Category Archives: Skateboarding

BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS

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Stores are going to start trying to sell seasonal ephemera in the coming weeks, so why not get prepped for potential Christmas presents? Books are the ultimate excuse to ignore everyone around you for a couple of claustrophobic days of forced jollity, so the news that both Boogie and Quartersnacks have projects dropping this winter is something to be pleased about. I think Boogie is one of the greatest living shooters, and a man prone to bringing something beautiful back from the dark side with each assignment. After spending a few months in Kingston, Jamaica, the fruits of that trip (which, once again pokes a prying lens down the barrel of a gun) are collated in A Wah Do Dem which drops on the Drago label in late October. The images below indicate that his sixth monograph will be the best yet. This fearless photographer’s work definitely deserves your full support.

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The true cover for Quartersnacks’ TF at 1 book is online now. Looking at a blog every day seems kind of quaint, like still eating fried bread for breakfast or choosing to apprentice as a chimney sweep, but I look at Quartersnacks multiple times every day in the hope of a link-heavy update. The site captures something that other outlets just don’t seem to match, and the book promises a summary of the last decade of NYC skateboarding over 176-pages, plus plenty of new content and interviews. On the Q&A topic, I want a Chromeball Incident paperback of every interview too, because it would probably be cheaper than me hemorrhaging printer ink trying to put all 83 conversations onto paper. You should probably take a couple of hours out to go through the Jenkem Soundcloud and listen to both parts of the Mark Gonzales episode of the Tim O’Connor Show — Tim asks Gonz the right things and, as a result, the trivia levels are high.

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EVEN RADDER

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I’m late to the party again, but I only just realised that two Read And Destroy tributes are on the market and both are excellent. After the RAD event a few months ago, there seemed to be a new wave of nostalgia for the legendary skate magazine (shouts to the team behind the recently launched Free Skateboard Magazine after Sidewalk’s recent demise — DIY efficiency in effect). Two shirts coincide and compliment that goodwill for the scene’s most iconic publication; Dear Skating is a love letter label that remakes the much-missed or impossible to find tees from a golden era of street skating, like Gonz’s Israel design from Video Days, with a vintage wash, and they’ve made an homage to the shirt that was advertised in the magazine that’s available now in stores like Flatspot and Native. if you’re looking for a tribute with a twist, Fergus Purcell and Sofia Maria’s male wing of the excellent Aries brand has created the RADER hybrid of RAD and Thrasher to take it one louder. It’s a fusion that works (was Skate Action the Transworld to RAD’s Thrasher, or is that bit of a reach?) and it unifies two of the greats. Slam Jam and Palace have got the Aries homage in stock. One of the forums created a DAD version for the skate fathers out there a few years back, but sadly, I couldn’t find a picture. Memories make for good gear.

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NEARLY 20 YEARS AGO

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What’s all the fussing and feuding for these days? I’ll never understand the people pretending that they emerged from the womb fully clued up, nodding sagely. Life is about discovery and evolving tastes. Got into something a year ago? Feel free to comment, regardless of what some old misanthrope who hopped on it five years prior tells you. Those who were really there at the start of anything, don’t sit and waste their time typing, blogging and dissecting them, unless they made a bad business decision and ended up on the outside. If something makes a few thousand kids YouTube Ninjaman or New Order, even if it’s just to get bragging rights over their online peers, then it can only be a good thing. then A brand like Supreme might not have been as widely discussed 20 years ago, but it was still fêted enough by the style press to warrant a page in The Face around Christmas 1995 — a magazine that was on the shelf of my local newsagent, with a then-circulation of around 113,000, back when mentioning anything in relation to Stüssy had us interested. Supreme was even on the shelf relatively locally at Dogfish in Cambridge for a bit earlier that year. It wasn’t necessarily a secret society then either — just a good brand, carefully distributed.

WATERMARKED

SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store. New York, NY 1/11/1984 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X29513 TK1 R2 F10 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store.
New York, NY 1/11/1984
CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X29513 TK1 R2 F10 )

We watermark crew members might be too cheap to pay to get our Getty shots unlabelled, but some images need to be shared. I won’t apologise for my relentless sports store nostalgia, and these 1984 shots of respected investigative reporter Armen Keteyian posing in a branch of Athlete’s Foot for a Sports Illustrated story photographed by Lane Stewart. There’s a beauty to those early 1980s walls, seeing as the majority of the stock has made multiple comebacks, but this one is a real beauty — 990s, Campus, Lavers, Air Forces, Grand Slams, Equators, Internationalists and Challenge Courts all seem to be present. As far as ageless design goes, it never got much better than this era. Flawless stock. Thousands of great shoes followed, but they were never future proofed like this display of masterpieces.

SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store. New York, NY 1/11/1984 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X29513 TK1 R1 F7 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store.
New York, NY 1/11/1984
CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X29513 TK1 R1 F7 )

SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store. New York, NY 1/11/1984 CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X29513 TK1 R3 F5 )
SI Writer & Reporter: Portrait of Armen Keteyian posing with sneakers during photo shoot in a shoe store.
New York, NY 1/11/1984
CREDIT: Lane Stewart (Photo by Lane Stewart /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X29513 TK1 R3 F5 )

On the subject of watermarked imagery, this footage of skaters at South Bank from the 1970s via The Kino Library is gold. It’s devoid of audio, but you can open up another tab and play Back Street Kids by Black Sabbath or something similar to give it extra energy. Given the close call this historical area had over the last couple of years, this kind of thing is extra important. Plus, it was Go Skateboarding Day this weekend, which makes this extra timely.

CONCRETE

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Salutes to Charlie Morgan for putting me onto Jenkem’s post that highlighted the YouTube appearance of Concrete Jungle — a lost documentary on the link between hip-hop and skating. I’m sure I saw this on IMDB a couple of years ago and had a fruitless Google hunt film assuming that it would appear officially one day (I’m still holding out for the Harry Jumonji documentary too). But suddenly it’s online. Concrete Jungle feels like a more commercial companion piece to Deathbowl To Downtown, and where Deathbowl had Chloë Sevigny on narration duties, this one has her Kids buddy Rosario Dawson talking the viewer through proceedings.

Directed by SHUT and Zoo York co-founder Eli Morgan Gesner, and executive produced by QDIII (Quincy Jones’ son), it’s part of the lineage of straight-to-DVD releases that began with Tupac documentaries, the compelling Beef series and some genuinely insightful work like The Freshest Kids, Infamy and the Christian Hosoi bio, Rising Son. Sadly, QD3 Entertainment seemed to end in 2011, leaving Concrete Jungle in limbo. Beyond the unnecessary motion graphics and Gangland style anonymous hip-hop beats, there’s loads of good stuff in it — I would argue that more New Deal and Underworld Element talk (seeing as a mohawked Andy Howell is in it), some Menace, extra Chocolate, and Mike Carroll in conversation (who really joined the dots for me in Virtual Reality) over a little too much talk of the Muska Beatz album would have been a better move. But here’s the thing about critiquing a documentary like this — keeping everybody happy would be nigh-on impossible, and getting a dream roster of talking heads to sit and break it down would be a hellish ordeal of timings and shifting equipment from state to state. Plus the thing is supposed to appeal to the person who doesn’t know who Sal Barbier or the Fu-Schnickens are anyway.

Concrete Jungle really finds its form (and to judge a documentary’s pacing based on a rough cut would be unfair) as it approaches the mid-way point, when the early Zoo York footage appears and there’s some good information on the Tunnel’s legendary half-pipe. It’s a testament to the speed that things have evolved (see Wiz Khalifa’s recent ownage at the hands of Supreme LA’s staff) and the rise of Odd Future, Yelawolf (who can actually skate) and co, plus Weezy’s admirable but faintly doomed determination to be respected as a skater, that this documentary seems deeply dated in many ways — a good thing, because skateboarding is so multiracial and rooted in rap right now that, after just 8 years since filming wrapped on this project, its seems weird that it would be seen as anything different. In a world where Rick Ross and DJ Khaled might make a Vine appearance teetering on a skateboard in a You’ve Been Framed style tipsy dad on a Variflex one Christmas afternoon wave, things definitely done changed.

On the documentary subject, The Decline of Western Civilisation has been discussed here a lot — Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris’ trilogy is pretty much perfect, and part three is a perfect companion to Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark’s Streetwise (which I urge you to watch — especially after Mary Ellen Mark’s recent passing). Different generations of Los Angeles musicians and hard-living kids make it a set of films that are amusing and disturbing in near-equal qualities. For nigh-on 15 years, thedeclineofwesterncivilization.com has been promising a DVD release. I gave up hope, just as I abandoned the idea of Dr Jives’ webshop opening after four years of a holding page. But at the end of the month we get to watch Darby Crash and a tarantula, Black Flag before they became their own tribute band, Claude Bessy ranting, Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. disappointing his mum while floating in a swimming pool, plus this absolute bellend, in Blu-ray quality. Part III (from 1998) is a rawer affair that’s been tough to track down, but Shout! Factory and Second Sight are putting it out as a boxset. When BBC2 showed the second film in late 1989 as part of Heavy Metal Heaven, hosted by Elvira (which also included Guns ’n’ Roses Live at the Ritz, a lost Zeppelin show and a show about thrash metal), it changed my life for the better. The prospect of bonus footage alone makes my hands shake enough to spill orange juice like Ozzy.

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HOLY ROLLER

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I’ve long been fascinated with the case of Lennie Kirk, and in the gossipy, where-are-they-now and who’s-the-gnarliest posting world of skate culture online, Kirk’s antics have been discussed time and time again. This North Carolina raised character is best-known for his holy rolling Timecode segment, which according to legend (now confirmed — this and a second near-death experience did it apparently), contains the dumpster incident at 0:33 that caused him to find god in his own unique way. Neighbours fans from back in the day will remember resident chef Mark Gottlieb getting hit on the head and becoming a hardcore Christian who berated Libby for her skirt length and rebranded Daphne’s as the Holy Roll. Kirk’s case was similar, but with less cafes and more sawn-off shotguns. Mixing god-bothering with gangsterism, Lennie Kirk has been in and out of prison over the years, but his cult status and could-have-been reputation has maintained a certain mystique. It’s the stuff of feel-bad skate documentaries, but photographer Dennis McGrath’s Heaven tells his story with a certain sensitivity — photos from McGrath and friends are accompanied by letters from prison, notes and a conclusive police report that reveals that his behaviour had escalated into next-level wildness that put him back in prison for a long stretch in 2013. It could have been a freak show, but this is a beautiful book, with Ed Templeton assisting on design. The team behind the recent FTC book definitely lucked out in managing to catch him for a Q&A a few years back, but for those of you looking for a broader examination of this enigma from birth to current behind-bars status, this should have you preaching to fellow 1990s skate fundamentalists.



How badly are most bloggers bought by brand affiliations? And are most folks writing on fashion capable of forming an opinion? I have no idea, because I’m a total sellout, but the new issue of System has a 15,000 word interview with Cathy Horyn by Jonathan Wingfield, accompanied by Juergen Teller photography, that’s educational and insightful. In conversation, Wingfield brings up the line, “This stuff is so desperate not to make enemies, it’s going to have trouble making any friends,” from Benjamin Gnocchi’s review of Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton building. It’s a quote applicable to most writing on the subject of style. As is to be expected, Horyn doesn’t hold back. Easily one of the best things I’ve read this year.

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The CUTS documentary I mentioned on here a month or so ago now has a fundraising page. Whether you couldn’t care less about hairdressing or not, the fruits of nearly 20 years of on and off filming in Soho is likely to be entertaining if you’re inclined to watch cultures evolve, devolve or emerge.

RAD

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The older generation of British skaters talking about a scene long before we had the technology for Sidewalk forums where people get angry about the price of Palace hoodies is something that interests me a great deal. This country has exported a lot to the skate industry and R.A.D. magazine (which spawned Phat — another publication that gets a lot of name checks here) was our Thrasher for half a decade. If you haven’t seen Rollin’ Through the Decades, it’s worth making the time for that documentary as a primer, and Theme Heritage’s Read and Destroy: the History & Relevance of the UK’s Legendary Skate Magazine panel is guaranteed to be an informational overload, with magazine’s editor Tim Leighton-Boyce, its former product placement consultant Vernon Adams, a frequent photographic contributor in the shape of Dobie (who really deserves a position as one of the best UK music producers ever too) and Rollin’… director Winstan Whitter all in attendance. I don’t buy into any idea that you need to know about Will Bankhead’s skate career, Ged Wells’ Insane imprint, Holmes’ early 1990s output or Tonite to enjoy wearing a Tri-Ferg logo, just as you shouldn’t be expected to know the 1982/83 76ers roster to appreciate a pair of Air Force 1s. But personally, I find the lineage fascinating — I certainly never expected Wurzel and the Death Box crew to be the start of something far bigger with Real. During its short lifespan, R.A.D. influenced legions and it’s good to see it given the treatment it deserves (thanks to Leighton-Boyce’s technical savvy, with his enthusiasm for the internet going back to a time when the idea of chatting via “electronic letter” seemed improbable, the magazine has long been available in chunks online via the excellent When We Was Rad site). It’s almost charming that the hot pink on this flyer is pretty much unreadable, but Read and Destroy… takes place at The Proud Archivist on 2-10 Hertford Road in north London from 7-11pm on Wednesday March 25th and costs eight quid to attend.

OPEN

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Every time I’m looking for good quality imagery of golden era (2001-2005) grime style, it becomes clear that Ewen Spencer and RWD’s Simon Wheatly were some of the few photographers who took the scene seriously enough to document it. I reckon the majority were scared that they’d get taxed for their camera and Nokia 7600. That, plus a sense that early 2000s sportswear and oversized streetwear would never be something to get nostalgic about — especially with the “chav” tag being hurled around, and a tabloid-fuelled folk panic when it came to hooded sweatshirts at a point where people were in fear of getting slapped in public and recorded on a grainy phone video, with their ordeal shared on playgrounds across the country. It seems like yesterday, which is why I’ve always been perplexed that there isn’t an abundance of imagery online. Grime’s boom time preempts online’s total reign over print and it exploded and dipped before the iPhone era. Now grime is a big deal again (So Solid deserve a lot of retrospective respect for paving a way — last year, a North Face store I visited a few times in Tokyo seemed to be ahead of the curve, with Asher D, Romeo and company inexplicably on full blast), with those who never fully shook off their roots ready to make some coin. Fortunately, those who took the shots are getting their due alongside the cast of characters who called the shots. Ewen Spencer’s Open Mic is a great book and it’s 10 years old this year, so he printed 500 copies of a follow-up to celebrate that anniversary. Expanding interviews (the insight from Lord of the Mics’ Ratty is always welcome) from last year’s Channel 4 documentary in association with Dazed, there’s some bonus photos in there too. Go get Open Mic Vol.2 from right here and swot up so you can say you were into it from day when Kanye drops that inevitable BBK connected track.

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Regardless of whether you have the slightest interest in genre moviemaking, you’ve ever worked on a project and seen it go to hell on so many levels that you just want to wander off into the wilderness to sulk, you’ll be able to identify with director Richard Stanley (I’m guessing that you might have seen Hardware and/or Dust Devil if you found yourself here — if not, they’re well worth watching). Full disclosure — I’m a huge fan of John Frankenheimer’s work and I like the 1996 adaptation of the Island of Dr. Moreau a lot. I may be the only person to ever say that, but the sense of threat, the claustrophobia in that jungle set, the makeup and the brutal nature of it make it a gem as far as I’m concerned — David Thlewis is great in his lead role and Marlon Brando is particularly peculiar in this one (though it’s not quite Missouri Breaks levels of eccentricity). I watched it having read shitty reviews because of a colossal crush on Fairuza Balk that had me watching her flicks unconditionally, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Despite being the film’s one fan, I know that there was a better version planned under Stanley’s direction and tales abound over the decades regarding the chaos around the shoot — tropical storms, plus the perfect storm of double-trouble egos in casting both Brando and Val Kilmer.

In the troubled production documentary stakes, David Gregory’s Lost Soul: the Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau is up there with the superb Overnight, the uncut Wreckage and Rage: the Making of Alien3 and Heart of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (in one colossal coincidence, it transpires that Stanley’s grandfather is Sir Henry Morton Stanley — an explorer believed to be the inspiration for Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, as reinterpreted by Brando in Apocalypse Now). Lost Souls also joins Jodorowsky’s Dune (as with …Dr. Moreau I love the resulting Lynch film, regardless of flop status) in the compelling explorations of the greatest films that never were. Worth watching for Graham Humphrey’s concept art alone, this film is sad, compelling viewing and an education on the way a studio like New Line was operating in the mid 1990s. It’s a shame that Thlewis’ name isn’t even mentioned (he wrote his own 60-page account of filming that I’ve been trying to hunt down for the last 8 years), there’s no Val Kilmer interview, and Frankenheimer passed away 13 years ago (had he been willing to talk about the experience, it would almost certainly have been quotable after quotable). Lost Soul is screening sporadically at the moment and it’s also available via VOD on Vimeo if you’re residing Stateside (or know how to make your browser think you are). Highly recommended.

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Mr. Tom Scott put me onto this tremendous chat with William Gibson about clothes on Rawr Denim, wherein Gibson demonstrates an enviable knowledge of vintage and contemporary apparel, and reveals just how much of an ACRONYM fanboy he is. I liked the mention of “gray man” dressing to stay unseen — a survival and security term that represents the anti-flash polar opposite of peacocking for a mode of everyday camouflage. To be deliberately nondescript apparently requires a fair amount of thought, and isn’t just about chucking on a Superdry jacket and a top from Next.

I like this Bored of Southsea Stone Island-inspired graphic. I’ve heard a fair amount of gripes from associates regarding the love that Osti’s output is getting after the Supreme project, but hasn’t the brand always been aspirational? Do people shell out on expensive tech outerwear to wear it ironically? Still, most of the stuff I saw as a kid was very fake, and I was never an Armani Jeans kind of guy. Some skaters came up idolising Stoney, but I get the impression that a fair amount also experienced a fair amount of hassle from the kind of guys who donned the compass. Given Bored’s proximity to Pompey’s ground, it’s safe to say that the team have seen their fair share over the years.

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FUND A BOOK

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It’s good to be busy this early in the year, but it’s also a problem when it comes to giving this blog an update with any weight to it. I’m distracted by Oscar screeners too. Still, there’s a few things worth calling out here — Kickstarter has a couple of interesting book projects coming to a close, and the Jay Adams book could be good. That’s because it’s a expanded version of a fairly sought-after, decent publication I’ve thumbed through, but never owned, created in association with Osiris a year or so after Dogtown and Z-Boys was released. Whatever your opinion of Mr. Adams’ antics during his earlier life (and if you’re inclined to dismiss the darker points of your other anti-heroes, it’s best to pipe down), Adams is an undeniable legend whose influence on several subcultures was substantial (try saying that after a meth binge) and few skaters deserve a substantial documentation to the extent that he does, and this promises to be definitive, so it’s worth getting involved in this campaign to get it published. David Hackett and the team’s tribute to the patron saint of all things gnarly is definitely something to look forward to this year.

GRAFFITI

The painstaking creation of Robert Alva and Robert Reiling’s (aka WISK and RELAX) The History of Los Angeles Graffiti Art Volume 1, 1983-1988, which came with accompanying DVDs, was something to admire. That book was released almost a decade ago, and now part two is being put together — The History of Los Angeles Graffiti Art Volume 2, 1989-1994 brings the history lesson to nearly 1,000 pages. This edition is a 458-page follow-up with a more sober, stylish looking cover. With so much emphasis on the east coast’s writers, it’s good to see this kind of labour-of-love taking making an appearance. Freeway pieces and blockbusters truly take shape around this time, and with the first book fetching some big Amazon Marketplace money, $45 could prove to be a good deal.

Just in case that book gives you a hankering to get up, take heed of this 1970s anti-graffiti video uploaded a couple of years back by ProperGanderSaul. Pledges of love sprayed in broad daylight, block capital slurs, daring climbs onto signs, anti-principal marker pen insults and some throwback gang name…it’s all here.

CRIMEA

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Gosha Rubchinskiy’s whole aesthetic intrigues me. The patchwork creations, occasionally oversized fits and recurring logo in next year’s collection — as previewed a couple of months ago — look incredible and the Russian youth skater theme throughout is a familiar attitude imported from somewhere genuinely gnarly. Rubchinskiy’s photography is excellent too, and the COMME connection has yielded Crimea / Kids as the start of IDEA Books’ (A.K.A. your favourite Instagram account) publishing venture. Ten quid — 80 pages, future classic. This is gritty, and bear in mind that these shots were taken pre-crisis too. Right here, I support any documentation of youth culture beyond the same square miles in supposedly key cities.

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East London’s Wayward Gallery is important, because it’s skater-run, ultra creative and a perfect hub for the elements that make London skateboarding important — the beauty of the scene being that it’s strewn with skate rats, sportswear and a scattering of arty types raised in bad weather. This Kickstarter is to keep the rent paid so they can keep the rent paid after a recent increase and keep putting on good stuff. No signed posters, animation cells or DJ gigs in your back garden as incentives, but there’s a tee for 20 quid. If everyone who wears Supreme and Palace chipped in they’d be doing alright — if everyone who wore a brand that jacked a bit of Supreme and Palace’s aesthetic chipped in too, they’d also be able to build a vast platinum ferris wheel on the roof after the premises were paid off for eternity.

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Just because it should always be online somewhere, this Bally ad from 1983 is the definition of #luxuryexcellence — only the wealthy and dodgy could own these shoes back in the day. The Competition doesn’t get seen enough, despite being name checked by those who wanted or owned a pair decades ago. That Court sole is some Tiger or adidas style traction, but that Runner silhouette is incredible too. Alongside the 1984 Gucci tennis silhouette are these the greatest luxury sports shoes ever? Better still, this ad ran in Runner’s World, so you really had to be caked up when it came to looking for a training shoe. Corner boy and country club style in a set of shoes.

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