Tag Archives: danner


This week I was fairly excited to see Questlove enthusiastically Tweeting about the Complex piece on films and shoes that I wrote last year and was pretty pleased with, despite a muted response. At the same time I put that together, I started drafting a top TV moments list, but I got rid of it, because for all my ‘Seinfeld’ love, my favourite TV and trainer moments are a little more localised, and they’d just make people agitated. While kids are queuing and getting angry with each other on YouTube over sports footwear in 2012, back in the early 1990s, as prices rocketed and technology got increasingly stupid, there were a spate of footwear plots on shows that were big in the UK, On the more populist front, I like the fact the Assassin shoe in the 1991 ‘Simpsons’ episode (with a fictional price tag of $125) that key influencer Ned Flanders inspires Homer into buying. I especially like the way it evokes the impending Yeezy 2 in its shape and applications. Neddy was ahead of the curve. But that doesn’t touch two rarely discussed storylines that worked in the deadly serious subject of basketball shoe theft on BBC1 during the 5pm to 6pm slot via ‘Grange Hill’ and ‘Neighbours.’

In winter 1990, a scriptwriter on the other side of the world got bored and began concocting a footwear-themed plot, that was transmitted on UK TV in December 1991, a year after it screened in Australia, making it out-of-date straight away. The May 1990 ‘Sneakers or Your Life’ story from ‘Sports Illustrated’ indicated a Stateside spate of shoe crimes, but, as proof of the epidemic nature of both crime and fashion, it reached sleepy Erinsborough too. Commencing with the show’s resident moody teen, Todd Landers (played by Kristian Schmid who I last saw leading a party on Sydney Harbour Bridge as an instructor, but has apparently had a TV comeback), flossing with his new shoes at Daphne’s to impress the girls and crowing on about their $190 price tag, despite them being a pair of Hi-Tec monstrosities that would barely sell for more than £30 UK pounds at the time to the unfortunates with parents who wouldn’t heed their warnings of playground mockery.

In Erinsborough, basketball boots are called ‘runners” just as we Brits call any form of sports footwear a “trainer” and a bruised and battered Todd has to explain to Helen and Jim that he was robbed for his kicks by local goons and that he’s practising kung-fu in order to settle the score. You know you’re in the sticks when kids are robbing Hi-Tecs. A couple of episodes later, he and his buddy Josh attempt an entrapment and retaliation by borrowing Paul Robinson’s adidas Torsions (they look like Bank Shots — Stefan Dennis, the actor who played Paul rocked an assortment of expensive late 1980’s adidas during his brief, terrible singing career, including the astronomically costly ‘Best of Times’ leather jacket) that are a couple of sizes too big and using Josh as bully bait. As Todd and Josh approach a young thug on a BMX who, with his snapback perched atop his hair instead of over it, earrings and rucksack is a proto Streetwear Dave, he’s flanked by some goons who offer the threat, “I’ll give you a choice. Either I punch your head in, or you give me your treads.” Vicked. Josh loses a loose shoe during the scuffle, much to the fury of Paul, who purports to have paid $300 for those runners. It’s a deep plot indeed. There’s little more action after that, with the outcome serving as some kind of warning against shoe-related vigilantism.

This kid is rocking the Streetwear Dave look in late 1990

‘Grange Hill’ dropped some sports footwear knowledge during its 15th series in early 1992. For some reason, trainers were worked into pretty much the entire series, commencing with a young pupil amazing his fellow pupils so much with a pair of Jordan VIs, that they carry him into the class like a god and place him on the teacher’s desk to inspect their feet. For presumed legal reasons, the shoes are never referred to as Nike Jordans. Instead the kid crows about them being a brand called “Sportech” and that the shoes are $160 from the States and you can’t get them over here. He speaks enthusiastically of “roll bars” and “heel counters” on them but runs his mouth too much and gets them stolen from the changing rooms later that day. Loose lips sink ships bruv.

As a result, trainers are banned in Grange Hill, unless you’re a teacher, and a hapless character called Ray (played by an actor who I believe ended up DJing in my hometown for a while), wants to cop the same pair of shoes as the American temporary teacher who just started that term in an inexplicable bid to woo her by wearing women’s footwear. That leads to some outdoor sports store shots with Air Max 90s and Air Trainers in the mix, plus a couple of real brand names called out. Ray can’t afford any, so he’s inexplicably hoodwinked by a character called Maria, who goes into a sports shop and gawps at Reebok Twilight Zones before buying some sale stock from round the back and makes them into the worst custom shoes ever. I have little time for custom footwear, but these are especially bad. Somehow, via a sales pitch that they’re “exclusive” and “American” Ray buys them. Like a div. By the end of the series trainers are legalised in the Grange Hill halls again. Wasn’t this show about gritty real-life issues once upon a time?

Thank you YouTube for housing full episodes of the offending episodes too. Who sat and uploaded every ‘Grange Hill’ and ‘Neighbours’? That’s commitment to the cause. Whether the current boom leaches into popular entertainment like that remains to be seen, but it’s worth mentioning that neither early 1990s plot was as excruciating as that AF1 storyline in ‘Entourage’ or a single second of ‘How to Make It In America’ but it harks back to a time when everybody beneath the age of 25 seemed to be utterly obsessed with footwear, not just the condensed band of weirdos you see today. I’m looking forward to a subplot in ‘Eastenders’ where one of the stage school newbies drafted in to play some kind of urban cartoon character sees pound signs over a box of fake Foamposites. Maybe those episodes will be as etched into the brain of the new generation of viewers as these episodes stuck with me, in all their heavy handed, poorly acted glory.

On a footwear note, the Honeyee piece ‘Good Shoes, Good Style’ showcases some good footwear, like Jun’s pair of Danner River Grippers. I wish every feature on that site had an English translation though — the Hiroshi and Kim Jones conversation looks particularly interesting, but the Flash nature of the pieces means I can’t even get my Babelfish on. Maybe I just need to learn Japanese.


So, print’s demise was down to most publications turning terrible these last few years? I can buy that. It’s a theme that crops up a couple of times in the new ‘Gym Class Magazine.’ I won’t pretend I’ve picked up this magazine before – I’d seen the covers of earlier issues, assumed it was a gay-themed magazine and then paid more for something perfect-bound and defiantly hetro that I never actually read. Stupid me. I was wrong about the theme of the magazine (but as Jerry and George were keen to maintain, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”) and I suspect I’ve missed out on some print fanboy masterpieces.

This magazine sits alongside ‘Manzine’ and ‘Proper’ as a fanzine-style affair that get more reading time from me than ad-heavy creations 10x bigger. Issue seven’s George Louis homage cover drew me in and the subsequent interview is excellent. It’s good to see former Pointer designer Rose dropping knowledge and the chats with Rich Boat of House Industries, Guy Andrews from ‘Rouleur’ and Simon Mottram of Rapha are non-fawning, deeply informative affairs. The whole publication is affiliated with the very necessary magCulture site and while there’s extensive talk of design and papery matters, it’s far more than that – once underlying them is the precision and obsessiveness of those highlighted.

The chat with ‘Monocle’s Andrew Tuck provided enough background and enlightenment on Tyler and the crew’s business model to bring back March 2007’s level of enthusiasm with regards to a publication I’d been stacking but barely reading. There’s plenty of ‘Monocle’ coverage, whether it’s jabs at the ideal of a perfect shopping precinct where an aged craftsman proffers a wave and update on the progress of your bespoke breakfast table as you wander towards a local coffee shop that serves jet-black espresso shots in a very specific kind of cup (I have been known to grimace at the monied twee-ness of it all) or fawning about the fucking podcast. But this certainly upped my appreciation for what’s clearly a lot of work – and the imitators miss the point somewhat.

Still, while the magazine is back in my life, the “Monocle man” in all his Aryan woodcutter finery and grooming can fuck right off.

A brilliant magazine worth supporting…and for once, you may find yourself actually reading something you’ve bought, rather than solemnly nodding at a picture of a coat. Those behind it obviously spend a lot of time preoccupied with monthlies, weeklies, quarterlies, bi-annuals and those strange labour-of-love publications you assume have gone under that reappear all-of-a-sudden with little fanfare. That preoccupation seems to have fueled some superb writing, editing and design.


Shouts to the Platform crew, Mr. Stan Still of T-Shirt Party “e-fame” and Nina Manandhar for being the sort of folks who put an idea out there and come through with a polished final product. Video lookbooks make me want to vomit up a lung and they feel the same. As a reaction they’re trying to bring back the street style video, with a nod to the olden days of that one good look on ‘The Clothes Show’ or the outfit that got the Mr. Normski co-sign on ‘Dance Energy.’ I’m looking forward to seeing where they take the project, entitled ‘I Saw You Standing’ but it’s certainly placing an emphasis on those who – unlike me – don’t spend their time twatting about on WordPress babbling about cultural pointlessness. Those are the people who make for interesting video portraits.*

Jacket and big boot season is officially here. Not a moment to soon. Fools complain about southern England’s light dusting of the white stuff. For anyone who’s been waiting to replace canvas and cotton with something a little gnarlier, it’s time to justify all those strange excuses you bandied around before breaking out the credit card. I’d like to salute Arc’teryx Veilance on the Patrol Insulated Coat for having some glorious contrast between GORE-TEX gloom and the burnt orange lining. The attention-to-detail is, as with all their output, unnerving yet unfussy. Even the removable lining makes for an excellent jacket in itself. Jackets within jackets is some cold-weather flamboyance. No matter how many different hikers come and go, the Danner Mountain Light as bought for £75 in the Danner factory store remains king. Even if the suede changed texture dramatically between left and right shoe. That Mr. Viberg himself lent Danner his Hiker design to make the Mountain is some old-fashioned industry buddydom too.

*On topic, if you want to see the increasingly ubiquitous merger of bearded man and expensive outerwear done correctly, check out ‘The Rig Out’s ’30th Century’ Man’ video online this Friday. It’s very good. Unless Glenn put in CGI robots and sorcerers during post-production. As with the above trailer, the soundtrack goes HARD.


Hypocritical miserabilist rants about the proliferation of hiking styles on solemn city residents are about as ubiquitous as the gear itself on those who’ve no intention of conquering any more than the mildest of gradients. So there’s no point segueing into one here. It doesn’t matter how overexposed they get. There’s an intrinsic beauty to the D-ringed boot that’s hard-to-beat. It’s just a shame that the sports footwear industry is intent on “homaging” them at every turn. Still, in researching something that’s yet to be seen, and in conversation with Kish, the subject of greatest album sleeve footwear moments sprang up. On the hiking side, Stephen Stills seemingly had it on lock. The guitarist’s off road styling on 1969’s ‘Crosby, Stills & Nash’ and his eponymous 1970 album’s artwork is both effortless and iconic.

It’s surprising that ‘Free & Easy’ haven’t dedicated an entire album to Stills’s look. Were he to walk into the Rugged Museum, it’s safe to assume the staffers might fall to the ground in reverence. But that’s not the greatest album cover moment for trail footwear. That belongs to some other boys from Texas.

O.G. Style’s ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’, harking back to 1991 is the ultimate footwear LP sleeve. It’s easy to assume the east coast was hip-hop’s spiritual home for iconic shoe imagery. That would be incorrect. J. Prince evidently looked after his Rap-A-Lot roster on the sneaker side of things, and this is the best collection amassed in a single cardboard square. The Houston duo’s DJ Big Boss and MC Eric “Original E” Woods rocked matching Nike Baltoros on the front cover, but eyes left for the stern-faced, long coat and hiking boots look. Eagle-eyed fanboys will also note the Jordan VIs at the rear and the Foot Locker LE Air Max 90s on the right. For out-of-towners, there’s something curious about a bunch of men wearing ACG shoes in a Houston ghetto (5th Ward?). The assumption is that the area is a little warmer than say, New York or Washington. But that’s probably just ignorance. Turning to the rear, Big Boss rocks the grey Baltoro, and Eric opts for a Foot Locker LE 90 too, this time in a contrast black and white to his homeboy on the front. He’s also rocking that model in the ‘Catch ‘Em Slippin’ promo.

Closeup courtesy of NTM on the CT forums.

Not only is it festooned with the finest in footwear, but ‘I Know How To Play ‘Em!’ is a strong LP that’s up with prime Geto Boys and Convicts for the best early example of Prince’s rap dynasty. Good to hear James again on the intro to Bun B’s excellent ‘Trill O.G.’ Tragically, DJ Big Boss passed away in late 2006 of kidney failure, and Eric Woods died of a brain aneurysm on January 3rd 2008. Mourning should be officially inducted as a hip-hop element, given its prevalence. Currently the rap nation is mourning the demise of the NYC Fat Beats store, despite abandoning it for several years in favour of downloads. That’s the nature of the artform’s fans. O.G. Style deserve more respect, and the passing of both members warrants infinitely more retrospectives. Hunt down the album—listen to the music and respect their footwear savvy.

As a postscript, I’m actually hoping the current poor man’s monsoon season signifies the end of the UK’s summer 2010, so I can put this pile to use after months of inaction…


Allow me the indulgence of breaking habit, and posting something athletic-footwear based on this blog. I’m aware there’s another sit for this kind of thing, but alas, at time-of-writing, all things army are tinged with controversy and matters of Ministry Of Defence military issue quality are deeply topical. I’ve been known to complain about build on a product, but when it’s a matter of life or death rather than cracked paint on the sole, it’s something else altogether.

As a result, the release of Nike’s Special Forces Boot earlier in the year was a subdued one rather than a bells and whistles affair.  So I thought I’d spotlight it here instead in a rare moment of product focus. I also think a lot of the writeups I’ve seen elsewhere have been pretty dry.