I was never a full-fledged fan of trainers to start since I preferred chukkas and Doc Martens boots. However, I would always head to the discount pile during the rare periods that I would buy trainers for myself. It was never about flashy looks for me when it came to trainers; as long as they were tough and good for walking, they sufficed.
I did not have much control over the athletic shoes I owned back when I was younger. In fact, purchasing shoes became a daunting task as most shoe brands did not have large sizes for my US size 12 feet. Now that I can buy my own pairs, I preferred the chunky ones inspired by 1990s shoes or the minimalist, military-inspired pairs.
I have owned a lot of athletic shoes throughout the years but only documented some pairs, so let me share my thoughts on these in this post.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi is the oldest pair of trainers I use right now—and incidentally the last pair Dad ever bought for me. I have used this pair as a daily shoe even though it is essentially designed for running. Incidentally, this pair of trainers has been featured in an earlier outfit post! The soft midsole makes for comfortable all-day wearing and the outsole has a pretty good grip on wet surfaces. I wore out the factory insoles that came with the Fresh Foam Arishi so I replaced it with a new one more suitable for running. However, the gray fabric uppers make it a very bad choice for rainy days unless the shoes are treated with waterproofing spray.
Leather shoes used to be my standard pairs for everyday work. This pair of canvas tennis trainers in royal blue by K-Swiss introduced me to more laidback pairs for office use as an alternative to the New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi trainers. The royal blue colorway did not easily show dirt marks but the white rubber sole edge always called for regular cleaning. Unfortunately, this only lasted for more than a year as the sole edges started buckling away from the canvas upper – eventually ripping apart.
My third purchase came in the form of the Onitsuka Tiger Sherborn Runner trainers, which I have extensively written about during its lifetime. This pair had been on discount for the longest time at the store where I bought it. Running shoes inspired its design—from the soft midsole and anti-slip traction points in red rubber on the outsole. The only drawback for this pair was the light blue suede and fabric uppers that required regular cleaning. It only lasted for more than a year just like the K-Swiss canvas trainers as the uppers (simply glued to the midsole) started splitting after exposure to the rain. A repair job failed to restore the pair’s integrity and the uppers themselves gave way soon after.
I purchased the Gola Harrier Pub Games Snooker trainers from a shop that sold clearance Gola shoes for discounted prices. Part of the shoe marque’s Pub Games collection, the shoes took inspiration from wooden snooker tables and the latter’s green felt lining (on the outsole) and red snooker balls (for the insole design.) Other pairs in the collection included Darts (modeled after the black and red on the dartboard) and Cards (modeled after black and white playing cards.) It was comfortable to wear, but the lack of anti-slip traction points made it a bad choice for wet days. Alas, this would only last me for more than a year just like the previous pairs – after the middle section started splitting from the uppers and eventually tore off the entire shoe.
This pair of high-cut canvas trainers from Old Navy reminded me of the Converse hi-tops worn by NBA players in the 1980s. I bought this pair after seeing it sold on discount, but I learned that “you get what you pay for.” Third month in and the shoes started showing signs of ruin: the black outer material ripped apart at the seams and the uppers pulled away from the rubber outsole. Items from fast fashion brands are definitely not meant to last for a long time – and eventually, the pair fell apart after a total life of five months.
I never expected Marks & Spencer to have shoes that would fit me, but this pair of military-style trainers in gray became a pleasant surprise. It reminded me of the German military trainers from Japanese footwear brand Reproduction of Found. Incidentally, this pair jinxed me on the day I bought it: I lost my mobile phone, slipped and fell in dirty flood water, and arrived home late and soaking wet. Thankfully, things have turned around for me ever since that moment. The pair’s outsole split off from the uppers because of exposure to flood water, given that it was only glued on. I had it fixed at a shoe repair shop near my workplace—with a good re-gluing and stitching—and purchased a better insole for it, making it a pair I frequently use on more relaxed days.
Straight out of the 90s is this pair of New Balance 373 trainers in burgundy and navy blue colorway, which I featured in my 29th birthday entry. I purchased this during local sportswear retailer Planet Sports’ anniversary sale for almost 50% off. Casual trainers from New Balance usually have more narrow fits than the athletic lines, but this one in US size 12 had a large toe box that fit well on me. The suede and fabric material held well during rainy days, yet was easy enough to maintain.
Capping off this set is the iconic adidas Samba Classic trainers in black, purchased a month before I left my job in March. I bought this at a sportswear clearance store a stone’s throw away from my office at a discounted price! The Samba is adidas’ second best-selling shoe after the Stan Smith (another laidback staple). Originally designed for training on icy ground, this design has gained popularity in football and mod circles. This pair from the three-stripe marque also holds pretty well; I use it for both driving and walking. The all-leather construction equates to a low-maintenance shoe, which played a big role in my decision to purchase it.
And that ends my post on the trainers I’ve owned over the years.
If I can leave some parting words – those would be to look for a pair of athletic shoes that last for a long time and go with a wide variety of outfits. Unless you’re into the modern streetwear culture, classic designs with minimal elements usually work with most outfits compared to flashy ones.
It’s not an issue if you wish to splurge on these, but if you find a good and reliable pair on discount – well and good!
Until the next post!