Sunday, 21 January 2018

Sand-shoes to Trainers

When I was young we only had plimsolls, or, where I grew up, they were called sand-shoes. Now, I'm sure you can find histories of sand-shoes and trainers on Wikipedia and specialist websites, but this is my history.

Sand-shoes were white although some people managed to find black ones (I don't know where from). I seem to remember they had a thin sole which is all that you needed when you walked on sand on your annual holiday or you played at school in the sports hall. Life was simple back then.

I seem to remember "trainers" arriving in the mid-1970s, new-fangled things that seemed to use up a lot of material and built in a heel and all sorts. The most popular ones had three blue stripes on the side and went by the name of 'Adidas'. Why were these things needed? I stuck to sand-shoes, thank you.

Possibly later in the '70s or maybe early-'80s I started to notice other "trainers" emerging that had a big white tick on them and went by the name of 'Nike'. There were also a few others, such as something called 'Reebok', and I started to get confused. Why do we need so many of these shoes?

By the mid-'80s I'd adopted Adidas since that was the first sort of 'trainer' I was familiar with and the design was nice and simple. White with blue stripes. By the late-'80s I tried out some Nike 'deck shoes' (as I think they were called). They were very comfortable and I bought more pairs in successive years.

In the mid-'90s I started going to the gym so I returned to 'proper' trainers and got some white ones with three blue stripes and they were ideal for what I was doing and protected and comforted my feet. I replaced those trainers several times.

Last year I started going to the gym again and hunted out my three stripe trainers. They're a bit battered and worn, hardly trendy, but they do the job. Then I decided I really ought to have some new ones so I went shopping. I couldn't believe my eyes. I remember a time before 'trainers' and suddenly, there are hundreds and hundreds of trainers lining the walls of sports shops. How many varieties do we really need? It's all terribly confusing.

So i thought back and decided that I needed some white trainers with three blue stripes and that's what I bought. I'm sure there are lots of technical differences between the trainers of the '80s and those of today but, to me, the difference was really that instead of white laces we're given blue laces to match the stripes. And they are *so* comfortable. Thank you Adidas.

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