While looking at this conscious sneaker brand Viron, I couldn’t help but think back to my schooling in the early 80s.
My house of learning made the borstal in Scum look like Centre Parcs. I remember a lad with unusually long finger nails who was bullied mercilessly, called a ‘girl’ one minute, a ‘bummer’ the next. The solitary black lad was taunted in all the horrific ways you can imagine. While another impoverished soul was regularly terrorised for wearing plastic shoes. There were regular beatings and tears.
1980’s comprehensive school education: the only time in my life when the dumbest and the beefiest could dominate the smartest and most sensitive.
How times have (mostly) changed. Even all these years later, I still wish an illegally unpleasant fate on the nasty bullying bastards I was forced to school alongside. But it is oddly pleasing to me to see how non-leather shoes are finally becoming a serious option. Credible, stylish and politically virtuous. These days there’s really no reason not to.
Viron use corn leather — which I must admit, I didn’t even know was a thing. Apparently it’s derived from product that’s grown for the food industry in in Northern Italy. The recycled canvas comes from a French warehouse full of vintage military supplies, while all the soles are produced from 70% recycled rubber and 30% newly produced rubber. Apparently, once you’re done with your kicks you can send them back to the factory and the sole will be used to make new shoes.
Of course this is all super worthy and cool, but they’ve got to look good too. And, for me a least, they do. With their clumpy form and retro feel they remind me a little of the wobbly Nigel Cabourn x Mihara oddities we looked at a while back. But these are a look more wallet friendly: £129 for the canvas, £139 for the corn leather.
I don’t know whether I’m suffering some lockdown induced madness, but the pink and yellow ones are looking mighty fine to me. I showed them to my girl and she pulled a bemused face, which suggests to me I’m onto something.
They look a bit cartoony, I’ll give you that. From the top down they appear Conversey, from the side though, when you get a proper look at that fat tread, wallop! It’s not putting me off though, I genuinely think when I’m next up for a sneaker purchase I might well give these a go.
Just in case you’re wondering, I wasn’t the guy in the plastic shoes. But if, by any fluke of fate he’s reading this, here you go sunshine, your time has finally come.