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Sneakers

Highsnobiety: 2017 Was the Year of the Celebrity Sneaker Co-Sign

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Highsnobiety: 2017 Was the Year of the Celebrity Sneaker Co-Sign

My latest for Highsnobiety, talking one of the most insane trends to ever hit the sneaker industry. From Amber Rose to Gary Vee, 2017 was "the year of the co-sign." How long before celeb sneaker collabs become just another part of the merch table?

Read the full story at link here.

 

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Highsnobiety: Let’s Face It, Buying Sneakers Has Become Way Too Complicated

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Highsnobiety: Let’s Face It, Buying Sneakers Has Become Way Too Complicated

My latest work for Highsnobiety, this time covering the crazy world of sneaker releases. I argue that "bots vs. brands" is an unwinnable fight, that gamified releases are less crack than whack, and that jumping through flaming hoops shouldn't be a prerequisite to hooping in Jumpman. How's that for turns of phrase?  

Read the full article at the link here

 

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Highsnobiety: Sneakerboots Shouldn't Be A Thing

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Highsnobiety: Sneakerboots Shouldn't Be A Thing

Earlier this week, I reenacted the ending to Cronenberg's The Fly. Four Pins said it best: the Roshe Winter Mid is a war crime. Read my latest for Highsnobiety at the link here

 

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Highsnobiety: Did Social Media Ruin Sneaker Culture?

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Highsnobiety: Did Social Media Ruin Sneaker Culture?

Part II of a two-part editorial series for Highsnobiety investigating the importance of sneaker communities in the past and present, and how the very notion of community around stores and shoes has changed forever due to social media.

While Part I covered the past, this time, it's all about what's now and next. After you've read more about how sneaker culture proves we're all just animals after all, check out the rest of the story at the link here

Special thanks to Jeff Staple, Eugene Kan, Bobby Hundreds, Eddie Cruz, Lawrence Schlossman, and Chris Danforth for all their work putting this amazing series together. 

 

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Highsnobiety: Sneaker Culture is a Reminder That We're All Just Animals

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Highsnobiety: Sneaker Culture is a Reminder That We're All Just Animals

Part I of a two-part editorial series for Highsnobiety investigating the importance of sneaker communities in the past and present, and how the very notion of community around stores and shoes has changed forever due to social media.

Like any good story, this one starts by setting the scene. Read the full story at the link here

Special thanks to Jeff Staple, Eugene Kan, Bobby Hundreds, Eddie Cruz, Lawrence Schlossman, and Chris Danforth for all their work putting this amazing series together. 

 

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Highsnobiety: Here's How The Sneaker Industry is Fueled by Copied Designs

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Highsnobiety: Here's How The Sneaker Industry is Fueled by Copied Designs

My latest for Highsnobiety: an investigation into one of the fundamental forces powering the sneaker industry. In a divisive brand culture like sneakers, claims of one brand copying another launch both troll threads and witch hunts alike. However, there's a mountain of evidence to suggest that every sneaker brand - from Skechers to the Swoosh - has only grown by shamelessly copying already-popular designs.

And I do mean shameless.

Three-striped Nikes? Yes, it happened. Read the full story at the link here

 

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Highsnobiety: Meet the Church Leader Behind @NikeStories, Instagram’s Temple to Vintage Nike

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Highsnobiety: Meet the Church Leader Behind @NikeStories, Instagram’s Temple to Vintage Nike

This summer, I sat down with the incomparable Drew Hammell, a New York City church leader and OG sneakerhead who runs the Instagram account @NikeStories. Over Sunday brunch, we talked vintage Nikes, stunting in the suburbs, and just how he managed to curate the archive he has.

Check out the full story at the link here. Special thanks to Zach Whitford for connecting Drew and I, and for the incredibly talented Drew Dizon for the image work. 

 

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Highsnobiety: Meet Kevin Starr, Venture Capitalist and Secret Sneakerhead

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Highsnobiety: Meet Kevin Starr, Venture Capitalist and Secret Sneakerhead

My third article for world-leading lifestyle publication Highsnobiety, talking sneakers, business, and life with Kevin Starr of Third Rock Ventures, the Boston-based VC firm behind many of today's most innovative biotech companies.

Kevin wears Chrome Hearts and Y-3 sneakers to board meetings with Nobel Prize winners. We should all be like Kevin. Read the full story on Highsnobiety via the link here.

Special thanks to Kevin Starr and Chris Danforth for making this possible. 

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Highsnobiety: The Story Behind the adidas Sneaker Worn by Soviet Special Forces

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Highsnobiety: The Story Behind the adidas Sneaker Worn by Soviet Special Forces

My second article for world-leading lifestyle publication Highsnobiety, all about the adidas "Москва" sneaker - an adidas Gazelle knock-off that ended up on the feet of Soviet Spetsnaz operatives serving in the Invasion of Afghanistan.

 On foot in the middle: three stripes.

On foot in the middle: three stripes.

 On foot on the left: three stripes.

On foot on the left: three stripes.

 

You can read the full article on Highsnobiety here. A special thanks to Chris Danforth from Highsnobiety for his help making this story and research possible. 

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Highsnobiety: Sruli Recht Explains Ecco's Transparent Leather

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Highsnobiety: Sruli Recht Explains Ecco's Transparent Leather

My debut article for world-leading lifestyle publication Highsnobiety. I had the chance to interview avant-garde designer (and genius materials innovator) Sruli Recht to discuss his breakthrough innovation: transparent leather. Best of all, there are sneakers involved.

You can read the full article on Highsnobiety here. A special thanks to Sruli Recht and Marco Barneveld for making this opportunity possible. 

 

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Greats Vechetta Tan Shoes, One Year Later

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Greats Vechetta Tan Shoes, One Year Later

After one year of wear, tear, and obsessively checking my weather app, I'm excited to share some before and after pics of the aging process on my natural leather Greats Pronto runners. Check out the full comparison photos below. 

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To anyone babying their vechetta tan shoes: WEAR YOUR KICKS! The results are beyond cool, and even better, this pair is uniquely mine. The intangibles are great and all, but looking back at a year's worth of running from pop-up thunderstorms and spilled wine from that one night out is so much cooler when it's on your feet. Thanks for reading.

 

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Shoe Review: Y-3 Sport Approach Boost (2016)

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Shoe Review: Y-3 Sport Approach Boost (2016)

Shoe: Y-3 Sport Approach Boost (Reflective-Black)

Release: April 2016

Price $455 retail ($318 on sale), from Y-3.com

 

The Sport Approach Boost is a mid-top technical runner by Y-3, the undying collaboration between German sporting giant adidas and Japanese design legend Yohji Yamamoto. Partners since 2002, Yamamoto’s work with adidas has produced some of the most iconic designer sneakers of this era – most notably, the Qasa High. While Y-3 bills itself as “designer sportswear,” the brand’s less-than-functional avant garde tailoring (and Paris Fashion Week runway shows) has traditionally signaled just which half of that equation mattered more. Champion sprinters may wear Nike’s high fashion collabs to the Olympic trials, but it’s hard to imagine those same world-class athletes competing in Qasa’s – or for that matter, one of Y-3’s garments.

 Y-3's Spring/Summer 2017 show in Paris, France 

Y-3's Spring/Summer 2017 show in Paris, France 

Perhaps sensing this divergence from its sporting roots, the brand made headlines last April with a proposition as bold as its sneakers: for the first time, Y-3 would design activewear. Under the sub-brand “Y-3 Sport”, Yohji’s team would apply their design talents to clothes designed for function. The label’s tagline, “The Future of Sportswear” reflects this renewed emphasis on serving the athlete.

Initial reaction, however, was critical. On the surface, Y-3 Sport appeared tone-deaf: who would wear $300 tights to the gym, let alone buy them? Yet, as with all things Yohji, that first glance disgust would develop into can’t-look-away desire. After only two seasons on the market, Y-3 Sport is selling through online. And, as also with all things Yohji, the highlight of this Y-3 collection is the shoes.  

 

Impressions:

 

To begin, a quote:

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’”

Whether he knew it or not, John Greenleaf Whittier was describing the winding saga of the adidas Ultra Boost Mid. After years of speculation, a late 2016 KITH collab unveiled the final shape of adidas’ mid-top sportswear flagship. Reactions were mixed; mine wasn’t. In my opinion, out of all the possible forms it could have taken, the amorphous hump shown to the world this December may have been, to quote Whittier, “the saddest.” KITH hype aside, the distended, bulbous, uncaged pudding loosely named “Ultra Boost” was an unfitting successor to the sleek, sexy, biomorphic runner from which it borrowed loose chromosomes.

Especially when it might have been a Sport Approach.

 photo:  Derrick Lui

Simply put, this shoe – the crown jewel of the Y-3 Sport line – is the Boost shoe that Boost fans have been waiting for. Sleek silhouette? Check. Stealth fighter aesthetics? Check. Huge Boost sole? One final, luxurious check.

While I’ve intentionally watched the rise (and fall) of Boost lifestyle shoes like the NMD from the sidelines, seeing the Sport Approach Boost just once last spring was enough for me to rush the field. Well, sort of – in reality, I bookmarked the Y-3 web store and started saving my pennies. Eight months (and one 30% off sale) later, it is the first non-distance running Boost shoe I’ve ever bought.

It is also across-the-board immaculate.

 photo:  Derrick Lui

First, let’s talk comfort. There’s a big ‘ol hunk of Boost foam under each foot, so I’ll take the liberty of skipping the “pillowy/cozy/like walking on clouds” redundancies and pare it back to this: the Y-3 Sport Approach Boost feels how walking should have always felt. The Boost cushion is both lavish and responsive, and with a structured Primeknit sock liner locking your ankle in, everything south of your kneecap will feel – and move – as one effortless whole. It’s pretty cool.

Second, there’s the styling. In my opinion, the Sport Approach Boost is beyond gorgeous. Starting from the top, the orthogonal bicolor Primeknit checks all the boxes – architectural, understated, and positively functional in both form (“locking your ankle in”) and material (those silver strands? 3M Reflective.)

This pattern bleeds onto the lower down the back of the shoe, adding reflective accents the length of the rear AND a tasteful transition between the busy upper and matte black lower. Notice how both materials seams and the Three Stripes branding are approximately the same angle as the strands of the knit upper? It’s the little things.

 photo:  Derrick Lui

Speaking of little things, the real beauty of the Approach Boost is revealed through its details, and the way they reinterpret present concepts of shoe design. The minimalist lacing system, back/front sock tabs, and strategically-perforated upper are, in my opinion, a “future of sportswear” approach to the classic elements of a low-top mesh running shoe.

And here’s the kicker: the Approach Boost is a wearable shoe! I rock it with sweats, joggers, or shorts for more “athleisure” specific looks, but have even styled it well with pinrolled jeans and a long-sleeve tee. For some reason, the problems I had styling the Nike Lunar Flyknit Chukka (another techy mid-top – read my review here) just aren’t present here. Maybe it’s the monochrome colorway; maybe it’s Maybelline. Regardless, this is a surprisingly versatile shoe. It’s no Greats Royale-esque “daily driver,” but I’ll be damned if this shoe doesn’t give my Flyknit Racer a run for its money.    

 The Y-3 Sport Approach Boost styled with Arc'teryx parka and DYNE sweats (photo:  Derrick Lui

The Y-3 Sport Approach Boost styled with Arc'teryx parka and DYNE sweats (photo: Derrick Lui

Third, the grand finale – Mr. Whittier, bring it on home.

While I love the shoe as a sum of its parts, the real X factor for me is that this is the Ultra Boost Mid that “might have been.” Like reality TV talent show winners, you love this shoe because it represents realized potential. Sure, the sticker price puts it firmly above anything sporting, but bah gawd does it belong there. There’s even a Continental road-run outsole – the same exact one from the mainline Ultra Boost! Compared to its Nike Running contemporaries (Gyakusou LunarEpic, etc.), the Sport Approach Boost has sacrificed some marathon performance for style. That being said: buy the shoe. In every single facet, the Y-3 Sport Approach Boost is the best techy mid-top that adidas Group GmbH produces right now.

 photo:  Derrick Lui

The Y-3 Sport Approach Boost (reviewed here in Reflective Black) is the Jon Snow of the Ultra Boost line: handsome, hardy, and by any fair measure, the rightful successor. If this is truly “the future of sportswear,” consider me chuffed.

 

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Pickup: Greats Royale "Black Friday" (2016)

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Pickup: Greats Royale "Black Friday" (2016)

While it's no secret that I'm a fan of the original Royale (check out my full review here), this "Black Friday" special edition is on a whole other level. While I actually bought these last November (hence, "Black Friday"), winter precipitation has made Italian leather low-tops *ahemdisadvantageous. So, when a recent bout of unseasonal warmth turned snow into rain into heavy fog, I seized the opportunity to finally break out these Royales.

Rather than pollute this page with my own thousands of words, here's some photos of my the latest and greatest entry into my collection. If you'd like my full impression of the shoes, please check out my Greats Royale review; otherwise, enjoy the #shoeporn.  

Thanks for reading! See more sneakers 'n' stuff from this blog below, or check out the Royale on Greats.com here.

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The 5 Sneakers that Shaped 2016

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The 5 Sneakers that Shaped 2016

This article was originally published in the December 2016 "Essentials" issue of SHIFT Magazine. See the magazine spread here.

Thanks to decades of fashion casualization, athletic shoes now occupy a proper spot in the pantheon of footwear. What started decades ago with canvas sports shoes like the original Converse Chuck Taylor has blossomed into an industry projected to be worth more than $84 billion by 2018. From humble roots, sneakers have evolved: designer collabs, fashion week shows, and even self-lacing trainers are all a part of today’s sneaker ecosystem. Here are our picks for the 5 pairs that defined one of the most exciting years in the history of sneakers.

 

1. Nike Mag “2016”

The granddaddy of them all. In 2011, the Portland-based athletic brand released 1500 pairs of Nike Mags (the iconic “future shoe” from the 1989 film Back to the Future II) through eBay auctions, with all proceeds benefitting the Michael J. Fox foundation. Other than a lack of space age “auto-lacing,” the 2011 Mag’s were a 1:1 copy. Even at open auction, bidders paid close to $3800 per pair just to score Mags.

Four years later, as the world celebrated “Back to the Future Day” on October 21, 2015, Nike tweeted one of the most cryptic lines in sneaker history. The Mag was back.

The very next day, actor Michael J. Fox (who played Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies) took to late-night shoes to show off his 1/1 auto-lacing mags. Meanwhile, sneakerheads worldwide prepared to take out mortgages (and kidneys) for the cash to cop. Then… they waited.

After a year of anticipation, the Swoosh broke the silence: the future was now. On October 4, 2016, the first genuine Nike Mags were released. While only 100 of the auto-lacing pairs exist, the paradigm-shifting tech (and eye-watering price tag) make this limited shoe the most influential sneaker of 2016.

 

2. Adidas NMD R1 “Glitch Camo”

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The Rookie of the Year. When adidas released the original NMD Runner in December 2015, the sneaker world took notice. Here was the answer to everyone’s prayers: boost tech and Primeknit on a lifestyle shoe that wasn’t just another Yeezy? Hallelujah.

Couple that with a price tag just under the Ultra Boost’s, and adidas Orginials had the recipe for a future classic. As long as they wrapped it in the right colors, of course.

As the first NMD release after the 2015 launch, the “Glitch Camo” colorway had big shoes to fill. If the shoe succeeded, it paved the way for future NMD success. However, if pairs sat – or worse, hit clearance – it could mean the end for what promised to be the year’s most exciting lifestyle silhouette. Long story short: sneakerheads camped, “Glitch Camo” sold out nationwide, and the rest is history. Thanks to the good looks of the “Glitch Camo” R1, the adidas NMD began its meteoric rise to fame.  

 

3. Yeezy 750 “Grey/Gum”

The wave. If 2015 was the Year of Yeezy, 2016 was the start of a dynasty. Within a few short months, the world got a studio album, two fashion shows, global pop-up stores – oh yeah, plus the Saint Pablo tour. Anything with a Kanye co-sign turned to gold, or at the very least, more headlines than one could count. By the time this third colorway of Kanye’s adidas-produced signature shoe dropped in June, both streetwear blogs and the press at large seemed poised for peak Yeezy.

In many ways, the 750 Grey/Gum is both hyped sneaker and cultural token. To those outside sneaker circles, the shoe’s distinctive colorway, celebrity association, and mythical stature (sold out in seconds, resold for 500% MSRP) identify this prototypical “Yeezy” as culturally transcendental. As Beckham is to soccer and Deadmau5 is to techno, so is the Yeezy 750 to everything sneakers. Love it or hate it, the Yeezy 750 Grey/Gum had an impact.

 

4. Nike x ACRONYM Air Presto “Neon”

The underdog. From streetwear blogs to Barron’s magazine, this year’s headlines seemed to spell doom for the Swoosh. As the press fixated on a revived adidas (NMD, Yeezy) and a resurgent Under Armour (UAS, Curry), Nike appeared to be treading water. Even a new Lebron shoe and a fresh round of Riccardo Tisci collabs couldn’t catapult America’s largest athletic apparel brand back into the limelight. Then along came ACRONYM.

In late spring, images leaked of a rumored Nike x ACRONYM Air Presto collab. The first shoe shown to blogs had all the classic ACRONYM trappings (zippers, snap closures, innovative materials), and generated excitement due to its avant-garde silhouette alone. Rumors swirled about possible other ACRONYM-typical colorways – black? Black on black? – and excitement surrounding the shoe slowly grew. Then, around mid-summer, another round of photos leaked, showing off all 3 colorways of the now-confirmed sneaker.

In the middle of two variations of olive-on-black Prestos sat the wildest shoe of 2016: a neon pink, highlighter yellow biomorphic ninja slipper. Suddenly, Nike was back in the headlines. The “Neon” Nike x ACRONYM Air Presto may just be the comeback story this year needed. Check out more about the shoe from this blog here.

 

5. Ronnie Fieg x A Bathing Ape Fiegsta “Sand” 

The connoisseur’s choice. While the rest of the world chased Yeezy Boosts and Nike MAG’s, two of the shoe game’s founding influences collaborated on the year’s most wearable luxury sneaker. To augment the launch of KITH NYC, his New York-based store-turned-brand’s first fashion collection, the legendary Ronnie Fieg partnered with Japanese streetwear hallmark A Bathing Ape on this handmade suede version of the latter’s celebrated “Bapesta” shoe.

Dubbed the “Fiegsta” (for obvious reasons), the shoe launched in early September to critical acclaim, and more importantly, ravenous demand. To those in the know, the reason was obvious: Fieg is one of the world’s foremost sneaker designers; BAPE, perhaps the most influential streetwear brand in history. The two collaborating was a Voltron of cultural gods not seen since Murakami x Vuitton. Fans recognized the significance of Fieg’s work with BAPE, causing the shoe to sell out instantly even at a staggering $300 MSRP.    

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