Tag Archives: top 50


Apologies for sports footwear related posts two blogs running. This was supposed to be a sanctuary from that subject matter, and if George Costanza’s “Worlds Colliding” theory is to be believed, this could end in me getting upset, but it’s been one of those weeks thus far. So you get sneaker talk here as well as elsewhere. I’m very fond of athletic footwear. I’m not remotely athletic, but I’ve always favoured the shoes — I’m not talking the sensible suede and gum soled training favourites that characters a generation above me lose their minds over, but the silly post-1985 techy stuff. The oddities and the commercial disasters are extremely relevant to my interests.

I don’t consider myself a “sneakerhead” — I loathe the term even though I’ve been known to use it in meetings, presentations and mumbling video interviews — simply because I associate that expression with lazy journalism from folk acting as if they’re hardened hacks looking for a major press award on missions to cover this new phenomenon, opening with creaky-old Imelda Marcos references in their witty lead paragraph under the misapprehension that they’re Martin Amis when in reality they’re simply exhaling seventh-hand smoke. I also associate the term with t-shirts that make reference to “Kicks,” irritatingly positive god bothering individuals, caps at funny angles and a serious yet curiously un-scholarly approach to the topic despite the po-faces. How can you sit poker faced while talking about a shoe on a webcam? Sneakers are a stupid subject so it’s worth getting playful with it all. Fuck a blog dawg — I’m fascinated by an SMU/Custom Nike Air Ship being the real banned Michael Jordan shoe, contrary to history rewrites making it a Jordan I. Sneaker conspiracies.

So it’s good to get an outlet from the good folk at Complex (Russ, Joe, Nick and the crew understand that sports footwear can be fun too) to go too far and really geek out. This time it was ‘The Top 50 Sneaker Collaborations of All Time’ (well, my top 50 — I can’t speak for everyone else) and I deliberately minimised any buddy-buddy footwear Illuminati inclusions between friends who design shoes, anything I’ve worked on, as few Dunks as possible (that story’s been told a million times), well-regarded collaborations that just copied prior ones or whatever didn’t age well. But it’s clear that collaborations had a golden age between 2000 and 2005. Much of what happened over the subsequent six years is just pumping and squirting lovelessly, going through the motions. It just got dull. So what I included is plenty of interesting and offbeat pieces that weren’t just lame retailer rollouts.

Fuck comment section democracy and calls for feedback — I don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks of that rundown. But I’m sad that in the list whittling process, the following shoes were excised: Parra AM1, SNS Goatskin Suedes, fragment Footscapes, Geoff McFetridge Vandals, Simpsons x Vans collection, Crooked’s Confederacy of Villainy collection, Ben Drury AM1, KR Air Force 1s, Sophnet Internationalists, IRAK Torsion EQTs, Futura FLOMs, DPMHI Terminator Hyperstrikes, United Arrows NB 997.5s, Packer Fila FX100, Wet Look Dunks and plenty of Vans Syndicate releases.

Inevitably, Nike take the lion’s share of that top 50, owning the market in the dual-label concept’s heyday. It’s interesting studying what legendary individuals like Nike’s Footwear Marketing Manager and Global Footwear Director Drew Greer instigated between 1997 and 2001 that changed the course of sneakers and redefined the collaboration for the brand. From the City Attack NYC swoosh Air Force 1 regional releases in 1997 to the Wu Tang Dunk (check out this Complex feature on Wu Wear with Power talking about bringing another Wu Dunk out and a shot of a Wu Beach Polo beach homage) and in 1999 to the Alphanumeric Dunk Lo Pro B in 2001, Drew and his team wrote the blueprint from the decade that followed. It seemed fresh when they created their Easter egg hunts with minimal numbers. What was unique then rapidly became an industry norm. From that, sprung apathy. That’s why everyone’s in brogues nowadays. adidas’s Consortium concept and Nike’s Clerk pack remain equally aped too. Through those imitations, the collabortion was created.

Long before those synthesised markets were generated, adidas had come over here in a slow trickle of wheeler-dealers, connoisseurs, savvy shopkeepers and good old-fashioned thuggery. Most documentaries or films with ‘Casuals’ mentioned are liable to be unwatchable, “You saucy cahnt!” fests that are simply cash-in exploitation of idiots for idiots. Less casual, more blokes in shit reissue sportswear fabricating fight stories. But the ‘Casuals’ documentary looks interesting, with an appearance by shoe Jedi Mr. Gary Aspden. So I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt. Plus it involves a man who really, really likes Keglers. to the extent where he’s wielding a big framed picture of them.

Fast-forwarding to a world where we’re not solemnly looking at things from 1979 and 2002, Errolson Hugh’s DISÆRAN line with United Arrows now has a lookbook right here: disaeran.com/FW1112-slideshow/DSRN-FW1112.html — technical goose downs, apparel designed ergonomically, the humble marl grey fleece track pant redesigned, slim silhouettes, a font that looks Avant-Garde, space age surplus, and some old utilitarian favourites taken back to the monitor for fresh insights plus that underlying sense of stealth promises big things if Acronym and Stone Island’s new slew of Shadow isn’t enough for you. It’s probably safe to assume that it won’t come cheap, but UNDERCOVER and Uniqlo doesn’t arrive until next year, so dressing progressive on a budget could prove fruitless for the immediate future.


This blog is brought to you in association with Nike…I’m kidding. But you’d be forgiven for thinking that was the case. What can I say? It’s one of those weeks. My fanaticism for All Conditions Gear is no secret around these parts. I’ve got love for Terra too, not to mention the early days of Nike Hiking. Between 1989 and 1994 ACG redefined design for me and altered my perception of colour coordination. Purple, grey and orange just made sense on a rugged running oddity. Pink, green and grey? Not a problem.

With honourable exceptions they weren’t vast successes (though curiously, the Air Mada —a shoe I always believed to be a niche, affordable takedown of more expensive releases flew out). Thanks to my homies making power moves on and offline, Bradley and Joe, I got the opportunity to nerd out and write the love letter to big-brand trail runners I’d always wanted to do, but couldn’t quite take the pressure of breaking down criterias. I also thought it might be a geeky step too far, but it’s Complex and under their jurisdiction, obsessive becomes a little cooler. Of course, a grown man salivating over recycled rubber soles and brown nubuck is always going to be a little strange.

I can’t help but think that ACG has always been ahead of its time. The research and development behind even the most comically named releases (though you can see where they got their money’s worth out of lasts and neoprene technologies) was staggering—something I attribute to some big shot-callers at Beaverton having a vested interest in off-road wanderings. They were rarely overpriced on eBay either. ACG and Terra releases were something you could drop thirty on during two minutes of downtime to cheer yourself up and you could see those beige boxes from a mile off. The design savvy on some of these shoes is staggering—the branding and sub-branding goes way beyond the call of duty during the early ’90s. I’m obsessed. These guys broke barriers and we opted to revert to heavyweight hikers with red laces or moc-toed workboots – that’s how it goes. But I’m still confident a switch to tech will occur when everyone gets bored of the John Steinbeck styling.

It’s a great depression that the tradical (© Kyle at Goodhood, 2010) look is so bloody homogenized that the whole planet is shilling nothing but “nice” things. I want to see some weird shit that hurts feelings. I always felt that the boffins at Nike were keen to instigate acts of trailblazing when it came to offroad and that notion of limitless outdoor freedom leached onto the sketchpads at even the most nascent creative stage. In 2010, a lot of pieces seem to have been merged with NSW rather than remaining utterly (and presumably un commercially) hardcore. Still, the continued popularity of the truly amazing Zoom Tallac keeps hope alive and just when jackets got very sensible indeed, plenty of ACG (cheers to Dave for the heads up) camo pieces turn up in Mercer Street, including the brutal-looking Icex GORE-TEX jacket. Now that’s a serious piece of outerwear.

So the fam at Complex let me run through my top 50—the original list actually had the adidas Torsion Special and New Balance 802 in the mix but they were so outnumbered it seemed unfair—Nike Trail Shoes. Some are overlooked, some were never released and others just reflect a happier time for me. I know some of you are just as, if not more, peculiar than me, so if you’re cursing the omission of 1999’s ACG Exploraids and Explorun or 1996’s Air Skarn and 1997’s ACG Glace, all of which have their own fanclubs, it’s because I don’t get their appeal. Never have, never will. Anyway, the countdown’s right here and even peeling paint won’t topple my number one design.


I currently work in an area that, bar a fabled Japanese spot, is something of a culinary wasteland. London’s good, but it’s missing a few of my favourites from overseas. The rumours of a J Crew arriving at some point are one thing (and I would expect no less than an irritating pound to dollar RRP), but they’ve been fruitless thus far. There’s a few other exports than need to arrive.

Dear Ippudo. Please come to London and let us have good Tonkatsu ramen in the nation’s capital, rather than a slightly more perplexing version of the dish that I have to force myself to enjoy. I’ve had recommendations left, right and centre, but it always sucks compared to the real deal. I know it would be hyped to hell and I’d have to wait hours to be patronized by a jobbing actor asking if I’ve had noodles before, but seeing as I’m reliably informed that I have to travel to a golf course restaurant just outside the city to get something akin to the deep, complex flavour I crave, I’m cool with that. You’ve done NYC…now stretch a little further.

It would be great if a Supreme opened up in London for 2011 given that the company’s man in charge is a Brit and that between James and Michael they’ve long been repped on these shores with the necessary exclusivity (though old heads will recall Dr. Jives and Bond stocking the gear too), it’s time it got super-official over here. But of course, that’s just a pipe dream. After all, it’s not like we got BAPE and Stussy-only stores over here…oh, wait…we did. Interesting.

I support local newsstands whenever I can, but they always seem to be about half-way there. I will continue to support, but I want a vast hub of publications on the scale of Universal News over here. To buy, say, a trio of publications, it’s not unusual to have to wander to three different retailers across the capital. Extra points to anyone who can import Japanese fashion magazines and, while I appreciate the tax is a bitch, doesn’t bankrupt me in the space of two publications. Often Universal News has been manned by a student type who seemed nonplussed by my try-before-you-buy approach to purchase.

I would call for a Shake Shack, but I don’t want to infringe on the fine work that The Meatwagon is doing these days. I’m aware that In-N-Out will never happen. But how on earth can we have multiple Krispy Kremes and even a Cinnabon, but no great pizza? Sugary crap before we even get the main course? I’m talking NYC-style efforts (still, I’m not going to call them “pies”). Give me a single branch of Motorino in the city or at least something on that scale. I fear that if I ever took a friend from the States (especially the east coast) out for a pizza, I’d have to cut off my little finger as a token of my apology before the bill even arrived.

On an NYC pizza subject, this documentary on the legendary Di Fara pizzeria is beautiful…