No matter the aesthetics, shoes somehow always manage to end up on the right side of history. A decade old Manolo Blahnik is always referred too as vintage whilst a well kept pair of Jordans would never in this day and age be labelled as anything irrelevant or out of date-instead both would now be easily seen as opulent finds probably worth more than its original price tag.
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Most shoes with a couple years under their heels can suddenly evolve into becoming a classic. Collectors from all around the world are still searching for specialty sneakers that superstitiously exist in an untouched form- and even then the rarity of such products almost always live in a battlefield of savage buyers.
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For the longest time an infatuation with wear had always been deemed as a luxury for women; and on the contrary men instead chose to wear their masculine reputation on the outside of their sleeves pretending they had no interest in clothes or style. Knowing full well that any sort of participation in fashion suggested ideas against their groomed reputations- men conformed to the basic wear of fitted pants and monotone shirts. This continual repetition of clothing choices always remaining constant gradually takes a toll on a mans originality. But slowly and eventually the insatiable want to dress for oneself came forth and for men it often begins with the shoe. Shoes are simple enough not to make grand gesture yet at the same time also sophisticated enough to at the very least make an individualistic impression. Men are unabashedly proud to explore brands and justify the spending on a good shoe, it is the one piece of a man’s wardrobe that is both the exception to the dying masculine code and an fashionable avenue that showcases some trait of personality.
Nowadays as time evolves fashion into a more unified generation, men are slowly growing conscious of their appearances; and even though designers and labels continue to introduce new products for men to experiment with – shoes still remain the quintessential purchase of a wardrobe. Time and time again new cuts and shapes are constantly being introduced to the footwear market and no matter how unfamiliar or architecturally absurd designs may appear- they almost never seem to fail. Fashion commentators savagely berated the introduction of the Croc shoe, colloquially labelling the brand as ‘ugliest shoe range ever’ and yet decades later the product is not only still available for purchase but most recently even collaborated with high end fashion house Balenciaga – an unexpected and pricy turn of events that despite initial criticism still managed to change the perspectives of a few.
The construction and appearance of footwear is only one factor of consideration when men examine potential purchases. Shoes mean much more than something to decorate your feet with, at the very least shoes can represent a variety of meanings to different people- it can show social interest, an artistic appreciation and at times even serves as homage to culture and history. No one wears a cork Dunk High sneaker for comfort, those who enthusiastically purchase the shoe are the ones who genuinely appreciate the innovation and are essentially the ones whom want to tell everyone around them that they own a pair from the specialty collection.
With shoes being the subtle communicative tools of an individuals appeal- it can somewhat become a social belonging. A man wearing Jordans is typically a man wearing the uniform of a basketball fan, a man sporting a pair of leather Cleaverleys is probably one who enjoys finer things and a pair of Vans suggest a younger person intrigued by street wear culture. To this day the most basic or disoriented dressed man could easily be elevated in style with just a change of shoes and it would be okay. Shoes not only represent people and the culture behind them but sweetly can also tell tales of time- whether it is personal or historic a withered sole or even the manufacture of a shoe can document a longevity just as well as a story could.
So whether it is said in retrospect or not, shoes seemingly have a long lasting impression that somehow surpasses trends- they can be re-worn over and over again in a perpetual cycle and unlike shoulder pads or low riding jeans they are always innocently excused under the camouflage of either supposedly being classic or an old trend being reinvented. Overtime footwear (with the exception of the Croc of course, which truthfully despite its annual profits still remain in the comfort of backyards) have gradually transformed the way in which men and women dress- no longer are sneakers solely worn with just street wear apparel today it would not be uncommon to see them partnered with a suit and tie, no longer do formal shoes only come in variations of a black lace up and the strapped sandals that were once considered to be ‘grandpa’s beach shoes’ are now making their way onto runways and urban footpaths.
With each passing season wardrobes shift in content- in an instance corduroy pants will be swapped out for flared ones and suddenly retailers will follow market but shoes in their right will continually recycle in motion till the wearer themselves deem it time to move on- and even then battered shoes will so often remain in ones possession as a token to their memories. For men; a good pair of shoes are simply not just luxury purchases bought from pretentious grounding but more so they are arguably an innate expression of who they are and where they are in life. Shoes will always come in varying shapes and sizes but at its core, shoes for men are the blank canvas in which appearances both start and end.
Photographer Aaron Cameron Muntz – www.aaroncameronmuntz.com
Stylist Damien Vaughan Shippee – www.damienvaughan.com
Photo Assistant James Conkle
Words by Quade Au – www.quadeau.com