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Sneakers November, 15 2011

Streetorialist Lesson 2: Just Kick It

In honour of the passing of James Van Doren, the founder/designer of Vans, I thought this week we would look at footwear.

There’s an old saying that the way to determine a man’s personal style is through his shoes and his wristwatch. That may have been back in the days that male style was unadorned, when men wore suits nearly all the time, and jewellery and most accessories were verboten. Sinatra, when asked why he didn’t wear jewellery, responded pithily “I know who the fuck I am.”

Still, the shoes as expression of personal style truism holds up today. Kicks rank high on the list of importance for any streetwear afficianado, to the point that some liken them to an obsession. One need only grab a copy of Sneaker Freaker, or wander through Flight Club, to see the myriad models, colorways, and LEs that the childhood obsession of the likes of Bobbito Garcia has spawned into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.

Paradoxically, as trainers have become nigh ubiquitous on the streets, and nearly as common in non-corporate work environments, the so-called trad trend (for traditional) has taken to our shoe closets as well.

Read the rest of the article after the jump.

While we all love the inevitable ‘Where’d you get those’ that a pair of butter Dunks can provoke, a well-stocked shoe collection goes far beyond a stack of SBs. It’s no coincidence that the first couple pairs of mens shoes that Christian Louboutain released were a pair of outré hightops, and a pair of tasselled loafers (aptly named Tassellissimo).

When you see cats rocking Sperry two-tones at the Alife Rivington Club, and Kanye wearing a Chelsea Boot, it’s hard not to notice that a sort of symbiosis has emerged. Kicks now live side-by-side, and sometimes interchangably, with their glossier, dressier brethren.

As I mentioned last time round, the key tends to be context and co-ordination. A pair of wingtips blends perfectly with dark denims, dressed up or down. I myself have been known to wear hightops or Chucks with a suit, depending on the event.

And in that vein, there’s several key pieces of footwear that every man should own, alongside the inevitable stacks of AF1s. If you rarely have occasion to wear a blue blazer, you probably won’t use oxfords or brogues frequently, but there’s still plenty of ways to dress it up while remaining low-key.

A good pair of driving mocassins can be worn with virtually anything, from jeans and a hoodie to chinos. I once paired suede Tod’s drivers with Acne skinnies and a CLOT x MADSAKI Alienegra hoodie, and it was a bit dicey. I got compliments and scornful glances in equal amounts. In the end it just served to remind me two key things about fashion. First, personal taste is just that, personal. And second, with a little verve just about anything can be carried off. Just look at Lapo Elkann.

Shoes are like any other piece of clothing. Mix it up. Floss your Jordans with pride, and pair them with both casual and dressier options. Grab a pair of boots and rock them with any and everything.

With that, I’m going to go dust off a few old classics. Until next week.

Text by @quentincrispy

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