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Guys have been trying to break out of the norm more when it comes to fashion. Unfortunately, creative limitations on basic items such as pants and shirts get in the way all too often. So guys tend to resort to "statement" accessory pieces—unique shoes, a fringed scarf, a fedora.
Shoes, though, are the first things guys fall back on. While it has always mattered what kind of shoes you wear—pumps make you jump higher, P.F. Flyers make you run faster, Docs show you don't give a fuck, etc.—flashy footwear has made a triumphant comeback in the past six or seven years.
The sneakerhead phenom testifies to that: guys who hoard the latest limited-edition footwear from Ice Cream, BAPE, Nike and whoever else the latest designer from Tokyo is. They take photos to show off their acquisitions to fellow sneakerheads. And they don't even wear the shoes.
It's not rare to see dudes with flamboyant, multihued sneakers that match every color on their screen-printed tee. But after all these years and all these designers, the classic white shoe still looks best when it comes to casual footwear.
Plenty of competitors have come along, popping up in pricey boutique stores such as Barney's, Fred Segal, and American Rag in LA and Newport Beach. John Varvatos for Converse will run you $110 for a pair of Jack Purcells ("vintage," of course). Spring Court, "the original white shoe since 1936," can go up to $100 per pair, despite the fact that they're just canvas on rubber. Paul Smith offers a similar pair for $160.
There's nothing wrong with these shoes. They all look good. It's just the price tag I can't justify for such a simple, archetypal design, no matter how fantastically flimsy they appear to be.
All these guys are offering their own versions of the timeless canvas shoe, but the people who have been doing it all along still do it best: Keds.
Keds were introduced in 1916 by U.S. Rubber. The shoes were the first to be mass-marketed as "sneakers" the following year. So why "sneakers"? Because they allowed wearers to sneak around silently. Adorable!
Keds peaked in popularity with female youths in the '80s and early '90s, when Kelly Kapowski and Stephanie Tanner paired them with pushed-down slouch socks and scrunchies. After that, they kinda disappeared—from the public, at least. Sensing the slumping sales, Keds kicked it up with contemporary ballet-slipper styles and recruited Mischa Barton, rehab attendee and former O.C. star, as their spokesperson in the early 2000s. It worked.
The "Champion" ($56) is the original design Keds is known for, and they're reappearing on the feet of hipsters who like to wear them with rolled-up skinny jeans during the summer. Their "Court Ace" ($64) is an inexpensive take on retro tennis footwear. All these designs are available on Zappos.com (free shipping!) in a variety of styles, colors and patterns.
Remember: Classics are good. Modern-day price tags for simple classics, however, are not.