CLARKS DESERT TREK
So I should start here, when you work at one of the sportswear brands you have to wear who you work for, which is fine when you like the brand. One brand you can wear who are neutral and like the UN of footwear at other brands is Clarks. Everyone likes a Wallabee or 2, I do also but for me my favourite Clarks Originals’ shoe is the Desert Trek.
Designed in ’71 (my birth year too) by Lance Clark ( I see him somedays in the cafeteria or on road). Its a quirky design, very narrow in the heel but broad in the fore foot – the ‘6 toe’ design. I love the height, its not a low or a mid, the design is dead simple and the centre seam holds it altogether. Looks the best when it’s in suede, leather heel and laces with a contrast stitch throughout. The Trekman logo just tops it off nicely, he’s like the patron saint of Hikerdelia.
I Purposely left a few designs out of my top ten or the runners up as they are so elevated in their standing that I thought i’d group a few of them together as they all share one thing in common and that’s that they all work their best in all white. When the sun comes out, its such a nice thing to have that fresh pair of all whites on your feet.
ADIDAS EQUIPMENT RUNNING
I’ll be honest and say I never had them the first time around and until Gary Aspden showed me them when I was doing the ‘Sneakers…’ book I wasn’t really that clued up on them, however Ive always liked early 90s tech runners and these were mega. The whole colour theory for the Equipment line was brilliant. You can never replicate something like that now as everything has pretty much been done. This was at a time when ‘Release’ first edition colour ways were just as powerful and impact full in changing the game as the shoes themselves.
Even without a trefoil on them, the design is great, its pretty tame but today’s standards but all the balance is really nice with the extending overlays working in conjunction with the stripe-aligned ghillies and continues onto the midsole. I love the way the tongue wraps around from the medial side and the use of the black in the original colour way is really strong. During my time in adidas Originals I really wanted to re-issue them, i presented them quite a few times but at the time it fell on deaf ears, anyways, they’re available now and doing the rounds. Good things come to those that wait I guess.
ADIDAS KELGER SUPER
When I think ‘Trainer’ the Kegler Super is the one, I juggle my number 1 about in my head and tho stella tends to land in that spot from time to time. Its proper good. The stance for me is mental, it looks like a 70s dragster, jacked-up at the back, snarling and fast as fuck. The overall design is in pure balance, the shoes roots are quirky and I like that. The suede toe cap is very unpractical but looks so nice draped over the midsole with all that x-raying of the shapes beneath, accidental beauty. Ive got a pair of regular Keglers but the Super well deserves its upscaling in the naming process.
There’s many ZXs and late 80s, early 90s adi runners that I like, way too many to list, I was never a fan of the Micropacer, but the Fire, the Phantom, the Centaur, there’s loads of those lovely shaped runners. The daddy has to be the APS (Anti-Pronation System) though. Not a cheap shoe by any means and understandably with all the tech going on. But tech aside, because I’m not really into gadgets and performance inhaling drugs. The shape and linework is mega.
Like the Boston Super, I love the blocking on the EVA and heel. The white one is the nuts even though it’s a dirt magnet with that white synthetic suede. The black one’s got your back though so its all right. I’d love to see it in some real suedes one day but the FOB and margin budget gets swallowed up by that outsole tech with its little yellow cushioning adjustment key.
ADIDAS CAMPUS 80
‘Check Your Head’ and those Glen E. Friedman pics of the Beasties sat on the curb with the guitar cases, that sums up a certain time in the early 90s for me. Beyond that though the shoe is a classic, I’s not a million miles away from the Stan but has retained its slender volume where as the Stan has put on some weight in its modern commercial guise. It’s also the simple usage of the saturated colour pig skin suede against whites stripes. The outsole has some really nice shaping a and contour to it too.
PUMA SUEDE / CLYDE / BASKET
I had to put these in really, I was inspired by a picture of Sean Stüssy once when he had a stash of Pumas nicely displayed that re-sparked my love the Puma ‘Suede’ just at the right time when Burton’s were selling ‘States’ for £19.99 a pair around ’92-’93. As a kid watching Beat Street in’854 and all that that lead to has always secured my love for this classic. The Basket and the Clyde’ are pretty close in their DNA but I guess the Suede is the 1.
Its a very simple shoe, the Yugoslavian ones are the ones you want, that ultimate shape, followed closely but the Japanese ones of now. The general inline ones of now are pretty poor TBH (shame on you Puma – how come you can’t look after an icon).
The shoe takes colour well. I don’t wear them much anymore and I definitely would be seen wearing them with fat laces, haha. I used to make my own when I was a kid, we’d buy 1 inch curtain hemming material from Beales, cut the end’s into triangles, wrap some selotape around the end of force them through the eyelets.
I have a thing for shoes that have a central design element and I love the way that the webbing runs the full length of the toe down and up the tongue, it’s coo how the webbing theme is also continued in the lacing ghillies and the heel pull. The shoe has a great stance, and I like the asymmetric tongue position of the swoosh. Designed by Christian Tresser, and according to him it was the first all mesh runner, he also did the Air Max ’97 (which I’m not so into).
NIKE LAVA DOME
I was wearing a pair of these the other day and my youngest daughter said “Dad, this echoes are weird, the back looks like its been cut off”. There’s definitely some weird proportions going on with the Lava Dome, but I like that. The swoosh is too small, the toe bumper is too big, there’s too many laces holes and it stands a bit strange. But I guess its that ugly beauty thing that comes from making something designed with purpose. A trailer runner that feels spot on coming from the Pacific Northwest, a beard wearing, craft beer brewing tree huggers’s (not that I’m any of those) perfect footwear choice for a quick mooch up Mount Tabor.
VANS STYLE 38 (SK8 HI)
Never looked better than tied up, upside down hanging from a climbing frame in Venice California in 2 tones of blue with white jazz stripes.
With the best Vulc tape there is, Vans have a real nice stable of real classics; the Authentic, The Old Skool, The Chukka and probably the best slip-on ever that I don’t think will ever be bettered. All good shoes, but I think the SK8 or the Style?? has fond memories. I remember it would have been 1988 when I got my first pair because i’d just got my first car, a MK1 Ford Fiesta 1.1 Ghia so i can pin point that date very well. On paydays – fridays, when you would still get cash in a brown envelope, I would finish work at around lunchtime and head into Covent Garden and go to Rough Trade Records to buy Hardcore (punk) and Crossover albums.
As i’d been very aware of who Vans were (most people wouldn’t have had a clue then, not like now) due to the fact that i’d been BMX obsessed since the early 80s i’d see riders wearing them and seeing all those ads. I once had a pair of bootleg jade green looking ERAs that i bought from a shoe shop in the bus station. Anyways, upstairs from Rough Trade was Slam City so I bought some SK8 His from there. I do remember being gutted that the ‘Made In the USA’ screen printing wore off on the red rubber heel tab due to changing gear in my newly acquired car. My other connection is that the day I met my now Mrs (a few years later) she was wearing black and Burgundy ones.
ADIDAS ‘41TUR’ LAST
Last but not least (thanks for the pun Warnett) I’m basing a choice on a last. Everything starts with the last, if the last isn’t right the shoe is wrong. So hiding inside a lot of those amazingly timeless adi shoes we all love is a last that for me defines the ‘Trainer’. The Dublin, the London, the Stockholm, the Gazelle, the list goes on, so I put this in as a I love those shoes and couldn’t decide which one so I thought i’d choose the last as that’s the bones of it really.
I’m not 100% sure but i think it was based on a football boot last, it has quite a high instep in the cone area, a good lean to it, a perfect toe shape, hardly any toe spring (I’m not a fan of toe spring) and has a concave mid section in the bottom which makes for a very flat shoe both on foot and on shelf. Ive used it on a few shoes that I’ve worked on and directed in the past, the Ciero and the Etrusco for instance.