People tend to get bogged (or is that blogged?) down in brand loyalties these days
, and that — twinned with a lack of imagination — is a key cause of footwear dullness these days. Blind yourself by putting on the blinkers and you facilitate in the escalating blandness. We never thought Le Coq Sportif
would ever put out a new shoe that caught our attention again. The brand, like Diadora or Brooks, was a credible contender on school playgrounds back when the element of surprise got props on special Fridays when school uniform was ditched. Many brands had their shining moment, but they're done…kaput. All they can look to is their archive offerings. Le Coq have an ace up their sleeve in the shape of Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah.
If you don't pay attention to the game, it's probably worth noting that Joakim's not some lesser team member either — February's triple double is a testament to that — and his shoe has plenty of star quality. In these cynical times, where the wild demands of agents and the money appetite of professional sportsmen and women, loyalty's in short supply, but as proof that a strong relationship can be a multi-generational investment, the Noah dynasty and Le Coq Sportif friendship spans several decades, going back to the signature shoes they made for Joakim's dad Yannick back in the day when he was a top ranking tennis player. That's father and son dominating two kinds of courts in different time zones - it's a pretty cool story that doesn't need too much zillion dollar digital and print gilding from a bigger brand.
But deep rooted friendships are one thing — if the shoe sucks, it's all in vain. Part 2.0 last year was an attention grabber (and wearing it, we got some favourable comments from the connoisseurs in our circle of trust), but 3.0 is even better. It still borrows from the classic tennis styles Yannick Noah used to wear, but there's still plenty of performance goodies in the mix — it weighs very little, that outrigger is pure function, there's good ankle support while the heel counter's discreet but useful, they're incredibly comfortable and the mesh cutaway on the medial side, plus the hexagonal ventilation under the tongue's mesh emphasises the shoe's focus on breathable performance too. We're still not 100% sure as to whether Joakim's own versions get the extra carbon fibre elements and his preferred Velcro collar as a point-of-difference, but this retail variation's attention to detail is still outstanding. Shoes are about that instant attraction though and having see what's in store for the Olympic festivities when it comes to footwear, you need to bring the ruckus if you want to stand out — especially on the basketball court, so when Joakim's repping for Fédération Française de Basket-Ball, he needs to get his feet seen. After all, when it comes to marketing, the Olympics will be all about the eye-catching colourways and these Le Rêve Olympique ("The Olympic Dream"
) editions deliver.
From that slogan on the tongue's reverse to the Olympic colours on the outsole, the theme's unmistakable, but that matt effect upper's insane use of a polka dot pattern that fades from white to navy blue with the red Coq branding in between works in the French flag colours perfectly and makes these a very appealing release indeed. It's the art of performance and bold looks that aren't obnoxious, but simply a quintessentially Gallic cockiness, which Joakim's full of, despite the American accent. The Joakim Noah 3.0 is a great shoe and it arrives in the Crooked Tongues store very soon.