Retroactivity

October 9, 2012

Preserving memories through sneakers

When I was in Paris last week, I walked into a small sneaker shop in Le Marais. About a year earlier I’d recognized the photographed Nike Blazers on a French girl in New York City, she looked cool ass and I wanted in.

Apparently not hard enough though–I didn’t research the shoes birth place or current locations of residence until about two months ago, after having arrived at the realization (with the help of a certain Charlotte,) that wedge sneakers are this decade’s Sketchers equivalent. At last, the search for those familiar Nike Classics began. I have learned that taking a trend to its source feels far more satisfying than settling for the more updated, overpriced version of it.

Asos had at one time stocked them (and I do believe they’re back,) Nike Town did not and for the most part, it was a slew of British e-tailers that offered them with a hefty price tag. At a whopping 110 GBP, I reckoned paying my rent in what was likely the US dollar equivalent seemed far more lucrative.

Back at the shop in Le Marais now, looking down at my right foot–I was trying on a black and white pair and a green and black pair–I saw them staring up at me.

“Look away!” I said.

Just kidding.

I contemplated how stupid it felt to purchase American shoes on European soil but reasoned their British Pound price (here, they were 80 euro,) and off I went with the black pair. I was glad I had settled on them: the gold tassel loafers I’d previously been wearing were starting to cut the fuck out of my feet.

I changed into my new kicks.

What I noticed: they looked a bit like Air Walks. Immediately, I loved them more. In our heyday (the early 90s,) my older brother had loved Air Walks and thus I too, had loved Air Walks.

Just like that, the shoes procured a tender sense of nostalgia.

I couldn’t help but wonder, is that what all the recent retroactivity is about? Are we trying to procure nostalgia and using whatever scraps we can find from the short pasts behind us to bring it forward? Charlotte made a brilliant point about the rapid pace at which our generation’s (the millennials) childhood has come and gone. Twenty years ago, cell phones barely existed and the internet was used for governmental purposes fairly exclusively. Today–who are we without the two?

Handicapped, we’re handicapped.

Yesterday, I looked back at the some of the essays I’ve already penned for Man Repeller–it seems the common denominator of most are backlashes, preservation, my inherent obsession with the internet. To add just one more layer to the unfolding onion, I’ll say that I do believe we’re using fashion (retro sneakers, graphic t-shirts, I might argue even the resurgence of, gasp, birkenstocks) as a vehicle to help sustain memories that aren’t so distant and yet seem like light years ago.

Back in New York, shoe on foot, they started to look like the pair of Adidas sneakers my mother had been wearing while she birthed me with her own two hands.

That’s actually not true at all, but makes for a dramatic kicker. At last, a new layer begins to unfold.

What do you think?

Also, don’t forget to give me your e-mail (see: top left corner.) The first MR Newsletter goes out tomorrow.

  • Maike

    had a pair in my school time… :-)
    http://congratsyouareingoodcompany.blogspot.ch/

  • Gabriella

    110 GBP is only like 130 Euro…. Which is the average price of a sneaker, no?…I don’t understand your angle here.

  • Gnou

    Classics? They’re Blazers. A classic colorway of Blazers, sure, but still.

    I think there’s also a lot of our generation being able to buy now what we couldn’t then on our allowance – or what our parents couldn’t buy. Or shoes that we loved and beat to death because that was our only pair.

    • Leandra Medine

      joke about how weak the us dollar is…poor execution i guess

  • lavieenliz

    It’s crazy what I will do for a good pair of shoes. I have such Carrie Bradshaw syndrome!

    http://lavieenliz.com

  • CaffineCrazed

    We all carry something from our past forward, like an old purse, a trinket, its just that somethings turn into a trend again, or is brought back by a brand in a big way. I was thrilled to see a girl wear denim overalls to brunch in the Upper East Side (Thank you Stella Mccartney)(when I wore them the boyfriend said, so what are you a farmhand now :P. sorry digressing) So I say nostalgia or not, any reason to wear neon, tutus and overalls in public again ,when its not Halloween is GREAT ! Its like using your Grandma’s Chanel bag to carry the new iPad :).

  • Victoria Uren

    I love when articles of clothing or accessories can evoke a kind of time or place for me. That’s really special, and so if this is why people are buying these shoes, then I totally understand.

    http://buffycult.blogspot.hk/

  • http://twitter.com/chelsiemoss Chelsie Moss

    the 80’s are back, baby.

    mossypants.com

  • http://www.hauteinhabit.com/ Haute Inhabit

    Getting these. I’m in love with them.

  • Law Moda

    life was so much simpler in the 90s. is there a way back??

    lawmoda.blogspot.com

    • Leandra Medine

      graphic tees, converse, nike, addidas originals, pogs, etc.

  • Reptilia

    i LOVE them and i want the blue ones!!

    http://www.justreptilia.com

    xx

  • http://inattendu.tumblr.com/ Tine/Inattendu

    I’ve got them in burgundy and I wear them all the time.

  • mist

    do you happen to know the name of the shop??

  • LL

    you’re treading into critical fashion theory these days… and I like it!

  • AlexsFashion

    I loooove those shoes! I just got a pair of wedged sneakers but I mean-you can never have to many! :D

  • XeanaFashion

    Stunning sneakers!

    From http://www.xeanafashion.com

  • Alexandra

    This theory makes some sense to me. Life is moving so fast these days. There has always been nostalgia, of course. Fashion’s always referencing the past. There’s also always the debate about form versus function, and sneakers fall hard into the function category. As soon as they become too “in,” they will, almost certainly become “out” again. But fashion’s changes, fluctuations, future-looking, then past-looking is part of what makes it so much fun. And sneakers, right now, are super-fun. In fact, you’re the one that started to convince me that wedge sneakers were “it,” so it’s funny (but not surprising, thanks to the aforementioned tendencies) that you’re over them now. Regardless, rock on, MR!! You’re a trailblazer.
    xo,
    Ali

  • Eva
  • seaandswank

    I really like this notion, and I think it must be true to some degree. The things we love that remind us of time and place always seem to come back in some form or another – makes perfect sense.

    Sea and Swank

  • Marie Louise

    Where the F**K do find the sign up for newsletter? Can’t fint it at all, gooone… And I would looove to get the newsletter. Maybe someone can help me?

  • Bonnie Clyde
  • http://www.facebook.com/exn02 Christine Eun Nam

    Sneakers have been on my feet since kindergarten and almost 18 years later, they still are. I own a red suede and white leather pair of these, in remembrance of the exact same one that I had when I was in 2nd grade. Then, It had been on sale with red being the only color for my size. I had been forced to wear it. Well, look at me now. All I can say is “thank you mom for having such good taste in shoes.”

  • Ali

    Where online would you recommend buying them other than ASOS? Thx!

  • anne

    ok, i am dense–where is the email collection area for your newsletter

  • http://twitter.com/EileenieWang Eileen Wang

    uh I was wondering where to get those sneakers. Thanks for the ASOS link! Can’t wait til the first newsletter comes out.

  • modelovers
  • lori

    Dear coquette said it best:
    Q:Why is everyone so obsessed with the ’90s?
    A: It’s something that happens with every decade. Sentimental twits reach their early twenties, and when they suddenly realize they’re adults, they start getting nostalgic about their childhood to the point that it influences pop culture.

    • sonya

      so true

    • ImportKT

      Actually those of us who grew up in the 90’s are approaching 30. And we just put up with a decades worth of 80’s redux, so we’re feeling entitled. and very very angsty.

  • betty

    so freaking love this …. hard to decide which color to get

    http://betty-freestylescraps.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Clémence

    Love them! I agree with you on that subject! I am so bored now without my iphone, iPad, iXXX… Whan I was young I just hanged out with my girlfriends and it was enough!!! Poor me!

  • mappster

    Sketchers? Oh man. I just bought a pair of wedge sneakers today. But I live in DC so they are still cool.

    • Victoria Uren

      HAHAHAHAAHAHA

  • Alisha

    Where can I sign up for the newsletter?

    • Claire

      go back to the homepage, scroll ALL the way down to the bottom, and then the email address portion pops up on the top.

      weird way to subscribe, but that’s how i did it. Leandra! Is there a way to fix it so it’s not so confusing to sign up for your newsletter?

      • Leandra Medinw

        Oh wow, thank you for this! Will work on fixing it stat.

  • M.s.c.D

    LOVE THEM!

    xxx
    Marie

    http://chic-marie.blogspot.de/

  • http://www.suspironews.blogspot.com/ Betsy

    I agree, we are in a nostalgic phase in fashion.

    http://www.suspironews.blogspot.com

  • sonya

    nostalgia in fashion is a constant. you’re just seeing it as nostalgia now because you’ve got to an age where you can remember trends from your childhood.

  • Natasha Lawrence

    I’m really into these shoes. There are so many ways to wear them!
    http://grey-buzz.blogspot.com
    @ohhmytash

  • Seymour

    As someone who personifies the term fashion victim I find your judgement of what you deem to be fashionable, or not, laughable. You put your opinions out there for the virtual world to see and many of your “followers” pay completely heedless attention to your words. This is borne out below by someone questioning your decision that wedge sneakers are now the domain of the feckless Skechers shopper…..she does however deem it ok due to leaving in Nowhere, USA rather than in your uber cool cosmopolitan world….

    I used to find your blog interesting but quite frankly you come across as arrogant and overly self-opinionated of late

    • http://malcriada.net/ Jennifer Cooke

      Mmm, incisive. Except I think the actual definition of a fashion blogger is ‘someone who personifies the term fashion victim putting their judgements of what they deem to be fashionable out there for the virtual world to see, often with followers who agree, and often subject to someone of vastly superior intellect *pointing this out*, as if it were news, and as if previously the blog was something completely different and far more worthwhile, perhaps dedicated to curing cancer.’ You caught us! You so smart! Although ‘completely heedless attention’ is a head-scratcher, cheers for that. :)

    • S.M

      To be honest i see what you mean, but i just look at the blog for all the pretty pictures when i have a moment at work or in the morning whilst getting ready, this is the first time i have read the comments and I’m kinda embarrassed. I get the jokey nature of the blogger, but its the readers comments that are so juvenile and ass licking, for instance “why do i want these so badly? their so not me but i need them. leandra u rock” & “also. you have the most impeccable sartorial timing, always. i think you are maybe psychic”
      Hopefully these are not comments by grown women because they are just unintelligent fashionista comments by numbers.

      • Victoria Uren

        shut up

  • fashionisserious

    Love them! Do you remember the Stan Smith? Iconic too!

  • Leslie

    i’ve been getting major points for my velvet nike blazers lately. #ebay

    • Leslie

      also. you have the most impeccable sartorial timing, always. i think you are maybe psychic

  • zoe

    why do i want these so badly? their so not me but i need them. leandra u rock.

  • Jeff

    £110! Really!? Where was you looking? It must’ve been the high end stores because they are about £80 max and all the kids have been weaering them for the past two years (much to the annoyance of me as it looks like i’m trying to be young) Anyway, about two months ago to be different i purchased the Nike x Liberty versions in Olive green (Military green if you’re a fashionista) and they still didn’t cost £110.

  • Ellie Ellie LTD

    They’re amazing! We love a bit of nostalgia over at Ellie Ellie HQ! Lovefromellieellie.blogspot.co.uk

  • fashionablecollections

    Love the shoes.

    Collections

  • http://twitter.com/far_and_wild Far and Wild Jewelry

    such a great looking shoe. in a sick twist of fate i sold my pin striped blazers a few years back to beacon’s closet to put towards rent money. what i wouldn’t give to undo the cruel hand of fate!

    abigail
    http://www.farandwildjewelry.blogspot.com

  • ImportKT

    Your airwalk reference = my new reason to live.
    That’s not a 90’s reference for the faint of heart. You had to be there for those.

    http://www.ImportEyedea.blogspot.com

  • Mary-Alice Bowman

    We skipped over the Air Walk love. I have no regrets. There are certain things I think we loved just because we felt like we should. But I’m all for the past revisited. Modern takes on past styles are often classic.

    Also, I think the thing to remember here is that, yes, we are in an era where it is ‘Oh my gosh! I left my cell phone at home‘ drama, but that isn’t bad. It’s only bad when we let it control our lives, instead of using them to enhance it.

    Overall, I welcome the nostalgic moments revisited in our clothing today!

    FarytaleBlog

  • Karen Yuan

    I cant find the place to leave my email. why lie to me? the manrepeller giveth and she taketh away….

    x karen
    http://www.thechicndamned.blogspot.com

  • The Decorum

    We’re embracing the 90s today also!
    http://thedecorum.co/spaghetti-straps-1

  • http://www.facebook.com/pop.neo.9 Pop Neo

    Really impressed! Everything is very, very clear, open is a description of the problem. It contains the information.
    http://www.bupop.com

  • Manon
  • fed

    “that wedge sneakers are this decade’s Sketchers equivalent”

    SERIOUSLY? Got myself a pair of Marant lookalike -the colorful ones, not the boring beige that came after- back in June (in the sales! in Italy!) and keep getting asked about them?! I’m actually wishing I got 2 pairs!?

    • Leandra Medine

      Sketchers rocked in 93!

  • Shasta McNasty

    I love it. I want to bring Cross Colours back. And Gitano and Travel Fox

  • Perry

    The top left corner is harassing me about giving my e-mail.

  • http://twitter.com/MintShopSK MintShop

    These are just amazing! It seems that retro will be “in” longer than I thought. What do you gyus think about our shoes? http://www.mintshop.sk/

  • G.Winehouse

    The reason they are stocked widely in England is due to the reality star Joey Essex from The Only Way Is Essex… Now in England, every teen and young people wear them as day wear. They have become unacceptable to wear due to the Essex connotation.

    http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Joey+Essex/David+Gandy+Out+in+London/25hUuSU95Ox

  • Sketch42

    We ARE steeped in nostalgia and retro-longing. That is what fashion has been about lately. I have a photo of my little sister wearing acid washed denim, a destroyed top and a black leather backpack, with doc marten type boots. I have a whole idea for this photo to blog post: asking – does she even know this happened once before? As trends resurface, for some its about nostalgia and longing, but for some, its cool -in earnest. Like the first time things happen, they are new and fresh and people are sincere about wearing them. When they are retro-cool, its a wink, a joke, a laugh and cute nostalgic fashion moment. But that can change: Think Wayfarers. They had a falling out period of about 10-15 years. Then they were retro-cool. Now they are completely normal, and sincerely trendy again. So its a cycle. I think. New-Cool, Too-cool, Un-Cool *TIME* Retro-Cool, Cool, Uncool. Same for skinny jeans, platform etc…

    And I told you from day 1 those wedged sneakers were awful. These I can get behind.

  • Silvia Cristescu

    I’m started to get more and more into this sporty mixed with elegant trend. Maybe it’s time to buy a pair of sneakers again. Haven’t done that since high school!

    http://www.thestunninglook.com/

  • Cynthia

    I agree that sometimes going with the original is more satisfying and dare i say COOLER! love the blazers on you :)

  • An

    I check 3 things every morning, reuters,justjared and my personal favorite MANREPELLER.

  • Catherine and Greer

    did sport just get fun? or am i in a dream! – hold up better than a dream im on manreppeler! http://girl-hunting.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/ring-city-bitch-ring-ring-city-bitch.html

  • Samantha

    Love, love, love the concept of tracing a trend back to its source rather than buying the overpriced, of-the-moment version. You end up so much better off that way, style-wise and wallet-wise. And I’m glad to know that I’m not alone in my distaste for sneaker wedges. “This decade’s Sketchers equivalent”…hahaha.

  • Anina

    I love how sneakers are in fashion. The more that flats are accepted as an equally stylish alternative to heels, the more ridiculous wearing stiletto heels in daylight seems. Well normal people usually wear flats on a regular basis anyway, and it nice that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to match fashion week/magazines/fashion bloggers/whatever. Even at parties it’s completely accepted to wear flats.

  • Diana Machado

    Hey! i bought the same Nike in black yesterday and now i see them on your blog. I was cool before i knew it! does this make me officially a man repeller?

  • the elle tee

    Sneakers are amazing sometimes. It’s just a way to throw on an edgy feel to any outfit. Love the whole idea of pairing the usual graphic tee with a pair of retro sneakers… it’s time to get a little casual in this fashion world.

  • vittoria gallacci

    Love that sneakers: I’m gonna buy a pair of those one day.

    http://vittoriafiveinthemorning.blogspot.it/

  • http://www.facebook.com/yachtyboy Justin Miranda

    Love Love, well said dear <3

  • Camille Marie

    i just got the sickest suede nike id blazers,.. need to break them in. those shoes are NOT comfortable.

    thenycdiet.blogspot.com

  • MsK_NY

    Love these sneakers, too. I used to own similar once way back and just purchased similar looking wedge sneakers yesterday.
    http://www.africanprintinfashion.com/

  • LabellaLuxe Boutique

    Always loving Nike!

  • debbywarner
  • susan chuang

    Love all these wedge sneakers, you can get some similar pair at http://www.upere.com/upere-wedge-sneakers-c-1.html.

  • http://twitter.com/ErinGlabby Erin Michelle

    Stumbled on this post again, and I absolutely love the sentiments. Especially this: I have learned that taking a trend to its source feels far more satisfying than settling for the more updated, overpriced version of it.

    Thanks for the reality check.

  • confused old sneaker

    i use my old nike-boots sneakers but everyone seems to enjoy clean sneakers now. Don`t know where i fit.

  • wuamrif

    Learn how to earn 50 dollars per day from home!! Just simply visit surveymoneymaker dot net

  • soledude345