It all began in 1970 when Daniel Raufast, founding father of Kickers, stopped to look at a poster for Hair, the musical, and was struck by its themes of personal freedom. This was a period of Counter-Culture - think the Woodstock generation, when jeans were seen as a statement of rebellion. The young and the free dressed in practical, colourful clothes that asserted their identity. But one key element was missing in this imaginative and creative look - footwear. Daniel Raufast envisioned footwear which would be to Shoes, what jeans were to Trousers – the symbol of an alternative culture, a way of expressing individuality. This shoe first appeared in the spring of that same year, and it was called Kickers.
Jeans were the clothing of the children of Rock. Like the multi-coloured shirts of the Flower Power generation, Kickers are bright, cheerful and colourful. And like just about everything that the offspring of the Swinging Sixties liked to wear, they represented the simple, authentic qualities of natural materials.
So here's the big idea of Kickers - the hard-wearing, utilitarian design ethos of Jeans - applied to the Shoe:
• The label sewn onto the uppers - like jeans
• The engraved eyelets - like jeans buttons
• The red and green circles on the heels (originally to tell the left from the right foot)
• The Kickers logo hot branded onto the back of the shoe - like the leather patch label on jeans?
• The flower with the slogan ‘le vrai est gravé KICKERS’ (seal of authenticity)
• The crepe sole: natural, authentic, solid, flexible rubber
Have no doubt: Kickers were the first shoe made as the logical accompaniment to denim jeans.
Here is the Kickers philosophy, in their own words:
• A laid-back and bohemian state-of-mind… A sunny outlook on the World and the Family. Authentic, Friendly, Fun, Happiness, Generosity, Togetherness, and Simplicity.
• A young, carefree, and spontaneous frame of mind.
• A shoe bridging the generations.
With each of its collections Kickers reinvents itself, drawing on:
• Its heritage and history, originating in the freewheeling 1970s
• Its strong links to denim
• Its expertise in making shoes
• Its identity codes (red/green dot, hot branded logo, engraved eyelets, woven KICKERS tab, iconic flower-shaped logo, and crepe)
… and a dash of the latest trends!
That's probably translated from French, but you get the idea. From a British cultural point of view, all of the above applies. Kickers were a departure from the Brogue and the Oxford shoe, were a little 'Continental'. They were a little casual. They were were bang-on the money for a jean-based youth culture with its eyes on continental fashions and the flair to absorb these ideas into a uniquely British sub-culture. Something we've been doing for a Millennia or two, and long may it continue.