Growing up in the 70s and 80s I didn’t draw pictures of cars or flying machines that much. Instead I painstakingly rendered impressions of my favourite footwear on paper – the Patrick Keegan Top football boot is one that still remains vivid in the memory – and would stare for hours into the window of my local independent sports shop (Continental Sports, RIP) dreaming of my next pair of football boots or trainers when the current ones had worn out or got too small. An obsession was born. Now I have a relatively proper job, more funds to feed it, feet that have long since stopped growing and the good sense not to throw away any of my trainers (or their boxes) the collection is growing. Beyond mainstream classics like Nike Air Max and Adidas Superstar here are just three – one past, two present – of my leftfield favourites.
1. Adidas Kegler Super (Hanon limited edition)
This awesome 2010 small-run re-issue of the 80s Adidas classic are by Aberdeen trainer shop Hanon. Subtle perforated black leather uppers, with just the top-lace eyelets painted blue, a tartan inner sole in a nod to the customisers’ Scottish roots plus a bright yellow sole make for a great combination of understated and lairy, wearable smart or casual. Just one word of advice: don’t monkey with the gold pegs in the heel – an Adidas idea from the 80s supposed to allow adjustment of the shoe’s cushioning – as I’ve had painful personal experience of them coming loose and falling out of another similar Adidas model. Luckily 24 hours later, after re-tracing my steps and an inch-by-inch police-style search, I found the offending peg on the same stretch of road, unharmed and able to be reunited with its clearly shaken owner’s sole.
2. Diadora Borg Elite (Originals)
Back in the early 80s, these trainers were top of the tree – especially for football casuals. Luxury kangaroo leather, cool plastic eyelets instead of lace holes, that gold stripe, an exotic Italian brand few had previously heard of, and all topped off by Bjorn Borg’s signature endorsement – then the world’s best tennis player – across their sides. Perfect, except for the £30-40 price tag – serious cash back then for a jobless teenager. Luckily my stocky mate’s dad owned a sports shop and had a pair with a rip down the inside near the sole – caused by his fat feet no doubt – which he agreed to sell on to me for £5. Desperate to own these top-end trainers I actually went for it, Super-glued the leather back to the sole and wore them somewhat gingerly for special (top-end casual) occasions. I might have even played the odd game of tennis in them, but eventually the rip re-opened and I foolishly binned them. Recent re-issues have tugged on the heart strings but they’re no-where near as good, with white sides to the soles instead of beige ones to match my 80s Sun-In coloured wedge haircut and are no longer endorsed by Borg, so without that authentic side signature. Gutting.
Growing up in the 70s and 80s I didn’t draw pictures of cars or flying machines that much. Instead I painstakingly rendered impressions of my favourite footwear on paper
3. Feit Direct Superclean Hi
That Diadora kangaroo leather experience stuck with me. Decades later I struck upon another rare (online-only) brand that offered kanga leather kicks. These simple beauties are hand-made in tiny (sub-100 worldwide) numbers for each colour way and use methods borrowed from old school shoemakers. Leather-lined and with a natural sole akin to the crepe ones you find on Clark’s Originals, these Feit Supercleans are just that. Nudging £200 a pair is big money for trainers but in many ways they’re more like upmarket shoes, rare as hen’s teeth and amazingly comfortable.
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