Private Preview of the New Balance 1500FPK x Footpatrol 'Encyclopaedia'

It seems like every week there are at least 5+ collaborations releasing, and I'm sure you'll agree, it's pretty hard to keep up, but Made in UK New Balance collaborations are few and far between these days, so when one of them come along, there's always quite a bit of excitement surrounding it. Then when you throw in UK heavyweights Footpatrol from London, the anticipation for this collaboration was only ever going to increase! Before I get into the private preview of the shoe, let's take a look at the Footpatrol images of the New Balance 1500FPK, along with some details about the collaboration.

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The release has been dubbed 'Encyclopaedia', and the tagline 'Knowledge is Key' has accompanied the collaboration since the first few teaser images were released. Footpatrol have came together with New Balance UK to pay homage to arguably the most informative and detailed reference source - the Britannica Encyclopaedia.

The Britannica Encyclopaedia was first published in 1768, and was produced in fifteen editions until it's present physical volume in 2012, and this shoe uses this source of knowledge as it's inspiration. If you look at the shoe, and then look at the Britannica Encyclopaedia pictured, it's clear that the people of Footpatrol and New Balance have worked extremely hard to execute this concept to the highest of standards.

The New Balance 1500FPK has a screams premium at first glance, with it's predominantly black upper, decked out in only the best materials, with plush suede on the toe wrap and ankle sections, complimented by some smooth black leather across the toe box, side panels and tongue. Some contrast gold detailing comes in the form of the embroidery on the tongue, heel logo and of course the traditional small single embroidered 'N' logo on the lateral side. The heel logo on the medial side features a blacked out double embroidered 'N' logo, which is a really nice touch. There is also an embroidered tab on the rear of the tongue, which features an illustration of a book with the tagline 'Knowledge is Key', while the insole takes elements from some of the content found in the Encyclopaedia, in an off white colour with an anatomical illustration of the human foot. It doesn't end there though, as no shoe is complete without some reflectiveness in my opinion, and this comes in the form of the reflective piping around the ankle collar.

You'd think we'd be finished by now on the detailing front, right? But no, adding to the already class details, the shoe is sat on top of an off-white midsole, and has everyone's favourite gum coloured outsole. As a little reminder as to who the brains are behind this collaboration, the famous Footpatrol gas mask comes in a black and gold swing tag. Finally the vibrant Red New Balance logo situated on the heel and the outsole is a nod to both the bookmarker found in the reference book and the flagship colour used on the NB logo.

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With the release set for Saturday 24th January, Footpatrol and New Balance personally selected a small number of people, mainly press and loyal customers to join them for a special preview of the Footpatrol Encyclopaedia 'Knowledge is Key' 1500. The event took place at the stunning Library on St. Martin's Lane, an exclusive private members club just off London's famous Leicester Square, and this is where the original shots featured above were taken.

Here we would also be treated to a personal Q+A with the New Balance team - Tom Henshaw, Andy Okolowicz, Chris Hodgson, and Jamie Metcalfe, as well as an insight into the Footpatrol shoe, while being able to indulge in some fine food and drink. It's quite rare to be treated to events of this form, as usually it's just a case of a venue with some music and lots and lots of beer, but the efforts that both NB and Team FP went to organise this classy event fits in with the whole theme of the collaboration perfectly.

When we talk about New Balance, and discuss things online, a lot of the information is taken from various websites, or stuff you've picked up through the years, but to be sat down with people like Chris and Andy, and be able to tap into their comprehensive knowledge of all things NB, whether it's creative or technical, it really is quite something. Hats off to Jimmy and the rest of Team Footpatrol too, who were more than happy to discuss any aspect of their great project, and obviously like us who were just grateful to be in the room, they were grateful to be one of the very few who are given the opportunity to work with New Balance UK and produce such a stunning shoe.

When you think about this project in more depth, and as was pointed out by Jimmy of Footpatrol, the use of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as inspiration for a Made in UK New Balance is very appropriate, especially since the Encyclopaedia has a long standing tie to British heritage - it even has a thistle for it's logo! The Encyclopaedia is high quality to touch, and craftmanship is something that New Balance pride themselves on, especially when it comes down to materials, with only the finest being used on this project. One particular interesting fact mentioned by Chris Hodgson in relation to materials was that the leather used throughout the shoe, is in fact, waterproof, and it was sourced from English tanneries.

The New Balance 1500FPK sees a production run of around 1320 pairs, which doesn't seem like all that many, but be sure to keep your eyes open for a worldwide release soon, but in the mean time, check out some pictures below from the event.

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New Balance C-Series Event at TokyoBike London

Last Thursday, the 22nd of January, New Balance launched the exciting new C-Series range at their Tokyo Bike stores in London, New York and Tokyo. We went along to the main event which took place in London, where over 300 people came through and packed out the Tokyo Bike store in Shoreditch. In keeping with the Japanese theme, there was Sushi and plenty of Japanese Asahi beer to go around all those who were in attendance.

The Tokyo Bike shop featured a bike pedal display showcasing the new C-Series range, as well as a display case explaining how each of the components makes the series a unique lifestyle offering, but with performance enhancements.

It wasn't just footwear that was on show though, Tokyo Bike premiered two brand new bikes which are colour matched to two of the C-Series shoes, and they combine classic simplicity with modern engineering.

You really have to get a close look at the C-Series, and get them in hand to appreciate the level of work that has went into designing this range. The good people of the Footsoldiers and New Balance Japan have put massive amounts of thought into producing a shoe that not only looks great, provides huge levels of comfort, but holds up well when put through it's paces providing a high level of performance.

The New Balance C-Series is available via Tokyo Bike, New Balance, and of course, all your other usual New Balance retailers. We can't wait to see what more is to come from the New Balance C-Series in the future!

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Flimby Factory Visit

DSC_0776 So, I had known for a little while that I would be heading down to Flimby to visit the New Balance Factory, but it never really hit home until a couple of nights before, it felt like Christmas was coming early. Anyway, the whole visit came around following a petition that was started with regards to the shape of UK Made models, in particular the 1500, and we were invited down to discuss this with the designers and developers, but I'll address that further down.

We were staying at nearby Cockermouth, but left there in the morning and headed to Flimby to be there for around 9am, a nice early start. Flimby is a small coastal village in Cumbria, England, and there isn't much there, except of course the New Balance Factory, a huge power plant, and loads of wind turbines!

Upon arriving at the factory, I had a little bit of an idea what to expect, and from the outside it doesn't look like much, but as soon as we stepped onto the factory floor for our tour, all expectations were surpassed. The sheer size of the factory inside was breathtaking, then throw into that all the hundreds of machines, workers, materials, etc, and it blows everything you could ever have imagined out the water.

New Balance haven't always resided in Flimby, back in 1982 they began manufacturing shoes in an old K-Shoes factory in Workington, but in 1991, they made the short move to  Flimby, and as the old saying goes, the rest is history. Over the years, the factory has grown in size, and the workforce too, with now over 250 people working there and producing around a million pairs of trainers a year.

The factory prides itself on it's 'Made in England' tag line, which means that all the shoes with this tag have been made from scratch at Flimby, and the volume of shoes produced this way is set to increase next year. Along with the Made in England pairs, the factory also produces performance shoes which include uppers and sole units which are only assembled there.

It's extremely rare for any brand, never mind a brand the size of New Balance to have not packed up and moved their manufacturing elsewhere to the likes of Asia, like many footwear brands before them have done. Of course, New Balance is a US brand, and they have a number of factories in the US, along with Asia, but for a workforce and factory this size to still be making shoes in the UK, it really is a testament to the Flimby factory and those who who work there day in day out.

If you follow the brand, names like Audrey Stewart, Ian Byers, Victor Dixon, Andy Mandle, Billy Edgar, and Roy Bell may ring a bell to you because of the shoes that they have had their name put to over the years, but those six, along with others such as Chris Hodgson, Mike Middlehurst, Andy Okolowicz, and every other member of the workforce, really are the un-sung heroes of the footwear world.

Following the tour of the factory, we visited Chris and Mike's office which houses the 'vault', a fancy name for a room in darkness at the far end, but housed with loads of gems that have been produced at the Flimby factory over the years, along with future releases, prototypes, you name it, that room had it! When you see all those shoes together in one place, it's easy to see why there are so many people who love the brand and share the same passion for it.

With the factory tour and a little jaunt in the vault over, it was time to head back to the meeting room and sit down with some of the designers, the developers, and others, all of who play a vital part in the running of New Balance Europe. The discussion, as previously mentioned, was mainly focussed around the shape of Made in UK models, and in particular, the 1500, and if ever we were looking for answers to questions, this was bound to be the time we would get them. Anyway, as if the day hadn't already been surreal enough, being sat at the table with everyone, after all the effort they had made to accommodate us inside of their busy schedules, and then provide their comprehensive history of the NB toe-puff, well, it was the cherry on top, and educational for all involved.

So you're probably curious as to what was said, right? Like ourselves, there were many looking for answers as to what had happened to the shape over the years, so hopefully the following information can clear some things up. As you can understand, there is a lot of information which cannot be repeated, especially not on to somewhere as public as the internet, but the information provided below should definitely be adequate enough to answer the questions.

If we were to revisit a few years back when we would regard the shape of the UK models as excellent, with that sharp toe shape, then we can do this by simply taking a bunch shoes released from this time, whether they're GRs or collabs it doesn't matter. Then if we look at the toe, we'll notice that it's for some of the very early releases, there isn't really any form of toe puff, and then the more recent releases pre-2009 feature do in fact feature a toe puff, but it is nowhere near the same as what is in the shoes currently. Back then, rather than using a piece of material, the toe puff was an adhesive which was melted and brushed on in a half moon shape, and this method was very inconsistent, which is why if you look at any number of shoes from this time, none of the toe shapes are the same, they all vary. Unfortunately, this old technique does not now meet official global quality control, technical and environment standards, and no brand anywhere in the world could use it if they wanted to.

To counter the inability to use this technique, NB had to come up with a new toe puff, and this came in the form of a piece of material from a German company, and it done everything NB needed it to do, it met all global standards, and in fact, it was of a higher construction standard as far as a performance shoe requirement goes, and at this time, the 1500 was still regarded as a performance shoe, more so than a lifestyle shoe. However, the general aesthetics of the shoe never appealed to everyone, and the various complaints were starting to be noticed.

You may remember that in 2012, the 1500CHF was released, a collaboration between New Balance UK and hanon shop of Aberdeen, and this shoe somehow managed to have a hugely better shape in comparison to anything released before it. Like yourselves, we have always wondered why, and we finally got an answer to this question. Basically, there has been years of trying to redevelop the toe puff behind the scenes, and as you can imagine, this is no easy feat, but the CHF features a different toe puff from the one used after the old adhesive method was ditched, and in actual fact, it is the same toe puff that is used in all models currently, except the 991, and any shoe that has a leather tip.

Obviously, using various toe puffs is a bit of a nightmare for the factory when manufacturing the shoes, and in an ideal world, they would use the same toe puff for every shoe, no matter the model, and no matter what material it is made out of. So this has lead to further research and development of the toe puff for the last couple of years, with many more companies and attempts at nailing down the 'perfect puff'.

The amount of research and development that has been ongoing for a number of years now behind the scenes was certainly surprising to us. Even once research and development is done, there is still testing to be done on all the various materials, and making sure that there are no issues during the manufacturing processes, but what we can say is that things have been moving along very quickly, it's being worked on, and sometime in the near future, there are big things to come!

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We were lucky enough to watch two models being made, the first was a 1500, and the pictures below should hopefully go through the processes almost step by step, from putting the panels together, to joining the midsole to the upper.

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After checking out the 1500 being made, we followed around a 576 line, and the processes are the same, but as the opportunity to visit the factory is so rare, we weren't going to say no, that was for sure!

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Along with the factory, there is also a factory shop which can be a bit of a hit and miss, but always well worth a look with plenty of shoes on discount, and a nice range of New Balance aparell to boot.

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Adidas Originals Rouge event @ hanon shop

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Pictures from Mod Culture

The Adidas Rouge has been causing quite a stir for a while now, as it is a special shoe for many Adidas collectors, often found in the same sentence as the word 'grail', and with the release of the reissue upcoming, you can only begin to imagine..

This shoe is set to see it's first release since way back in 1976 when they were made in Austria, so as you might have gathered, coming across a vintage pair is pretty tough coming, and Adidas fans have been screaming for a reissue for years now. With Adidas having pretty much reissued every other shoe under the sun, it's a wonder why we've had to wait so long for this one.

Anyway, Rouge is the French word for 'Red', and the shoe itself features a soft red bovine suede upper with contrasting royal blue leather drei-streifen and heel tab. The reissue will also feature a suede tongue, and everyone's favourite gum sole.

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To celebrate the launch of the Rouge, Adidas Originals and hanon shop came together and put on a pop-up shop on Thursday 30th of October. The shoes would be available to purchase on the night, with various types of French food available to eat and plenty of Parisian beer to wash it down.

With the event kicking off at 6pm, and a couple of days before the official release, this gave punters the opportunity to grab their pair before everyone else, and a lengthy queue had already formed for opening.

As always with Adidas of late, they've been bang on with their graphics, and artwork was done by a man who seems to be making big moves of late, and thoroughly deserved, with his own recent Adidas collaboration, Peter O'Toole (@peterotooleart on Instagram). The clean typography was compiled by Lucas Jubb (@ljjubb on Instagram) and all graphics looked excellent, a really great job by those involved.

Some Stockholms were also on display along with the Rouge to coincide with their reissue later in the year, but unfortunately, it was my pair of 08 Stockholms on display rather than the reissue which only has some subtle changes, namely the sole unit.

Many people seemed to just come down to pick up a pair of Rouge, but a big shout to all those new and old faces who stayed around, drank some uber strong beer, ate all the food, and talked all things trainers. Also, a massive thanks to both Adidas and hanon shop for the hospitality. Until next time!

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New Balance Museum - Sneakerness Warsaw

teaser As many of you know, Sneakerness travels all across Europe from city to city to put on events, and they never fail to have something special on show. Amidst all the trainers for sale, and brand showcases, the team at New Balance Poland and Suede&Mesh put together a one of a kind New Balance Museum.

The New Balance Museum showcased the history of New Balance, with more than 80 vintage pairs on show, starting with the first ever official New Balance running shoe - The Trackster.

With pairs donated from the Suede&Mesh crews own collection, along with those of renowned collectors Tiago Escada Ramos and Mike Sekinger, the vintage selection on show was nothing short of incredible, and they ranged from 1967 all the way through to 1999, pieces of history indeed.

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The picture above shows the very first New Balance models from 1967 on the left hand side with the famous New Balance Trackster.

Along with the stunning selection of vintage pairs, the current UK Made and USA Made collection was on show, and displayed in furniture which was created especially for the Museum.

Some of the recent favourites, such as the New Balance 997PR, 998MD, and of course the upcoming Flimby 1500 Gentleman's Choice Pack were displayed.

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It is unheard of to have such a vast collection of vintage pieces all on display in the one place, so this was an extremely rare exhibition, and quite possibly the first in history. Let's hope we see more of this sort of stuff in years to come.

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Furthermore, Flimby in the UK pride themselves on craftmanship, and all their pairs are hand made in that historic factory in Cumbria. This year was the anniversary of one of Flimby's most popular models, the 577, and the Museum featured a wall which detailed the stages of creating the 577ANN, from all the pieces of panelling, right up to the complete production shoe.

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The whole exhibition was finished off with a special Flimby movie presented on the wall, a truly excellent exhibition and something that everyone should be able to check out.

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All pics via Sneakerness Warsaw/Piotr Ciezkowski.

Be sure to check out the video below too:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw26-wkQDuQ]

Sneakersnstuff London - Opening Party

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Following the family & friends party the week prior, newcomers to London, Sneakersnstuff were to host another party, and this time it was open to all who were quick enough to get themselves on the guest list.

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Pic from @sneakersnstuff_ldn

Since 1999, Peter and Erik have been continually pushing forward and with the huge success of both their Swedish stores in Stockholm and Malmo, it's really no surprise why they're extremely well known across the 'sneaker world' and often dubbed as the 'king of collabs'.

Some may have been a little apprehensive with the opening of another store inside London, as there's already plenty of competition, but if the turnout for their opening weekend is anything to go by, then they'll fit just right in.

The SNS London store is based at 107-108 Shoreditch High Street, a great location, and the store itself is an extremely nice space.

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The 6th of June is the National Day of Sweden, and the perfect day for SNS London to host their Opening Party. The event was to be held at Oval Space in East London, which turned out to be an breathtaking venue, and big shout to a number of names (@anumberofnames) for setting up the event.

The event wouldn't of been as huge as success as it was if it wasn't for the great people who turned up, and also the incredible line up of artists performing... oh, and not forgetting the free bar!

In order of play on the night; Siobhan Bell [Work It], DJ Khalil [Livin' Proof], Wookie [Manchu Recordings], DJ Semtex and of course, the brilliant Pusha T for his massively anticipated set.

Here's to many more SNS events and to great success in London!

 

Adidas ZX Flux Pop-Up

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In conjunction with the Crepe City 10 event, the good folks over at Adidas Originals set-up a really unique exhibition just around the corner from Truman Brewery on Dray's Walk. If you didn't swing by and check it out then you really did miss out, but luckily, I swung by and took some shots for you all to check out.

Adidas are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the ZX8000 which was first introduced in 1989 and featured continually throughout the 90's, but they've switched things up this year and created the ZX Flux.

However, before we get into the ZX Flux, why not take a look at the evolution of the Adidas ZX range?

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If you were lucky enough to be one of the few invited to the ZX Flux event on the Thursday night prior to Crepe City 10, then you'd of been lucky enough to hear the man of all things three stripes, Robert Brooks, talking you through the evolution.

There truly were some absolutely amazing pairs of Adidas ZX on show and if you like your Adidas then I'm sure you will agree. It was a privilege to be able to view these in person so big shout to Brooksy for bringing them along!

The epitome was the Adidas ZX series was the last on show and sat side-by-side with it's revolutionary new ZX Flux version limited to only 100 pairs, which really is a tremendous sight.

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The ZX Flux introduces a clean and simple silhouette, which is specifically made to focus on performance. The model pushes boundaries with it's streamlined construction with form fitting one-piece upper and heel cage for support.

The full Spring/Summer 14 collection was on show at the pop-up store so be sure to check out the following images.

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There are already numerous colourways available of the ZX Flux and they're nothing short of great, particularly the multicolour prism from the ZX Flux Photo Pack which has gotten everyone a little excited.

The image above shows just three of the colourways available already of the ZX Flux and gives you a taster of what sort of designs are possible on this shoe. We reckon Adidas should let their imaginations run wild!

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As well as the Photo Pack, Adidas are also offering up the ZX Flux Weave Pack and other colourways with this weave style upper. Some may think these are similar to a Roshe Run, which may be true, but we have to say, these are a cut above. The weave on the Flux is a lot thicker than the Roshe, but they're still amazingly light.

If you're unsure of the ZX Flux with the graphics, then be sure to try on a pair of the woven style and you might just go home with a pair.

There were two ZX Flux that we saw a lot of over the course of CC on Saturday, the F&F 'never to be sold' purple weave, and also the purple consortium pair. As you can see, there isn't a great deal of difference between the two, but the consortium pair features an orange outsole, white heel cage and also a numbered lace lock.

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The super talented Josh Parkin was also on hand to do some illustrations, and if you haven't already checked out his unique style of work, you're missing out big.

You can find him over on instagram @joshparkyart, he's also doing some commissions if you're looking for a personal piece!

Be sure to grab a pair of ZX Flux and keep your eye out for the next drop as the first lot flew out the door FAST!

Thanks again to Adidas for supporting the Crepe City event and everyone who was involved in setting up the ZX Flux installation, it was superb.

Saucony Originals Pop-Up - Neal Street, London. 27/3

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There's been an exciting new store pop-up quite literally in Neal Street, London, so if you get a chance, make sure you swing by and check out what Saucony Originals have to offer. The store is only around for a number of weeks so act fast to avoid disappointment as they have some stock from past collaborations and they'll also be dropping some new stuff.

We were down in London last week for the 10th Crepe City event, but I was given the opportunity to swing by the store at 6pm and shoot their drop of the Bait 'Cruel World', Ubiq 'Dirty Martini' and the Anteater Clothing 'Sea and Sand'. Massive thanks to Morgan and Oisin of the CC team, and Mark at Saucony Originals for the opportunity and also a very smooth release.

We arrived at the store about half an hour before the scheduled launch time and already the queue was around 20-30 deep and the list had already been made. With the chance to purchase all three pairs that were releasing, this was too good an opportunity to miss for many of the people queuing!

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As always, with any release, it's good to see people wearing the specific brand and there were some great pairs on show, and maybe even a sneak peak at an exciting new release that many in the UK are praying are getting an International release.

It's good to catch up with old and new faces and talk all things trainer related, but even more interesting to see the difference between a release in London and say that of one at Hanon in Aberdeen - a lot busier in that there London town for sure.

It seems that the most sought after release was the 'Sea & Sand' x Anteater Clothing and it's no surprise really. The Saucony Jazz features a style of colour blocking that we have grown extremely familiar with and it also looks similar to one of the first Bodega releases, albeit with a different coloured toe box. This pair features a suede and mesh upper decked out in royal blue and sand, along with a stunning perf suede toe box and all sat on a gum sole.

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Next up was the Saucony Shadow Original x Bait 'Cruel World', which are constructed with vegan friendly and cruelty free materials, and this serves as an almost literal representation of the collab theme.

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The final shoe up for grabs was the Ubiq x Saucony Grid 9000 'Dirty Martini', which features an olive and black suede upper with bright red hits, dark gum outsole and also that traditional chunky midsole for added comfort.

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The anticipation is growing for an International release of the Premier x Saucony Shadow 6000 'Life on Mars', and we were lucky enough to see both pairs in the flesh on Thursday, and they look great!

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I was on the look out for some of the best pairs of Saucony to come through on Thursday so check them out below - a couple of my all time favourites being the Acht Amsterdam Shadow 6000, and also the Bodega Shadow 5000.

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