Walk in My Shoes
I have been enjoying (trapped) in Bar/Bat Mitzvah season for the last four, maybe five, years. Don't get me wrong, I love to celebrate life events with family and close friends. There is nothing better than seeing live, or streaming from bed, someone you have known their entire life lead a service and be officially recognized by their community. This also means you will have to get dressed up in a suit for the ceremony and/or the celebration. I have found the key to wearing this uniform is finding the perfect pair of comfy shoes. Face it, winged tip dress shoes (or shoes with hard soles) are from another era. Sneakers are it, but it has to be just the right pair: formal, comfortable, and discreet. I tried to create my own lowcut AirForce One's using NikeID technology, but it was an epic fail. I made them black, with a black swoosh and grey sole that said "FORMAL WEAR." While comfortable, they ultimately looked like they were perfect for an assisted living facility rather than high fashion. To be clear, the ideal shoe is a black high top, black or white sole (depending if you want to draw attention or not), and a low profile. In this week's Loupe, we focus on that perfect pair of sneaks that strikes just the right balance between appropriate and edgy.
MI STAN SMITH ($110)
These shoes have been around so long that most people who wear them don't even remember Stan Smith (including me). Everyone knows what the shoe looks like in the classic green and white. They are super comfortable; we could say a retro chic. However, the good folks at Addidas are allowing people to customize them to their needs. In my case, formal wear. I ordered mine in shiny black leather, and they will be arriving in 3-5 weeks. Just wait, to see!
CREATIVE REACTION ($150)
The shoe that started it all for me was Creative Reaction. Created in 2002, their focus was on creativity, hence the name. Their motto is "without creativity, we'd all be the same." Scary thought, everyone wearing the same shoes. I think shoe titans, a la Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik, built empires based on the opposite premise. Nonetheless, I've always prided myself on being different. Creative Reaction (purchased now by a private equity shop) has done collaborations with rappers like Dreezy and Rob Stone, as well as former Disney star Nick Jonas. So, I'm not the only one to find them. Yet, these shoes are comfortable, discreet (low profile), and fashionable (enough). They are reasonably priced $100-150 (which is a rarity) and are a great solution to the sneaker with a suit look!
COMMON PROJECTS ($450)
This collaboration is almost 15 years old from the former V magazine art director Peter Poopat and brand consultant Flavio Girolami. They have many other lines of fashion, including women's wear, but it all started with the men's shoes, specifically the Achilles. Emblazoned on each shoe is a 10 digit number describing the model number and size. These shoes are a chic alternative to a new basic; they are clean and basic sneakers. It’s a coup they pulled off designing shoes that both elevate and pay homage to familiar silhouettes, stripping away the details to let the pared-down shapes speak for themselves. They come in a variety of colors for those that are less boring than me, so choose your personal style.
These shoes are well-known, stylish, and quite expensive. Lanvin is, as you probably know, the oldest French fashion house. They are known for their women's couture but have developed a sizable niche in men's footwear. They are the shoe of choice for the tech titans when they aren't wearing AllBirds. These shoes are chunky and sturdy and look killer with a suit or a pair of jeans.
If I want to know where to shop, I head to my daughter's room and ask her. In this case, she directed me to Ssense.com. It is Zappos for high fashion clothing, with a particularly amazing selection of men's footwear. You can find most of what's above and many more choices (including Off-White without the store lines) if you have the time to look through the endless designer collections. The platform was founded in Montreal as a thesis project while pursuing a computer engineering degree. The site continues to innovate, including making the first shoppable music video. Its mix of luxury, streetwear, and avant-garde labels reaches 114 countries and generates an average of 32 million monthly page views (whoa!). So clearly, I'm onto something. Go there and browse through the selection if any of my shoe options don't work out.
If you are really on the cutting edge, you may be looking for pre-owned, unused, and collectible shoes. You can either attend a Sneaker Con show or you can browse from the comfort of your own bed and find them in GOAT (Greatest of All Time), a massive marketplace for Pre-Owned (or new) shoes. The Company has been so successful since its founding in 2015 that they have raised a boatload of cash and even purchased Flight Club, the first mover in this space. You can buy things offered straight away, follow release dates of popular shoe series, or track shoes that may be offered in the near future. You can filter the selection by make, model, or even color. I have my eyes on some Air Jordan 3 Retro Flyknit Black, but I'm waiting for the price to come down from a whopping $870!
As it's been said, good shoes take you to good places. So get out there, in your comfortable, fashion-forward kicks and leave the John Lobb's (or Cole Haan's) at home. Consider MI Stan Smith, Creative Reaction, Common Projects, Lanvin, Ssense and GOAT Found!