Tag Archives: bally competition



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.


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.


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.



“Generally, low-level dealers such as the ones at the Gardens don’t save their profits. As Eric Butler, 21, a self-described former dealer, explained, they spend it quickly, as if tomorrow might never come.

Butler, who said he sold small packets of powdered cocaine on a 60-40 split with a supplier, told of buying $250 Gucci sneakers, “old and dirty now,” and $650 lizard-skin Bally loafers, and of dropping $5,000 during a single shopping spree in New York City.”

‘At the Roots of the Violence: The Agony of Potomac Gardens’ The Washington Post 02/04/1989

I’m late to the party again. Nobody told me that Gucci had reissued their 1984 Tennis shoe design. That’s a pretty serious piece of retro footwear, but I never saw it coming. Somehow, when I’m holidaying from the day job to some degree, I find the sports footwear recurring on here instead. A perfect example of crack-era fashion—as fondly remembered by Shawn Carter himself and effectively remade by Reebok for him earlier last decade—it’s an interesting shoe. Now, in an era where the high-end sneaker is the norm, with any number of quasi-futuristic hi-tops bouncing inspiration to and from the major and indie brands, it’s not especially remarkable. Back in the early 1980s, Gucci’s effort was something otherworldly. Seemingly a response to models like the late ’70s Rod Laver Super silhouette (check that outsole and forefoot), Lendl signature pieces and Diadora, who the hell was going to lay down big money on a pair of tennis shoes? Was this thing actually created with hustlers in mind?

Between these and logo sweats, it was legit Gucci output with a very different target audience. Bar the occasional pair of Chuck-style efforts, Gucci sneakers are generally atrocious—the Tennis seemed to get it right with that Italian-made nylon and premium leather mix. That Gucci font on the tongue and midsole was a classic look. And we Euro fanboys for all things 1980s and hip-hop found out about the shoe far too late. But they’re on sale in the UK Gucci store at a 50% reduced rate of £135 in women’s sizes (that stretch to a men’s UK9) alongside a weaker black-on-black variation. Seeing as they hovered at the $170 mark on their debut, that mark down price is the equivalent of $209…pretty good, while in the States they’re retailing at $375, which feels a little more like 26 years of inflation should do.

But here’s the thing—this is a shoe of its time—bragging rights, a day-to-day mission to avoid robbery…these were Maybachs for the feet in their heyday, but things done changed. The Gucci Tennis was all about the context. It doesn’t belong on my feet…revisionist retro history buffs the sheen off some products with near-mythical status—seeing price slashed Steep Techs in NYC recently, Jordan IIIs shifting for virtually nothing at Lakeside JD Sports circa. 1994 and now these at half price can murder a legend on the spot. Are there aged hustlers looking to pick these up? Would they even have the expendable income to grab a pair nowadays? Anyway, if you’re interested and you can squeeze your feet in (though they do fit pretty big), the Gucci Tennis ’84 is online now.

(Images from trazgrillo’s eBay auction: they went for $250)

I sometimes forget just how much of a facsimile the Jay-Z homage actually was.

Still, I haven’t seen Bally reissue the Competition shoe, as worn by Doug E. Fresh circa. 1986—the Fila and Bally look was some big money Harlemite cool. Thus, the magic remains. The stop motion Bally and Superstar old west style face off in the ‘All the Way to Heaven’ video was memorable yet utterly, utterly shit. Still, that piece of Run-D.M.C. baiting beats another misspelt 2-hour Twitter back-and-forth when it comes to rap beefs.

Incidentally, what’s the current status of Shaun Lloyd’s ‘Labels’ book of, umm…labels? I heard early 2011 then…nothing.