Ever since I saw the light through an air bubble, there has only ever been one sneaker brand, but the end of the 80s saw an endless slew of wannabe competitors and imitators
In the late 80s and early 90s sneakers were a boom business. The latter part of the 80s saw the rise of the high-top, mainly due to to the popularity of basketball amongst hip-hop fans in the US and the fact they were so expensive only made them more desirable. This was a time when pricey sneaks were still unusual enough to be worth flaunting. Later, the thrash metal guys wore them, widening the fan base. The break out of dance music saw the running shoe get its own no expense spared makeover—high-tops were no good for raving. Nike turned a lot of people onto super-expensive sneakers and a lot of brands jumped on the bandwagon. The following are some of the lamest.
I distinctly remember owning and hating a black pair of MItre soccer shoes, same as the ones above, but with yellow and sky blue accents. Of course, I’d been mentally weighing up a pair of Nikes, but my old man would just arrive home one day and unannounced hand me a new pair. I would complain, but what could I do, I was like, 9. I mean, this is like wanting a glass of Cristal and being handed the glass from 2 Girls 1 Cup, right?
British Knights. Another company whose Nike Air-mocking technology—the diamond-shaped Dymacel cushioning—was one of their main selling points. Well, that and MC Hammer who was their endorsee in the early 90s and Kurt Cobain, who was pictured rocking some of their high-tops in Nirvana’s early days. Also, they were worn by the LA gang The Crips due to their BK branding—BK, to them, stood for Blood Killer—The Bloods being their rival gang. Speaking of branding, BK were akin to SPX, Troop, and Travel Fox in that they were way over-branded, featuring logos at every possible centimeter of space. Like all the fashion brands, they moved onto the skate shoe-inspired, colored suede upper, white soles and laces trend in the mid-90s and thankfully disappeared. Some NBA ballers—Derrick Coleman, for one—actually sported these on-court.
I have seen a lot of people trying to claim ‘old school’ by rocking the Hi-Tec Squash shoe and also the Silver Shadow running. I really hate those shoes. They actually had a technology called ABC—Air Ball Concept. I remember being bought a pair of white, red, and blue Hi-Teks, high-tops. They weren’t a pair of Air Command Force, but they’d do. The first time I played football in them they split from heel to toe.
When I was a kid Brooks made really lame football boots that, a bit like Quasar, had a really famous endorsee—Paul Gascoigne. Way aye man, everybody’s cheeky Geordie, famous World Cup Italia 90 tear-shedder, and infamous wife-beating alcoholic Gazza wore these at the height of his career. Well, after Puma and before adidas, which he also wore. His boot was super-expensive - adidas World Cup and Puma King territory, at the time - but all their lower tier shoes and boots were the worst ever. Every brand hand their own Nike Air battling tech and Brooks equivalent was called HydroFlow. Beats me too. Another brand trying to best Nike at their game was Rykä, though I couldn’t find a suitable picture. Reebok had Hexalite, E.R.S., Graphlite, and of course, the Pump, adidas had Torsion, and Cons React, but one of the most bizarre was Rykä’s Nitrogen Technology. Rykä were a brand specially developed for women, but like most of the shoe brands to get big back then, they quickly faded into obscurity.
You ever heard the Raekwon track “Sneakers” where he names out all the kicks he had back when kicks were worth rocking? He actually mentions Etonics, who also had their own air-based technology, Stable Air. Fairly sure they were just a running shoe brand, but now they also make golf and bowling shoes, weirdly. When I checked up on Hi-Tec it seems they mainly make hiking boots now too. I guess because most of these late 80s early 90s brands started out when hi-tops and running shoes were popular and now aren’t, they had to change their marketing strategies.
Send me a photo of you in your favorite sneaks(make it sexy!)
I’ll recommend your blog and post your photo on mine!