Kick and Play: Retro Sneakers For Comfort & Style

Comfort is key. Whether you’re the over-booked weekend eater that has a Saturday schedule of breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner or you’re planning on going to Sunday brunch and staying put for half the day, having something on your feet without the worry of tired feet is important.

The easiest solution? Go old school.

THE KICKS:

Vans Rata (to the left)

When a sneaker is too casual for you, allow me to introduce you to a pair of atypical Vans. Known for slip-ons and low-cut lace-ups, the Vans Rata is a unique pair that you can pair with shorts and jeans but still get away with keeping them on at a warm-weather brunch with your non-denim rolled up and no socks.

These Vans have an extra-cushioned sole, and slowly form to the imprint of your foot as you wear the shoe in – a big plus if you plan to wear them regularly. And why not? They work with almost everything. Tired of wearing the same round-toed dress shoe to work and looking ordinary when you meet up for drinks later? This should solve that. If you’re that espresso junkie with your feet up at a coffee shop for hours, the thicker, softer lining on this kick will surely help.

Be mindful of the fact that the Rata comes in a variety of colors and fabrics. But for the best look and comfort, stay away from hemp and canvas, and stick to suede or nubuck (pictured above). They are built better for longer wears, last longer, and give off a much cleaner aesthetic. Good price, great fit, fantastic daily wear.

Available at most Van’s retailers, $60 to $75.

Some recommended finishes: Dachshund brown fleece, pig suede + nubuck

New Balance 1300 series (photo credit: Angel Gonzalez/Vagrant Sneaker)

Nike

I get it. For many people, the consensus is that New Balance shoes are for the 60+-year-olds that spend early weekend mornings doing cardio in the mall. Or the Steve Jobs wannabes.

But the 1300 series changes that. The narrow New Balance sneaker features a rare blend of premium leather, suede, and mesh that results in a good-looking sneaker in almost any color. With its loose laces and popped tongue, the sneakers work with nearly anything, tucked in jeans or cords. The retro vibe on the heel gives this shoe an all-around nostalgia and a perfect addition to all closets.

The best color available now? The grey and navy pictured above, but the good thing about NB is they are always releasing good color combinations on the regular.

Available at most retailers, or New Balance . Find them here. $129.99 to $159.99.

THE PLAY:

Burma Superstar, San Francisco, Ca.
At first glance, Burma Superstar appears a little suspect. A plain dining room with old-fashioned furniture usually is a no-go, right? However, give this low-key restaurant a chance and experience an incredible fusion of Asian food that make long waits and cramped space well worth it. Any foodie – high maintenance or simple – will speak highly of the tea-leaf salad. The renowned salad is a mixture of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic, diced shrimp, and sunflower seeds crafted meticulously to satisfy anybody’s palette with a refreshing, flavorful start to any meal. Other standouts: Samusa soup, coconut rice, sesame beef, and Burmese curries. Easy to get seated for two, but great for big parties if planned ahead.

Escuela Taqueria, West Hollywood, Ca
We all love our fancy dinners, but sometimes, dim lighting, good music, and ridiculous tacos are much needed. Enter Escuela, a small taco shop that defines itself both by its look and food. This taco shop takes décor to a new level with an extensive use of chairs and shoes. But the extra attention to detail doesn’t stop there – the tacos here are legendary. Sure, you get your standard chicken, shrimp and carne asada, but poblano chilies, lobster, and a variety of pork and beef options on the menu guarantee one damn good night of food. But it’s the refined and unique attention to your meal that makes this place so rad. All meals come with delightful pickled cactus and habanero coleslaw.  Something else worth mentioning: Cucumber mint agua fresco. Want to make it a party? Bring your own beer, tequila, or wine.

Café Mogador, New York, NY
One thing about restaurants in New York is their revere for authenticity – the look, the feel, and the food. Café Mogador does this with a vibe that screams Middle Eastern – from the bohemian interior, to the rural feel of both inside the restaurant and on the busy outdoor patio. Yes, the café is open for dinner, but bless your soul by having brunch here. Start with a decadent cup of Turkish coffee and indulge with spicy Moroccan eggs benedict, fantastic pastries, maple almond granola, or a pretty amazing frittata. All are big winners at Mogador. And in the event that you haven’t tried eggs with hummus, it’s most certainly always a good choice. Inspired with flavor and energy from North Africa, this is a must-visit brunch spot in New York. And hey, for what it’s worth, there always seems to be good-looking people here.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.  

Kick and Play: Shoes. Party. Go.

Lately, I’ve heard many people talk about the struggle to find the perfect boot – the pair that you can throw on with anything and trust it to look and feel good. Sometimes one pair of boots only works with jeans and not your work pants, and vice versa. Meet the pairs that change all that.

THE KICKS:

Wodehouse Chukka by Timberland (to the left)

A brand known for work shoes and a plain look, Timberland introduced the Wodehouse collection a few years ago, and now it lives in its own realm of personal style and function. You get that same lifetime comfort with these Timbs, but look so damn good doing it.

Wodehouse’s super-comfy Chukka boots are a slightly pointed pair with wax-coated laces. They’re built as a mid-top so you can tuck your jeans in for a refined look, or let them hang for that brilliantly messy feel. Blazer, t-shirt, oxford – who cares. They all work.

Available in both black and brown, no pair is the same, since the shoes are hand-finished, full-grain leather with a worn-in aesthetic. That being said, the more you wear them, the better they’ll look. And most importantly, it’ll be your own unique fit. Nobody else’s. Available for $295 at Nordstrom.

Not loud enough? Let’s get wild.

LunarGrand Chukkah by Cole Haan

LunarGrand Chukkah by Cole Haan

For those who want something a little brighter, Cole Haan has taken their partnership with Nike to a new level by recently borrowing their Lunarlon sole technology and beautifully blending it with their very own chukka boot.

Dressed in a soft black suede with a volt (neon yellow) sole, this shoe is definitely a stunner. It’s a pair that you can wear for hours on hours and not have sore feet. With the LunarGrand, you get a great mix of casual aesthetic with traditional feel.

Also available in camel/red, grey/pink and woodbury/orange. Works great on jeans, but get bold with dark chinos. Available for $228, everywhere and here.

THE PLAY:

Smitten Ice Cream, San Francisco, CA

Hey, ice cream is good. But when you taste it at its freshest point, it just might be the best thing ever. No better way to say it, Smitten prides themselves on re-imagining the ice cream experience. Each order is made fresh, and is created from absolutely raw, organic ingredients and liquid nitrogren. Yes, liquid nitrogren. Why? Because it makes the smoothest, freshest ice cream you will have ever had, literally.

Gjelina, Los Angeles, CA 

A staple in the Venice community, the creative fusion-Mediterranean restaurant is perfect for the foodie. Seasonal menus, beautiful people, and all types of energy are here. Hey, it’s LA, right? Atypical from the typical Los Angeles characteristic, the menu is meant for sharing, so the more you order, the better you eat. Known for eclectic array of pizzas, but so good for their grilled goods like corn, shisito peppers, and carrots, Gjelina gives you great food, the LA culture and, likely, a good story. Rock your boots to brunch or dinner, just don’t ask for substitutions.

Momofuku Milk Bar and Bakery, New York, NY

Let’s call 2013 the year of the cookie. And ice cream. And pie. Is that too much? Momofuku is that creative baker-friend you always wanted. Remember sipping on that bowl of cereal milk after you finished your Cheerios? That’s the milk Momofuku uses to create their fantastic soft serve. If ice cream is too cold, try their famous Compost cookie, made of chocolate, butterscotch chips, oats, graham crackers, coffee, and potato chips. It’s one hell of a cookie. And then…the ultimate dessert – the crack pie, full of butter, cream, brown sugar, more sugar, and corn flavoring to give your palette a hit of salty and sweet. As Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi is known for saying, it tastes better “with your favorite someone.”

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well. 

Kick and Play: Shoes. Party. Go.

Starting in 2013, BlackBook will start talking shoes. With dinner parties, brunches, coffee dates, and friendly catch-up sessions, figuring out the right outfit can become an interminable task. And while so many publications spend their word count on what pants, blazers, tie clips, and watches you need to wear, we’re going to focus on the one thing you’ll always need: good kicks on your feet. So shake hands with our new weekly column: Kick and Play.

Whether you love your skinny chinos, tapered pants, or baggy jeans, we’ll make sure we’ve got you covered in the kicks department. And don’t worry; the full spectrum of shoes will be covered. From limited-edition sneaker releases, to wingtips, to boots that won’t make you feel like a storm trooper, BlackBook’s got your back – and feet. Once you’ve explored your shoes options, we’ll give you the top national restaurants, clubs, and bars to sport them. Kick, play, go.

THE KICKS:

Nike Air Jordan 13 Retro (pictured above)

 

Over the past two years, Nike and Reebok have become crazy for the retro trend. On the regular, the sneaker brands are re-releasing some of their infamous pairs of retro Jordan’s, Iverson’s and throwback player editions of sports legends.

January is no different, with a number of classic Jordan sneakers being released this month. On Saturday, January 12th, Nike and the Jordan Brand will re-release the Air Jordan 13 Retro in black and red, which was originally released in 1997. The shoe, inspired by a panther, was designed by famous designer Tinker Hatfield.

What was known to be a sneaker to collect or play in, now brings a bold yet sleek attitude to skinny jeans at the bar, brunch, or that afternoon weekend discovering the city – just don’t let anybody step on them.

Available on Saturday, January 12th at select retailers. $160. Follow @nikestore or your local sneaker shop on Twitter for launch information.

 

Aldo Nocks

Aldo Nocks

A fusion of a wingtip and a casual-laced shoe, the new Aldo Nocks is a great shoe for nearly any occasion. Though it is a little narrow, it looks great on khakis or jeans, dressed down with a t-shirt and hoody, or up with a tucked-in shirt. The Nocks are available in black and brown. To add a little flavor, these shoes have a surprising, electric-blue sole, giving your step a vibrant bounce. $70 at Aldo Shoes.

THE PLAY:
Perch, Los Angeles, Calif.

A fantastic rooftop bar a whimsical French-bistro feel. Great drinks and damn good dessert. Flanked with fire pits, lounge seating, and an eclectic sound of music from DJs and, on occasion, an indie band. Great for post-dinner with friends or a date.

Chile Pies & Ice Cream, San Francisco, Calif.

Green chili pies with apple filling, a ground beef pie served in a Frito bag topped with Fritos, pie shakes. This Mexican-infused bakery has no rules – just innovative sweet and savory pies, and organic ice cream for the purists. Perfect for any meal, any time, anybody.

La Esquina, New York, New York

When Mexican food is done well, it can be a life-changing experience. Enter La Esquina. Translated as “the hideaway,” this location is just that. It starts off as a three-space set-up which is perfect in its own right – a taqueria, a café, and a brasserie + bar. While you should most definitely try all three, the necessity here is to secure a reservation for the basement: an underground seating arrangement with a menu that boasts 200+ premium tequilas and cocktails and, oh yeah, unforgettable grilled street corn, blessed main courses, and an environment that you won’t want to leave.

Book a reservation a week in advance for a guaranteed good seat. Take a girl. Celebrate your birthday. And wear your new kicks.