Saturday, November 17, 2018

A brief history of bejeweled shoes

Bejeweled shoes are not new but are certainly enjoying a renaissance in summer fashions. Sparkly buckles had their zenith in the thirties when glamour ruled between the austerity years of the Depression and the Second World War. No shoe style was beyond accessorizing then but today’s fashions prefer the thong and new kid on the block, the espadrille. Why? I hear you bay. Well apart from demonstrating affluence and highlighting the naked foot encased within, it is to show off your tanned legs. You no longer need to live in a sun kissed part of the Earth either, because of the popularity of tanning salons had the sallow can be glow.

Decorating shoes with semi precious metals can be dated to the gold and silver thongs of Ancient Egypt and Rome but the men started to wear buckled shoes from the 16th century.

Not just buckles but bows and roses were trendy for the man about town. Tom Jones, the Henry Fielding hero (not the Welsh singer) tripped around in tight fitting high heeled shoes which were kept on with shoe buckles. These were often made from semi precious metals and encrusted with gems. Prior to the introduction of the lacing Oxford, dandies minced to and fro in shoes which ladies today would have loved to wear. The more ostentatious the peacock style the more popular the footwear became. Street shoe robberies were common place and Dandies had often to tone down the shoe jewelry with costume jewelry to avoid being victims of street crime.

Surprisingly the “hoodies” of the time were more than likely to be “Hooray Henries” or Marconis i.e. dandy dressers that enjoyed happy slapping (18th century style). After the French Revolution, flashy footwear became a giveaway of the Aristocracy and so when the new proletariat government was seeking funds to keep afloat, the coffee set donated the buckles off their shoes. Footwear and clothing for men from that time onwards became conservative and the lacing Oxford replaced buckles and other accessories. Shoe buckles then, had distinctive workmanship and in the UK the centre for the industry was concentrated around Birmingham. When the shoe buckle fell from fashion it through thousands of English craftsmen in poverty.

Many of the buckles had been exported to the colonies and continued up until the War of Independence. Now days the shoe buckle is all that remains intact in archeological finds and they are so distinctive with their military designs, shoe buckle has helped historians immensely to date things like battlefields. The shoe buckle was the forerunner of the belt buckle which eventually found a prominent place in modern cowboy outfit. The larger than life style was popularised by the celluloid heroes of early Hollywood and manufacturers eagerly catered for the growing vogue by producing fancy sterling and gold buckles for both men and women. This brings us back to the thirties and the cross over into main stream female fashion.

Reviewed 17/11/2018

Bushwalking: Boots or trainers?

Australian bush walkers can be divided into two camps those who swear by solid boots and those who wear light-weight footwear such as joggers. (Dunlop KT-26s and the ultra-light Dunlop Volleys). A minority wear “sports sandals" and even fewer go in the raw, barefoot. The old chestnut, between military tradition and modern technology still divides devotees. Arguments for boots include durability, ankle support, crampons and tradition. Meantime the light-weight brigade champion economy, lightweight, comfort, minimal impact and environmentally friendliness. In the end the bushwalkers cardinal rule is summarized by “the 3C rule”, i.e. comfort, comfort and comfort. Bushwalking shops generally recommend lightweight footwear and sell boots. Boots are more robust but not always better, according to those who prefer to wear joggers. Boots are preferred in inclement weather but in less climatic extremes light weight trainers have their place. Waterproof boots have obvious advantage but can fill up with water too. Boots with no drainage leave the bush walker to stroll with two buckets of water on your feet. Prolonged exposure of the feet in cold water can have dire consequences. Not all boots are waterproof, but Gore-Tex linings keep the feet dry even when the boot is wet. Trainer advocates counter canvas topped shoes can be run dry if they get wet and give adequate protection for ford or river crossing. Boots provide ankle support, or so the retailers tell us. However it depends how high above the ankle they are worn.

High ankle boots can restrict ankle movement and can cause painful shin splints as the foot is forced to lever against a stiffened boot. Alternatively novice walkers can strengthen their ankle musculature prior to going walking and this prevents painful symptoms when wearing low cut footwear, thereby circumventing above ankle boots. Ankle vigor’s (elasticated bandages) will also help support weak ankles and can be worn with boots or trainers. Boots provide stiffer soles which help reduce the energy required to walk over rough terrain. Deep treads increase traction and give greater stability but can damage fragile terrain. Stiff boots are also clumsy and may cause sprained ankles. Lightweight footwear allows feet to adapt to the terrain, especially on loose scree. This is environmentally important if falls and damage to the pathways are to be avoided. It is important that good tread is captured on the trainer sole as worn treads will not grip the ground so firmly. Old favourite trainers need to be replaced fairly regularly which adds to the cost of footwear. Boots are less likely to wear as quickly. Experts believe the weight of the shoe is also important as research has shown carrying 1 kg on the feet is the equivalent of carrying a 7 kg backpack. Synthetic materials such as foams are less heavy than natural ones and offer more properties to the working foot. This again tends to prefer the trainers as footwear of choice. Boots and trainers are made differently which can influence choice. Both are made to lasts (models of the foot), a boot usually starts with a rigid flat sole, often of hard leather.

Most joggers start with an injection-molded cup-shaped sole, to which the upper is bonded. The sole may be natural or synthetic rubber. One complication with trainers is manufacturers change their popular fashion models pretty frequently. By the time you have found a style that suits it has gone off the market. To the uninitiated trainers come in a bewildering array of styles. Some designs are good, but be careful as some designs belong on the catwalk and have no shelf life on the bush track. Cross training joggers are a hybrid shoe meant for fashion-conscious teenagers playing street basketball, but are not ideal for bush walking. Walking style trainers are made to cope with asphalt and wear heavily on rough terrain. Running style trainers are not that much better. All Terrain joggers generally have good soles and are suited to bushwalking. These are usually a bit cheaper than the fashion versions.

(Video Courtesy: Backcountry Edge Topic by Youtube Channel)

(Video Courtesy: Hiking Lady Topic by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 17/11/2018

Friday, November 16, 2018

Platform shoes, pregnancy and drag queens

Platform shoes and pregnancy are ill-wedded companions. Back in the Middle Ages when the platform shoes were first worn by the feisty girl power of the time these were often 24 inches off the ground and ladies required to be escorted through the streets. The chopine was a forerunner to the platform shoe and was very popular with the fashion conscious ladies of Florence and Venice but was eventually banned because of the number of falls reported. Indeed so many pregnant women miscarried the shoe style was outlaw. The term miscarriage originally referred to the shoes and not to the gynecological complication.

Elevated shoes came from the Middle East, where platform type shoes were worn for hygienic reasons by women visiting the public baths. In busy Venice protection from muddy streets was important especially since the female shoe was made from delicate materials.

The patten shoe was an elevated wooden block fitted to the forefoot of the shoe and allowed the wearer to step through muddy places without damaging their shoes or getting the feet wet. Patten probably is from the French word patte meaning paw.

The chopines were more like stilts and because of their height caused changes in the way the lady walked. Walking canes became very fashionable and escorts would walk on their right hand side to protect the ladies from the passing carriages, leaving their right hand to draw a sword in the case of a mugging. Few portraits of ladies wearing chopines are available which has led fashion historians to conclude this was a short lived style. The style was talked about all over Europe and even Shakespeare includes a mention in Hamlet. The fashion however may only have only been worn by Venetian women. Towards the end of its popularity the chopine was associated with depraved and dissolute women. Venetian prostitutes for example used the height of their chopines to attract customers in the street. Of course all of this went on under long skirts and many unmarried men were unaware of these mysteries. Such a concern was it to those who discovered the women of their dreams were in actual fact smaller in stature then presented, fully clothed. Laws were passed which granted uncontested divorces to any man, so duped. Some historians believe the fashion for high heeled shoes came from a modification of the outlawed chopine.

Cobblers discovered by carving out the forefoot section leaving the heel elevated, the shoe became more stable and easier to walk with.

During the Hollywood years many actresses had few attributes other than their physical appearance and all made every effort to show it off to best vantage. Hence the platform made a brief reappearance during this time but they were to become in vogue during the late 1960's & 70's. The unisex style of the glam rockers pop stars such as Bowie, Bolan and Elton John made them a firm fixture with men and women. Probably most people will associate the platform with Swedish supergroup Abba but of course the style has become an evergreen principally through, drag sartoria. A firm favourite of female impersonators and cross dressers, the platform shoe is likely to be around in some form or other before it once again remerges in the fashion arena.

(Video Courtesy: 2Shaymcn Topic by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 16/11/2018

Shoe and sock dye and foot dermatitis

For many people the one and only problem they have with their feet is dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin which often presents as discoloured patches which itch. Little relief is found with astringents and antifungal treatments and hence the patient rocks up to their GP or podiatrist. There are several causes but by far the most common would be contact dermatitis. Did you know in the shoe there are over one hundred chemicals which are likely to cause irritation to some people’s skin? Socks are also a source of potential irritation because of industrial dyes that are used. Research findings from the Occupational Dermatology Research and Education Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia confirms this. They studied a population of sock wearers, noted those suffering from foot dermatitis and discovered a highly significant association between the presence of foot dermatitis and socks which contained basic red 46 , a colouring agent frequently added to dark-coloured acrylic and/or acrylic blend socks.

The Basic Red 46 patch test reaction was noted in 555 patients from a patch test clinic population. The prevalence of positive patch test reactions to Basic Red 46 was 1.2%. When the socks were withdrawn from those who tested positive the symptoms improved in 70% of the subjects. The authors suggested when patients present to their general practitioner with foot dermatitis the GP should routinely patch tested for textile dyes.

Opie J, Lee A, Frowen K, Fewings J, & Nixon R. 2003 Foot dermatitis caused by the textile dye Basic Red 46 in acrylic blend socks. Contact Dermatitis. Dec: 49(6):297-303.

Reviewed 16/11/2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A brief history of Congress Boots (Gaiters) and how they became an Australian icon.

The congress boot (or Congress Gaiter) was very popular in the 19th and early 20th century. These below ankle boots became available circa 1840, and were probably a version of the Balmoral boot, reputedly designed by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. Once the potential of elastic was realised new boot designs incorporated elastic gussets. The boot’s upper was made from soft kid leather and resembled modern wrestling boots. Some authorities reckoned them to be the most comfortable shoes ever designed. The elasticated sides provided both easy access and neat fit ably assisted by a cloth tab at the back of the heel of the boot. These were to prove so popular with politicians in the US, they were known as Congress boots or gaiters.

19th century sea captains bought them in bulk and kept them on board in the ship’s store. At that time many crew members were recruited or Shanghai’ed barefoot and were then sold a pair of sturdy boots once on deck with the cost deducted from their wages. By law once a sailor signed on board a vessel for a voyage, it was illegal for him to leave the ship before the voyage's end. The boots became coveted throughout the western world and were sometimes used as bribes to customs men by unscrupulous smugglers eager to have them turn a blind eye whilst illegal cargoes were being unloaded.

Something else about the elasticated boot was it was to become an Australian icon. RM Williams, was in his early teens when left home in South Australia to work as a lime burner in the Mallee scrub of north-western Victoria. So keen was his sense of adventure aged 16 he signed on as a camel boy to an expedition charged with the immense task of surveying a huge tract of arid land from the Western Australian border to the north-south railway at Oodnadatta in South Australia. Later he worked at a number of the huge pastoral stations of central Australia and the Northern Territory. During this time the young Williams learnt bush lore from the aborigines of the region.

He was also influenced by the many bushmen and stockman he met. One particular fellow who left an impression was Dollar Mick. He was a gifted saddler and passed on many of his craft skills to the young Reg Williams. Between them they were able to produce a wearable pair of riding boots for the price of a dollar. During the Great Depression, whilst working as a well sinker, Reg began to make and sell his boots by mail order. Handcrafted, comfortable and made to last a lifetime, they were ideal for the harsh conditions of the Australian outback. From these humble beginnings has grown the world-wide company we know today.

The secret of the boot was its simplicity, the upper and quarters of the riding boot were shaped from one piece of leather. This meant only one seam at the back, which improved the boots, waterproof properties. The footwear was further strengthened by the absence of side seems. With no protruding seems to catch in the stirrups the boot ideal for horsemen. At first heels were handmade. Today a pair of RM Williams boots is made by teams of skilled craftsmen who take over a week to make each pair of boots using sixty eight hand-held processes, before they are finished, inspected and ready to leave the factory floor. A quality product from Australia.

(Video Courtesy: Erin Jane by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 15/11/2016

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Great resource :of shoes and shoe makers . The Historialist features Italian footwear history with a closer look to Lombardy and the Parabiago-Milan area.

The Colour Purple: Privilege and Clergy

In the ancient world all dye stuffs were natural. Some were easily attainable whilst others were very rare or time consuming and difficult to produce. Dyestuffs were traded as commodities. The most difficult colour to achieve was purple (Tyrian Purple – Phoencians of Tyre) and was made from shellfish. In the ancient world the premium colours were purple, blue and bright shades of red. Wearing exotic and rare items became a proclamation of status and at times when greater wealth was abroad, sumptuary laws were passed to restrict colours to social rank.

Throughout modern history a growing middle class would flaunt these laws by slashing their outer clothing to reveal banned materials and colours as underclothing. Eventually the importance of colour lost its status sufficiently now we hardly give it thought.

Cardinals selecting the new pope behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel wore red leather shoes. No one appears to know the exact origins of red papal shoes but they became very popular in the 17th & 18th Century. The red shoes are thought to be based upon imperial red/purple shoes. Exclusive rights to wear imperial "purple" belonged to the emperors long before the origins of Christianity but as the Christian faith grew, emperors did bestow many privileges upon the Popes including the right to wear imperial insignia and colours about their dress. (Donation of Constantine 750-800). At first all popes wore black sandals then circa 1290, they took to wearing socks with their thongs. Some socks were violet (Hyacinth colour), the trendy liturgical colour of the time but as the years passed red socks became common. The red socks were not symbolic but instead a natural consequence of rich imported luxury of all kind. By the time of Nicolas V (15th century), shoes had replaced sandals and the only difference between the Pope and his bishops was the former had the right to have a cross on their shoes. This relates to kissing the Pope’s feet as a mark of respect and refers to foot washing. According to early renaissance paintings the elite feet of the Vatican were encased in beautiful red shoes. High ecclesiastics distanced themselves from the common masses by conspicuous refinement and extravagant ornamentation. Although priests occupied an important position in ancient societies, they almost invariably performed their offices, barefoot. This was thought to have been an outward and visible sign of their inward, humility and purity.

Clerical sandals were simple and devoid of any fashion and symbolised the cleric's separation from worldly vanities. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the barbarian invasions, craftsmanship declined in Europe. Common people went barefoot or wore rough clogs. During the Dark Ages shoes were crude protection with little emphasis given to fashion. "Sovereign's law" promulgated by Charlemagne (742-814 AD) required clerics to wear sandals when celebrating mass. Many medieval priests and Franciscan monks wore wooden sandals as a sign of disregard for material luxury. On pilgrimages many went barefoot out of choice to do penance for their sins, whilst others wore sandals as a token gesture.

The origins of sexy red shoes probably mirror the ecclesiastical rise and would be cheekily worn by the ladies of the day. This had as much to do with emerging fashion and availability of sumptuous clothing as it did with irreverence. However as condemnation of women and marginalisation of courtesans progressed, Jezebel shoes would become stereotypical and eventually glorified in 20th century Hollywood.

When Popes die, the Pontiff’s body lies in state dressed in his funeral garments, which consist of a white cassock, scarlet chasuble (long sleeveless liturgical vestment) and red silk shoes. Seems to be some confusion however as to whether Pope John Paul II wore red shoes or brown shoes. Many believe he broke with the tradition and wore brown shoes given to him by a friend as a Christmas present. By this action it is thought he was expressing his identity with common people, so typical of the man.

Reviewed 14/11/2018

Best Foot Forward: Jack in the box

In Greek times men involved in a hazardous enterprise often went with their right foot in a shoe and the left bare. An oracle warned King Pelias to beware of the man with one sandal, and when Jason arrived in this predicament, the King recognised his doom. Perseus wore only one shoe when he went to cut off the head of the Gorgon. Symbolically today one shoe off and one shoe on means death or glory.

In Celtic folklore Irish leprechauns made shoes by glow-worm light. The Elves of Islay in Scotland are said to sing marvelous songs with magical melodies when making their shoes but the imps will entice pretty girls away and carry them to caves beneath the sea if they are not careful. In those sun-less caverns lives mer-men and snorting sea cows.

In the fourteenth century one of the most popular clergy in England was a fellow by the name of Sir John Shorne. He was the rector of North Marston between 1290 to 1314 and his claim to fame was he trapped the devil in one of his boots. There are many contemporary woodcuts (prints) in books which show him holding the trapped demon. Unfortunately for us all, when Sir John died, he lost grip of the boot and allowed the devil to escape. At the time it was considered an act of piety to burn a candle at his shrine. Those who burnt two candles however were thought to do to honour the devil. Sir John Shorne is better known to us today as, "Jack in the box"

Reviewed 14/11/2018

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The shoe-fitting fluoroscope (pedoscope)

Now you may like me remember as children going to your friendly shoe shop and being measured by the shop assistant using a fantoosh x-ray machine. A fluorescent image of the feet was reflected to three viewing ports at the top of the x ray cabinet, where the customer, the salesperson, and a third person usually accompanying adult could gaze with wonderment at the foot sitting in the new shoe. Tres space age. The Pedoscope remained in vogue for well over 40 years, but are nowhere to be seen now. Where did they come from, and perhaps more importantly where are they now?
By the end of the nineteenth century medicos in the military were befuddled by a new disease, which affected servicemen leaving them crippled and unable to march. The condition was called Pied Force. Doctors were taken with a new technology involving X-rays and set to investigate the mysterious foot injury that had been endemic in all infantries. They soon discovered it was a subtle fracture of the second metatarsal bone caused by prolonged marching (March fracture).

Once they understood the cause they could treat soldiers already injured as well as prevent new cases. By the end of the Great War however there was a large surplus of Army portable X-ray units. Keen to sell these off, the surplus industry found the ready to wear shoe sector, eager customers. The shoe-fitting fluoroscope (or Pedoscope) was thought to be developed around 1924 by Clarence Karrer while he worked with his father, selling surgical supplies and x-ray equipment. After building and selling several to shoe manufacturers and retailers, he was asked by the Radiological Society of North America and some radiologists to stop because it "lowered the dignity of the profession of radiology." Karrer complied, but another of his father's employees quit the company and patented the device.

The primary component of a shoe-fitting x-ray unit was the fluoroscope which consisted essentially of an x-ray tube mounted near the floor and wholly or partially enclosed in a shielded box. When feet were stuck in they struck the fluorescent light and an image of the feet inside the shoes was seen through the view boxes. Curiously they had buttons marked "Man", "Woman" and "Child" but the radiation dosages were all equal. The machines were often out of adjustment and were constructed so radiation leaked into the surrounding area. By the 50s radiation hazards associated with shoe fitting x-ray units were recognized and concerns for safety from exposure to radiation grew until by the sixties these were banned in many places and regulated in others. The kV would have been on the lower end and emitted radiation only occurring when the electric current was applied. This would not be acceptable by today's standards; many experts believe there was no actual radiation risk. Studies suggest cases of radiation-induced leukemia tend to peak 7-15 years after exposure. So it is unlikely if you are listening to this and were exposed to radiation via the foot0scope as a child then you are passed the critical stage. Those most at risk were the salespeople, who were exposed to radiation on a daily basis but there is no evidence to support associated death and disease. Shoe store fluoroscopes were typical of the careless and in some cases frivolous attitude toward X rays that prevailed for decades.

(Video Courtesy: markdcatlin by Youtube Channel)

(Video Courtesy: Eugene Fournier by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 13/11/2018

Feet and herbalism and holistic medicine

Holistic medicine seeks to remedy the cause of the illness and not just relieve the symptoms. This means the medical herbalist will consider disease not just in the sense of the restricted medical model but also other factors which may contribute to the obvious symptoms. Hence the term holistic care. Herbal remedies have a long tradition in treating ailments of the foot. Even in orthodox podiatry many of the traditional preparations are herbal or homeopathic. Herbal infusions can be used to bathe the feet. This application is very useful for skin conditions such as fungal infections, dermatitis and psoriasis.

Tinctures describe concentrated extracts of herbs. Their action is much stronger than an infusion and they are generally not applied directly to open skin lesions nor known sensitive skins. Water solutions of Friar’s Balsam are used as an antiseptic paint on unbroken skin. Vegetables oils are used to make creams and ointments and all are emollient carriers with their own healing properties. When tinctures and other herbal extracts are added to these they make an effective healing agent.

Essential oils like Tea Tree are the most concentrated form of herbal medicine, and never as a rule applied directly to the skin but form part of other mixes. A common ailment to beset the foot is caused by fungal infection or Athlete's Foot. Skin's flora lives in a balanced state and although the skin surface will harbour disease causing micro-organisms most are inactivated because of this natural balance. To favour one species over another causes an imbalance which may result in an infection. For example, clean all the bacteria off the skin with antiseptics and the fungi may mass produce; or vice versa. In orthodox medicine this presents major challenges and subsequently drugs with larger ranges of antimicrobial activity have been traditionally used. These situations have recently been compounded since all micro-organisms fight back and have, in some cases, developed resistant strains which are not destroyed by the drugs such as antibiotics. The medical herbalists will routinely assess the strength of the patients' immune system, nutritional status and physical and emotional stressors. All these factors can influence the prescription for herbs to be taken internally.

At the site of the infection a local application such as Golden Seal (Hydrastis canadensis), Marigold (Calendula off) and Myrrh (Commiphora mol) may be prescribed. These are made up with other essential oils and in a base, such as infusions, tinctures or powders. Saline soaks or walks in the sea may also form part of the treatment. Seaweed contains iodine which is one of the best-known antiseptics known for unbroken skins. The medical herbalist will be very specific in their prescriptions.

Verrucae or plantar warts are caused by a virus. These can be painful and unsightly and many people want to have these physically removed. An old reliable treatment involves painting the verruca with a tincture Thuja (Thuja occedentalis) combined with Greater Celendine (Chelidonium majus). A clove of garlic finely sliced and secured directly to the verruca is considered a successful remedy if not somewhat pungent.

Tempting as it may be to self-treat, a little knowledge is potentially dangerous. Readers interested in herbalism and holistic medicine are recommended to consult a registered practitioner.

Reviewed 13/11/2018

Monday, November 12, 2018

Bad Boy Trainers

The most popular shoe style on earth is the trainer and it has no equal. Developed in the late nineteenth century, two mayor world wars and the space age have ensured the trainer endures. Truly space age shoes, the ath shoe is definitely the new age shoe and incorporate many manmade polymers which are not of the natural world. A distinct commodity shoe sales are measured in the billions with a healthy and highly competitive industry there to support their being. There is however a darker side to the humble sports shoe which seldom if ever is spoken off in public. Well not until now that is. In some US cities the appearance of a pair of black 'Chucks' suspended over power lines indicates the presence of drug dealers in the area.

Some marketing promotions have been rather questionable. Adidas for example were accused of capitalising on the drug culture when they marketed the 'Hemp " range of shoes. Trainers are often referred to as 'drug shoes and reportedly the Adidas 'hemps' were called nicknamed 'Chronic" (after slang for a drug user). Because of the controversy the company renamed their product as the 'Gazelle natural". This is not the first time the company has skirted with controversy over a name. They brought out a range of leather shoes called "tobacco" which refereed to its colour and nothing to do with burnable burley.

Another bright idea which went wrong involved Reebok. Marketing had a great idea or so they thought when they named a new range of women's running shoes after a mythical demon Incubus. Incubus however was an impish cad who had sex with women when they were sleeping. The literal meaning of incubus is to be oppressively burdenful, not quite the image Reebok had. The company had spent too much money to withdraw the product and reissue under a new name. Subsequently they kept the name but downscaled the original advertising campaign. Another sneaker which did not quite live up to the advertising blurb was the high profile Reebok " Pumps". The pumping mechanism had only limited adjustment range. The shoe was heavy and the pressure chamber no more comfortable that other similar shoes. The shoe was uncomfortably stiff and subsequently withdrawn.

Shoemakers Clarks (UK) managed to put their foot in it when they named a new range, Vishnu sandals and Krishna boots, taken from the Hindu Gods. Due offence was taken from the Hindu community and after a humble apology, a quick name change and withdrawal of catalogue was made. In the Hindu culture, feet are considered unclean and the cow sacred.

Nike was the Greek Goddess of Victory and the company named after her developed and patented a channel of pressurised gas encapsulated in polyurethane. The "Air" is incorporated into the shoes sole and gave unequivocal comfort and cushioning. The idea of gas trapped within the sole of the shoe is not new and the secret of Dr Marten's Airware shoes and boots. The Gas trapped within Nike shoes is dense and not likely to escape into the atmosphere which is perhaps just as well, because sulphur hexafluoride is thought to have damaging effects on the ozone.

Jailbirds in NY city centres of correction are perhaps less environmentally conscious than other citizens especially when they hollow out their Nike Air for the purpose of storing contraband such as razor blades and drugs. The department of correction banned prisoners from wearing Nike Air or similar sneakers during incarceration. Instead prisoners required to wear simple sneakers or sandshoes.

Gang sneakers refer to street gangs in the US and members wear certain styles which then become their trademark . In Chicago for example, 'Chucks' with the blue star, Los Angeles gangs -refer Nike Cortex, whereas gangs in Wisconsin wear either red or black laces in their black sneakers.

Audits of factories in South East Asia where many trainers are made, have revealed unsafe work practices. Many companies are working to improve their record but the highly profitable industry has the attention of human rights groups who continue to campaign against poor working conditions.

Independent scientific research demonstrates the lack of data to support the notion that sports shoes are capable of protecting against injury. This is despite deceptive advertising which often infers the opposite. Another downside is some research has called into question the efficacy of wearing sports shoes over prolonged periods of time.

Not to end on entirely on a sour note, contrary to popular belief Adidas is not an acronym for All day long I dream about sex, but was taken from the founder of the company Adolf "Adi" Dassler. The famous three stripe logo has little to do with shoe design but instead represents Adi's three sons. So popular are adidas with the young Run DMC had a hit in 1987 with a song called My Adidas.

(Video Courtesy: IHS7 by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 12/11/2018