With the year 2014 well and truly behind us, it’s probably a good time to do a little bit of stocktake on what was probably my busiest year from a footwear perspective. The year was a turning point, where collaborations got to a saturation point like no other, each weekend heralding at least 3 branding crossovers of some sort and many times more. As tiresome as it may have got there was still some really good things to come out of it, whilst collaborations on footwear might be played out a good idea executed well will never get old.
Having said all of that my personal tastes were given a shake up in 2014 with my concerted efforts to wear more white shoes opening myself up to the re-release of the Stan Smith. One of the first shoes that I purchased for the year and for all intents and purposes one of the most out-of-character ones (although I’d always enjoyed the shoe’s history and silhouette) turned out to be one of the shoes I wore the most no doubt thanks to the lovely tropical Queensland weather.
The 997’s return and my privilege to celebrate it on the pages of Sneaker Freaker were also a high point (especially when its Steve Smith commented on my article). Even with the incorrect shades present this shoe is still better than 98% of the shoes released in the last half decade although I didn’t care for any of the other versions that released throughout the year. Everyone lost their minds over the black/brown versions but my aversion to anything that paired these two colours ultimately had me scratching my head. The black I understand but pairing it with a dark chocolate and hits of fake gum and orange just didn’t make any sense. The fervor created by the trickling down of love from the more senior heads was amusing though.
Possibly the most surprising shoe that I wore so very much and rated highly though was the simple White/Fairy Red Gel Kayano Trainer. Whilst I was lucky to get the Galaxy Blue OG colour it was this that really had me coming back for more. From the hilariously odd choice of colour name (which was Fiery Red on line sheets, methinks someone in the factory’s bad English may be to blame) to the ultimate ease of wearing them due to comfort that truth be told puts many shoes 20 years their junior to shame. The Gel Kayano Trainer’s re-release probably edges out all of my other choices even if I don’t want to truly admit it due to the journey we all took to see the 997 come back.
On the collaborative front Footpatrol seem to retain their image regardless of technically being part of the “Machine” nowadays and their Kayano was a banger. Good silhouette and great execution meant that for me it was probably #1, but again no favourites amongst the front runners. DEFCON’s Sk8-Hi follow-up was better than the Digi-Cam version and Crooked Tongues hit it out of the park with their Parrot looking Insta Pump Fury which in retrospect feels like it released 18 months ago. To be hoenst there’s probably 15 shoes I forget or can’t be bothered naming but in all 2014 was a pretty damned good year which saw the Command Force and The Pump sitting alongside each other at the same time as the Insta Pump Fury, Air Max 93, 1993/1991 EQTs and Kayano. 5 or 10 years ago that would have been outside of even your wildest dreams.
Outside of what I actually gave a shit about the buzz word (or term) for 2014 is without a doubt the “triple” phenomenon which came from who knows where to begin with. I’ve always remembered an all-black shoe being Ninja, Stealth, Blacked Out, Black on Black but never once heard the term Triple Black until last year. I can imagine the absolute excitement in the marketing meeting when that term was coined, and then the smug defiance when the subsequent copycats dropped it in casual conversation to naive comrades. The term has all but overrun the dialect of sneaker talk, not since people were throwing around DS to explain the shoes they got in the morning that were now up for sale has a single wording been so prevalent. Obviously given the catchiness of the term and the popularity of the monochrome footwear makeups 2015 will be the year that every brand forgoes colour in leu of the type of shoes that until very recently were avoided like the plague for being “nursing” or “school” shoes. The Huarache in all black was always a bit of a unicorn but when the shape and quality melted away with it’s most recent iteration the whole point was lost in a sea of tag lines and trend forecasting.
2015 will be an interesting year, with what looks like a change coming on the horizon what happens to the brands and silhouettes that have enjoyed success over the last 5 years will be good to watch. Sports footwear will always be big biz but the market for outdated fashionable running shoes is one that is fickle. With collaborations becoming a staple in every brand’s lineup will it be the obscure under-ordered inline colourways that become the real objects of desire? The womens-only Asics and aforementioned 997 may be preludes to this phenomenon. Will the ugly and weird shit become cool simply because nobody else has them? The Disc Blaze, Presto, Insta Pump Fury were pretty much that epitomised and they seem to have done better than anyone thought. Are the tides changing or is it the same story being played out with a different cast of characters? Only time will tell… In the meantime here’s Cav Empt’s SS15 show…