What’s On My Mind Wednesday #7: Five Releases I Hope to See in 2015

For this week’s WOMMW I am going to share with you five releases I am looking forward to in 2015. Obviously 2015 is going to be here for a while and there are some releases I don’t even know I want until I see them, but here are the five releases I am definitely going to try to get my hands on, should they drop this year.

5. Nike SB Lunar Janoski “Black/Crystal Mint”

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My Nike SB Zoom Janoski “Crystal/Mint” is one of my all time favourites but although I love the look of the straight Zoom sole more, the Lunar Janoski is one of the most comfortable shoes I own. I don’t skate enough to be in a position to evaluate which of the two is actually better to skate in.

Nevertheless I would love to have a Lunar Janoski in the “Black/Crystal Mint” colourway. It is one of the cleanest colour combos there is, which is why I am such a huge fan of the “Tiffany” Dunks.

Disclaimer: The picture above is a concept created in Photoshop.

4. Air Jordan IV “Oreo”

The Air Jordan IV is one of the few models I actually like, despite its bulkiness. While I have been disappointed in the quality of previous Jordan releases the Nike SB x Jordan 1 “Lance Mountain” Pack really raised my estimation of what Jordan Brand is capable of.

The recent release of the Columbia IVs was the first in Jordan Brand’s remastered programme and the leather, while not as buttery as my “Lance Mountains”, was certainly an improvement from past releases. I expect the “Oreos” to be just as good.

There isn’t much you can say about the basic colourway – black upper, white speckled midsole and light grey accents – but together, especially with that black tumbled leather, the shoes look awesome and I am very much looking forward to picking this up when they drop some time in February.

3. Nike Dunk High CMFT “Red October”

Mostly, I will be getting these as a consolation for having missed out on the real deal last year but also because I am a huge fan of the Dunk. And not only that but they actually look like they were executed really well – the 3D-print on the collar and the mesh on the toe-box and mid-panel looks on point. Let’s hope the outsole glows in the dark.

I’m not sure what to think of the gold aglets though, as I do have issues with them on my “Wolf Grey” Yeezy 2s (as outlined here). But maybe I won’t run into the same issues if I just get these in my size.

These are scheduled to release in the fall so I hope the hype will have died down by then and they turn out to be an easy pick-up.

2. Adidas x Kanye West

I am not ashamed to admit I am big fan of Kanye West and I really appreciate his work, even though I don’t always agree with everything he does.

I don’t know what to expect of his upcoming releases for Adidas and I know for sure that I am not going to pick up everything he releases with the three stripes just because he put his name on them. But I am very much looking forward to seeing what he has been working on for the past year and a half.

1. Nike Mag

A no-brainer for number one – sneakerheads have been waiting for an official release of the Nike Mag since 1989 when Marty McFly power-laced these up in “Back to the Future II”. Only a select few were able to get their hands on the ebay auctions for the Michael J. Fox Foundation in 2011.

Tinker Hatfield designed this shoe for Universal Studios back in the day and he recently announced that his team was working on bringing us the Nike Mag with power laces this year. We’ll have to wait and see if he can deliver, but even if they don’t manage to bring us Power Laces this year I would still appreciate any kind of release.

And if they do I will try everything to get a pair on release. I don’t care if I have to camp for a week – for these shoes I would go the extra mile. And I will be keeping a “Nike Mag Fund” ready for when that day comes around.

What releases are you looking forward to in 2015? Let me know in the comments below!

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What’s On My Mind Wednesday #6: Seasonal Sneakers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog. I was with my family over Christmas and had a couple of assignments I wanted to take care of during my time off from Uni.

Now that I’m back in Cardiff I wanted to write about something that occurred to me over Christmas: What do sneakerheads do with their seasonal sneakers when the holidays are over?

I get the point of seasonal sneakers. They are special editions that will definitely find an audience in sneakerheads looking for a fitting pair of shoes for the occasion.

Nike traditionally releases a Christmas pack consisting of shoes for their contracted athletes to wear on court during the festive season. In 2013 Concepts collaborated with Nike SB to create two “Ugly Christmas Sweater” Dunks.

The time leading up to Christmas is very long and there is plenty of time to give your holiday sneakers some on-feet action. But when the holiday season is over it doesn’t feel appropriate to wear them.

At least that’s what I think. While the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” Dunks were awesome and the ideal shoe for me to wear leading up to the holidays I know that I wouldn’t wear them again for another 11 months. And this goes against my wish to wear all of my shoes.

I would feel even worse buying a shoe designed for the other holidays. Halloween is just one day of the year and Easter lasts only the extended weekend. The anticipation for those holidays lasts nowhere near as long as Advent.

Granted, there are a few seasonal sneakers that you could wear outside the festive season. I was a big fan of the Asics Gel Lyte III “Santa” from 2013, though I never picked them up. And I used to wear my Adidas Jeremy Scott x Eason Chan Wings “Chinese New Year” all the time.

Many sneaker brands release special shoes every year to celebrate the respective animal of the Chinese calendar. I own a pair of the Air Force 1 Low “Year of the Dragon II” and I wear those frequently. Rather than associating them to the Year of the Dragon I just identify them with the the legendary creature itself. That seems a lot more complicated with a shoe inspired by a Christmas sweater or Santa.

But seasonal sneakers are not just limited to shoes designed for specific holidays. For example, the Asics x The Good Will Out Gel Lyte V “Koyo” was inspired by the colours of leaves in autumn in Japan. I wore them when all the leaves had already fallen from the trees, not that the leaves ever turned the same beautiful red as they do in the land of the rising sun. I even wore them for Christmas because the colours match the festive colour palette and I plan to keep wearing them in spring and summer.

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Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my Nike SB Janoski “Beach”. It feels wrong wearing them when it’s raining and the sun is hidden away. I really wish I could wear them more often, which is why I’m looking forward to spring!

What’s On My Mind Wednesday #5: How to lace Nike Air Yeezy 2

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I have had my Yeezy 2s for more than two and a half years now and I wore them a lot. Yet I still haven’t figured out how you are supposed to lace them properly. If you don’t own a pair of Yeezys you are probably asking yourselves: “How hard can it be to tie a pair of shoes?”

I am still unsure how one is supposed to use lace locks on casual sneakers. I had the same problem with my Air Jordan Son of Mars. My research suggested that runners cut off their laces beyond the lace locks on their trainers.

But that surely wasn’t what Yeezy himself had in mind. He usually wore his shoes with the laces loose. Unfortunately that wasn’t an option for me because my Yeezys were a size and a half too big (mine are US 12, I should be wearing US 10.5). So maybe those of you that own a pair of Yeezys in your size don’t even share my struggle.

But the metal obelisk aglets (decorative lace tips) are a common issue with the shoe. While their shape contributes to the ancient Egyptian theme of the shoe and they look pretty cool, they are super impractical. They are very heavy and swing about when you tie your laces regularly. This creates a lot of noise while walking and cause the laces to become undone.

I have seen a few people who have decided to take off the obelisk aglets so they can tie up their Yeezys like any other shoe. Others didn’t chose to rock their Yeezys sans aglets but were forced to do so after losing them. The aglets are very prone to coming off the screws when walking. Since I wanted to keep everything on the shoe the way Kanye had intended I tried to prevent mine from unscrewing with clear nail polish. Now I am literally stuck with them so I had to come up with a solution that works with the aglets.

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The picture above shows how I initially tied my Yeezys: a regular knot under the lace locks with the ends of the laces woven into the laces along the tongue. This prevents the aglets from swinging about but makes tying and untying the shoes very complicated. It appears that the laces on my Yeezys are very long (probably because they are US 12) which makes the bow look too big.

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Later I tried to incorporate the strap into the way I tie my shoes. Again I went for the knot under the lace locks but instead of weaving the laces above the tongue I secured them under the velcro strap. This makes it easier to tie and untie the shoe. However, pulling the strap tight caused the hard side of the velcro to fray the mesh on the toe-box. I don’t know if this also happens on Yeezys that are worn true to size so this solution might work better for others.

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But it didn’t work for me. So I tried something different. In an effort to keep the aglets from moving around I went for the knot pulled tight until the aglets were all the way up at the top. I had to go for a double knot as the heavy aglets always made the simple knot come undone. The problem with this was that it made the bow appear even bigger than the other two methods. But it was the simplest of all three so I stayed committed to it for a very long time.

Until my Yeezys were featured in a Sneaker Freaker sneaker circle during Sneakerness Paris. I had come to peace with my lacing technique, but the “lace police” was all over this picture. And even though there were 2,500+ likes on the photo all I saw was @johnnythrorocks thinking the lace job on my Yeezys was “not doing them justice”.

So it was back to the drawing board to find a better way to lace my Yeezys. I came up with a new personal favourite that is probably not the best way to tie them, but it addresses all the issues I had previously been confronted with.IMG_5367To do this you must pull the laces all the way through the top-facing side of the lace lock and do a simple loop knot without pulling it tight. This way the aglets remain in place under the lace lock but the loop on top is not too big. And the knot remains easy to undo.

Finding this solution should not have been this hard. I probably made this a lot more complicated than it needed to be. Nevertheless I am happy with what I have. But this should by no means be the end of my research. I will find the ideal way to lace my Yeezys.

Maybe you can help me out.

How do you tie your Yeezys? Or how do you deal with lace locks in general?

Let me know in the comments below.

What’s On My Mind Wednesday #4: Collaborations

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Yesterday I showed you guys my newest pair of shoes: the Asics x The Good Will Out Gel Lyte V “Koyo”. The shoe is a greatly executed collaboration and shows just what the guys at TGWO are capable of. Their “Autobahn Pack”  in collaboration with New Balance was also very well done. But there are too many collabs coming out right now and a lot of collabs out there that are nowhere near as good.

Many sneakerheads that I’ve talked to agree that there are too many collabs out there. It’s hard for some sneakerheads to stay on top of their game. Others also feel that collaborations are no longer special now that they are releasing one every week.

Even Deon Point from Concepts told Sneaker Freaker that his store had surpassed the point of too many collabs. It felt like they had a new collab coming out every week. Some of them were quite well done, like the “Ugly Christmas Sweater” Dunk SBs or their recent New Balance 997 “Rosé”.

But then there were others that weren’t anything special, like the “Porky” Dunk SBs inspired by the movie of the same name. I bought the general release because I liked the pink upper on top of the white mid sole and gum outsole.

Concepts did put some effort into the packaging and accessories that weren’t part of the general release so maybe that’s why I feel that they weren’t anything special. But I don’t think the idea itself was worthy of a collaboration.

Another unspectacular collaborative shoe I own is the blue Vans x Tyler the Creator Old Skool S from their first collaboration. Even though I’m not a huge Odd Future fan I really like the deep blue suede with the white laces matched with a gum sole. They were really hard to track down because they only released at local skate shops but none of them in my area were going to get them.

I just happened to be browsing the web when I came across Allike.com who had just posted three colours from the pack online a couple of months after they released in most of Europe, but not the blue ones. I checked back every day until they finally stocked them and got a pair.

Some might call me a hypebeast just for buying a collab shoe by a guy whose music I don’t even listen to. And that’s fair enough, but I bought the shoe for the shoe itself, just like I did with the “Porky” Dunks.

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On the other hand I probably wouldn’t have bought the “Autobahn Pack” or the “Koyo” if they weren’t a TGWO collab. But in those cases the whole concept behind the shoes made them so appealing to me. The Autobahn inspiration is locally relevant to me given that I grew up in Cologne close to where Germany’s first Autobahn was built. And the “Koyo” plays on Asics’ origins in reference to Japanese culture.

Also, The Good Will Out took their time between the two collabs. It didn’t make me think: “You guys are doing another collab? Didn’t you release one just last week?” like I do when Concepts announces something new.

That was the issue I had when TGWO did their second collaboration on an Onitsuka Tiger X-Caliber. I often forget about that shoe because it released so quick after the “Autobahn Pack”. While the idea behind the shoe was pretty cool their choice of canvas didn’t really appeal to me. And since I had just bought two shoes from their previous collab I decided to pass on them.

That really is one of the biggest issues I have with the saturation of collaborations in the sneaker game. There is a collab releasing every week, sometimes even two or three. I heard that Saucony released more collabs this past year that regular in-line shoes. That just makes it seem like a regular release has become something special now.

Ronnie Fieg is arguably the biggest player in the sneaker game releasing one collab after the other. Some say he is the reason for Asics’ recent success in the industry. His collaborations are really simple colourways on premium materials. But the people go crazy over them because it is a collaboration. Rarely does a New Balance “Made in USA” create that much hype, even though I know that Ronnie Fieg’s collabs are nowhere near as limited as people suspect them to be. Yet people camp out for these shoes regularly.

I don’t really consider myself a collector but rather an enthusiast. I don’t feel the compulsion to buy every shoe that releases, I just acknowledge them and buy the ones I really like. But it’s tough for anyone out there trying to stay on top of the sneaker game.

What do you think of collaborations? How many is too many?

Let me know in the comments below.

What’s On My Mind Wednesday #3: Sweatpants

IMG_5029I was never big on wearing sweatpants casually unless I was on my way to P.E. In that case I would always wear Adidas Firebird Pants over my shorts but I never trained in them. Else I would only wear sweatpants at home.

I generally shied away from wearing sweatpants in public because of the social stigma. Sweatpants were generally associated with Asis (German equivalent of chavs). You know… the guys who tucked them into their socks?

chavsBut sweatpants have slowly but surely come back into style. The Olympic Games 2012 really helped sportswear become recognised as fashion. We have since seen people wearing Frees and Flyknits and girls casually wearing yoga pants, for better and for worse (some people really shouldn’t be wearing yoga pants…).

When Nike announced the Tech Fleece Pack last year they intended for it to be worn by athletes. But the collection found success as streetwear with the Tech Fleece pants being a particularly popular product.

IMG_5019Those pants, along with an interview with Gary Aspden in the latest Sneaker Freaker Magazine, in which he claims that the mainstream media have undeservedly demonised the track suit, and advocates sweatpants as an everyday clothing item, encouraged me to re-evaluate my opinion on them.

The cut of the pants appealed to me as they were neither baggy nor skin tight as most variations of sweatpants tend to be. The Tech Fleece technology is also fantastic with its light and soft fabric that keeps you warm. And the tight fit around the ankles meant that they were ideal for showing off high top sneakers.

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I love wearing high top sneakers, the Dunk being on of my favourite silhouettes, and I don’t like how my pants would usually cover up the shoes. I tried to pinroll them, and while it looks alright with most low tops it looks really weird with high tops. Sweatpants on the other hand tuck in nicely behind the tongue.

I’m glad that wearing sweatpants has become more acceptable in 2014. I have stocked up on a few different Tech Fleece pants so I can match them with different shoes in my rotation. Hopefully the future will bring more interesting and fashionable styles and create a greater appreciation for sweatpants.

Do feel wearing sweatpants has become more acceptable? Do you wear sweatpants sometimes or do you prefer wearing regular jeans?

Let me know in the comments below.

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What’s On My Mind Wednesday #2: Nike Flyknit vs Adidas Primeknit

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Welcome back to another WOMMW. I read a news article today about the conclusion of a court case in Munich, Germany on a patent dispute between Nike and Adidas. Adidas had filed a countersuit requesting for Nike’s patents for their Flyknit technology to be deleted after Nike failed to ban Adidas’ Primeknit products for infringing those patents in 2012.

The court ruled Nike’s patent invalid, which now provides the opportunity for other firms like Adidas to use this efficient way of producing shoes in Germany without the fear of being sued by Nike. The firm from Herzogenaurach is now also pushing to get these patents ruled invalid in France and the UK.

I feel like this could be a big step for the shoe industry. While I am a huge fan of the Flyknit technology, I feel that prohibiting other companies from using similar technologies that completely change the way shoes are made is unfair. Especially since knitting the upper of shoes was not a completely new thing in 2012. Others have done it before and a long time before Nike started doing it. Therefore I applaud the court’s decision to delete this patent.

Nike did invest a lot of resources into cooking up the perfect recipe to complement this technology in their Innovation Kitchen so you have to give credit where it’s due. The Flyknit range of running shoes came out fantastic. Furthermore, I feel that Nike’s puts a lot more effort into advertising and endorsement, which proves to be very effective.

Looking back at the World Cup 2014 in Brazil, Adidas claimed to have had the first knitted football shoe with their Samba Primeknit. But I don’t recall anyone wearing them at the World Cup. I don’t even think the shoe went on sale until long after the World Cup was over.

Nike’s Magista on the other hand was at the centre of a huge marketing campaign with the Genealogy of Innovation Tour, the Genealogy of Innovation book with Sneaker Freaker that gathered a lot of attention, the short films, the ads and many of the Nike endorsed athletes actually wearing the unmistakable ankle-high shoe in the brightest of colours at the World Cup.

Primeknit was never really on my radar, probably because Adidas rarely did anything to put it on the map. The first time I heard about it was when Nike announced they were suing Adidas for copyright infringement back in 2012.

The only thing that made Primeknit desirable to me was the Stan Smith Primeknit that released in June. I really wanted them as they looked to be a great shoe for the summer but they were fairly limited and I couldn’t get my hands on a pair. I guess that shows there are people out there interested in what Adidas and their Primknit technology has to offer.

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I am definitely going to keep my eyes open for what Adidas will deliver now that the court has ruled this patent dispute in their favour. I am even more curious to see what other companies will do with this freedom to use knitted uppers when making their shoes. 2015 could be a very exciting year.

Do you prefer Flyknit or Primeknit? Who do you think did it first? Who do you think is in the right here?

Let me know in the comments below.

What’s On My Mind Wednesday #1: Sneaker vs. Trainer

Today I would like to introduce a new series called “What’s On My Mind Wednesday”. As the name suggests I will be publishing a blog post every Wednesday telling you about what’s on my mind, mostly sneaker-related.

For the first WOMMW I thought I’d talk about something that I became aware of when I first came to Cardiff to study: The British use the word trainer to describe all kinds of athletic shoes, whether they are meant for doing sports or being worn casually.

Most Europeans use the anglicism sneaker to describe athletic shoes for casual wear, mostly due to the influence of American culture on Europe. However, when talking about sport-specific shoes Europeans use the local term for a sports shoe. For example, Germans say Turnschuh, which translates to athletic shoe, while the French say baskets or tennis, depending on the sport they were designed for.

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I was under the impression that the Americans had it figured out and used trainer to describe proper training shoes, since Tinker Hatfield developed a ‘multi-sports’ shoe so he wouldn’t have to take so many shoes to the gym (not really a problem I have ever encountered…) and called it the Nike Air Trainer. And if shoes weren’t meant for sports, the Americans would call them sneakers. But apparently they use the term sneaker just like the British use the term trainer

To me it would have made sense to say that you train in a trainer and sneak in a sneaker, if sneak meant to casually walk around. By this logic you would call all the retro Jordans and SB’ed Dunks (another tricky topic worthy of its own post) released for casual wear or collecting purposes and not for the court sneakers and all the latest models from LeBron’s, Kobe’s or KD’s signature line developed for today’s courts trainers. 

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But unfortunately that is not the case and doesn’t validate the point I was trying to make. The term sneaker became a popular way of describing some of the first tennis shoes, referencing the quietness of the rubber soles in comparison with traditional leather dress shoes and the ability to sneak around in them without being noticed. Nevertheless I feel that sneaker is an adequate term to distinguish a casual athletic shoe from a sports-oriented trainer.

Allow me to demonstrate with an example from my rotation:

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On the left we have the Nike Flyknit Lunar One from 2013. I use this pair as my main running shoes and rarely wear them casually. While there are many people that do indeed wear them casually, Nike developed the Lunarlon midsole and Flyknit upper for running. For this reason I would refer to them as trainers.

On the right we have the New Balance x The Good Will Out 577 ‘Day’ from the ‘Autobahn’ pack. Even though the New Balance 577 was initially a running shoe when it debuted back in 1989, the Encap technology used on the midsole is now outdated.

Furthermore the shoe was a ‘Made in England’ release manufactured with premium materials in Flimby and sold as a lifestyle shoe, like many other older New Balance models. Therefore I would call them sneakers to distinguish them from shoes actually released (not just made) for sports.

So what do you say to describe your shoes? Do you distinguish between athletic and casual shoes?

Let me know in the comments below.