Arts & Culture » Culture

Trainers on the brain

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“So many sneakers, so little time,” writes Simon Wood, the founder-editor of Sneaker Freaker, a Melbourne, Australia, magazine dedicated to the pervasive trainer trend. Each of the six issues he’s published since launching the mag in 2003 have sold out fast, becoming nearly as collectible as the shoes they commemorate.

It makes sense then that the mag would excerpt from its favorite past pages for a handsome little Sneaker Freaker paperback ($20, Riverhead Trade). Along with a dash of new material, the book serves as a best-of compilation, including articles, shoe reviews, fancy photo spreads, the obligatory “Why I love sneakers” personal essay, and interviews with the hippest shoe designers, company VPs, store owners and collectors.

Snarky writing style aside, these folks take their shoes seriously, reporting on Puma, Adidas, Nike, Vans, Pony and New Balance, as well as obscure Japanese and indie brands, such as Creative Recreation, Run Athletics and Bathing Apes. They also pay special attention to limited-edition shoes, vintage resurrections and brand-new originals.

The most compelling dialogue is about the hype of celebrity influence. Revered designers Philippe Starck and Yohji Yamamoto have confessed their adoration of sneakers, but the marketing phenomenon also extends to big names with no design chops. Endorsement trends were once reserved for the sports stars who wore stylish athletic shoes — Charles Barkley’s Air 180s and Steffi Graf’s Adidas — but recently the trend is to court and collaborate with music celebrities. Missy Elliott sports her shell-toe Adidas, Nelly has his Air Derrty CB2s, Pharrell Williams steps up in his Bathing Apes, and Snoop Dogg styles his “Doggie Biscuitz” for Pony. Now it seems like hip-hop stars haven’t really made it until everyone can walk in their shoes.

Meghan McEwen writes about art for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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