Everyone’s talking up the animal prints like they’re something new, but in a world where men can walk the street in onesies and some cheetah patterning is considered the height of sophistication, people seem to forget that they’re just into kids’ clothing and footwear on a larger scale. Two years before Nike dropped the Safari, the 1984 release of the Nike Zoo model for kids in a pick of animal patterns including cheetah and some tiger stripes delivered some Velcro fastening playground credibility. No relation to the elite Zoo wing of the Innovation Kitchen, the brand was definitely playing with some casual and pre-teen market at this point in time to claw (pun intended) some market from rival brands. This TV commercial ties nicely in with the ‘Company of Wolves’ and ‘Teen Wolf’ era and couldn’t be much more 1980s if it street planted on a Vision Psycho Stick while downing a yard of Quatro to a Harold Faltermeyer synth soundtrack.
Had I seen this at the age of six I would have been obsessed. But we never had access to this model — we were more liable to end up with a pair of Nike Bongos on out feet. It’s hard to find much information on the mysterious Nike Bongo model, but because this blog is about talking about that rareness that’s not for the usual six-silhouette shoe dudes, it has to be mentioned here. I’m open to more info, but as I understand the Bongo (which I though was a figment of my imagination until somebody else mentioned it online) was a budget kids’ Nike model (much like the PUMA Jopper was a kids’ release) which had a sister shoe called the Nike Rascal and was on sale in 1986. I believe it was a child-size version of the budget Nike Bravo jogger which looks a lot like it and was similarly coloured. I’ve seen some people get excited about deadstock Bravos, but I don’t — it was budget at a time when you could have some Pegasus or a Windrunner. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it was ever cool. The Bongo was better because those who had them were balling on a parental budget. I haven’t seen a pair of Nike Bongos since I was 8, but there’s a few B&W images floating around of my first ever Nikes.
On the subject of revisionist history, why are people pretending that retro Jordan XI ignorance is anything new? Misty eyed nostalgics talk of XIs on UK saleracks (which is because the majority of UK folks got into that model on the second (and even third) round of reissues because the internet told them to be into them (see also, Foamposites). In March 2001, the Cool Greys caused a mini-riot in a Sacramento shopping mall and even the December 2000 Space Jam release was frantic enough to fill several newspaper columns. Nothing’s changed — the 80 pairs to vast angry lines of people ratio, the token guy stumbling in late expecting them to be in stock…nothing. Even the fever for the Concords in December 1995 and Playoffs around Easter 1996 made the papers. The pandemonium is part of that shoe’s D.N.A. And did I imagine the stories back in the day about the NBA scheming to ban the Concords from the courts?
Things got too old-fashioned on this blog lately. I’ve mentioned it here before, but I love how brands exist that don’t seem to exist in the western word still function in Japan. From this year’s blog fetishism, I overlooked is-ness‘ patterned, technical lunacy. is-ness existential outerwear doesn’t fear weird and the thunder god or life force themes of past seasons and Papua New Guinea patterns of the current collection are brave, progressive and strange. There’s collaborations with the likes of Medicom’s Fabrick wing and SP.DESIGN that don’t seem to operate beyond the Far East, plus bizarro Dr. Martens projects. You don’t necessarily need to head to toe is-ness to get the look and you don’t need to go fully space-tribe to appreciate their work. A lot was said about the great asymmetric technical jacket look from a couple of years back and for A/W 2012 it goes a little further out there with the Pygmy Sea Blouson‘s asymmetric upward 3/4 zip fastening, classic performance colour combo and collar zip. The fishtail parka look of the Gokurakucho Coat with SP.DESIGN with the extending width of the zip arms and detachable fur collar that can be worn alone. If a brand like SASSAFRAS or FilMelange are doing simplicity perfectly, is-ness are doing the heavy detailing just as well, with interesting results — they might not be world’s best jacket competitors, but they’re always inspirationally oddball.
Images from here
Images from here
2 thoughts on “ZOO FOOTWEAR”
Pygmy Sea Blouson? Ahead of the future. That Nike Zoo vid is all kinds of ace too.
Props. As ever.