Globalisastion presents a real challenge to those who like a little exclusivity. Take trainers, or sneakers, if you will. Long before one of fashion’s larger cycles reclaimed the humble running shoe as something worthy of the attention of even the most prestigious names in fashion, there were always those fans of trainers who avidly sought out rare, special and specialist takes on what were once merely the realm of the Phys.Ed. department. Collecting – and showing off – rare and exclusive trainers rapidly shifted from being the pursuit of a few hardcore enthusiasts to a worldwide hobby. One might even say that there is a certain irony that something that is fundamentally about trying to get one’s hands on something that few others have still has an element of democracy about it since it. At least it starts out from of position of eschewing the class-ridden values tied up in other forms of fashion in favour of the simple pursuit: finding a trainer that few others have.
However, as diehard sneaker freaks sometimes bemoan, the downside of the mainstreaming of the trainer craze and its evolution into a multi-billion dollar global business is that it is also harder and harder to find something rare unless one is prepared to pay prices almost comparable with haute couture.
But, fear not. The anti-globalists’ adage that one should support local enterprise has certainly paid off for the cult Czech brand Botas. A combination of a local version of the kind of Ostalgia that saw DDR brands revived in Berlin and, no doubt, roaming sneaker freaks eager to find something that no one at home owns has seen a return of this quintessentially Czech brand. Once the only notable manufacturer of running shoes in the then communist Czechoslovakia, Botas 66 has been reinvented as a hip trainer brand with an eye for the lucrative retro angle by local entrepreneurs.
Following the tried-and-tested model of large global brands, Botas 66 places the classic original design at the centre of its offer, available in various colour combinations and thereby promising something for all tastes. But, it has also added a number of contemporary ankle boot models to its range, pulling the nostalgic appeal of the old into a present of new technological possibilities.
Powerfully re-branded – graphic design was always a Czech strongpoint- Botas 66 is sold at the sleek concept store in a picturesque area of central Prague that has a lively, buzzy atmosphere. Any trainer fan that aspires to have a comprehensive collection should not miss the opportunity to visit and leave with both a relatively rare pair of trainers and some good tourist snaps. Failing that, there’s always the online shop.