I have said it before and I might as well say it once more: my love for shoes all started with trainers. Naturally none of the brands that we have today were around during my youth so it was mainly Nike, Puma and Adidas and not the over designed rubbish of today but rather, the classics. But as my love for dress shoes came over me, my desire for trainers took a back seat. Now the roles have reversed again. As I have more dress shoes than I know what to do with, my love for trainers (as I got rid of nearly all of them when I first moved to Europe) has crept back on me. And I must say that as of today Axel Arigato is at the top of my list for coolest trainers around. So let me tell you why.
I remember when I first saw Common Projects and thought ‘Wow, that’s ahead of its time. It’s clean, simple and suitable for grown ups from 30-60 years old (even older too!).’ The only downfall was their over-inflated price. But they paved the way and since that time hundreds of sneaker brands have popped up all trying to do something along those lines but from what I gather, doing so in a more affordable manner. As most of my attention does go to dress shoes, I don’t often get to know a lot of these brands but after one day on Instragram stumbling across Axel Arigato, I have not been able to let them out of my mind as they are the best thing that I have seen for a while. But I never acted upon this liking of them, until recently.
I was coming back from lunch the other day and in my peripheral vision saw a wall full of trainers and was instantly curious as I had never seen it before (and it is literally 30 seconds walk from my showroom and on a main street that I walk by daily). I looked a bit more carefully and saw that they were Axel Arigato and apparently it was the first day launch of their new shop in London on Broadwick st in Soho. So I ventured into the shop. I knew that they were started by young, Swedish guys but that was about it. So I saw a guy who looked Swedish and went up to introduce myself. He just happened to be the CEO and his name was Albin. I told him that I would love to feature the brand and get to know a bit more about the story and the product. So I took his card to email him and set up an appointment for a few days later.
So, I went to the shop and had a nice one hour chat with Albin about the history of the brand whilst trying on a few pairs. Their story is quite impressive especially when you consider the fact that Albin and his business partner Max Svardh only started the brand two years ago and already have a shop in London and a massive following on Social Media. They were smart to create a social media outlet that showed all brands of trainers while at the same time building their brand and promoting it on their other account. It reminded me of someone else that did that (being cheeky here!). When asked about the name, Albin tells me that the Arigato bit (‘thank you’ in Japanese) is a tribute to their fascination of minimalist side of the Japanese culture while Axel represents a mysterious name that poses the question ‘who is he?’ Yet he is nothing but a fictitious name meant to create self questioning. Smart I say. A name that makes you think is a good name to have.
Now onto the shoes. As you can see here, I tried on 3 pairs, all platform soled ones. I tried the thinner sole one as well but after feeling the comfort of the platform sole, I was ruined and knew that I had to get that sole only. Let me preface the next bit by saying that I was always intrigued by the platform sole but at the same time a bit dubious about it as I normally like a more thin silhouette and profile. It just looked chunky to me in pictures. But I have to say that when wearing it, it actually doesn’t feel bulky, chunky nor anything of the like to be honest. And it’s weird as I am sure that the platform sole and thinner sole have the same sole block but the platform sneaker looked slimmer when looking down at your feet, and that is one of the reasons I liked it more. But most importantly they were super comfortable and with my messed up feet, I needed that.
Now for the juicy details. The shoes are made in Portugal. The leather/suede comes from Italy. They are completely leather lined and feel like a solid shoe that was made properly, not just some flimsy sneaker that is all too often on the market. And all of that for a median price of around £150 which for me makes a whole lot of sense. It’s a fair price, even maybe a bargain for what you are getting in return. You can see that effort and thought was put into the design and construction of them. The platform sneaker has this extra bit of leather in the heel to ensure a nice, secure and comfortable fit. Details like that are, for me, what separate them from the rest. It shows that they thought of everything and not just put something together for the sake of it.
A long time ago, I wrote a post about the grown-up trainer and this is it. There is no reason that a 60 year old gentleman (even 70!) could not wear a pair of these outside of pure snobbery. They have everything from a classic white pair (think Adidas Stan Smith but way better) all the way to croc printed ones. There is something for everyone. I mean, I understand wearing smart shoes Monday thru Friday but on the weekend there is nothing better than a smart, comfortable trainer. And as of 2016, these are the best I have seen yet!!! The snuff suede platform trainer has ‘grown man’ written all over it and look how nice it goes with a pair of navy chinos. So if you are like me and want to graduate from your Nike’s without having to spend £700 on designer trainers, then look no further than Axel Arigato as they have something for you if you are willing to look for it!