Sunday, July 26, 2009

Its a Sneaker Thing - Part I

I have always been a fan of the hi-top shoe since the mid 1980's. Back then, the hi-top was intended for ankle support when playing sports such as basket ball. They also became popular as street wear. I don't play basket ball, but I do like my hi-tops, even to this day. This post is being re-done for the purpose of documenting some of the hi-tops I've owned over the years.

I did actually buy a pair of these in 1990 [first released in 1989]. They were only my 3rd pair of hi tops and the most expensive shoes I'd ever bought. At the time, the price tag was $350, and even though I got them on sale [$199 where everything with a bladder was being sold for less than $200], it is still expensive for a pair of 'sneakers'. They were amazingly comfortable and very well made and I got a good 5 or 6 years wear from them in my travels across Australia before they finally died in 2006, when they basically fell apart.

The shoe itself was leather with molded collar made from urethane which housed the bladder and valve [the lump at the back where a clear plastic 'pump' could be inserted to inflate the shoe]. The idea was that the bladder would make the shoe fit regardless of your foot shape. Apparently, urethane only lasts 5 or 6 years before breaking down and the collar of the shoes [and mid-sole] practically crumbled as I put them on one day.

These shoes had quite a few things that made them unique including an air sole that was part of the sock liner, not built into the sole. This allowed for the air soles to be replaced should they ever deflate.

Speed lacing was a neat feature that should have been used on all shoes using 'flat' laces. If a lace is flat, why pull it through a round hole? When you do, the laces twist and bind. Not the case here. The slots kept the laces flat and allowed them to be pulled through quite fast allowing a very firm fit.

The ankle strap could be removed and was end user adjustable.

The shoes came in a clear plastic case with a recess in the lid [which was orange] that allowed the the 'pump' to be stored. The case was the best shoe box NIKE [or any shoe company for that matter] have ever released.

Not the cleanest I know, but proof I wore these. The Jordan 20 was my first Air Jordan and I must admit, there is something a little special about a pair of Jordan shoes compared to standard NIKE Air.

The Air Jordan VIII
When the Air Jordan 8 first came out in 1993, I was still wearing my NIKE Air Pressures, so didn't really gravitate to them. Back then, they seemed to only be available in dark colours and I preferred the lighter option [above] which was released in 2008 as a 'retro'.

The X cross lacing system is neat. I still wear these and because the straps actually secure your foot, I don't bother with the laces. Whilst not as high as the Pressures, they look similar [clean toe, grey collar etc] and are comfortable. I actually bought two pairs, one for general wearing and one to be kept clean for when I wanted to wear them out. My general "kicks" pair is looking a bit worse for wear these days.

No I don't own a pair of these. Since NIKE released the NIKE AIR MAG for the film BACK TO THE FUTURE - PART II, sneaker heads from around the globe have been waiting for this shoe to be released. In 2011, NIKE did release a version of the the classic shoe to the US market via EBAY. Proceeds from the sales were then donated to research of Parkinson's disease in a marketing campaign called 'back for the future'. Some of the pairs of these shoes auctioned for well into the 5 figures.


This pair of "NIKE AIR MAG" shoes are made by a fan of the film BTTF2. They are wearable, but were bought as a prop in my home cinema.


So whilst we wait, many copies of the classic shoe from BACK TO THE FUTURE - PART II are finding their way onto the feet of 'sneaker heads' vis the internet like the NIKE AIR MAG [Custom] which is not authorized my NIKE.
I do have a pair of these [and they are comfortable] which will have to do until NIKE release the real deal [2015?] for the general public.

I also did own a pair of REEBOK 'PUMP' shoes once [about 1990]. They didn't have the same appeal as the NIKE Air Pressure, but were more affordable than the NIKE offering, so gained their popularity that way. The REEBOK 'Energy Return System' was their answer to NIKE's Air sole. My "PUMP"s filled the tongue of the shoe, not the collar.

Reebok 'THE PUMP'

So just where did this trend start? Whilst I think the film BACK TO THE FUTURE Part II [ 2nd image below] has allot to answer for, a popular brand name high top was also featured in the 1986 film ALIENS.
The idea of a shoe that laces itself up is very cool and whilst very 'Jetsons', could actually serve the disabled or people that have trouble bending down to tie their laces. I despise laces. Here we are in 2012 with all of the wonderful modern technology and we still secure our shoes with a piece of string - go figure.

So why are they not a reality? Questions to yet be answered:
  1. Where does the extra 'lace' [strap] actually go?
  2. Can they make a motor small enough with enough torque to actually tighten these straps?
  3. Where would this motor be housed?
  4. What type of power supply would it need?
  5. What happens if the shoe gets wet?
We can only wait and see what the future brings.

Sneaker fans have certainly been hopeful that NIKE would release that shoe and NIKE have released a few different [colour ways] shoes to appease the sneaker buff.

The Alternatives

The two images above were tributes to the shoes from the film Back To The Future Part II but never quite hit the mark. Why? HINT: no ankle strap with the blue NIKE!


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