Coming from Kent, I have always felt that my credentials in the trainer department could never match up to any Scouser’s. I was even felt there was a far-fetched possibility of being refused entry to, Laces Out!, purely on the basis of my footwear. Plumping for a pair of red-and-blue Adidas LA Trainers, I set off for Camp and Furnace expecting a fierce education in trainer fashion.
The event was billed as bringing hip-hop and trainer culture together, and boasted a line-up including a Q&A with trainer expert Neal Heard, free trainer cleaning, and sets by DJs from across the North West. I figured that Camp and Furnace, with its large, open hall, would more than accommodate both the music and trainers. Admittedly, I’m even less acquainted to hip-hop than I am to vintage trainers, so my focus for the day was mainly below the ankle line.
Contrary to my expectations of an Adidas-dominated marketplace, the diversity of trainers on show was impressive. I didn’t know Le Coq Sportif even made trainers (pictured above). The Q&A with author of Trainers, and brand consultant – Neal Heard – offered some sort of guidance to my discoveries in the ‘trainers market’. Asked for his all-time favourite trainers, Heard named two Adidas trainers: the ZX250s and Stan Smith’s.
But when asked for the most iconic, he answered with either the Chuck Taylor Converse, or Nike Jordan’s. Heard’s favourite trainers seemed to be inspired more by his football casual background, which were somewhat less obscure than his picks relating to hip-hop culture. This made me realise that the festival was as much a cultural exhibition as it was a shopping trip for trainer enthusiasts.
I was able to suspend my scepticism at the £8 entrance fee when I saw that most people had come in groups, here to socialise through their love of trainers. It was, in the best way, a piss-up for trainer anoraks. But that’s what I enjoyed most. Without such a laid back atmosphere, this festival would have been on the brink of becoming a glorified market. In fact, I think it’s about time I get myself a new pair of kicks.