9 year old that's the most disgusting thing one can dream about all day...Regardless of the school kids, this brand became the most popular athletic shoe in the world.
In years to come when Adidas focused more on fashion, the brand collaborated with musicians, street artists and fashion designers, with sneakers produced by Fashion Superstar Jeremy Scott: 
Jeremy Scott also did a pretty rad 3 tongue kick: 
And for the ultimate creepy factor Jeremy Scott designed these teddy shoes:
Street artist Fafi also collaborated with Adidas:
Here's some of her street art: 
In the 1950s, kids began wearing sneakers as fashion statements. Following the fad after seeing James Dean in sneakers in the popular movie Rebel Without a Cause. (Where he also launched the Blue Jean)
However James didn’t do for sneakers quite what Michael Jordan did: Sales of sneakers really took off in 1984, when Jordan signed a contract to wear a Nike shoe called Air Jordans, the most famous sneaker ever made.
Even after Jordan retired from the NBA, his shoes continue to be best sellers.

Here’s a picture of my favourite Jordans I wear today:
Just like Jordan did for Nike, Sean Penn assisted the Vans movement in the hit movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, released in 1981 with Sean wearing signature check board print Vans slip-ons.
This created huge demand for the skateboard shoes. As a result, Vans became a leader in extreme-sports footwear.
Vans has also collaborated with many artists over the years, take a look at their online store with all their band inspired kicks, my favourite are the ‘Iron Maiden Vans

In the 1989 Reebok introduced 'The Pump', which had a tongue gimmick where air could be pumped into shoes, to make them fit more snugly and within four years sold more than 20 million pairs.
During the 1990s, shoe companies perfected their fashion and marketing skills. Sports endorsements grew larger and marketing budgets went through the roof. Sneakers became a fashion statement, and a definition of identity rather than athletic aids.
In more recent years, the classic shoe Nike Dunk has become popular with Sneaker Freakers. 
During the release of these shoes, people often line up for several hours before the shop opens, waiting for their prize. An example of this is when Jeff Staple's 'Pigeon Dunk' was released:
A street wear icon and personal hero Jeff Staple (who I’ve seen in person woo!) released his limited edition ‘Pigeon Dunk’s’ in 2005, these were inspired by his home town of NYC. 
The release of the Pigeons made headlines across the country, not particularly just because of their exclusivity, but because of the stir it caused in front of Reed Space (Jeff Staple’s store) in NYC the day of release. 
There were only 150 released worldwide. Police had to be called in and there were rumors of thugs surrounding the building ready to jump people who had just bought a pair.  At the end of the day, baseball bats and machetes were found around the block.  
The heel features an embroidered pigeon representing NYC to the fullest.  These are definitely one of the most hyped sneakers ever, if not the most hyped.
For a much more comprehensive and geeky account of the life of sneakers visit Melbourne’s very own internationally celebrated Sneaker Freaker:
I seriously recommend you check out the amazing history section and my favourite – Dunk History:

And now for some fun top 5 gimmicks in sneakers that don’t have any athletic or podiatry requirement:
1. Flashing lights on shoes
2. Glow in the dark panels on shoes
3. Disc instead of laces: 
4. Sneakers made of crazy shit like hemp, Parachute material, Lenticular fabric, Fluorescent or Metallic fabric, Printed or Bright fabric or Patent leather...
Some of my personal sneaker collection, that has yet to be worn to death, Miss O doesn't mind a bit of the metallic: 
This dude has a pretty good post about Sneaker gimmicks check it out - Standard love affair.

And my favourite: 

5. Self lacing Back to the Future kicks:
Nike is patenting the self-lacing technology that once appeared in the 1989 classic, Back to the Future II. They  released this BTTF inspired design which are pretty sick:
Speaking of Futuristic in Sneakers: Kanye West released his second Futuristic shoe collection with Nike. Named “Air Yeezy 2″. Kanye has an obsession with Daft Punk, DeLoreans, and other futuristic, flamboyant memorabilia, so it’s not hard to see where he gets his ideas.
For more futuristic inspired fashion check out get futuristic blog.

Sneakers are easier to buy now then they used to be. Dudes used to have to mail order, send cash and wait months to get shoes they probably grew out of. Luckily for us today we have amazing Sneaker Freaker stores to provide us with our goodies: 
Here's an old mail order Tony Hallam kept from his kid days...aww bless his early obsession:
Two of my favourite international stores are Dave’s quality meats and Alife Rivington Club – where I received the most AMAZING service and bought like 4 pairs of Air Jordan's. 
I like the boutique atmosphere and the fact that you have to be buzzed in, with service that only the truly passionate can provide and a crew of sweet underage skater boys to assist...if you head to NYC Alife Rivington is a must.
Check out this guy's pretty agreeable list of top sneaker stores (see a comprehensive Melbourne list at the bottom of this post).

Here's a cute pic of me and my bestie in NYC, check out her HOT ASS Vans - we trying to be all artsy
LOTS of Famous people love their sneakers: this website is fun I got converse, as it shows peeps rockin’ it real styles in their All-Stars, not just posing: 
Here are my two favourites – R Patz and K Stews dopple-bangin' their hottness:
Sneakers are Sexy nowadays with icons such as Playboy publishing a sneaker feature, entitled “Hot Chicks, Cool Kicks”. 
NYC brand 'Married to the Mob' puts the S.E.X in Sneaker culture, they are a bunch of badass bitches that own the feminine Freaker following: My favourite M.O.B slogan is 'well behaved bitches seldom make history'...ain't that right ladies!

Have a look at the hot Lacoste Hironia x Married to the Mob. Released in 

So 'keeping in touch' is a massive part of being a Sneaker Freaker, here's a list of my top 7 blogs for fresh footwear: 

High Snobiety & High Snobette Recognising trends and movements in the street fashion world, offers the most up to date news of retail and product releases 
Freshness Magazine - Providing the culture with a site for its explorations of all things highly stylized and purposeful, both within the sub-culture community and beyond
Nice Kicks - Very fun site: Check out their section on 'Best Movie Inspired kicks'...Bueller = classic!
Sole redemption -  Fun, easy to read, no bullshit site...has lady stuff too!
Kicks and Chicks - Pretty self explanatory, a sneaker site blended with hot pics of chicks in kicks...
Kicks on Fire - Serious sneaker site, NYC based...
Sneaker News - Most up to date...

NYC is definitely sneaker Nirvana, but we've got some amazing stockists in Melbourne so here's my list of home town goodies - Melbourne treasure chests: 

Provider Melbourne - 
11 Manchester Lane 

Provider Prahran
 - 114 Greville Street

All of the above - 
Ground Floor
 109 Victoria Street 
501 - Chapel Street
 South Yarra
Level 2 Royal Arcade
 314 Little Collins Street
The Heist - 33 Little Latrobe Street

IncuShop 6a, 274 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000

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