Friday 13 September 2002

Footwear dilemmas

My shoe wardrobe is always small and functional, only one pair of shoes for each specific need - work, walking, sailing, golf, cycling. The king of them all, the footwear that's good wear, is a single pair of trainers to support all my social activities.

I have always been a wearer of trainers, not for me Patrick Cox loafers or tassled slip-ons during my leisure hours. I partly define myself by being someone who at the age of 29, refuses to conform to the CEO-at-the-weekend look favoured by many of my contemporaries.

The current trainers are dying, the glue and stitching unravelling after a year of hard wear, and for four months I have searched shoe shops all over the country for the perfect replacement pair. It is not purely functional footwear I seek, although comfort, weight and ease of lacing are important, loftier factors sway my judgement.

My eye catches not just on brand, my decision is based not entirely on colour, instead I crave trainers where the ensemble of form and style say all that must be said about me, that will allow those that see me on the street to know precisely how finely balanced my particular blend of pragmatism, subtlety and fashion sense is. Trainer selection is an art, the path of trainer wearers is popular and well-travelled but with effort, commitment and an eye for detail it's possible to stay ahead of the shell-shuited, white-Nike toting masses.

I've found the perfect pair many times before although each time they've been different, from phat, black Nike Air Jordans, through chunky off-road types to the current slimline sprinting shoe incarnation. This time though, the search is more arduous, that one too heavy, this one too grey, those too obvious.

Perhaps this is the first real sign of youth slipping beyond me, this is the world's way of telling me a sensible pair of Hush Puppies is more my style nowadays.

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