Before we get started, let me make one thing clear: When I first saw the wheat Foamposite One a few weeks back, I didn’t like it at all. At. All. I am a firm traditionalist when it comes to the Foamposite One, and really only like the classic royal blue makeup. Paranormans may be wild limited and resell for a grip, but no. Black “suede”? Y’all can keep that, #menswear. Weathermans and Safaris and their screenprinted ilk? Don’t even get me started. The Wheats seemed like an ungodly mix of the latter two, a sueded Foamposite with goofy inspiration—did Penny Hardaway want to be a construction worker? A member of Mobb Deep? These Foams were unredeemably awful, and that was that.

However.

So what was it about the wheat Foamposites that bothered me so much? Maybe it was that they didn’t go far enough.

The good and bad things about seeing sneakers early is that everyone has time to think and re-think before they ever hit shelves. And, scarily, the more I looked at the wheat Foams, the more they started to grow on me. After all, I generally liked wheat sneakers. There were the Dunk High SBs, the Bobbito Air Force 1s, Bron’s rookie game Air Zoom Generations, even the long-forgotten adidas ADAN streetball shoe. As long as the materials were right, the Timbo influence was a good one. They went with jeans, they were more comfortable than the real 6” boot, and basketball silhouettes were chunky enough to look right. So what was it about the wheat Foamposites that bothered me so much?

Maybe it was that they didn’t go far enough. Yes, they have the boot laces and the brass eyelets and the gum sole. But why not go further? Why not go full Kobe 9 and produce a Foamposite One with a 6”, 15-eyelet upper? (Sure, Foamposite isn’t that flexible, but neither are real Timberlands.) At least that way they’d be somewhat weatherproof. Throw in a gusseted leather tongue and they WOULD be weatherproof. Take Sneakerboots all the way and put Riccardo Tisci in the shade at the same damn time.

Still, I can’t help but admire Nike’s audacity. They took what was the most technologically advanced basketball shoe of 1997—one that still looks futuristic today—and imbued it with the DNA of a clunky boot that’s been produced for decades. AND, at $250, it’s nearly $100 more expensive. Admittedly, the classic Timberland 6” boot doesn’t have a carbon shank, and probably wouldn’t perform quite as well on the basketball court. It’s that same audacity that led Nike to introduce the Foamposite One in the first place.

Yes, that headline might be trolling just the tiniest bit. The wheat Foamposite One might not find itself in my year-end top 10, and there’s only a slight chance they ever find themselves on my feet at all (just in case, can anyone direct me to some selvage Girbauds?). But all the same, there’s something about this release that I can admire. Not everyone has to agree, of course, and to some the wheat Foams might just be the latest in a string of Foamposite releases that beg the question of why the model can’t just be shelved for a while. Which would be fine. As long as that audacity remains.

Russ Bengtson is a senior staff writer at Complex who still has his original wear-test royal Foamposite Ones from 1997. You can follow him on Twitter here.

 

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