Pumped Up Kicks

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From Bruce Lee’s elegant ASICS Mexico 66’s to those awkward Pony Topstars your mom got you when the other kids wore Nikes, they’re all here—really, every sneaker you can think of. We’ve seen lots of portrayals of sneaker freakers—people who wait in line all night for a pair of limited-edition Air Max LeBron and then never take them out of the box. But 1000 Sneakers by Mathieu Le Maux (Universe, 254 pages, $29.95) is a foot-fetish bible for everyone.

Graphic-design fanatics will geek out over the morphing of stripes and swooshes through the decades. Tennis lovers will dig into the history of Stan Smith’s and Ivan Lendl’s namesake Adidas—not to mention the Andre Agassi Nike Air Tech Challenge IVs, which kicked off Le Maux’s obsession in 1992.

But be warned: The book will steal lots of your time. I found myself jumping from the shoe that launched Nike (the Cortez ’72, shown on Farrah Fawcett); to its inspiration, the culty Onitsuka Tiger Corsair; to dozens of pages covering now-forgotten brands like K-Swiss, Le Coq Sportif, Etonic, and Gola.

Stylish special editions by Alife, Comme des Garçons, Jeremy Scott, and Takashi Murakami make special appearances, while Pharrell Williams’s inventive adaptations of Adidas pop up on multiple pages. There are histories of Vans, Pumas, and, of course, Air Jordans; pages devoted to sneakers in movie (including the brief anachronistic cameo made by a pair of turquoise Chuck Taylors in Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette); and sections devoted to the influence of Run-D.M.C. and Spike Lee. If you feel a little lost (and seasick) trying to understand Kanye West’s Nike Air Yeezy 2 Red October’s $16 million auction price, there are at least 100 sweet and simple shoes to fantasize about finding in thrift shops.

When I lived in New York City, I would not have stepped into Midtown—let alone an office—in sneakers if my life depended on it. Now, after five years of living in LA, I’m learning to give my British bench-made wingtips a rest and understand how West Coast style makes sneakers in a business meeting, even with a suit, work. I’m not saying my dirty Rod Laver’s are doing the trick just yet—but this book provides plenty of inspiration.

 

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