In Defense of James Harden's Ugly Shoes


Adidas has been working hard on some signature shoes for James Harden. By now, you’re aware those shoes have been thoroughly roasted on the internet, as is custom for unattractive sneaker releases. And these are not attractive shoes. They look dirty, right out of the box.

"James Harden's shoes look like the tires on my 98 Toyota — Anthony Bianchi (@antbianc) August 24, 2016"

Everybody’s got jokes about James Harden’s shoes, and they’re all very funny, but has anybody considered that these shoes look old and dirty on purpose? Could it be that they are a statement about sneaker culture? 

My first job after high school was at a service station where I did things like pump gas and fix tires and change alternators. At this job I wore a pair of Doc Martens from high school, because Doc Martens were no longer fashionable. They got dark and greasy and I drilled holes straight through the sides of the soles to see if I could make them cushier (the difference was not noticeable). They had transitioned from fashionable to anti-fashionable, like a Jeep Cherokee covered over with spray-on bedliner and hauled out to the dunes. Harden’s shoes remind me of those greasy Doc Martens.

Sneaker culture has gone too far. It has become about glamour and exclusivity. Standing in lines. Chasing down a pair of rare shoes like Turtle and his Fukijamas. It takes itself too seriously.

These Harden shoes are a reaction to that. They’re rat rods for your feet. They’re for people who like sneakers, but don’t like to think of them as jewelry.

Finally, a sneaker for dirtbags like me.