Like most teenagers in London, growing up I loved trainers. I had them all: Nike; Adidas; Reebok; Puma; Ellesse; Fila. Not sure my mum shared that same passion for them though as she was paying for them all. When I got to the age of 16 it got worse! Mainly due to the fact that I had a weekend job at Lillywhites in Picadilly Circus bringing in just over £400. It would last me a week (if that). It became an addiction. But through these years, my taste in footwear wavered and I started to look to other brands. I didn’t want to wear the same trainers as everyone else; I didn’t want to look like every other teenager.
When I turned 19 I got a job in All Saints. It was one of the best days of my life! Seriously. Firstly because it was ALL SAINTS! *in my 19 year old ecstatic hasn’t broken yet voice* Secondly, and more importantly, the 50% staff discount saved me alot of money as I was buying alot of stuff from the brand prior to my employment. Luis reaped the benefits of the staff discount too, heavily. That was the glue holding us together at that point. Hahaha. Stay with me, we’re getting there.
Whilst at All Saints, I worked with a guy called Justin Uzomba aka Mikill Pane. A rapper from Hackney, East London, most famously known for featuring on Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Little Lady’. Definitely a fashion inspiration of mine during that time and still is although I haven’t seen him since. We all went for drinks after work and he had on a pair of trainer/shoes. Too smart to be a trainer: too casual to be a shoe. Weird that. But it was the most stylish and original shoe I had ever seen, at that time. No exaggeration. I wish I remembered their name or had a picture to show you. Anyway, they were what I had been looking for since I turned 17. So only two years worth of searching then. As soon as I saw them I asked him where he got them from and how much they were. His response: “This dope brand called Oliver Sweeney. I’m not sure you know, probably about a couple hundred quid but they’re sick!” I had to get them. But, being a student working three days a week, these were not the figures I wanted to hear and were a stumbling block for me, then. Fast-foward eight years…I have my first and second pair of Oliver Sweeneys and they were truly worth the wait!
Founded in 1989, Oliver Sweeney’s a British brand that is influenced by tradition whilst keeping it modern. We’ll start with their Lopes trainers then. Inspired by Wimbledon, the Lopes trainer embodies the traditional aspect of the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. With this being said, at Sweeney they’re all about taking the traditional and making it modern. This casual trainer has been redesigned and crafted using a vast range of colours and materials for the impressive SS16 collection. Flannel suedes, white and caramel leathers take inspiration from the majestic surfaces at the All England Club. Adding to this, the thick white sole and uppers mostly adhere to the strict uniform rules of Wimbledon which state:
‘Shoes must be almost entirely white, including the soles. Large manufacturers’ logos are not encouraged.’
These trainers can literally be worn with everything and still look ace, pun intended. Trousers, denim, shorts, chinos and the list goes on. Literally. How many casual trainers out there have that versatility? Don’t worry, we’ll wait…
Moving from the casual to the luxury, we introduce the Osimo low-top trainer. These trainers are elegance personified which is not something you necessarily associate with footwear for men. Again, Oliver Sweeney do not disappoint here. They are crafted in Italy in the same factory as their quality formal shoes (hand-finished) using premium leather. These are genuinely beautiful trainers that can be worn in various different ways. Whether you’re dressing down a suit or dressing up jeans and a tee, these shoes literally make the outfit in our opinion they’re that good. Sometimes when you see footwear that looks great it may compromise on other areas such as comfort. Oliver Sweeney believe that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort for style or vice versa, so all their shoes are designed around their Anatomical Last. Meaning, over time and years of research, the founder has created a tool which not only mimics the shape of the foot but its movement too. All-in-all creating a shoe that has a great fit and keeps customers coming back for more. Oliver Sweeney are not re-inventing the wheel here. They’re re-working classic trainer styles with a contemporary focus. This is done with sleek profiles, minimal uppers and the sharp design of each of the styles is complemented with subtle features like discreet, stitched curves, calf leather linings, padded collars and hand stitched detailing that emphasise the quality.
Like tennis, the fashion and footwear industry alike are fast-paced, everyone trying to intertwine and balance the mix between traditional and modern influences seamlessly. But not all are able to do this. With the Lopes and Osimo trainer I believe they have done this. Game, set and match to Oliver Sweeney in that department then.