Yesterday I caught Pete’s post about the sneak peek of the new Kinvara 5. After I caught my breath and changed my underwear, I read a few more sentences and was reminded why I’ve loved this shoe so much. After all, the Kinvara were the shoes that I was wearing that reinforced the idea that if the shoe disappears on your foot then it is likely the right shoe for you.
So I pulled out of the closet my favorite Kinvara of all time—the K3, with the navy and yellow, now almost entirely unrunnable—and put them on for the walk up to the new ramen joint for breakfast tacos. On the walk I realized that it had been a while since I’d thought of the Kinvara (my last pair of the K4 expired long ago) and that the excitement of the new K5 was such that I probably needed to untuck my shirt if I was going to be walking facing traffic.
I’d missed them that much. It was kinda like after college when you and your girlfriend broke up after she threw some of your Transformers on the ground and so you didn’t see each other for, like, a two weeks and then you ran into her at some happy hour and you both realized how much you missed each other and shit got crazy in the women’s bathroom and someone chipped a tooth.
What I like about the Kinvara, and ultimately what makes a shoe really desirable is the simplicity of it all. Really, all of the shoes that turn me on tend to be on the simpler side of the design spectrum. Mostly foam and fabric and that that’s pretty much it. Think about the running shoes that make you feel funny in the pants: the Kinvara, the New Balance 14001, the ASICS Tarther, the original adidas Adios, of course the Launch, which gets mononymous labeling because of the military grade badassness. All of these are liberated from the shackles of technologies that serve only to allow grand marketing to the masses. (Hm. Half of these are extinct. Hhhmmmmm.) And then there are those models that have some techy stuff—nothing that isn’t entirely functional—but are beauties of design nonetheless: Newton Distance2 and Energy, the Skechers GoSpeed, the Adios Dos, the INOV-8 233’s and these ON Cloudracers3, which are so subtly arousing that I’m almost embarrassed to mention them publicly on the internet.
Running used to be simple. Now it’s a business that’s pretty much next to yachting, except if you played polo with yachts. Other than the couple of years when the whole “minimalism”4 thing was full on, running shoe companies are pretty much in the business of out-teching each other. And so I find a greater appreciation in a pair of shoes that are functional, simple, timeless. The ride has to be smooth! That’s the most important thing. The fit has to be right on! That’s the most important thing. Wait. Also. More importanter. Like a really good pair of jeans, and not the ones with the prefabricated holes and skidmarks and rhinestones and shit. Like when jeans were jeans and not kindasorta dress pants.
Here is pretty much what you should be thinking when looking for your running shoes. You should be thinking like this guy:
“I think finding the right fit is important. You really want to be comfortable in your shoes. It’s about how it feels…Everything to me is the fit, the feel of the shoe. Do you feel biomechanically like you’re moving barefoot? That’s what you want…For 30 years I’ve thought they’ve had too many gimmicks on the running shoes. Various companies copying each other and trying to outdo each other and adding roll bars and computers on the shoes. It was unnecessary and made things more complicated than it should be.”
So even though the K5 look a little more, I don’t know, complicated in the upper, I bet I’ll publicly molest at least one pair. The hope is that the fit issues of the K4 will go away. I like that the durability thing has been addressed, both in the upper and in the midsole/outsole. I thought then, and still think now, that the Kinvara platform should be the Saucony platform, that all their shoes should be built around the Kinvara. It’s that important. The Ride and Guide are really good, a little archaic still. But getting there. And the Type A should be called the Kinvara Racer.
Simplify your shit. These technologies will not stand, man.
1Or the 1600. Either way. I’d write a fucking haiku about that shit.
2Now with 5 lugs!
3Don’t tell anyone, ok? No, I’m not really embarrassed! I just think we should wait to tell everyone.
4What does that mean, anyway? Philip Glass makes running shoes?