The recent crunchy outdoor revival has sparked countless unforeseen comebacks for heritage brands that had never before found themselves on the cutting edge of style. Yet, few reintroductions have been more surprising than that of Teva, the Velcrofied sandal company whose open-toed designs are so tied to the outdoor sporting world, that they might as well toss in a box of granola with each pair. And yet, for all the hippie-centric jokes that Teva’s might inspire, the nearly three-decade-old company has done a remarkable job as of late in transforming their image from hiker to hashtag menswear.
London’s James Purdey & Sons, the “King of Gunmakers” is a company best known for beautifully hand-engraved shotguns and gentlemanly hunting attire. This autumn though, the brand turned out an astonishingly handsome collection of footwear that rivals anything see anywhere, hunting-centric or otherwise. The entirety of the footwear collection is made in Northampton, England by an endeared and respected maker (we’ll let you take a guess who that is, should be obvious from the shapes seen here). This collection of upland-focused shoes and boots is especially great because Purdey put its touch on these otherwise classic styles. If you figured out who the manufacturer is, then you know how conservative they can be with the materials and shapes. That was the first thing we though of upon our initial encounter with these boots in London. We knew the make and appreciate the style. Not to mention the fact that both Purdey and said shoemaker weren’t going out of their way to herald this as the new new collaboration du jour — it was a discovery made the old fashioned way, with a visit to Audley House.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Timberland set up an interactive worksop on the Brooklyn waterfront to celebrate the brand’s past, speak to the future, and to gather a panel of creative people to explore how creativity and style exist in the present. The event was a nice amalgamation of Timberland’s history and the current expression of its fall style that was on display throughout the space. In an upstairs auditorium, Timberland assembled five creative individuals to talk through modern creativity and speak about how style intersects with their lives. The group consisted of photographer Noah Kalina (who along with some of the guys from the Rig Out made a short film that celebrates the limited edition pieces from the Timberland 40th Anniversary), Complex Style Editor Matthew Henson, Christine Cameron of My Style Pill and myself. In addition to the conversation on style, each of the panelists and myself reflected our own personal style and taste in a physical space on the main floor of the Timberland workshop. Timberland’s Design Director Chris Pawlus gave insight into how Timberland’s style, performance and ruggedness have dovetailed into one of the world’s most respected brands.
There’s a comforting feeling when you wear a pair of Jack Purcell sneakers. Classic is the word that springs to mind. Timeless is another. Stylish the third. You don’t have to worry about them ever going out of favor, about them ever failing to make you look cool. They should be an essential part of every man’s wardrobe. That’s what keeps you coming back, year after year to these enduring icons. Shoes with no obsolescence. More than just a footwear choice, it’s a state of mind.
Originally introduced as an especially made badminton sneaker by its Canadian National Badminton Champion namesake Jack Purcell. These classic canvas sneakers first appeared in 1935 debuting as a purely athletic shoe, though there’s more to the story.
A Selected History of the Jack Purcell.
1873: Duke of Beaufort invites British soldiers to his house in Badminton. After drinking champagne, they played the Indian game of Poona with feather impailed corks, referring to the game thereafter as the Badminton game.
1879: Badminton Club of NY is founded and still active today, making it the world’s oldest Badminton club.
1900: Badminton first played in Canada.
1903: John Edward Purcell is born in Guelph, Ontario.
1924: Jack Purcell takes up Badminton.
1929: Jack Purcell is undefeated national singles champ. He starts writing an instructional column in Toronto’s weekly star.
1933: Jack Purcell proclaimed Badminton champion of the world, after beating the best players from Canada, England, and the USA.
1935: B.F. Goodrich develops the original Jack Purcell Badminton shoe.
Last week I was in Portland with Red Wing Heritage for the launch the new and updated 875 and 877 styles at an event at Lizard Lounge. It was a nice party, drinks were had, lots of friends showed up and near the end Dolorean played a few songs. Red Wing is a client of ours, so we were in PDX on official business, which included inviting some folks to the event. Without knowing what was going on, several of the people I told about the event for the relaunch of the 875 were alarmed. ‘Why does the 875 need to be updated?” They would say, and for good reason; the 875 and 877 do not need to be messed with. Don’t worry though, the change is definitely a good one. The 875 and 877 remain two American icons.
Right off the bat, the shape both styles has not changed a bit. Everything in that regard is exactly the same. Don’t worry, they are still made in the U.S. What has changed is the leather, which has reverted back to a historically significant variant from the Red Wing archives. The name of this new 875/877 leather is Oro Legacy. It’s a full grain “naked” leather which exhibits much more character than the leather of the old 875/877s. All of the Red Wing Heritage leather is made in Red Wing, MN at the company’s own tannery.
Look at the list of major athletic shoe brands that are Made in the USA and you will find a total of one entry: New Balance.
It all started for me with the 993. Then came the 574, the 1300 and the 996. I love them all equally. That perfectly tilted “N”, the toe shape that is just right and that “Made in the USA” (Where the domestic value is at least 70%, New Balance labels its shoes “Made in the USA”) stitching on the tongue. To me, New Balance are as classic as it gets.
The fact that the company is the only one that has maintained production in the United States is remarkable. It speaks to the commitment to the people of Maine & Massachusetts where the factories are located. It shows the commitment to the men and women of the U.S. Military who wake up early and lace-up New Balance Made in USA running shoes. It speaks volumes and there’s only one real voice out there.
I wore Sperry Top-Siders every summer on Cape Cod as a kid. (to be precise, I wore the Authentic Original which is pictured above.) Over the years I have continued to wear them and love the brand because of those great memories growing up. I love all of the associations that Top-Siders embody: preppy, summer, clam bakes, sail boats, beaches, vacations and so much more. I love that the laces won’t stay tied until you get them wet and I love the history. With all of that said, in 2004 I stopped wearing Top-Siders altogether.
That summer I needed a new pair and I went to the store to see if there were any original Top-Siders that were actually made in the USA. I knew they would cost more, but I just felt like the shoes I had been wearing didn’t age all that well, and more than that I really wanted something more authentic. After a long search I couldn’t find any Sperry Top-Siders that were made domestically. I wasn’t really surprised, but I was disappointed so I just stopped purchasing shoes from the brand.
The other day, after a long time of not even really even considering the brand as an option, I went to Sperry’s website and there it was: Sperry Top-Sider Made in Maine collection. I was pretty astonished, and pretty happy to see that the thing that I had hoped for so long ago had actually come true. I just discovered this collection the other day on the company website (oddly, this was sent to me last year but I completely missed it — maybe its because I wrote them off? Looks like the same thing happened to James Fox last year) not in a magazine and I didn’t catch any word of this other places.