I have had my eye on a pair of Onitsuka Tigers for some time, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect pair. I did have my eye on a yellow pair (I love yellow), but I decided the black stripe was a bit too waspish for me: I want the yellow to be mellow, not invoke a fight-or-flight response when you look at them.
A couple of weeks ago, I was browsing the Onitsuka website when I noticed they had brought out a new selection called ‘Soft Marty‘. I think it was the basic and minimalist approach to these shoes that grabbed me, coupled with the ‘micro-knifing’ technique used to give a raised texture to the accents. They were just a bit different to the millions of other trainers on the market:
There are two models available on the UK website, the Mexico 66:
and the Corsair:
I didn’t realise this at the time, such was my fervour to put a pair on my legs, but they’re also made with leather produced without using chromium-based tanning methods. Chromium IV, used in leather tanning, is harmful to the environment and to the people doing the manufacturing. So hurrah for not using this method! However, they don’t explicitly state which leather tanning process they do use, and given the colour of them I am assuming they probably use the aldehyde method rather than vegetable tanning methods. Formaldehyde is pretty toxic to the environment and people, so I don’t think we can be claiming any bold step forward just yet, but it’s a nice try for the marketing department. I am not going all eco-warrior here and demanding we boycott leather; leather manufacturing is toxic by its nature, and as long as we protect workers and dispose of chemicals responsibly I am happy. I just don’t think non-chromium leather can make any outlandish claims about being eco-friendly if they use formaldehyde instead.
Anyway, back to the shoes… from an arthritis point of view, the Corsair would be a better choice. They’re more stable, with great cushioning and arch support and not as slim-fitting as the Mexico 66. However, with my slim feet and love of the shape I went for the Mexico 66.
I was very impressed from the start. They’re very, very soft and light-weight, and although they don’t offer a lot of support along the foot because they’re so soft, there is enough arch support to stop me over-pronating, meaning I can walk a reasonable distance in them.
I also love the detailing on them, the cream colour is a quite like ‘cricket whites’, which I find very pleasing, and it goes with everything, especially denim. I quite like the fact they are not just another pair of white trainer that look the same as all the others. The micro-knifed texture is a nice touch, they feel good when you hold them, which, again, I really like. The narrowness and close-fitting form, coupled with the lightness, makes me think of fencing shoes, which for me is tremendously nostalgic (yes, before I was f*cked by the arthritis, I was handy with a sword and used to represent my university at fencing), but I realise that won’t be for everyone, but the Corsair is not so fitted…They’re also very flexible, which is great for tired arthritic feet that don’t want to work hard. I can’t imagine they will be so great when the temperature drops because the leather and soles are thin in order to accommodate the softness and flexibility, and cold is worse for arthritic bones but, for the cool summer the UK is having, they’re perfect. I also wonder about how hard-wearing they are given their delicate feel, but I can report back next year.
So, in summary, I really like these shoes and I would heartily recommend them.