Sneak­ers a fash­ion fun­da­men­tal for men


a tooth­brush. The white pairs re­ceive spe­cial care: bleach, soap and a tooth­brush. The proof is in­side the box: The last pair he wore is still damp from clean­ing.

He’s even changed his gait so that the soles of his sneak­ers don’t wear un­evenly on one side.

“ They say clothes make the man, but to me, sneak­ers make the man,” says Ali-Trotman, a jour­nal­ism stu­dent at Cen­ten­nial Col­lege.

Sneak­ers aren’t just in. They’ve be­come a fash­ion fun­da­men­tal for men and an ob­ses­sion for sneak­er­heads like Ali-Trotman.

Sneaker stores as chic as jew­ellers dot Toronto’s ur­ban land­scape. Adrift Skate Shop and Live­stock, two big names for sneak­ers in the city, sit side by side in base­ment lo­ca­tions on Spad­ina Av­enue. Around the cor­ner is Good­Foot. On Queen Street West, Groovy and Stolen Riches hold court.

The down­town stores foster the quiet, hushed at­mos­phere usu­ally re­served for art or Prada or trans­fig­u­ra­tion. The shoes sit on glass or blond wood shelves with re­cessed lighting. Over­head wa­ter and heat­ing pipes are ex­posed and painted white. The feel­ing is loft­like.

Colour pops off the shelves in Nike swooshes and Adi­das stripes: glar­ing green; pur­ple; or­ange, trans­par­ent shoes, vin­tage-treated and dis­tressed, rang­ing roughly in price from $50 to $500, but more typ­i­cally around the $100 to $200 mark. Sneak­ers have release dates, like mu­sic.

The sports shoe mar­ket is a $17bil­lion in­dus­try. Liftoff be­gan in 1985 when Michael Jor­dan be­gan wear­ing black-and-red Jor­dans de­signed for him by Nike. Sales rose 13 per cent at Nike that year, to more than a bil­lion dol­lars.

Now web­sites about sneaker news and sneaker shops draw mil­lions of hits a month, al­low­ing their founders to rent offices in Man­hat­tan and ig­nore main­stream me­dia in­ter­est. They post their shoe and cloth­ing sizes to their con­tact pages. Size 9 please, medium.

In fact, it seems the only thing bet­ter than hav­ing great kicks is hav­ing great kicks you didn’t pay for, or didn’t pay full price for. Those who work in the in­dus­try claim they don’t pay re­tail. They get em­ployee dis­counts and haunt sales and the In­ter­net for deals.

Tal­ented am­a­teur ath­letes some­times get “spon­sored” — a drink or cloth­ing com­pany or shoe man­u­fac­turer will give them free prod­ucts in ex­change for be­ing seen us­ing them. If they ap­pear in a news­pa­per or mag­a­zine or on­line with the goods clearly iden­ti­fi­able, they get a bonus of cash or mer­chan­dise. TORONTO — New York stylist Ashley Javier used to have a code word to ease the pain for young clients go­ing pre­ma­turely grey.

He’d call the un­wanted hair “sparkles.” Now he calls them stylish.

If you think it’s been a grey win­ter, just wait un­til sum­mer when sil­ver strands that have been sprout­ing up on the fash­ion run­ways are ex­pected to hit the streets and the heads of fash­ion-for­ward 20-and 30-some­things.

“A lot of th­ese women aren’t old enough to re­mem­ber blue rinses and those beauty-school granny colours — the women they thought of as ‘ older’ didn’t do that,” says Javier. “So for their gen­er­a­tion, (grey) seems a lit­tle undis­cov­ered.”

Su­per­model Kate Moss showed up at a Longchamp hand­bag launch in Paris last month sport­ing sil­ver streaks, caus­ing fash­ion­istas of all ages to won­der whether hard par­ty­ing was com­ing back to haunt the 36-year-old. Young mod­els were sport­ing steely streaks in elab­o­rate bouf­fants at Chanel’s re­cent haute cou­ture show.

Even 13-year-old fash­ion blog­ging phe­nom Tavi Gevin­son had gone grey at last week’s New York fash­ion week — a look that Javier de­scribes as more Golden Girl than It Girl. “She looked just like Estelle Getty (the el­derly star of the 1980s sit­com) with her glasses and pill­box hat,” Javier chuck­les.

Toronto hair stylist Mike Baronowski bleached his brown locks platinum last fall and loves the light look, which he says has started catch­ing on among young Asians be­cause it’s such a break from black.

His boss, Yorkville stylist Greg LON­DON (AP) — Bri­tish me­dia re­ports say su­per­mod­els Kate Moss and Naomi Camp­bell have joined Alexan­der McQueen’s fam­ily in Lon­don to pay trib­ute to the late fash­ion de­signer.

The Daily Tele­graph news­pa­per says the mod­els were among about 100 peo­ple who gath­ered in a west Lon­don church to mourn the death of McQueen. The 40-year-old de­signer was found hanged in his Lon­don apart­ment on Feb. 11.

The Daily Mail’s re­port on its Web site showed pho­tos of Moss, Camp­bell and Stella McCart­ney at­tend­ing the event dressed en­tirely in black.

McQueen’s fam­ily lawyers had is­sued a plea to the me­dia not to pub­lish pho­tos or footage of the de­signer’s fu­neral.

The Cana­dian Press

Kris Ali-Trotman holds up a sneaker in his home in Toronto.

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