Old-School, Yes!

They are not your plain white plimsolls, but neither are they some overwrought monstrosity

By Shu Xie

As sneakers become more outrageously styled, such as the Balmain B Bold, or the new, ridiculously hammered Balenciaga Paris sneakers, which are sold “destroyed”, I find myself gravitating towards simpler silhouettes that are undoubtedly pristine. I mean, shoes will get soiled eventually, even when you have a solid rotation in place. Okay, may be not soiled, but definitely scuffed. I know mine do. Perhaps, it’s also my tendency to attract those who love stepping on my feet. Sure, social distancing is, regrettably, no longer required, but must people come this close? Which also explains why I have no love for all-white sneakers. Not one bit. But I am easily attracted to those that are off-white (colour, not brand!) or cream, or shades of stone, from pebble to pumice.

Such as this pair by Novesta. This is from the Slovak brand’s Marathon Trail silhouette, a shoe that is much appreciated by aficionados of the decidedly old-school, such as the Loewe Flow Runner. It is essentially a running shoe with the ruggedness of a trail shoe and attended all-terrain outsole in a neat little package that has more than a whiff of retro. In fact, Novesta would be quick to say that this particular style is reminiscent of kicks produced during the era of Czechoslovak, the former sovereign state of Czech and Slovak in Central Europe.

Fans of vintage-y European running shoes, such as I, would be happy to know that Novesta, other than its exotic provenance, is linked to another major name in footwear that, too, has links to Czech and Slovak: Bata (yes, that Bata). In fact, Novesta was conceived by Jan Antonin Bata, one of the three siblings that founded The Bata Shoe Company in 1894. Till today, Novesta shoes are produced entirely in Europe, with some in Partizánske, the town where the brand began. Most of their shoes are low-key and low-tech, which lend their output immediate appeal.

The shoe’s main allure to me is its surprising lightness. The upper is made of mesh and suede, with unfussy overlays, including the contrast ‘pine’ that stretches from the eye-stays and laces to the collar and then the heel. This truly seals the deal for me. It continues to speak to my eagerness with its not-too-narrow toe box that is slightly rounded, and that striking underscore of the toothed outsole. In sum, the pair would encase my foot for a long while to come, on track or trail.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Novesta Marathon Trail in beige-pine, SGD189, is available at Goodluck Bunch. Photo: Zhao Xiangji

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