Tag: "Sneakers"

adidas ObyO | MTN Boot 2

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

You can sit and approach a shoe ‘review’ in a number of ways: sitting and rewriting a press release is one way that works for some people, as does finding other online reports and copy-n-pasting their text as a quote. The day you see that here on Trashfilter is the day you have permission to extract my teeth with a hammer. I’ve had these adidas MT 2 boots here by my desk for a few weeks now, waiting for the chance to wear them: the all-white uppers aren’t going to be too forgiving in the London winter.

Kazuki Kuraishi’s subtle approach to design has long been celebrated in the Far East. Although he’s primarily recognised as one of the lead designers at Hiroshi Fujiwara’s fragment design, his work as a freelance designer over the past decade has resulted in a strong and consistent portfolio. adidas’s longstanding relationship with him culminated in 2008 with the launch of the ObyO (Originals by Originals, in case you were wondering) range: a series of products that reflect Kazuki’s attention to detail, love of technical fabrics and his characteristic muted colour palette.

I first met Kazuki in 2005 or 2006, when working on a research project for adidas Originals: I found myself lost in Tokyo for a week, but managed to link up with him for a short interview in the Originals store in Harajuku, before a short earthquake scared the hell out of me. Since then, I’ve watched his understated and strong design skills infiltrate wardrobes on a global level, somehow managing to make something that reads as ‘basic’ more interesting than you could ever imagine.

In his initial footwear strike in the ObyO range at the end of 2008, the black, white and red ZXZ Waterproof model really stood out to me. I’ve made enough regrettable purchases over the years to know when to leave the credit card in the wallet, but it was clear from initial rumblings that supply wouldn’t meet demand on these. With a Gore-Tex® upper, you could punish the hell out of them without destroying things – I’d love to pretend I went hiking on the fells with them, but the reality was a blur of walking round the streets of Soho, hopping on the Tube and drunken stumbling home.

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

The original MT Boot came out the same time as the ZXZ, but whilst it was nice, I went with its low-cut partner. This time around, the second incarnation of the MT Boot gets my vote. Available in two colourways (a more traditional black and dark blue combination is out there too), the white and green ‘tennis’ colourway is pretty interesting. Summer colours but partnered with a heavyweight construction means that the fear of being caught out in a rain shower can be laid to rest. A leather toebox might not be breathable for hot days, but a little style over function isn’t a bad thing. In fact, the reinforced leather toe eliminates the distress of tourist footprints ruining the ice-white look. Opinions seem divided on the strange attached-to-the-side tongue, but it actually works well, is comfortable and stops you having to fish around inside your shoe when the tongues move the side. D-ring lace fastening is all good with me too and I like the extended length right down the side of the shoe as it makes your foot look a little smaller. There’s no Gore-Tex® on these, but the ballistic nylon will meet the demands of most and looks great.

It’s Kazuki’s excellent attention to detail that really makes these stand out. The tongue labels, the green heel strikes and embroidered inner sole all give a true premium feel to a shoe that already ticked the boxes. I might return to this feature with a performance update once I’ve broken them in. Initial reports are extremely good.

adidas - ObyO - MTN Boot 2

One heads-up for anyone interested in buying them: check the sizing very carefully. The first pair I bought were way too tight, after following the same sizing as I did on the ZXZs. I’ve gone true to size on these, but it’s debatable whether I should have gone up an extra half-size in the end. Time will tell…

Nike SB | Fluff book

I have to be honest – although I consider myself pretty well-informed in anything skate-related, this book initially confused me. A little exploration and research quickly informed me that Fluff is a respectable skate mag based in Holland, with a little more focus on creativity than most other magazines. Flick through a copy of the mag and you’ll notice that photography is given a priority over pages and pages of text.

So it’s very appropriate that Nike SB collaborated with the Fluff guys to create this incredibly impressive promotional book. My buddies Ray and Pete sourced us a copy (thanks!) to check out on Trashfilter and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks combing through the weighty lexicon: at 610 pages in length, it’s incredibly heavy (we’re talking around 4-5kg) and will give you dead-leg syndrome quicker than a long-haul aeroplane flight.

Photographer Marcel Veldman was given creative freedom to give his insight into the 19 European countries that form the background behind the visuals. You get plenty of full-bleed action, lots of great sequences and enough text to give you something to sit and read once your retinas retain their focus.

A very limited (ie. a rumoured 12 pairs per country, to coincide with regional exhibition spaces) Nike Bruin model was created as well, in a very nice light grey suede and canvas combination: the as-expected ‘overnight queue’ system kept the hype levels at a premium. Standing outside a closed store overnight in the depths of February’s icy conditions shows dedication!

The book must have taken a hell of a lot of hard work to compile and in some ways it’s a shame that it seems to be a limited item, considering the amount of skaters who’d probably like to own a copy. That said, it’s free (seriously!) and there do seem to be copies available through selected skate stores, so check if your local skate store has any left.

Check out the Nike SB Fluff website for more information.

éS and Crooked Tongues | The Foothills Project

Call me a cynic, but I’m critical and unforgiving on most skate-related collaborations, especially on anything that feels like it was shoehorned into a release schedule. I’m no longer part of the target audience for pure and functional skate product perhaps, but seeing companies unite over projects that have nothing in common with each other repels me from both brands. As a result, I don’t feature anything on Trashfilter unless I feel there’s some thought and substance behind it. Or unless I just like it a lot.

I was still part of the Crooked Tongues family back when the éS guys approached to work on a collaboration, and whilst I’d have liked to have been involved on this project, it was clear that Charlie and Gary at CT had the skills and foresight to do a more than adequate job. Once I’d moved on, I occasionally heard small progress updates on what was happening behind the scenes, and as soon as the guys had been invited over to Sole Technology’s headquarters I realised that this project was definitely happening.

Seeing an established brand such as éS take a slight detour from their regular path strikes a small amount of fear into me. Visions of past experiments from other brands flood my mind – it’s better to be a master of one area, than a jack of all trades when it comes to skate footwear. So it’s a pleasant surprise to see the resulting product range looks original enough to be a departure from the usual, but also something that holds true to my perceived image of the brand.

The Foothills shoe itself is something new, but looks familiar. Taking a little ACG inspiration (the side panels have more than a hint of Humara about them), but mixing it up with a more precise silhouette, the result is something that looks like it’d be at home on the trails or the pavement. If the toe panel had introduced a little ollie protection, I can’t see that you wouldn’t be able to skate in these too: the System 02 airbag is one of the best cushioning systems out there at the moment. The asymmetric tongue gives a similar fit to a Footscape, holding the foot nicely in place without becoming a hindrance.

As well as the shoes, the CT guys created an accessory for each of the colourways. Actually, ‘accessory’ isn’t the right word: the 3-layered jacket, Oxford weave backpack and ripstop cap would quite rightly be the key elements of most other projects.

The jacket is something that deserves to be seen in person, as no level of photography can do it justice in terms of design and quality. First thing you’ll notice if you pick it up, is that it’s not a flyaway cagoule. There’s some seriously good construction here, giving you the feeling that even if you encountered the low pressure weather systems depicted on the shoebox packaging you’d still emerge unscathed. It’s one of the best jackets I’ve seen since the last series of Acronym pieces. The backpack is no different: a heavy-duty piece of luggage, tough enough to deflect bullets. Sturdy zips, comfortable straps and plenty of securing mechanisms. The cap is a simpler affair, but still matches the quality shown elsewhere.

I have a feeling that these will be slow-burners, as the project is a bold move for both brands. Instead of going for the hype-market – the easy option of re-presenting established crowd pleasers in new colourways – this is something new and progressive that doesn’t target anyone in particular. If you want something that’s both functional and looks good, then you don’t need to look any further. And if for some reason they don’t resonate with you, you can’t do anything but applaud a genuine approach to creating something new.

The éS & Crooked Tongues Foothills collection has been produced in extremely limited numbers, going on sale at crookedtongues.com and in selected retailers from 20th August 2009.

Sneaker Freaker x AIAIAI earbuds

Finding decent headphones is always an issue for me. After spending a lot of time trying out different styles of in-the-ear pieces, I decided I’d never find the perfect fit for my lugholes: every pair I’ve tried have either fallen out after 10 seconds, or I’ve had to jam them in so hard that I’ve risked brain damage. Spending £180 on a pair of Ultimate Ears Super.fi ‘phones turned out to be a total waste of money – after all, who’s gonna want to buy secondhand foam that’s been jammed into your ear? No-one, that’s who.

So, I’ve been sticking with my Audio Technica headphones for the past few years. They’re great, but hardly inconspicuous… and I fancied something a little stealthier. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a set of these AIAIAI ‘phones in my mailbox the other morning, courtesy of the guys at Sneaker Freaker. These aren’t any old ‘phones though: the SF team have given them a special makeover with a slick colour treatment.

Firstly, they fit really well. A selection of interchangeable tips – soft foam or latex – gives a custom fit, so that’s a big plus point. But the nicest feature is a multiple-function button on the leads. When used with an iPhone, the button answers incoming calls (and, as you’d expect, hangs up as well). When using the iPod function (again, on an iPhone), the button functions with a single push to play or stop the music. Push the button two times and the iPod will forward to next song. They’ve got the standard 3.5mm jack plug and therefore will fit iPods, iPhones, most MP3 players, laptops and all kinds of stuff.

You want technical data, right? Here you go:

Driver unit size: 9 mm
Impedance: 16 ohm
Sensitivity: 106dB/mW at 1K Hz
Frequency Respons: 20-20K Hz
Rated power input: 4 mW
Maximum power input: 20 mW
Microphone Operating Voltage: 3∼10 V

All that really matters is that they sound good, fit well and look great. And you can buy them here from the Sneaker Freaker store for $60USD.

Made For Skate: The Illustrated History Of Skateboard Footwear

I had the chance while I was still involved with Crooked Tongues to go to (and report on, alongside Mr. Warnett) the launch of the UK excursion of the ‘Made For Skate’ exhibition over in East London’s Brick Lane. After being introduced to Jürgen Blümlein and Daniel Schmid from ‘Made For Skate’, it was clear that this wasn’t just some backslapping endeavour for a major sportswear brand. These guys were skaters, had a genuine personal history in the skate scene and were trying their best to give an accurate account of skateboarding footwear.

At the time, at Crooked, we’d toyed with the idea of doing a sequel to the ‘Sneakers: the Complete Collectors’ Guide’, but perhaps purely about skate footwear and its influence – and to be fair, I was one of the people who discredited that idea. It just seemed too much of a job, and remembering the experiences I’d had when writing the first volume, it was going to take a lot of time to hunt down the shoes and imagery we’d need to make it a success.

Having seen this book in the flesh, I know we made the right decision. There’s no way we could have put the time in to make something of this calibre. Hopefully without sounding like too much of a cock, I’d say my skate knowledge is pretty good, but this book uncovers a lot of stuff that I’d never seen before.

Sensibly broken down into a generally-accurate timeline structure, the book is a weighty tome, tipping the scales at 400 pages, meaning that you’re not going to speedily flick through a pile of non-contextualised pretty pictures and then leave it on your coffee table. I got sent my copy two weeks ago, and it’s taken me that long to digest the contents.

I’m strongly adverse to anyone writing about anything to do with skating, unless they had some form of direct relationship with it, but this book was put together by the right kind of people. It’s not perfect, but it’s not going to be bettered for quite some time either.

Having spent a fair bit of time analysing the content, overall, it’s a really impressive effort. A slight German bias in places doesn’t spoil the writing, but it’s noticeable and there are several sections where I’m wondering if anything was lost in translation. It’s clear in places that different people have composed different sections of the text, due a significant switch in writing style.

The imagery and photography is pretty amazing: lots of archive ads pulled from old skate magazines, plenty of photos of rare shoes (albeit some absolutely battered to death!) and plenty of background content I’d never seen before.

There’s a heavy Sole Technology presence, which is a credit to them and their position in the world of skating, but I’d have loved to have heard a bit more from DC Shoes, DVS and Lakai instead of so much emphasis on the early era of skate footwear. I think a slight expansion on the past decade’s brands might resonate a little better with the audience who this book is aimed at.

That said, some of the old stories about particular times and photos are terrific: if you ever wondered the reason why four of the five handplanting Bones Brigade members were wearing Air Jordans at the Animal Chin ramp, well, that story’s in here. As is the story about who was scheduled to have the first professional shoe before Natas Kaupas. The background behind the Nike vs. Consolidated battle is laid out as well, which is amusing and interesting.

I liked the various sections on some of the brands that got lost in the ether over time and it would have been nice to hear some of the reasons why the shoes didn’t succeed from the people who bought them and were riding them (for example, I was getting sent free pairs of Axions in the mid ’90s – and, in my opinion, the real reason they didn’t take off was that the visible air bubbles continually blew out!). This slight gap is fortunately filled with words from the shoe designers and the pros who endorsed the shoes, so it’s not a deal breaker in the end.

It’s a big heavy book as mentioned above and that comes at a price that might keep it out of the hands of those who would most like to own it. At £40 (in the UK), it’s not likely to reach the full audience it deserves until it’s reprinted in paperback unfortunately. The special edition Nike SB slip cover version (and the limited-to-24-pairs hyperstrike edition Nike Blazer shoe sent to special people only) let’s those in the loop know who may have helped out – and fair play to Nike for stepping in and supporting something as adventurous as this.

Overall, this is a great book well worth the space on your coffee table. Go visit the guys over at Made For Skate and send in your own stories and images to keep this important archive and resource growing.

adidas Superstar Skate (Silas Baxter-Neal)

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

When adidas decided to get things moving officially in the skate world, they didn’t half-step. Gonz has ridden for them for a while, but instead of ploughing all their funds into poaching 30 pro riders from other skate shoe brands, they’ve slowly grown the roster with a steady stream of amazing talent. Dennis Busenitz, Tim O’Connor, Nestor Judkins… even some homegrown talent in the form of our own Benny Fairfax. The team is a good mix of diverse skaters, picking points for style and originality rather than simply going for household names and superstar points.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal
adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

So, to hear that Silas Baxter-Neal had joined the team was simply another step in the right direction. Having been voted Thrasher’s ‘Skater Of The Year’ for 2008 is no accident: if you didn’t already see his section in Habitat’s ‘Inhabitants’ video in ’07, you need to get acquainted. Habitat currently have a well-worth-the-download video clip (16mb Zip’d Quicktime file) of Silas on their excellent site, so definitely check that one out while it’s still there. Go on!

With the current glut of skate footwear monstrosities cluttering up the sale racks, I’d suggest that maybe one in three pro skate shoes is really deserved. Silas deserves to be part of the 33.3%. And, with the Portland adidas crew on the design duties, you could be sure that they weren’t going to release a metallic silver knee-high hockey boot for him to ride in either.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

adidas had a big thing in their favour when starting up the specific Skate division – they’ve had a DNA strand in skate culture since people began skating. My personal affiliation was with the early ’90s EMB/World Industries scene, when everyone was rocking Campus, Gazelles and Superstars, reappropriating their intended uses and realising they were good to skate in. So whilst they’ve introduced some great new silhouettes, seeing updated Skate versions of these classic models is nothing but a good thing. Why disregard history?

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

Silas’s shoe is a Superstar Skate – a comfier and more supportive version of the iconic rubber-toed basketball shoe – but given a thorough dousing in the 3-stripe colour swatches. Black, brown, orange, grey… The combination looks amazing and sounds even better in the official adidas colour names (‘Loam’… ‘Lava’…). The suede upper is a nice touch too, giving you serious consideration as to whether they’re actually too nice to go skating in. The forest silhouette artwork around the heel panel is a nod to Oregon’s license plates, adding a considered personal touch to the shoe.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal
adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

I’m not about to sit down and write sprawling reviews of every sneaker that comes through the Trashfilter in-tray, but these have had people talking every time I’ve worn them and have quickly become my favourite winter sneakers.

Thanks to C-Law and Danny over at adidas for the imagery and background info.

adidas Silas Baxter-Neal

Original Fake | Room Shoes

Original Fake room shoes

Wack. As a rule, slippers are wack. For the past fifteen years, I’ve stuck to wearing sneakers indoors – and before that, it was socks all the way. It’s taken a long time for anything to steer me from this opinion or for anyone to convince me to take a look at wearing something specifically for indoor situations. But these little sleeping bag booties from Original Fake did just that.

Original Fake room shoes

To be honest, as much as my love for Kaws extends, I never really checked out his collaborative Original Fake clothing label with Medicom. I’d seen the various denim and cotton products and whilst they looked good enough on the blogs, they were never in my sights when out and about. As far as I can work out, other than the folks at Goodhood, there isn’t anyone else stocking the label in London. Fortunately, the guys over at The Glade in Berlin included these in their November mailout and I hit them up to see what the deal was.

Original Fake room shoes

OK, they’re not inexpensive. In fact, you could probably pick up a couple of pairs of sneakers for the same price. But they’re far more acceptable than treading dog-muck into your mum’s living room rug. Filled with down feathers and with a drawstring toggle on the cuff, they’re pretty much the most comfortable things you’ll ever slip onto your feet. The little non-slip rubber bits on the sole seem to work as well. The subtle Kaws ‘X’ eyes on the top, the stylish little heel tabs and the slick-as-hell packaging soften the blow of cashing out your Paypal account.

I think I’ve gone on about these long enough: rock a quick Google search and see if you can source a pair for yourself. They came in black, olive – and a smashing orange colour.

adidas aZX Series

azx

Back when I was still working at U-Dox (read this for a bit more on my background, if you’re curious), one of the last things I was involved in before flying the nest was the adidas aZX project. In short, adidas realised that the love for the Torsion Bar was greater than they’d estimated and decided to launch one of the best Consortium ranges of product yet. Each of the alphabet’s 26 letters was allocated to a Consortium partner, who in turn had the opportunity to create their own make-up of one of the models in the ZX running range.

I worked on the initial stages of the project, helping whittle down the list of potential partners and then preparing the interview questions which formed part of the visual collateral. We were flown over to Herzogenaurach (where the adidas headquarters live) to join in the process: we worked on our own shoe for Crooked Tongues, but more interestingly, we were there as a creative agency to document the entire project. You can see the resulting interview footage up on YouTube, where Gary and I had a good laugh talking to the guys involved.

azx

left to right/top to bottom: the guys from Bodega preparing for interview, in the design studio, early morning + freezing cold = headache, some of the available colour and material swatches

Speaking to the different partners was a good way to get to find out their individual memories and experiences of the original ZX range. It was pretty clear that all the partners involved were perfectly selected and we were looking forwards to seeing the fruits of their labours. Two and a half days isn’t a long time to concoct a shoe, but everyone worked hard and got things done.

azx

left to right/top to bottom: SneakersNStuff by the history wall, FootPatrol in the woods, Kendo on the courts, LimitEdition in the vast design hanger

I left U-Dox in June 2008, so although I’d seen the sample shoes in different stages of completion, I didn’t get to see the final retail products until much closer to the release date. Released in three batches (A-H, I-P and Q-W), it was clear that I’d want to buy more than a few of these models.

A quick rinse of the girlfriend’s credit card resulted in a decent haul that I feel summarised the best shoes in the range.

Not to say the others weren’t good, but here’s a quick personal review of three of the seven models that I picked up.

azx
left to right/top to bottom: FootPatrol ZX800 (with a little denim bleeding on the stripes… oops!), Goodfoot ZX8000, DQM ZX90, Undefeated ZX8000, ARC ZX7000, Crooked Tongues ZX9000

FootPatrol ZX800

Whilst it wasn’t rocket science to take the original ZX8000 colourway and apply it to its little brother, the ZX800, the use of all-over 3M was pretty sharp. Clique-N-Move’s Kahma put this one together – and he did a damn good job. This was one of those that pleased the purists (seriously, how many better colourways are there out there?) and offered something new to the hype crowd as well. Just remember to photograph this one with your camera flash off. I doubled up on these, luckily, as they have getting worn a lot and seem to be buggers to find online already.

Goodfoot ZX8000

The letter ‘G’ went to the chaps at Goodfoot, who came back with a ‘Grun’-worthy 8000. Grun is adidas’s ecological range, utilising recycled materials and packaging, but usually ending up looking like a gum-laden pile of rubber chippings. Oh, and covered in hessian. This shoe did not follow the precedent, instead opting for gorgeous grass-green toe dipping and smart grey mesh materials. For many, this was the shoe of the series, and with good reason. Wish I’d picked up doubles of this one.

DQM ZX90

What some disregarded in favour of the more regular silhouettes quickly became known as the ‘dark horse’ of the series. A narrower shape with a lightweight sole unit, the ZX90 is an ideal model for cycling in – and with DQM’s 3M and pastel finishing, it’s one of the sleeper hits. I’ve yet to ride in them, but I’m already confident they’ll be perfect for my two-wheeled adventures.

I also liked the Undefeated, Bodega, Alife Rivington Club (A.R.C.), WoodWood and Crooked Tongues models. With the CTs , it was the colourway that was spot-on: the multiple carbon/3M applications were undoubtedly appealing to lots of people as well. The Undefeated and A.R.C. models divided the followers: some believed that a one-colour dunking was too easy and the colours were too brash, but the others appreciated the fine use of materials on both of these. Bodega used a considered palette of colours and materials, coming up with something subtle that could easily have been an off-the-shelf regular product, but with an extra little something. The WoodWood is just a shoe of beauty. With it’s white and grey bodywork, it’s not ideal for the wet London winter, but next summer… Just wait and see!

Something that was interesting was the fact that once I had all of the shoes in my house, the amount of extra collateral seemed to be slightly overwhelming. Spare lace sets, key rings, lining paper… all strewn over the floor. Obviously, most normal people wouldn’t be getting several pairs at once and then insist on opening everything all up at the same time, but still. God knows what I’ll do with the 20 spare packs of laces I seem to have accumulated.

One of the best collaborative ranges I’ve seen recently. Good work guys.

adidas IRAK Rmx Equipment Sport Runner

There was a fair bit of speculation as to whether these shoes were actually going to get released. We’d seen the sample photos floating around out there, but word got back to us that the whole sub-branding/collaborative was going to be dropped by the Equipment side of adidas. My immediate thought was ‘Dammit’, but I resigned myself to the fact that unless I got lucky, I’d never get to own a pair of these.

Fast-forward a few months to December 27th 2007, and they dropped fairly unnoticed at Alife’s Rivington Club, both in-store and online. My hoarding of Christmas funds ended right there and then: I copped both colourways.

Background information for those who don’t know: IRAK is a New York-based group of graffiti writers. If you haven’t seen the words of the prophets on the walls of streets, get your Google on, watch the film ‘Infamy’ and do some research on EARSNOT.Opinion is divided on these, from what I’ve read. Lots of people think they’re amazing – and an equal amount are disgusted by the IRAK branding on the toe panels. Well, fuck that. IRAK represent getting up and getting over, so to boldly print the name on the front for all to see fits perfectly. Add some great colour-blocking, plenty of great 3M application and a comfortable shoe and you’re set. I’m not 100% sure on this, but the word was that 300 pairs of each colourway were produced. As soon as I can afford it, I’m gonna double up on these ones.

Price? $200. Stockists? www.rivingtonclub.com is your best bet, but apparently Patta had some in as well.