The cost of sneakers is always a hot-button topic. Rarely is the word "value" ever associated with anything we write about on this site, unless the discussion is centered around items on sale or the potential resale value of a $185 pair of Jordans. Last year, however, saw the reemergence of Italian brand Diadora, and a big part of its buzz is due to the retro of the N.9000, an Italian-made runner that filled a void of complacency formed from other brands continually working on the same silhouettes.
The N.9000 was something new, and Diadora rolled the product out the right way. It started with a slew of collaborations from Amsterdam's Patta, which was followed up by special make-ups with European sneaker boutiques Hanon, 24 Kilates, and Solebox. This year has seen the model move to American shores, starting with its first U.S. collab, featuring Teaneck, N.J.'s Packer Shoes.
This weekend, though, is seeing a broader release of its most recent European collab, Solebox's "Ferro" N.9000, a blue-and-grey runner that's inspired by the gondolas and waterways of Diadora's home in Venice, Italy.
We got a pair of the sneakers ahead of its global release, and it took seeing the model in person to realize that, yes, there's such thing as a $200 runner from the early '90s that's worth the asking price.
The suede is soft but sturdy and the upper's leather is real, for starters, and isn't like its low-grade counterparts that other brands put out. And then there are the details: There's a Made in Italy patch on the inside of the tongue, but Diadora also printed the insole and sneaker liner with Solebox's logo. It's these small features that add up to an item that's unlike other silhouettes on the market.
On top of that, the Italian-Made N.9000 just feels substantial. It's not ultra-flexible or overly bendable, and that all adds up to something that feels like it's going to last. That makes the $200+ spent on each pair an investment.
These sneakers initially released last month at Solebox's location in Berlin, Germany, but they're coming out again, starting on Saturday, February 21, at a lengthy list of international retailers.
Here's who will be stocking them:
All photos by Alexis Castro.