When I was at university, all I used to spend my money on trainers/sneakers. It became a bit of an obsession and I soon realised that I wasn’t alone on this athletic footwear journey. I discovered there were many others like myself and not long after that noticed there was a whole community, an international community to be more specific, that collected, customised, sold and created their own trainers.Over the years, I’ve taken a step back on my collecting game, but I still love window shopping and just admiring the design work that goes into the creation of a new trainer.  Since my uni days the world has evolved dramatically; business has changed, and it has certainly affected the footwear industry. With the rise of web 2.0 and the increased technology for better communication, there are more opportunities now for independents to stand up and be counted.

Many of the brands you’re about to see were created by guys just like myself- people with an obsession for sneakers which lead them on the path to create their own styles. In this three-part series, we’ll be introducing you to brands you probably not familiar with. For new brands, the greater competition means a greater struggle for attention but for you and me, it just means a greater choice of styles. There’s even more opportunity for you to stand out and show off your individualism. So, let’s get to it.

  1. VAEL
    Vael is a brand whose heritage lies in apparel design for the traveller. Well if that means travelling down the road to Chicken Cottage just to show these babies off, that’s me all over! They have a great eye for design, the silhouettes and shapes almost take on an architectural design perspective. A very simple yet elegant sneaker is their ‘Borg Mid’ as is the ‘Klipspringer’. Team either of these with some skinny turn ups and Oliver Peoples glasses, and you’ll look cool as a cuc!
  2. GRAM
    Gram is a brand based in Sweden and its Nordic credentials certainly transcends over to their footwear. The shoes are designed to ‘blend and enhance what you are wearing at any given time.’ We love their use of colour and their quirky silhouettes.
    Cipher is a brand that we really admire, so much so that we even featured a pair in our ‘Product of The Week’ post a few weeks back. Based out in Hong Kong, Cipher was initially created by a guy who sold his own sneakers out of a backpack in New York. A few years later, he is up and running with a very successful company. It just goes to show that if you have a passion, you should follow it; especially if you have talent to boot too. We salute you Collin Tompson.
  4. CLAE
    Clae is one of the better know brands in this week’s list. Even though they stock in Size? I still don’t see people rocking them as much as I’d thought. Another brand that has a very ‘tailored’ style, they are regarded as the pioneers of the athleisure. The ‘Rollins’ show how a high top can look stylish yet simple.

Anyone can explain and create something in a complicated way, but to do so in an effective and simple way…well, that’s difficult! Common Projects personify this.

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