Body and sole, my trainers; are alive

His heaven is the Nike factory. He bargains with celebrities for their old ones. The aficionado of trainers has a passion beyond understanding.
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The Independent Online
Get up and eat eggs cooked by my brother Dan, who is explaining the Texas suicide cult to me. "They all believed the world was going to end so they killed themselves. You saw them all laid out wearing these black kimonos and these fat trainers."

"What sort?"

"Big black Nikes."

"Velcro straps?"

"Don't know."

Probably some sort of Air Force.

Open the paper and Scary Spice nearly falls as she walks along wearing her high-rise Buffalo Boots (NOT trainers). Princess Diana wore Asics in the gym. I really want to get hold of a pair of her trainers to add to my collection of celebrity sneakers - Alexander McQueen, Kool Keith and Mike D are currently mulling over which old pair they want to throw out to me. Kool Keith wants some Nike Air Jordan 1s in return, so I get on the case. It turns out the only person who's got some is a Japanese guy called BoBo and he wants to sell three pairs at a time for $13,000 (pounds 8,000). This price amazes even me. The most I've sold a pair for is $650 (pounds 400), but they were Air Max 95s. Bliss. These shoes are beautiful. They are Nike's masterpiece. Or to be more precise Sergio Lozana's masterpiece. Along with Tinker Hatfield he is our guru. Let's just hope they aren't both Texan. Tinker Hatfield. I've had visions of this man with the funny name and the most outrageous talent for designing trainers. The man who has had more influence on everyday aesthetics than all the Conrans in the world put together. Because it seems to me that Nike shoe designs precede other design trends. After the organic curves of the Air Max 95 everything seemed to go the bulbous, the Ford Ka, those soft-lined Apple laptops. I could go on. But you're sniggering already.

Tinker Hatfield's most notorious design is the Air Carnivore, a shoe that was "just a heartbeat shy of being alive. It looked like the hoof of some purple, silver, black and deep green beast"1. I wear mine from time to time and reduce the conversation to slack-jawed floor staring. People nod their heads for a while as if listening to me and then say "Sorry, sorry, but what are those?", standing at a safe distance and pointing to my feet with outstretched arms.

"These are Nike Air Carnivores and they are purely a performance shoe," I reply. Phil "Zeus" Knight, head of Nike, has banned the word "fashion" at company HQ. Nike maintains its shoes are designed purely for performance.

After lunch I go for a stroll to the local sports shop to see the latest shoe that Nike has thrown down to us from Mount Olympus, the Air Foamposites. The price tag reads pounds 150, perhaps not as much as the AJ1s but still a lot of money. Is Nike getting greedy? Will it get so obese with money that it loses sight of its feet and any athleticism it had? Signs are suggesting it: lazy reissues of classic shoes (yes, the Air Max 95), pounds 150 shoes that are rumoured to be pretty unexceptional on the basketball court. I wouldn't know as all I play is five-a-side football every now and again, (in blue Diadora Sharks). But Nike is still at the top of the rostrum. Also in all the magazines at the moment, I notice Adidas's new tangerine coloured sandal-pod type things. Kind of reminiscent of those leather "shoes" that people in the Middle Ages used to tie to their feet. I love them. My flatmates, though, think they are a comedy act, for some reason. When I first wore them it was like a big floppy-shoed clown walking into a kids' party (which reminds me of this new trend I read about on the hot sneaker news site [www.geocities.com/ tokyo/flats/3950], "the Japanese are wearing BIG 1980s basketball boots, anything up to size 19", which considering that most Japanese men are about a size 7 is something worth imagining.) Anyway, after a few days of me wearing them the laughter wore off. They were met with stony silence and I was taken aside. "Look, right, I'm your mate so it's my duty to point out to you that you look ridiculous in those shoes, and quite honestly none of us can go out with you when you're wearing them." Yeah, OK, but when you're all wearing them in about a year's time then I won't consider going out with you in shoes that are, quite frankly, out.

I'm just about to put my feet up when the doorbell goes, and it's a courier company. Oh my god, it's the package from Sportshoe Unlimited. Last week, as a wild stab in the dark, I tried this company to see if it had any Air Max 95s still knocking around. Brian said yes. I cried, nearly. And they were reduced as well, because they were so outdated. I was just about to tell Brian that I loved him, but I had to gather my thoughts and make him check once more ... "yes, we do have them". And again I made him check and again he confirmed that yes, they were in stock. So I hung up, punched the air and took my loved one out to an exclusive eatery. What a find, I felt like a pirate discovering a treasure chest. Anyway, so there was the package, I ripped it open and lying there were Air Max 96s. Oh god. I grabbed the phone and it was Cheryl. "How may I help?" "Get Brian." "I can deal with your request sir." I nearly ate the receiver, I was so angry.

But it's a few days later and I've calmed down. I asked him to check three times and he treated me like I was the stupid one. OK, OK, I'm calm. Those little Japanese boys in size 19 shoes down at the mall, that's funny. Deep breath. It's supper time. And after that I'm watching the athletics to see if Michael Johnson is going to wear his gold spikes. Nike spends millions on advertising athletes as the sneaker-wearers to aspire to, but my first sneaker-wearing hero was The Clash's Paul Simonon, who wore his with leather trousers. Any way Michael wasn't wearing gold Nikes. Perhaps Nike's research had proved that blue was a faster colourn

Hill Brothers Nike shop opens on September 11 at 11 St Nicholas Street, Bristol BS1. Website address Http://umail.bris.ac.UK/ah6342

1. Katx, Donald Just Do It pp.98

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