Sneaker Life Cycle: The Past Lives On (And Thrives) In The Present!
By krvanch - Feb 2, 2016
There are few things in our world these days which have great commercial success using the designs of 30-50 (or more) years ago.
We live in such a “now” driven society that our wants and desires require the most up to date technology and features, making most everything from even the last decade virtually obsolete.
Then we come to footwear.
Sure, the most up to date technology is still demanded. People want lighter, faster, more flexible, more durable and better cushioning for their footwear, especially in their sport-specific footwear. BUT, fashion has an advantage over most other industries in that it’s cyclical and patterns and designs can almost always be reused… and often are.
Some of the hottest shoes out are those which we now call iconic. Adidas has shoes like the Stan Smith and the Superstar. Nike has the Air Force I and Air Max I. Puma has the Suede and Guillermo Vilas’ (GV Special). Reebok has the Classic and Club Champion. Asics has their Gel-Lytes and Gel-Saga. New Balance has, well a WHOLE lot of them.
The premise is that our taste in footwear from a fashion standpoint, tends to cycle back to shoes from generations past. People still wear the hell out of Converse Chuck Taylors and that shoe was first released in 1917, and I’m sure a pretty big 100th anniversary celebration will be had for perhaps THE most iconic shoe of all time (with apologies to the Air Jordan I). Daily, in my travels, I bet I see more Chucks than any “classic style” shoe. Air Force I would come in a close second.
Look at what shoes artists and boutiques almost always collaborate on. Shoes that come from a line called, “Originals” or “Sportswear” or “Classics”. Some of the nicest looking collaborations are done on the Gel Lyte III or V or Air Max I silhouettes. Pharrell and Nigo are making a living in the “Originals” stable. Kendrick Lamar just released his version of the Reebok Ventilator. Independent John Geiger has put his own spin on the Air Force I most recently.
Adidas has done a great job in realizing that the ‘retro’ (for lack of a better term) market is always going to be around and will always be a strong force. Its use of entertainers as endorsers and allowing them some creative flexibility within the “Originals” line supports and supplements both the standard “Originals” silhouettes and the brand as a whole. This use will continue to make sure that shoes like the Stan Smith and Superstar remain relevant. New Balance has also used this formula for years as many of its silhouettes have a timeless look to them.
As for myself, I’ve only come around to other brands over the course of the last 18 months. Even wrote about it. While I have many pairs of both Air Force Is and Air Max Is, as I expand my collection, I’ve found that almost everything I’ve gotten falls under this ‘retro’ umbrella. Primarily multiple pairs of Adidas Superstars and Stan Smiths. My brand loyalty kept me from such great shoes not just recently as they live a resurgence, but also, 25 years ago, when I was just a Foot Locker part timer.
These ‘retro’ shoes live on today, not just because of the co-sign of the artists, designers and boutiques which rep them, but also because, well, they just look better, from a fashion standpoint, than probably 75% of the shoes of today. Yes, that’s an opinion, but I think it sways closer to fact. I can wear my Stans and a few colorways of Superstars with almost anything, and that includes dress clothes (not that I have).
The names “Classics” or “Originals” fit perfectly to define each brand’s genre of ‘retro’ footwear. Other terms could lessen their importance both within the brand and as a genre. The are very much so important and major part of fashion and the culture.
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