Fashion: Off the peg - Everything you ever wanted to know about trainers

he "trainer thing" has become an

obsession for many people in the

1990s - and as a result there is a whole generation of trainer fetishists who can talk at length about their first pair, where they bought them, how many pairs they have, their favourite brand, what they want to buy next, and so on. There are even dozens of Internet web sites dedicated to trainers (especially Charlie's Sneaker Pages, 104,000 visitors and counting) and even though the pure fashion for having the latest thing has died down somewhat, the trend is still going strong.

Some style snobs claim to have moved away from trainers, now that everyone wears them. But it won't stop people buying trainers, it won't stop people talking about them, and it won't stop people buying the newest and latest addition to the trainer world. And no, it is not a pair of trainers. It is a book, which may become as collectible as a pair of 1985 Nike Air Jordan Mark 1, (the most expensive pair of trainers ever sold, for pounds 3,600, to a Japanese collector).

The book, called Sneakers: Size Isn't Everything, is a 240-page shrine to the trainer. It reads like a long informal chat, with celebrities, musicians and guys on street corners, from all over the world, talking about their first pair, their favourite pair, how many pairs they have, their next pair - you get the idea.

It is packaged like a fake bible with a padded red PVC cover embossed with a gold line drawing of a generic trainer, which I am reliably informed is based on a pair of Seventies Nikes. Inside is a worldwide slice of late 20th-century trainer culture, with DIY Polaroids of people and their trainers, interviews and trainer information.

The group behind the book are called Milk. They mysteriously describe themselves as a "many media" collective, and work as photographers, film- makers and graphic designers by day. The idea for the book came when Paul Ayre, a member of the collective, was getting into a taxi. One of his friends spilt coffee on to his brand new red and grey Nike Air Max. He became very upset, which led to a talk about the importance of trainers, and then on to the idea for the book - which took two years to produce.

"With trainers you can break down race, background, musical tastes, socio- economic groups, and fashion preferences," says Ayre. "It's not just about kids and Hip-Hop, everyone can relate to it"

`Sneakers: Size Isn't Everything' is published by Booth Clibbon Editions, pounds 35

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