Tag Archives: nike bongo

CONFERENCING

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Because I’ve got nothing better to do, there’s not a lot of childhood nostalgia I haven’t ticked off to some degree. I’m still hunting the name of a movie where a wheelchair-bound man was terrorised by a computer that controlled his house and I want to know the model name of the mid-cut adidas shoes I owned that had a nylon quilting all over the upper, but other than that, everything else has a name, year and some kind of contextual place in my mind. On revisiting it, most of it wasn’t that good but the unknown can get sugar-coated by nostalgia rounding the edges and giving it a soft-focus. What I dId like was my adidas Pro Conference Hi.

Obsessed with the Metro Attitude (which I never saw on sale in my town), I ended up with these. I may have been unable to find a size 7.5 non-Air Nike (£39.99 or below before discount was the only way at the time) at the Champion Sports concession upstairs at Bedford’s Burton store in 1988 and grabbed these as a second-choice, but I recall wanting adidas hi-tops with the ridges on the heel and the Pro Conference Hi fitted the bill. Pivotal models from my childhood like the PUMA Jopper and Nike Bongo kids’ models are unlikely to be reissued (the Jopper was — kind of — a takedown of the California that has been retroed and the Bongo, as has been discussed here, was the junior version of the underwhelming Bravo model). These were my first adult sized shoes though.

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Looking back, the Pro Conference Hi seems like a shoe out of its time — Decade style slimline tooling with the ’88 heel application, unlike the expensive Dellinger webbed, big tongued shoes of the time. My brother called them “ice skates” because they lacked the b-boy bulk that was desirable at the time and I wore them strangled with an early iteration of a mullet and hand-me-down denim with the back in the days (actually, the faded denim look remains). I wrecked them skating (like a true grommet) in a matter of months. It was odd to be reacquainted with the adidas Pro Conference Hi as a reissue (in the colourway I would have chosen if it had been available at the time) as a retro from Originals. Strange rubberised stripes and that angled adidas font gave me flashbacks — it’s an unlikely one to.rerelease (presumably the Decade’s retro makes it an affordable one to resurrect) but what was a budget offering at the time seems to look a lot better now and to have a shoe made of actual leather is a novelty. Shitty leather or pleather is the enemy of footwear memories.

The Rivalry Hi (which I chose these over as a sample) was a budget shoe too back in the day, but the array of colours it dropped in popularised it, yet this one resonated with me a little more. It wasn’t a French-made masterpiece like the adidas boots that took prime catalogue space, but there’s something about the Pro Conference that resonates with me in the present day. It’s a shame that the current shoe boom doesn’t have the cheaper takedowns that will spark similar memories for the next generations — I get the impression that the days of a shoe becoming a cult favourite because of its popular pricepoint are over, because people want the shoe by any means necessary. Compromise created some unlikely classics.

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ZOO FOOTWEAR

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Images from here

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PYGMYSEABLOUSON3Images from here