It’s funny looking back. What happened and when. And why. Alvin Purple was released back in 2010. So much has changed since then, it seems almost absurdly comical to realise it was less than five years ago. Retro running was far from the driving force it is today. Vulcanised shoes had blown up like dynamite and you couldn’t give away a pair unless they were lo-fi, black and cost $75. Unless they were all-white China-spec plimsolls for under $10.
The entire sneaker scene had contracted as the early adopters circa 2002 jumped ship and liquidated their Dunk SB collections to invest in Visvim and matching lumberjack outfits. The top tier boutiques had been smashed by the GFC and were closing by the day. (RIP Provider.) The sneaker industry itself was in transitional turmoil, blindsided by the sudden right-turn into 50s-era conventionalism and the utter rejection of sporty-tech. The concept of ‘collaboration’ was different too. Colabs obviously weren’t a new phenom, but it was different times – production numbers were ridiculously small and distribution was spread sparsely across the globe. The balls-out confidence colabs would find a sold-out-in-a-nano-second audience was yet to be fuelled by Sneakerbots, Instagram and incessant viral hype. Without being corny, perhaps releases like Alvin seemed somehow more... important?
Writing these notes has brought back memories that still amuse. The fact that the shoe took nearly three years from the first design before it hit the shelf, due to all manner of odd delays. The fact that Alvin Purple was NEVER sold at American retail for some inexplicable reason. Then there was the almost year-long campaign that teased the shoe, as we nervously waited for the shoes following delay after delay. Two different Issue 18 covers for Alvin Purple were released, one of which came with the custom 3D glasses. The incredible BBB party with ASICS in Berlin (shout to Yoske, Pascal, Remko, Pol and Ricard @ 24 Kilates), followed by the red-carpet theatrical release in Melbourne at Prime, where everyone wore purple and snacked on lurid candy.
Then there were the mysterious photos of the amazing Benny Campbell – our imaginary Alvin – complete with purple underpants, knee-high gym socks and mile-wide smile. The photo shoot for the notoriously satirical poster was done on a chilling Melbourne winter’s day and I can still vividly remember Benny’s bones rattling as we fussed over the laces as he sat by the pool.
Rewind the shot-clock to 2010. Not everything that was apparently a ‘minimalist classic’ then has stood the test of time, but I think Alvin Purple speaks for himself. It’s a shoe that has attained almost mythical status. Only a few hundred pairs were made and resale prices have steadily gone through the roof. The new-crew generation of heads would be almost oblivious to its existence but ask anyone who has the OG and they’ll tell you how they still snap necks and cause kerfuffles on the street. They’re still stone-cold fresh.
We were as surprised as anyone when Mike at Packer Shoes contacted us a while back about reviving Alvin as part of their 10th anniversary celebrations. It’s unconventional to say the least, but Mike’s personal admiration for the shoe, combined with the chance to finally give Alvin a proper US release after all this time, clinched the deal and we are delighted to announce that Packer will be the only retailer to sell the shoe. Thanks to all @ ASICS, thanks Mike Packer and thanks Alvin Purple. Enjoy the Second Coming!
The Sneaker Freaker x Asics GEL-Lyte III ‘Alvin Purple’ will launch exclusively this Thursday – July 3rd – at 12pm noon EDT in-store and online at PackerShoes.com. Retail is set at $150 USD.
For more info check out this link over at Packer's blog.
Take a trip down memory lane, here’s some Alvin pics and a recap on what we said at the time...
Introducing…. ALVIN PURPLE! With more pheromones than an ancient Greek nightclub, we fell madly in love with Alvin the moment we laid eyes on his busty rump. A firm favourite in Amsterdam, courtesy of the immortal Patta production, this 80s-tech runner has been a popular choice for ASICS collaborators. We had to take all of that prior hype into account when it came time to bust our move – the pressure was there, subtle yet omnipresent – but what to do?
We wanted deep heat, but we also wanted to have some fun and inject a little pep back into our step. Frankly, we’ve had our fill of low-fi, colour by numbers, blando sneakers for grown-ups! Instead of a high falutin’ concept, we decided to wind the clock back to what we know best. Lately we’ve been fiending for the era when neck-snappin’ and rocking it XXX fresh was the name of the game. Remember how good that felt? It’s a positive return to old-fashioned heat and we think the timing has never been more righteous. Minimalism is overrated!
Alvin Purple is a traditional belter and what’s more conventional than a mix of premium suede, matte felt and silky mesh? That’s not to say we didn’t agonise over the finer details. First off there’s the asymmetrical colour blocking which veers from the racy purple outside of the shoe to the toned-down view from the medial side. The ASICS stripes are offset by a mysterious colour best described as ‘blue’ – not quite purple or mauve for that matter – but it sure does look the nuts! You’ll also get two sets of fancy polka-dot laces, charcoal ‘ocker’ suede and an orthodox 3M pop on the heel, all riding on crispy white soles.
Alvin Purple should satisfy any raving satyromaniac. Maybe you’ll even put a pair on ice? When was the last time you heard that one used? Damn!