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Friday, July 11, 2008

Get Your Sneak On

Sneakers are common yet complex inhabitants of our closets. While they may never become as indispensable as universally flattering denim, or displace formal eveningwear for anyone except Lily Allen, sneakers still retain their foothold as a highly functional, coveted cross-cultural shoe. And it can be a canvas for technological and artistic creativity. "It's often the search for better athletic performance that defines the way a sneaker looks," explains Nathan Gale, the head of London's Intercity design firm and author of Art & Sole (Laurence King Publishing), showcasing more than five hundred collaborations between graffiti artists, painters, graphic designers and sneaker innovators. The book was produced as an archive of rare running shoes whose ancestry might be the everyday athletic shoe, but whose cross-breeding endows them with a precious, privileged cult standing among sneaker junkies. "These are not always shoes you can find in your local sneaker store," he tells us. "To find them, you have to be knowledgeable, dedicated (i.e. camping out in line) and usually well-connected."

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