dr martens vegan 1460 boot Chuck and Doc Step Out
FIRST, some words about the Chuck Taylor, a real shrug of a shoe.
It’s flat and lacks shape. It’s indifferent. It’s the sneaker you and your mom agree on. Over the years, there have been some vibrant color choices, some clever uses of fabric, but for decades now or at least the decades since Nike was founded it has been a self aware relic. Minimal effort for minimal reward: an American classic.
Leave plain enough alone, right? Apparently not. About 10 years ago, collaborated with John Varvatos on a modified, somehow more casual take on the Chuck by making it a slip on with no laces, only empty eyelets to emphasize just how carefree and slick you are. Already a simpleton, it became a dullard. It is my least favorite shoe, lower even than Crocs.
Little in this warehouse size store changed that not the T shirts referencing various New York neighborhoods, not the denim, not the puffy vests the texture of Snickers wrappers. The sublimely scraped up motorcycle jacket made in collaboration with Schott ($500) far better than the more polished Varvatos leather jacket ($795) that hung beside it was a shocker, though, as was the black waxed canvas jacket with down filled lining ($119, from $198), which if the pockets hadn’t been supersized, I’d have bought.
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Here, too, the basic template has gone unchanged for decades. It’s a boot some high, some really high, some still a shoe but with all the mobility of a boot. They make your feet look wide,
but also strong and glued to the ground. The yellow stitch at the sole remains jarring, even after all these years.
In the front window, boots hung from ribbons. Inside, there was a mirrored shoe ($110), a red velvet boot ($160), a clever orthopedic white shoe with minty blue soles ($110). A man with a fully tattooed face and gauges in his ears was being let down gently: “We don’t carry a lot of the industrial boots because of the neighborhood,” a salesclerk told him.
He meant people like the young woman wearing a calf length gray knit cardigan who looked as if she got lost on her way to a reading at an Oxford literary society. The black suede wedges she came in with had nothing on the mid height green stompers she was mulling. Wisely, she avoided the bordello worthy black and white heeled wingtip boots ($150), reflective of the company’s options for women. But some floral prints had charm, suggesting a Liberty of London collaboration. The painted one ($120), with its flecks of lavender, was almost wearable, in a shock of the new way, though a quick try on attempt proved otherwise. I fared better with a pair of gleaming white boots, which could redeem even the dullest outfit.
Depending which version of the ’90s, or ’70s, you lived through, or are trying to evoke (a friend who recently inaugurated a ’90s revival party waives the entry fee for Doc wearers), both stores sell pre distressed footwear: the Docs ($130) arrive dented more or less at cost, but Chucks ($150) go for more than three times the basic price.
And that’s for someone else to do the scuffing. The store now has the option to customize Chucks with special patterns which you can choose by flicking through a bank of iPads. It shares the spirit of NIKEiD, but with none of the exclusivity. After all, kids have been customizing their Chuck Taylors for years with their pens. So grab a basic one and get to work. Or better yet, track me down and I will scribble my truest feelings on them no charge.