In 1980, most kids my age were backward skating at Champs Roller Rink to “Call Me” by Blondie or “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson, or trying to understand what exactly “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd really meant. I, on the other hand, was begging and pleading with my parents to buy me what all the kids—seriously, mom, like every single one—were putting on when they took off their skates: white leather Nikes marked only with the signature swoosh in either royal blue or red. I was convinced that I was the only kid in school who didn’t have a pair and I begged and cried mercilessly for months until one day my parents finally relented and agreed to buy them for me.
But then I had a big decision to make. Would I choose the red swoosh or the blue swoosh? What you chose said a lot about your personality—even as a fourth grader. Reds were the more popular choice; they seemed more exciting and fiery somehow, plus a lot of the popular kids had them. Blues seemed to be the choice of the underdogs and independent thinkers. (At least that’s what I told myself.) In the end, I chose blue. Not because I fancied myself an independent underdog, but because blue was, and still is, the color of my favorite team. Such is the mind of an eleven-year old.
There were many things I coveted in the years following my big Nike decision—Tretorns in every color, Guess Jeans, Izod shirts, legwarmers, and cut up sweatshirts with Asian letters a la Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. Some I got; most I didn’t. But it was my leather blue-swoosh Nikes that taught me a lesson I’ve carried with me forever—fashion can make you feel better. Putting on those shoes felt almost as magical as couple skating to Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” Almost.
Next in The Trends Back Then series: Little Black Backpack
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Simple Ways to Give Dirty Shoes the Boot
High Heels and Pumps … Oh My!
Photo note: This isn’t them, but they’re close.