5 MOMENTS IN SPORTS FOOTWEAR / BEST OF 2013

THE YEEZY 2 SAGA

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Over the last few years, all red everything has been a curious selling point, uniting high end and low end footwear. The respite of a white midsole is considered undesirable and from Balenciaga’s omnipresent Arena to the Nike Air Max 90 (also Kanye West affiliated), it’s the Shelltoe for a new generation of right-clicking, zip file opening rap fanatics. The tennis shoe from space looks of 2012’s Nike Air Yeezy 2 had the resellers putting their kids through university, but the promised all red ‘Red October’ edition has been a soap opera all year — rumoured to arrive time and time again, offered as a competition prize at the time of the Yeezus release, it’s a shoe that had Instagram going berserk. But Red October faded to November and Kanye made it a media crusade to tell the world he’d signed with adidas, among other wild claims — rather than killing the project dead, it makes the Red October even more sought and fought over.

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THE ADIDAS STAN SMITH RETURNING

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The adidas Stan Smith is one of the greatest pieces of footwear design ever — you can see it in Common Projects and Saint Laurent’s shoe offerings as well as other sportswear brands. That adidas have modified it so it’s more comfortable without killing a silhouette is a triumph, but the best piece of subtle, perfectly pitched marketing was where a number of one of one custom Stans appearing on Instagram bearing the fortunate (well connected) owner’s face on the tongue in Stan’s place. Brands dipping into their own heritage to show what’s great about it rather than playing catch up with the others can be a beautiful thing and the typeface and that face remain something that only adidas can do.

LONDON UNDERGROUND AND NIKE

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Collaborating with the London Underground on the event of their 150th anniversary could have been hit or miss, but the Roundel Nike Air Max project was flawlessly executed. Anything trying to evoke London usually looks so mawkish that it should be sold at one of those Heathrow Airport souvenir shops, but by using the old District Line seat pattern, there was a merger of eccentricity, rave and rudeboy style that reflects both the city’s subcultures and their connection to trains and buses, as well as the Air Max’s history within those groups. It’s a great representation of 1980s and 1990s style. Even the packaging and pop-up shop in Piccadilly Circus were proof of a master plan pulled off properly.

GETTING MY OWN REEBOK SHOE

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It’s self indulgent, but getting your own shoe collaboration has to be a highlight, right? Growing up with the Reebok Classic omnipresent, Reebok letting me play on the shoe’s criminal past as a regular crime scene footprint in the UK with references to borstal dot tattoos, broad arrow prison suit markings and old jail overalls — plus the ice sole that was strangely coveted when I was younger — was something I’m extremely grateful for. It’s nice to be able to do something mildly subversive but respectful to the source material.

“GET YO’ HANDS OFF MY JORDANS”

Less a highlight, more a representation of where we’re at right now, the Jordan scene in White House Down in which Jamie Foxx’s cool guy president of the USA kicks a bad guy henchman in a pair of retro Jordan IVs with the line (punctuated by blows to the face), “Get yo’ hands off of my Jordans” was memorable for its awfulness. Lest this is mistaken for some cultural snobbery, Olympus Has Fallen was a far better movie and White House Down wasn’t even good after Valium at high-altitude as inflight entertainment. This was the kind of product placement we haven’t seen in action since the late 1990s — just in case anyone thought retro Air Jordans were some kind of underground movement, Foxx put his best foot forward to remind you that reissued shoes are big business. At least Spike Lee’s ads within a movie felt like they came from the heart.

Gary Warnett is a London-based writer and shoe enthusiast.