Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The Death of the Boat shoes

Nobody really would kill the boat shoes, but it's how Gerard Gotladera sees it. CUTTING the EDGE goes highly-opinionated on what really separates the boys from the men, why finding one's style is mandatory and finally why the boat shoes are Resting In Peace...

By now, readers of this blog of mine would be accustomed to my Nazi-way of viewing fashion and style and for this month, my CUTTING the EDGE post would be of no different tone. For November I have published on webspace one of my biggest frustrations on the style department: Why the hell is everybody wearing boat shoes these days? Is everybody suddenly closet preppy kids?

In school---the University of Asia & the Pacific, only a few of us had sported boat shoes to class. Now I'm not saying I'm one of these men who started the "trend", but during those times, there were only so little of us that you could count us using your fingers on one hand. Of course, you would draw stares and comments, because at this age and in this country, the norms of ordinary male fashion footwear would be STRICTLY Converse sneakers. Every guy in Manila owns a pair (I used to), because Converse sneakers truly fits everybody: anybody can wear it. Or the other option would be to go about wearing Nike high tops or dunks or whatever you call them. So wearing boat shoes was like seeing a dog run on two legs at a marathon: interesting and somehow strange. As I continued living my life inside my boat shoes---there came a time when I practically wore no other shoes outside, I noticed that a lot of my schoolmates were starting to sport them. A month or two into the year, there were more who caught on the craze.

On some cheap series on some channel accesible to both cable and non-cable TV, I saw this dude wearing boat shoes on air and I was nodding my head in dismay. There was nothing wrong with the boat shoes for they looked really good: an ice cream green tea color done up in suede with cream detailing (I know, oh-so-cool). What was wrong though was the person wearing it. Technically, I wouldn't be a good judge of his character because I don't know the guy. On TV he wasn't funny. Surely, he gets paid quite handsomely for being casted on some boring comedy show because it's TV. But what's really oh so annoying was the fact that the way he conducted himself on TV and the blonde streaks he sported on his brown Filipino hair ruined the prestige of his handsome shoes. Again, I do not know this man and wouldn't want to, but it still does offend me to know that he wears the same shoes as I do.

Some sneaker magazine I once flipped through at a bookstore showed a picture of a fairly mutated boat shoe that pretty much looked like some new sneaker design, was unconsciously shoving it in my face that the boat shoes I was wearing and had loved so much were for losers and fathers who knew nothing about style. I regretted the day I even laid eyes on that magazine. The point is, the whole message I am trying to convey is that the reason why men are men is because men are more understanding of true style and what the fashions of time present and stand for. The number one rule on any fashion disciple and taste maker's list is that nobody should be slaves of trends. And this rule comes from a real sense and deeper knowledge of how style and fashion really works.

What all fashion disciples, taste makers and educated people know when it comes to fashion and style is that trends and fashions are mass produced like cans of Andy Warhol Campbell Soup: they're sold in grocery stores, come in a certain flavors and are up for grabs for anyone who has enough money to buy them. When you have the money, are intrigued by the soup and the nutrition and taste it'll give, then you buy a can. Fashion is just like that: this season, Stefano Pilati of Yves Saint Laurent wants men to wear deep, revealing V-neck shirts and blazers that are cut short up front and end long at the back, next season it's a whole new thing. If a financially able man sits front row at Pilati's fashion show and has no real knowledge of true style the tendency is for this man to keep buying from the collection without even knowing if it'll last in his closet and if he'll actually wear them for more than once. Actually, scratch that, it's a boy...not a man. People who are aware of trends, see them on magazines and online are always susceptible to buying every little thing that matters for that season. So it's a new pair of shoes for this season---because boat shoes are in, and it's another pair of shoes for Fall---because boat shoes are out. However men, who are sure of their own style, know what fashion stands for and has a great knowledge of whether or not things fit and suit him, would probably think twice before sporting a pair of boat shoes. It's what style is all about and what this blog is all about: it's about knowing one's own style and being smarter when it comes to fashion. That's why I'm separating the boys from the men, because seriously, there are so many boys I have seen and known.

I stand by having such a dictatorial manner of saying things just because I know my point and I know my case. The case is, the boat shoes have died. After seeing that dude on TV and after reading this sneaker magazine (published locally) point fingers at a Sebago pair of boat shoes for being old and unfashionable, I pray for the dear souls of all the handsome, authentic, not mutated pairs of boat shoes out there for peace in shoe heaven. Truly, only a few men understand the aesthetics behind the boat shoes. If this dude on TV had sported something else, something that would obviously match his style, then I wouldn't mind. If this sneaker magazine had not bashed on an icon of true boat shoe style, then I wouldn't really care. If men who knew that boat shoes would look great and better in simpler, classic fashion and style, then I really wouldn't burry the great American staple. All I want to voice out is that, not all things that are in look good on everybody. There is nothing wrong with trying or at least aspiring to wear something new because it's a free world and money makes it more liberated, but it only gets sour and more tragic when people abuse style and fashion. Don't wear boat shoes if you know you're not inclined to classic style. Don't sport Nike high-tops if you don't know how to wear them. Don't wear slim cut trousers when you know you're not fit to wear them. Don't buy a Rolex watch just because you have money. People should start owning up to things, and a shallow, yet fairly important start would be owning up to the things one wears: If you really see yourself rocking military boots and know that you would look great in them for more than a year or two, then by all means buy as much as your money could. If you really know that a pair of mutated boat shoes (boat shoe design meets sneakers) would look superb on you, then it's time to invest. Owning up to style means being able to carry it confidently and most of all, wearing it even after decades have past and knowing that for you, it'll never go out of style.

To that dude on TV and that sneaker magazine, I hope you all own up to whatever you are wearing. Because if both of you don't, then you boys should probably go back to prep school and learn some ABCs...

illustration Flickr

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