Thirty Thousand Streets

Sunday, October 07, 2007


"I'm everlasting, like the toe on Pro Keds"

Rasped Craig Mack on 1994s infamous posse cut, the Flava In Ya Ear remix, and while the intervening years haven't been so kind to the big guy's rap career, the fact remains that Pro-Keds Court Kings are one durable assed (or toed) sneaker. As much as I like the look of Converse, they have their design flaws: notably that the tongue usually works its way down the side of the shoe, and it's fabric often tears at the heel – a point of stress where it is notably weak. Compared to this, Pro-Keds are incredibly durable and comfortable, as a shoe to walk, dance and lounge in.

Pro-Keds are like the Marmite of the trainer world.. you either love them or think they look like clown's shoes. I regularly used to get cussed at work for sporting them, and a nocturnal walk through the shady environs of Burnage was never complete without a round of jeers from a posse of Rockport-toting ballers hanging round outside some rough-assed pub, if I was flexing 'the Keds'.

That said, a friend who's a fashion designer was feeling them, and some dude on an industrial estate in Acton the other day (don't ask) said "Nice Keds mate!" approvingly, as he walked by.

There's something endearingly ugly/beautiful about them.. if Pro-Keds were a dog I'm 90 percent certain they'd be an English Bull Terrier, in a white colourway with pink nose, and they seem to inspire a certain degree of cultish fandom. Coming from a sneaker dynasty of some vintage, these basketball kicks have been namechecked by Rappers from Blackalicious through to Ghostface (and they even did a Rocafella Records collaboration, though we won't go into that).

Shame that I can't find any in the UK at the minute, then. Ebay (my usual port of call) has a few knocking about, but they're all Converse style hi-tops, where as what I'm after are the lo-cut Court Kings with their mega-durable soles and bumper car-style toe. Indeed the UK website is of some vintage (it urges you to download Flash Player 5) and a trawl of various other UK sites has so far proved fruitless. It looks like if I want to get hold of a pair, I'll have to buy from the States.. which probably means exorbitant shipping fees. Bummer.

So, if anyone knows where I can find Pro-Keds Court Kings in UK 9 (any colourways), please let me know, as my existing pair are starting to look somewhat rough.


Penelope said...

I've been searching for a pair of Vitage Pro Keds as well. I bought a pair 5 years ago at Canal Jeans (now Bloomingdale's "annex" in Soho, NY)...I kept them in the box for a couple of years and now am on the hunt for a new pair. The Pro Keds website has been useless for several months now (Hip Hop Mogul Damon Dash bought the company and is now slapping his "Roca Wear" logo on all new designs-yuk). The website has alot of cool vintage designs - but as of yet, one big, fat tease because it's impossible to order or contact them thru email. If I hear of any updated info I'll drop you a line.

The Eyechild said...

Word to that Penelope!

Keep me posted.

Joe said...

Hi Eyechild — nice blog.
Found this post while searching for Pro-Keds myself — trying to replace a knackered pair I bought in Shoreditch 5 years ago. Have you had any luck since?

The Eyechild said...

Hi Joe,

Fraid not, bar a pair I got cheap in TK Maxx last Christmas.

They do turn up on eBay, just usually not in my size, annoyingly.

Unless you're talking about the hideous patent leather Rocawear versions that seem depressingly prolific.