Trust the French to put a Spring in your step

 

A history of funky footwear

Sneakers sure have sneaked up on us.

In the global history of clothing has any other item grabbed the foot with such enthusiasm?

Today we all wear them.

Spring This Magnificent Life
Simple and elegant tennis shoe. The vintage boxes carry the colour

In the timeline of mankind the sneaker is a comparatively recent arrival. The name of course came with the change from the solid, noisy flat leather soles of antiquity to the vulcanised rubber made possible a couple of hundred years ago. These flexible quiet soles meant the wearer could now sneak up on you.

Most of the shoes we live in today derive from the running shoe with sprigs for grip, the basketball shoe with its hi-top for stability and the tennis shoe designed for grip on clay and grass. All of them made their embryonic appearance one to two hundred years ago.

Spring This Magnificent Life
The modern wearer is a lot more relaxed

Milestones along the way were the rubber and canvas Keds (1892), the Converse Hi Top (1917), the Adidas Samba (1950) and the Nike waffle sole (1972). Other brands making their mark over the last century include Vans, New Balance, Brooks, Puma, Reebok, Tiger, Saucony and ASICS (anima sana in corpore sano … ask your Latin teacher).

Today your local footwear shop is a riot of colour. With modern technology there seems to be no material, no texture, no shape, no curve, no tint that cannot be moulded, woven or stitched into the upper, sole or laces of a flashy shoe giving your legs the springy feeling that gets you moving.

Spring This Magnificent Life
Getting ready to step out

But the more novelties Earth’s inventive inhabitants throw at us the more some of us want to go back to proven elegant simplicity.

Spring This Magnificent Life
The legendary pic with the legendary shoes leading
Elegant simplicity … the Spring Court tennis shoe

The Grimmeisen family in Paris had been making rubber industrial and agricultural boots since the 1870s. It was a very solid enterprise.

Spring This Magnificent Life
The original Paris factory in 1929. It has been refurbished and is still the HQ of Spring Court

In the 1930s George Grimmeisen looked at the sturdy expertise in grandfather’s business and decided to take much lighter steps.

Spring This Magnificent Life
We hope this lady from the thirties was a winne

He saw the future. The world was crying out for a tennis shoe designed to keep its footing on the clay courts of the day. His shoes were very simple in plain white canvas melding into white rubber on the sole, which featured a grippy pattern.

But what was the inspired idea that set them apart and still does to this day?

Nothing.

Spring This Magnificent Life
A poster from France showing the air-holes in action

In fact eight little tubes of nothing. Holes. Four on each side ventilated the shoe allowing fresh air into the removable innersole.

Today the CEO of Spring Court is George’s son Théodore who chooses to sit in the office largely unchanged since his great grandfather occupied it.

He presides over a much wider range of shoes … this is France, this is fashion … but their elegant frontrunner is still the simple white tennis shoe which now incorporates the latest technology.

You may choose it in canvas or leather. A few leathers actually, nappa, lambskin and goatskin. Sleek or pierced. You can have laces or Velcro straps, low or hi tops. But this multicoloured world has demanded colours, and there are plenty. White, off-white, grey, black, slate, dark green, ochre, dark red, havana, taupe, midnight blue. Metallic copper even.

Spring This Magnificent Life
Plenty of colours waiting for you

The design team is looking at new materials like crackled leather and hessian.

Something there for everyone, surely.

Join the famous
Spring This Magnificent Life
Famous in France. Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin

Ever since the early days, Spring Court has attracted the attention of headliners. The tennis players of the time of course. But you don’t have to swing a racquet to take part. John Lennon was a huge fan and he and Yoko wore them to their wedding. He can also be seen checking them out just before he steps onto the crossing for the famous Abbey Road shot. Other notables walking the walk include Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg, and David Hockney. Kate Moss, and Barak Obama. Cool enough for you?

Spring This Magnificent Life
John and Yoko feeling comfortably shoed

Not in every shop, but easy to track down. Just Google Spring Court stockists and do your feet a simple elegant favour. They will love you forever when they land on that extremely soft and comfortable innersole resting between those iconic and inspired eight holes.

The shoes you’ll love are here at www.springcourt.com

 

 

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia’s more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say ‘no’ to a wee dram.

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