The world of children is a world of weird and dearly-held secret rules. It seems every child in grade school is teetering on the edge of having obsessive compulsive disorder: for what may seem like arbitrary reasons, kids pick and insist on their favorite drinking glass or their chosen paste pot. When pressed to explain why they like these particular items over others, it’s difficult for a young person to express. Unfettered, visceral feeling needs no elaboration. I like that drinking glass because my fingers like to touch it more than the others.
I’m not exactly sure when it was drilled into my head that Adidas is a Queens sneaker. It must have been around the time Run DMC dropped My Adidas, though that song may have been the expression of an already incontrovertible fact. People from the Bronx wear Puma, Brooklyn cats wear Bally and Fila. Nike is for dudes from Harlem and Adidas is Queens’ sneaker. In my mind, this is as true and verifiable as the sun’s rise in the morning and its setting in the evening. When I see people wearing sneakers “out of borough,” as it were, my immediate thought is: he must not know the deal. Which is ludicrous, considering the only time I was within a pussy hair of knowing “the deal” was twenty-plus years ago, and I’ve been totally out of the loop on anything trendy or fashionable every moment before or since.
But I have determined that people from Queens wear Adidas, and since I am from Queens, I have dutifully worn Adidas sneakers ever since I was in charge of purchasing my own footwear. It’s to the point that I don’t even think about how stupid it is: when I see a pair of sneakers from another brand that I like, I think it’s such a shame that I can’t get them. Overall, I like Adidas’ classic style. They pretty much invented the tennis trainer look which has been emulated by all other brands (which is not to imply that Adidas hasn’t co-opted the sneaker designs of other companies, because they certainly have). Adidas knows their legacy well and have kept many of their classic styles in production for almost forty years. In fact, they have a whole line of sneakers, Adidas Originals, where the emphasis is more on design and less on athletic performance. It caters to fat, bookish sneaker nerds like myself, except that the people who come up with some of these designs must be on the most potent drugs available because they’ve put out some of the most senselessly ugly sneakers of the last ten years.
I could go on at length detailing the biggest design blunders since the year 2000–and I may do so, at some point–but for now, it should suffice to heap scorn and ridicule on the sneaker featured between the paragraphs of this essay: the ZX Mocc sneaker designed by Kazuki Kuraishi. I would really like to know what the fuck is happening up there on Skull Mountain where the Adidas offices loom imposingly under a blackened, thunderous sky that perpetually crackles jagged lightning. It’s like they have been conditioned to accept the most outlandish designs, so when a Frankenstein’s monstrosity like this schizophrenic sneaker comes down the pike, they think they’ve seen genius. I can kind of understand where the designer was going with the woven suede in the toe box, a kind of Native American look that is probably comfy as hell. I wouldn’t wear it, but I can understand it. But then something went wrong with the cocaine supply while this sneaker was being designed, I guess, because at some point Kuraishi flipped out and decided he wanted the heel to look like a golf shoe. With a hunter’s plaid lining. Oh, and it should also be the same weight as a clunky, over sized boot.
I mean, I guess if I was a trendy Japanese dude with frosted anime hair and white-rimmed sunglasses, I might think these were cool. But then I would be used to looking like a complete douche bag, so obnoxious footwear would be part of my daily repertoire. What about the rest of us schlubs? Should we just grin and bear it while patchwork nonsense gets crammed down our throats, or should we insist that Adidas gets back to where they once belonged: the classic simplicity of low-profile sneakers that can be worn with blue jeans or tan Dockers. Is that too much to ask? Or am I the idiot for asking in the first place?