Head-First into the Abyss

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Collaborating is tricky, but when it’s done right ultimately you get a mutually beneficial project that brings a product or experience that would have not been possible without working together. Of late it almost seems like collaborations have become the bread and butter of sportswear companies and instead we’re looking to decent general releases as the relief from the onslaught of crossovers and joint ventures. With the amount of back stories and inspirational novels used for what is basically a colourway that wasn’t produced in the main line it’s always refreshing to see something that’s simple and to the point.

When the gentlemen at Up There store teamed up with the newly established French label Delicate Run they weren’t setting out to rework a shoe we’ve seen 10,000 times; instead they did something a fair bit more daring. Dubbed the “Manta”, the base shoe is the creation of the mind behind the short-lived Veam sneaker brand and driving force behind his new venture Delicate Run (DR). Using the same method of sharp shape, ultra premium materials and super low numbers, DR strives to produce a contemporary that shames luxury faux-runners.

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With no apologies for a super premium price-point, DR is trying to carve a niche in a market that is notoriously difficult to even get into let alone remain sustainable. Footwear would have to be one of the most difficult apparel markets to enter, you can’t start your own market stall selling shoes less you be making something shit like espadrilles or those stupid plimsole things. And no your crap made-in-china generic shoe you print your ‘label’ name on does not count. This is a market that needs actual tooling to even start making something unless you want to slap a generic Vibram sole on a boot.

Anyway onto the shoes. They’re constructed from the same super premium materials that the Veam sneaker was which from experience is unlike anything you’re likely to see on any type of runner, instead usually reserved to some of the finest French made luxury goods the world over. That all being said it’s pretty apparent that the DR project isn’t perfect, the shoe looks a bit awkward at certain angles and the  details and panel shapes immediately brings to mind a shopping list of potential points of inspiration. The problem is simple; it takes years if not decades to really get rolling and start finding a true identity just like any creative industry. Crooked Tongues’ less than well received Foothills project should be proof that even some of the most established minds can fall short in an industry as unforgiving as this. If you don’t have the big name it’s very easy to disappear in the pages of history without even so much as a splash.

Obviously Up There have simply created a colourway (two if you include the F&F purple version) of the Manta but the collaboration is much deeper than a few illustrator files and material swatches. Instead they have taken a new brand on and said “we’ll support that”. Up There and Delicate Run will debut this new shoe and the DR venture as a whole with this release which will take place next Friday, October 25. The shoes will be $595 and you’d best believe that they’re worth every skerrick of that price. In a world where shoes costing well in the low double figures retail for $200+ a shoe hand made in (arguably) the most fashionable city probably cost more to produce than any shoe you can buy from the big sportswear names.

Images courtesy of Mitch Clark.

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