’RE a funny thing, trainers. They are as much a part of a man’s functional wardrobe as jeans, but unlike jeans, they are also very expressive. Hip Camden Converse wearers are a different tribe to those who prance about in Usain Bolt’s yam-coloured Pumas, while those who spend evenings enjoying the box-fresh smell of their Superga plimsolls are miles away from people who pose around in vintage Air Jordans.
I have a friend who works in the City who wears elegant black Prada sneakers with tiny blood-red details with his otherwise sober work-clothes. It’s not exactly Rage Against the Machine, but it shows just a touch of bloody-minded refusal to be cowed into wearing a uniform.
At the other end of the spectrum is the IT geek I used to know, who would wear vast, blindingly white Asda own-brand trainers that were (I can only guess) meant to look space-aged, but actually resembled a North Korean version of the space shuttle. He was from Essex and enjoyed spending his weekends in his garage, tinkering with his Vauxhall Vectra. I don’t think that was a euphemism.
Whatever you wear when you kick off the brogues, you should remember that more than any other piece of clothing, sneakers make the man. People pay attention. As a teenager I remember the approving looks and nods that I got when I walked onto the after-school football field wearing a pair of British Knights (it was the early Nineties, alright?)
These days trainers aren’t just for mistimed tackles and toe-pokes, though, and all the top fashion brands have their own versions, meaning that you can be fashionable and still make a quick getaway if the sitation necessitates it.
While the Armani high-tops might remind one of Dale Winton after a pool-side snooze, and the Gucci ones are for the brave for those in need of some surgical ankle support, the BBC ones would single you out as a chap with a quirky side. The Burberrys, though, get my vote as a stylish British take on a traditionally American shoe.