This will probably be a two-parter. For now, I have some well-traveled shoes to share.
I've come to realize that I really like footwear that's not made out of "traditional" leather. I know suede boots aren't uncommon, but it really does make these boots stand out. They're a pair of the Robert Geller x Common Projects collaboration from who knows when, and they popped up on good ol' Yoox. I remember really wanting the black version when they came out (especially because of the spats, which this pair sadly doesn't have), but the color looked interesting and alluring, and I generally avoid buying black when I can. These are a surprisingly lustrous leaded grey, and I find that it gives them a softer, worn appearance than you might get with a black boot. They have barely any nap, but they're still obviously suede, and they've really molded to my feet and broken in wonderfully as they've aged. They have a slim vibram sole on them, and they've taken me through frozen moors, wet hikes, and snowstorms - and, as of last night, a 2AM sledding adventure - without complaint. I've never treated them, but somehow they manage to keep my feet dry all the same. They don't have high-end construction, no old-world welts, no crazy leather treatments or artisanal aging processes, but they're sleek and beautiful.
I currently own three pairs of Maison Martin Margiela sidezips that I wear regularly, but these ones have become my go-to pair. They're canvas, and again, it really adds something special to the character. They're crumpled and faded in spots, but I still feel happy wearing them with everything from jeans and a tee to trousers and a jacket. They're comfortable, and they take up no space at all in a suitcase, which means that they've been with me all over the place - beaches, cobblestones, castles, grassy hills, dance parties - and since that's usually how I measure the worth of my belongings, I count these among my essentials. They've got a great shape, and look equally good with tapered denim or with looser, layabout bottoms. These are the boots you're wearing when people come up to compliment you on your boots. They're just really, really cool. I love the exposed stitching and the slightly blunted toe, but I actually think my favorite detail might be the black zipper. When you're wearing jeans, the inseam sort of lines of with the boot zip and makes this long, continuous curved line down from the back of your calf that I think looks really, really slick.
I love, love, love vans. But I destroy them in a matter of months. These CP knock-offs - another fortuitous Yoox find - have already outlived the equivalent of three pairs of their canvas ancestors, and they're practically bulletproof. I'm not saying they totally replace a good pair of Authentics (because what can?), but they're really impressively put together. They're a good summer shoe, and look good with shorts, but they're also a wonderful hang-out pair of kicks, happy with tees, leather jackets, and worn-out jeans. Going to the supermarket? I put these on. Coffee in the morning? Put these on. Walking the dog? Generally, it's nice to feel that I don't need another white leather sneaker, that that base is well and truly covered. They are supremely comforting - and comfortable, mostly due to the fact that I actually bought the proper size for the first time.
What's nice about all of this is going through what I own and remembering, or re-realizing, all the really great stuff that I have managed - almost through blind luck, I think - to accumulate. Shoes sort of exist within a similar emotional sphere (for me) as denim: I look at all the creases and frayed bits and worn-down heels and think back on all the really kick-ass miles I've walked in all of them. That's a good feeling.