Elwood 5566

Most Likely Made in China

Posted in Korean Clothes, Sport by 노강호 on June 20, 2011

When looking good means expensive, shite quality. Converse made in China!

When I was a boy of about 10, I would walk to school with a simple draw string PE bag in which you kept your sports clothes, including a pair of black, slip-on plimsolls. They were all made in China and even then we used to joke about Chinese quality but they were cheap and lasted the year. Little were we to know that in years to come the top fashions and brand items would all come from China, and probably from the very same factories that made our simple, black pumps. Today, China is the point of origin, if not for many products, then for their component parts and while the big companies berate the production of imitation, especially of their precious logos, and denounces them as poor quality, think nothing of shifting production to countries which have the lowest production cost, pay the least to workers and use the cheapest materials.

I’ve recently noticed students wearing training shoes which no longer have traditional laces and which I imagine will quickly wipe out that dumb-ass ‘in-the-hood’ habit of wearing sneakers and basketball boots with enormous tongues and the laces left undone. A new piece of shoe technology, the Boa Closure Device, replaces the need to tie laces, or not, as the case may be, to the simple turning of a knob and considerably advances shoe technology.

A leap into the 21st century

In the Moda Outlet, in the Industrial Complex of Song-so, Daegu, a significant number of the walking boots and trainers on sale utilise the Boa device. I noticed that while new lace technology is popular in the USA, it currently seems only available on cycling shoes in the UK. No doubt it will hit British shores at sometime in the future.

Converse quality, made in USA, is now a collector’s item

I can’t help but make a snipe at Converse which is popular in the UK and Korea. I wore them in the late 1970’s and throughout the 80’s when they were produced in the USA. I actually wore them for taekwondo while training outside and a pair would usually last around two years before the soles or heels gave out. Considering I trained most afternoons for several hours at a time, they were severely put to the test especially with spinning type kicks where all the body weight is on one foot.

most likely made in China!

Around 1988, it was difficult to buy a pair in the UK as their production moved to S. Korea. Since then, considerably cheaper labour cost has seen the production shift to China.  Of course, when Converse Korean-made trainers appeared on the shelves in the UK, they were subsequently more expensive and worse, I discovered a marked reduction in quality. In 2001, Converse were bought by Nike and the quality deteriorated further with the traditional 2 ply canvas being replaced by single ply textile. The life expectancy of a pair was around a year and you no longer need to worry about the heels or soles giving out, long before that the cheapo, micro-thin toe-cap will degrade until your big toe bursts out.  Converse! They sure look good but they are expensive shite and like most Nike products produced by a cheap labour force, a rip off.

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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.


Plastic Bling

Posted in Korean Clothes by 노강호 on April 21, 2011

One of my friends was recently passing a shop that happened to have some gargantuan trainers on display and knowing the problem I have with shoes in Korea, bought them for me. I take English size 14 and my new ones are 15 which in corresponding American dimensions, at 34cm length, are a 16.

In Britain, if you’re anything over 40 years of age, the wearing of trainers and jeans is often sneered at and taste dictates the wearing of drab and dreary conservative colours and certainly nothing that suggests activity. I won’t bother with a written description. You can judge for yourself.

is it just me or are they truly gross?

Despite not having much choice when it comes to clothes, I don’t do brands. I’m sorry, you want me to advertise your silly logo and you pay me! But there are logos and logos and a discrete trade mark is one thing but a shiny, plastic tick, and a bright red one, the entire side of the toe, just looks cheapo. Are they track shoes? Golf shoes? Simply ‘casuals’ or some Nike line of clown accessories? Do they come with a free stash of narcotics? If shoes can be ‘bling,’ and ‘bling’ is a Konglish term used to describe things which are shiny,’ then these are the epitome.

I’ll admit they’re made in China!  The tasteless mish-mash of former Eastern Bloc fashion meets the Bronx, prompted an immediate check but the soles, inner tongue etc, all appear to suggest the article is genuinely Nike  (If that means anything).     Before I could ever wear these in daylight, I’d have to seriously tone them down with wear, tear and dirt, on the streets at night. Once I’ve got them to the gym I know I will wear them and I’m very aware I could wear them in a Korean street and no one would pay much attention. But of course, the legacy of our native cultural bonds are strong, so much so that when David arrived at the school to present them to me, it wasn’t until I’d brought a carrier bag into school the next day, that I transported them home, hidden.


My present trainers, falling to pieces, are a pair of Hi-Tech Silver Shadow. Any day now and my big toe is going to burst through after which I will be forced to either train barefoot, or in the ultimate example of plastic bling.

hideous, but beggars can't be choosers!

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

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