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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Blackspot Sneakers

From the mid-1980s grunge fashion preferred low-tech canvas and rubber over high performance and Converse , the world's oldest sports shoe brand, became a symbol of counter-culture. When Nike bought Converse in 2003 many loyal Converse consumers became concerned because of Nike’s dubious labour practices. They no longer wanted to buy Converse and resigned to wear there favourite shoes out. Canadian anti-globalisation media organisation, Adbusters , saw a window of opportunity and developed a union-made sneaker. The Adbuster is the first "anti-brand" sneakers. It is similar in design to the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star model but is made from environmentally friendly materials e.g. organic hemp and biodegradable rubber, all of which was put together with ethical labour. The designer was John Fluevog and he encouraged consumers the rethink the "Cool" with his "unswoosher" show. Adbusters have white hand painted circles, resembling a smudged-out swoosh on the side, a black spot stamped on the sole and a small red dot on each toe. This symbolises kicking Nike where it hurts most in the till. The sneaker was launched in the US with a $US250,000 marketing campaign that included advertising in The New York Times, The Economist, The New Yorker and on a billboard near Nike headquarters in Oregon. As a marketing ploy with each pair of Blackspot sneakers you buy, you get a share in the anti-corporation, which allows you to vote on how it develops, what sorts of shoes will be made, in which factories they should be made and how profits are spent. Blackspot is attracting genuine interest from ethical retailers and plans are afoot to introduce an industrial-style boot called V2. Oxfam Community Aid Abroad , which stocks the No Sweat sneaker , also a Chuck Taylor clone, may sell the Blackspot sneaker once Adbusters sets up an independent labour monitoring system.

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