ANTOINE HAD TOLD ME THE HISTORY OF SHOES MANY TIMES:
In the beginning, the late 1980s, the client was king. A certain basketball player (whose name basically became a brand) made them king. An industry was transformed, and shoes grew air pumps and Velcro straps, gel chambers and light-emitting diodes. New models came out seasonally, then monthly, and Antoine started buying two pairs, one for wearing and one for saving, like comic-book collectors with their plastic bags.
And of course that bubble burst. People wanted shoes, not spaceships. Innovators began to search suburban malls for the humble sneakers of their childhood. Trendsetters demanded whole new categories of shoes: for skating, snowboarding, surfing, walking, running, and every other sport (parachutists probably have their own shoes), and to save all those secretaries time, hybrids appeared, dressy on top and rubber in the sole.
The client—with its flashy, gimmicky, jump-shooting shoes—faded. The world it had dominated disappeared, broken down into a patchwork of tribes and cliques and niches, like some neighborhood controlled by a different gang on every block.
But the pair in front of us recalled the oldies in Antoine's lovingly stacked boxes in the Bronx, those ancient, golden, simple days. Not spaceships—just shoes with insane confidence, vitality, and flair.