Size Isn’t Everything

Trainers, or sneakers if you’re on the other side of the Atlantic, are everywhere right now and the biggest trend of the last decade shows no sign of slowing down. Whether you’re a 14 year old Joey Essex wannabe or a diehard collector with a shoe collection bigger than the combined ego of Kim and Kanye, chances are you’ll have a pair, maybe even two – and not necessarily just for sweating it out in the gym.

You could be forgiven for thinking that trainers in modern culture are a relatively new thing, but it’s only recently that they’ve exploded in popularity. Wearing and more importantly collecting and obsessing over trainers has been around for years, but nowadays it is more commonplace to have multiple pairs on rotation. Retro runners, modern day basketball, football casual; whatever it may be, people love trainers and being interested with everything and anything shoe related is my obsession.

In the world of shoes, I would be considered new school because I’m simply not old enough to remember Michael Jordan debuting his first signature Nike shoe or Run DMC rocking Adidas Superstars. But like anything in this world, different generations are influenced and defined by different styles and different tastes. What would excite an older enthusiast, might not do much for me and whilst I don’t consider myself to be a serious collector, I am fully invested in the trainer world on a level way beyond what generic pair will go best with my latest Topman graphic tee.

I guess my appreciation for shoes started when I was a kid. I had a pair of Ice white Air Max 90s that I beat into the ground playing outside and wore a pair of blacked out Air Force 1s all the way through secondary school. Me and my mates would sit through IT lessons gawking over football boots, excited to see what Mercurial Vapor Nike would come out with next or how Adidas would adapt the next generation Predator. Despite being absolutely terrible at football, it was interesting to see how these big brands took cues from different areas, not just sport, and then adapt them for modern day football.

My collection (and I hesitate to call it that) is currently a paltry 16 pairs, with a few outcasts that haven’t quite made the “move out of home and can’t take everything with me” cut, but as the saying goes – “quality over quantity”. For me, buying a pair of trainers is more than just simply buying a new style because they’re trendy. I think it’s the designer in me, but I like to do my research, get to know the product and the brand before I buy because I like to buy into things, rather than just buy things. Don’t get me wrong, ultimately, like most things in this world, most of the trainers I’ve bought are because I love the way they look, but my taste in shoes and why I like the pairs I do is built on something more. New technologies, modern innovation and even heritage excite me more than continuous reincarnations of retro runners. Being able to look down at my feet and appreciate the shoes as more than a fashion statement and more for what they represent in the world of trainer culture is what’s cool for me.

My favourite pair is one I no longer own and only in fact had in my possession for a few days. The Air Yeezy II ‘Red October’ is the third incarnation of Kanye West’s second signature shoe with Nike and the last he ever designed whilst sponsored by the Portland based brand. Probably the most sought after shoe in the world, the Red October’s public release was delayed and delayed despite the world’s press photographing Kanye out and about with them on feet. Fans of the shoe began to think Nike would never release them until one day in February when they appeared. Like something straight out of a board meeting at MI5, a mysterious link appeared on Nike’s twitter. A few clicks later, an entire months budget gone, 3 days waiting and they arrived at my house. I would have loved to have kept the Yeezy because of what they meant in the trainer world. They were a piece of spiky, ugly, bright red history – a once in a lifetime shoe that only a very small handful of people would ever be able to see in the flesh let alone put on their feet. But an offer of £2000 (and the fact I was running out of food) and they were soon gone. One day they’ll be back, anybody out there got a spare 5 grand?

That’s pretty much it then, a few words on why I’m obsessed with trainers. Just remember, it’s cool to geek about things and let yourself be consumed by something you love.

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