One of the great things about current fashion is its appreciation and respect for heritage combined with its complete disregard for time. If we can continue talking about “streetwear” as being a separate thing from “fashion” (which, to be honest, we kinda can’t but bear with me on this), it’s that what streetwear has done is firmly establish the idea that if something looks good – from a t-shirt, to a jacket to a sneaker – it can look good on its own terms. What it also means is that, because style and fashion are both as large and wide-open a concept now as the choice of garb we have to coat ourselves in, classics are constantly being ‘rediscovered’, repurposed and brought back into circulation.
Step up the ultimate name in the heritage sneaker game, Gola. The British stalwart of street aesthetics and on-track athleticism, the winged English sportswear beast is on the come-up thanks to one of the strongest collections of classic sneaker designs the brand has presented in a fair bit of time.
Gola is one of the world’s oldest sportswear labels, being registered way back when in 1905 in the UK. Headquartered in England’s textile and production heartland of the northwest, the brand has had a global impact since at least WWII when it made boots for the British Armed Forces, and then again in 1972 when the relatively small label began selling its wares in over 67 countries. However, it was in the iconic year of 1968 that Gola released an ultimate banger of a sneaker, and one that helped define it as a key fashion label of the era: the Harrier low-top. The sneaker immediately became an understated fashion icon as well as a style staple on football terraces across the UK and Europe. At the turn of the Millennium, the label launched its Gola Classics line to help safeguard this heritage and its iconic designs of the 20th century. Then, four years ago in 2013, it reaffirmed its British heritage by returning its manufacturing to the UK for its Made In England collections.
Boasting a number of strong releases spanning brand favorites and entirely new silhouettes, we ranked the SS17 Gola Classics collection. To cop, just follow the links.
Brand new for SS17, Gola men’s Monaco represents the label’s venture into runner silhouettes. Riffing on an earlier brand design, the new Monaco retains the original’s design flavor informed by its 1982 debut, yet it’s updated for 2017 with fresh, modern materials. The understated colorway reference’s the original’s color palettes with a nod to the label’s British roots and mod ’60s heritage.
The Varsity is everything you want from a simple, low-top sneaker. Based on classic gym training or track ‘n’ field shoes from the ’70s, the Varsity is a light, simple style that pairs easily with denim, chinos or shorts with white sport socks. Cotton laces pair up with the eyelets while Gola’s distinctive wingflash stands out on the sneakers’ flanks. Wardrobe essential.
Taking things up a notch and yet with design references that reach further back into the archives, the Specialist low-top classic is crafted from a lush suede on the upper, with a shorter vamp and deep edge foxing fusing the upper to the sole-unit. The design fuses two silhouettes – one from 1968 and the other from 1975. Colorways are a little bolder and louder with the Specialist, which, with it being summer, is always good in our books.
The undisputed classic of the Gola archive, the Harrier first released in 1968 and was the sneaker that both helped define the era as well as the brand that birthed it. It then became a staple of terrace wear and, some 50 years later, its iconic design still looks as strong as it did when it first headed out on the streets. Now, as classic and ‘tennis style’ sneakers enjoy a strong resurgence while hype and techy styles arguably reach a saturation point, the Harrier is one of those styles that, if you didn’t know any better, could’ve been crafted yesterday. Gola Classics’ SS17 version sees a lighter gum sole worked with the style’s classic suede upper.
1. Tennis ’79 Mesh
While the Harrier is an undisputed style icon, for SS17 our money is on Gola’s update to its classic tennis silhouette from the late ’70s, the Tennis ’79 Mesh. Worked in a hyper clean white (which goes with anything, right?), the updated silhouette debuted last year but 2017 sees Gola trade in the original leather for a lighter mesh fabric across most of the upper. A stitched wingflash appears very low key and subtle on the sides, while leather is retained for the toe cap, tongue and heel counter. Oh, and the heel counter is dipped in gold to complement the gum out-sole as well as giving you some extra flexing points.