CLIQUE WEAR: The Comfort Shoes temptation – your grandpa had the right idea
A pensioner from Copenhagen, a lad from Manchester, a Mexican gangster from East LA, a Rasta from London and a prep school dude from Tokyo all walk into a shoe shop.
This could be the start of a bad joke if these guys didn’t all share a certain vision of comfort, at least for their feet. Don’t even think of mentioning the Derby or the brogue-like Oxford shoe. These guys live and die by comfort shoes. They all have a preference for the flexible, inserted soles, the rubber-lined inner seams and their curved shape leaving as much space as possible for the toes.
A far cry from our designer sneakers and Italian moccasins, this new solar system of footwear is populated by the likes of Jacoform, Hearth Shoes, Mephisto and Kickers.
The gang members in Los Angeles, who spend a great deal of time on the street, have long understood that “slow and steady wins the race.” The 26 bones in each foot are put through their paces on the tarmac of Compton, but high-quality comfort shoes are expensive. The class war hasn’t stopped at the gates of wellbeing, but luckily the fates don’t leave anyone behind. Of course someone like Evil E (Ice T’s DJ) can afford to buy a pair of Bally shoes, but Winos and Slippers mean everyone can spread their toes, regardless of how much they earn.
Snoop himself – always close to the guy on the street – would never think of putting on a pair of slippers bearing the colours of the Crips.
In England, Comfort Shoes went hand in hand with the birth of English reggae. Roots movements took on the trend with Aswad and Steel Pulse, and digital soon followed with Smiley Culture, Tippa Irie and the Saxon Sound System all wearing them. Jacoform, Mephisto, Clarks and Bally have left their footprints in all self-respecting dance clubs.
The white kids on the block soon got into the groove by adding Kickers and Birkenstocks to their wardrobe. Mike Skinner from The Streets and Liam Gallagher were two standard-bearers of this trend.
The penny dropped pretty quickly for Japanese prep school students, as always in fashion. From the start of the 90s it wasn’t uncommon to see them in Paris, wearing funny shoes that looked like kidney beans.
And how we laughed at them, fools that we were, thinking we knew all there was to know, standing there in our Adidas Forums…
We lacked life experience. That was the problem. When caring desperately about the opinions of others is but a distant memory, and our pride has diminished, comfort becomes the one true standard. This is why chilled-out pensioners give their weary extremities a rest in high-quality, branded footwear.
And where to you stand in all this? Whatever you think, don’t shake your head in disbelief. If ever you’ve ever enjoyed a pair of Wallabees or Desert Treks from Clarks, you may be close to becoming a comfort-centred gent.
These two, much-loved models worn by English Rastas are the first step on a journey to discover the comfort of soft-air soles.
How about a little anecdote to end things? I was sitting on the line 3 of the Parisian metro the other day, reading a magazine from the Figaro newspaper I’d found on a seat, when a clergyman wearing a pair of Mephistos sat down in front of me. After staring, surprised, at his shoes for a couple of seconds, I asked him if there wasn’t a conflict of interests with regard to his position.
He replied, with a twinkle in his eye:
“Quite the opposite in fact. This way, I always have the devil at my feet!”
And the crowd goes wild!!!
A COOL POST-SCRIPTUM FROM THE AUTHOR:
To impress all the guests at a wedding, I advise that you wear this pair of Jacoform shoes, the beige ones of course, and match them with a linen suit if at all possible.