Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sneakers | A longing for PF Flyers

Longing (adverb)
a strong desire especially for something unobtainable”.

We’ve all felt it. As children it can be for almost anything, like those brightly-coloured sweets promising untold pleasures. But your pocket money has run out and your parents won’t treat you. “This is a valuable lesson", they say. You lie face-down on the pavement and pound the floor with your tiny, helpless fists.

As a teenager, the girl next door creates such longing you think your heart will break in two unless she notices you, returns a smile, or laughs at your immature jokes. Then she moves to Lancashire and leaves you singularly alone.

For adults, longing is more abstract. We’re cynical creatures, protecting ourselves from unrealistic fantasies by a lifetime of emotional armour.

Sometimes we yearn for simple things like a lie-in at the weekend, or a week of winter sun. But there is deeper longing too: for the youth which was wasted on us at the time, or hardest of all, for the one that got away.

PF Flyers know longing. Their designs hark back to a simpler time, referencing classic baseball and basketball styles. Their catalogue features archival reissues of the shoes which made the brand so popular in the 1950s and 60s, and this heritage appeals to anyone wanting an alternative to the ubiquitous Converse All Stars.

In American baseball nostalgia-fest, The Sandlot (1993), PF Flyers are imbued with almost mystical properties; “shoes guaranteed to make a kid run faster and jump higher” – which comes in handy at the film's climax. The Center Hi Sandlot Edition is an all-black colourway available in celebration of that rose-tinted coming-of-age movie. But not only does the brand continue to honour its roots with its vintage styles and authentic detailing, it collaborates with contemporary designers, artists and trend-setters, knowing that nostalgia will be around for a while.

I've worn PFs almost exclusively for 10 years. I love the combination of classic silhouettes and contemporary touches. And they are the most comfortable sneakers I've ever owned.

Sadly, it's hard to find them in the UK these days. They're owned by New Balance – a brand that's been having its own renaissance in recent years – so PFs are not regularly distributed or marketed here. I have imported several pairs from the States, but it's a costly business. I long for a time when I could buy them in little independent stores in Soho, but, like all of us, I long for many things I can't have.

Adam. Designer.

You can find Adam on Twitter and at Street and Two Veg.

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