My Trainer Heaven: The Nike Air Huarache

It's the end of the 80s. I was bored of guitars and getting down to Fab Five Freddy when Nike released a trainer that was essentially a sock and a brief love affair was born...
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It's the end of the 80s. I was bored of guitars and getting down to Fab Five Freddy when Nike released a trainer that was essentially a sock and a brief love affair was born...

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The greatest trainer of all time is actually the Adidas Superstar. It’s a perfect, timeless, clean-as-a whistle slice of heaven with an oyster for a toe part. Goes with just about everything – great with corduroy – and just a simple change in stripe colour can get you excited. I can’t think of a more divine and influential piece of footwear (so long as it doesn’t have reinforcements around the eyelets).

That said, I think my favourite trainer of all time would have to have more of a back story. A more fleeting character indicative of a certain era rather than a timeless classic (I still wear Superstars now). No - great as the Superstar still is - I think I will have to plump for a shoe I can no longer bust. A trainer rooted in my history.

It was the late 80s/early 90s and I had had enough of guitars. I preferred the inane dialogue of Yo! MTV Raps and Fab Five Freddy. Travel Fox, British Knights, Troop and Air Jordans had replaced Airwair and Diadora – there were a lot of tongues hanging out as I recall – and Stüssy owned the Tee.

I can remember seeing the first two Huaraches in 1991 and being quite puzzled. For starters, who made them? There was no Swoosh to be seen, and the only ‘Nikes’ were hidden on the tongue, the back of the heel-bar and on the soul (certainly the case on later colourways).

Wearing Huarache was like wearing art. It elevated the wearer above the meat and potato brigade with their swooshes and trefoils.

No Swoosh. The sheer audacity of the shoe. Just sitting there proudly daring you to go off-script. Its makers owned one of the world’s most prominent motifs, yet in the execution of this strange item, simply decided to ‘leave it off’. This of course, gave the shoe mystique.

Of the initial brace one was multi-coloured, the other black and white. I’m not sure, but I think the technicoloured shoe may have cost slightly more. I bought the black and white. Based on the traditional Mexican Huarache or sandal – dropped in Surfin’ USA and On The Road – this expensive running shoe was essentially an exposed sock, flanked on the sides with a plastic bar and a minimal upper. It looked nothing like the Mexican sandal, but it sounded great. Huarache! Extremely light – although your Spandex-enshrined hoof could get hot in there – the Huarache also boasted a quite frankly, superfluous lace system, which was immediately removed.

It may sound pretentious – hey ho we are eulogising about ‘foot clothing’ – but wearing Huarache was like wearing art. It elevated the wearer above the meat and potato brigade with their swooshes and trefoils. You knew it, and your mates knew it. Getting a nod from a fellow aficionado was gold dust. The shoes with no name were quirky, useless in a fight, yet confident enough to forgo the heavy branding of the time. It was a proud, proud shoe.

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