Saturday, 12 June 2010

Interim Post

Good news! I all but vowed to go on a murder spree in protest at the lack of certainty with which we're able to identify Steve McQueen plimsolls. Fair enough, I'm sure you'll agree, but I can now at least take a break from the killing. Patrick Segui, from the excellent Riveted blog, has provided information on The Thomas Crown Affair's canvas guest stars. The brand, apparently, is Sperry Top-Sider. It's been about for 75 years and US Navy standard issue for 71 of those, so a natural choice for the ex-Marine. It was also, as with Keds, owned by United States Rubber at one time, a company that goes back to 1892. (A business called Stride Rite now owns both Sperry Top-Sider and Keds. Stride Rite also markets footwear for horrid Tommy Hilfiger, but there you go.)

Sperry Top-Sider 75th Anniversary CVO in navy

Sperry Top-Sider has issued vintage pumps to coincide with its 75th anniversary. Patrick says those McQueen sports in The Thomas Crown Affair have missed out on the celebrations. Nevertheless, the navy Sperry Top-Sider 75th Anniversary CVO looks close.

Oi Polloi sells a "clay" colour for £65 and warns that it's "quite a narrow" fit, which is a worry but who knows? Clarks says its desert boots are narrow, and I'm fine with my normal size. Converse, conversely, are strips of torture to me. (I've only recently bought Keds, by the way, and I must say they hurt! Usual enough at first, I suppose. Let's hope they improve over time, unlike the Converse I've endured.)

Bad news! The Sperry Top-Sider website sells navy 75th Anniversary CVO for $75 (about £50) but only delivers to the US. Companies such as MyUS provide a solution. They give you a US address to use, and they forward your packages. It all means, of course, additional effort as well as cost for those of us in the UK, but I might well go through with it. I'll let you know what happens if so.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Wonder Of Shoes

The intention behind this post is to tie up the loose laces (oh dear) of Steve's footwear. Anyway, a bit of news first: part of Tommy Hilfiger's autumn collection will take inspiration from Steve McQueen. Oh dear.

Anyway, the boot. You can go miles in suede or rough-out leather boots. They're comfortable enough for you to be able, and want, to wear them much of the time. Winter might well prompt a rethink to a more waterproof leather, however. (Note also that summer showers will make at least your lighter-coloured suede boots look worn in a funny rather than cool way unless you apply protector.)

Red Wing 875

Red Wing makes footwear that accords with Steve's cool. They're hip of late but have manufactured work boots in the US for over a century. Steve favoured the 877 when he was motorcycle racing. The more manageable version is the classic 875. Make sure they're the right, ridiculously named "oro-iginal" colour.

Red Wing 3141

The 3141 leather chukka is a smaller dark brown bit of footwear. It's a sturdy alternative to the Bullitt-type suede boot.

McQueen horsing around in the fitness room (1963) from the book Unforgettable Steve McQueen, edited by Henri Suzeau

Now back to more summery stuff. Anybody sane would kill to know exactly what kind of white lace canvas shoes Steve wore in the Life photo I put up last post. They're probably the same as the shoes in the above photo. No matter how many people we mercilessly murder, though, I doubt we'll know any of these things for certain. Californian company SeaVees invokes McQueen in its blurb and seems to make a decent enough shoe for $120. Who knows if Steve McQueen ever even heard of SeaVees though? Puma's 917 connection is just as slight. It's a shoe apparently inspired by the Porsche that Steve McQueen drives in Le Mans.

Keds Champion

Steve's plimsolls are something other than Keds Champion, too, but they're an excellent alternative. They're hip of late but the brand has been about since 1916. The huge online fashion shop ASOS sells them for £40. Go for your usual size and you can exchange them for free if they fit badly. ASOS also sells a nifty slip-on pair of Keds for the same price.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Steve fleetingly sports these navy canvas shoes in The Thomas Crown Affair. I just found a pair of navy Keds Champion on eBay (again £40).

Wearing Adidas on the set of Le Mans (1971)

McQueen did wear more substantial trainers (above). Adidas was founded by a guy named Adolf by the way and yes, he was a Nazi. Just like his brother, the founder of Puma.

The Hunter (1980)

I've heard that the trainers Steve wears in The Hunter are by Japanese vintage brand Onitsuka Tiger, their classic Mexico 66 model. They look about as good as post-plimsoll trainers can, but the stripes are different to those on Steve's shoes. I've heard some people say that McQueen was at his most stylish for The Hunter, but they're wrong. I'll return to this point in another post.

Right, that gives footwear the boot. Steve of course wore all sorts of other things on the end of his legs. Brown boots and canvas shoes are about the essence of Steve McQueen style, though.

It was mostly sunny here for a couple of weeks, but that's gone now. If it returns, I might be in the mood for a summer special next time.