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The perfect pair of trainers

January 6, 2010

So I’ll start by saying I like trainers.

I mean I really like trainers.

I mean I like them so much there’s nearly 90 pairs cluttering up our home to the despair of the other half and the utter bafflement of the people who come to visit. I should start some kind of theme park and charge an entrance fee. At my worst I had about half the amount again. You’d be amazed how much room 140 trainer boxes take up, it’s like the European trainer mountain on top of the wardrobe…

I took them all down for a quick shot:

I’m a trainer nerd basically.

But my style’s been changing and all of the old ‘kicks’ aren’t really doing it for me like they used to. They just don’t suit the way I dress anymore. So what do you wear when you want to wear trainers but you don’t want to wear ‘trainers’? Well there’s plenty of casual footwear out there that’s more in keeping with the man that wants to look a bit smarter. I’ll list a few of the brands that I think are doing it well.

Let’s start with an absolute classic and for me a total summer staple – the Vans Authentic. Around for decades and de rigueur with skate kids, I go through about four pairs of these a year (all white). In my opinion they’re the only plimsoll type of shoe even worth considering, especially the original ‘made in USA’ models which are a Holy Grail amongst enthusiasts. Yeah, I know that they’re also loved by ‘Emo’ kids but as long as you stay away from wearing all black, having a sensitive fringe & looking like you’re 16 you’ll be fine.

The thing with the Authentic is that they work with anything, yes they’re very casual but if you’re in the city on a hot day wearing a pair of shorts they’re the perfect compliment, plus at £30 a go you can trash them, bin them and get a new pair without feeling too guilty about it. White Superga’s are good too and clearly have a massive fan base but for me they just don’t match the understatement of the Authentic. The Authentic’s big brother the Chukka is also a wardrobe staple of mine – everyone should have at least one pair for winter, I pretty much live in them when it’s wet outside.

Moving on, Pointer do a fantastic range of footwear, which has been getting better and better over the past few years since setting up in 2004. From their very trainer like ‘Fairbank’ through to the must smarter ‘Cyril’ desert boot (but I’ll talk about the whole boot/shoe thing another time) they’re constantly developing and improving, now having some great casual shoes. Shofolk are more than worth checking out too, there are some similarities in what they and pointer are doing and it’s also great that both brands are UK based. Shofolk’s use of materials and subtle colours are perfect, especially for Autumn/Winter. Check out the ‘Alaric’ – it’s a great looking shoe, especially in navy suede.

My absolute favorite brand are Common Projects, what with me now having four pairs in the collection (they live under the bed, it’s the only space left). I know there’s been loads of talk over the past few season about these trainers and with good reason – they’re bloody brilliant. The first pair I bought were the Achilles Mid in grey suede. Then came the Achilles Low in white leather – they did their absolute best to cripple me for about 3 months but have been my daily’s for ages now (and they look it). Recently I’ve added the Tournament’s in both light grey and burgundy respectively – I still wish I’d stocked up on the court shoe when they were around, but these are a close second. Anyway, it’s fair to say I’m a fan.

What I’m looking for are casual shoes that do a decent job of the whole smart/casual thing. A pair of shoes that I don’t mind meeting clients in, or that I can wear with shorts and still look considered. Eventually a pair of Campus or Superstars don’t look or feel right (especially with a slimmer jean and a wool Peacoat in winter) and a change needs to be made.

All of the above mentioned do this well, so if you’re in the market for a great pair of trainers that make you feel more of a grown up without having to go out and stock up on Brogues then give them a go.

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