Looking back while moving forward
In recent years we’ve seen a rise in the amount of small online stores popping up that sell a lot of classic football boots. With this, as well as the popularity of boot collectors on Instagram, there’s been increasing interest with boots from the past 20-odd years. For many of us, there’s a certain mystique to boots from the late 90s to early 2000s. We currently dominate a lot of the talk in online spaces for football boots and because of this, boots from our childhood and teenage years tend to loom large in these conversations. Now that many of us have jobs and our own money, the ability to buy such boots has increased. Therefore, the cycle of nostalgia increases, because who doesn’t want to show off their classic boots?
Each one of us is guilty of this and there’s nothing wrong with that. For example, I’m a fan of the 2004 F50s and I would love to grab a pair. Similar to that I’m always the lookout for the Ignitus 1 or 2. But the flip side to this is that this causes us all to have rose-tented glasses when it comes to the boots from the past or to re-releases of some of these boots. This view of the past colours our expectations of boots in the current market and what we expect to come in the future.
This isn’t one of those arguments about which boots should and shouldn’t be released, but rather saying that we often don’t realise how bad some of these boots were compared to what’s available on the market these days. A good way to look at this is through the Mercurial Vapor series. When I was in High School, I only wore Mercurial Vapors. I loved the fit and the style and it didn’t matter whether they gave me blisters. This is a similar experience for a lot of people who wore past models of Vapors. I think it’s something that people take for granted these days that Vapors don’t causes blisters anything like it was with the older models. It is also easy to forget how stiff some of these early models of synthetics were. Comparing one of the older Vapor models to even a model from 4 years back is like night and day.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t pick up a pair of classic boots if you get the chance. It’s just that expectations should be tempered when it comes to classic boots. I have heard from some people that the split sole design of the first F50s are not great when it comes to playing on turf these days. I’ve seen people complain that the old T90s are not as soft as they remember. It is easy to forget how far we have come even since the 2010 World Cup. Boot design, materials and support have changed drastically in recent years to where a one to one remake of certain boots would almost certainly fail in today’s market.
Most people will immediately think of the recently released F506+ from adidas and could easily argue that the original Tunits were not a candidate for something that needed a re-release. I would agree with them because even though the upper has been improved on the re-release, it is still a far cry from what is expected of boots these days. Adidas does deserve credit for switching the soleplate because the original Tunit was a great idea but a poor implementation. These expectations we have on how boots from previous years places older boots on a pedestal that they weren’t even on when they were originally released. It is amazing to me that I see so many older styles being resold for crazy prices when I can remember that they struggled to sell when they were first on the market. Ronaldinho’s Gold R10 Legends took a while to clear out at my old job and even had to be marked down. The adidas 7406 took an absolute age to clear out and many of the sought-after speed boots from the past struggled to sell when first launched.
Now, I am certainly not innocent from this in the slightest, as many people can quite correctly argue that the original F50s feel like a tank compared to even later F50s and they’re not wrong. But it’s that nostalgia factor that is always hard to escape from. And I think this causes issues when we look backwards too often. More people can wear more styles of boots these days. People are no longer as limited to certain styles as they once were. There was a long time period in which a lot of people with wide feet had a decent chunk of the market closed off from them. Companies have more boots at more price points as well these days, though as I always say, they make too much of it. And saying that we should constantly look back to the past rather than take what we liked and improve upon would harm more people than do good. I guess what I’m getting at is that it is nice to reminisce for stuff and old boots, but let’s make sure it doesn’t stop us from moving forward.
That was a bit off-the-cuff but what are ya’lls opinions? As always feel free to let me know in the comments and make sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!