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 The shoe was uncomfortably stiff and subsequently withdrawn.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

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