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15 Highly Unconventional Sneaker Designs

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From their modest beginnings as a rubberized alternative to hard-soled shoes at the turn of the century, sneakers have become big business: Companies are in a race for consumer dollars, and their increasingly elaborate designs have helped transform the category from a practical apparel business to a bonafide art form. As in any medium, some of it can be a little abstract. Check out 15 of the weirdest sneakers you’ll ever lace up.

1. Converse CT Thong Sandal

Who among us hasn’t been able to decide between a sporty sneaker and a beach-ready flip-flop? Converse introduced this hybrid circa 2011 for those who need some ankle support while lounging. A similar design, the Converse Gladiator, features a zipper for anyone who feels weird tying a pair of sandals.

2. Adidas Originals JS Bones


Adidas isn’t kidding when it comes to their line of Originals: You are not going to go unnoticed when sporting a pair of trainers that look like they came from the closet of Pebbles Flintstone. The bones are made of plastic, but that probably won’t stop your dog from destroying them.

3. Dada Code M

Possibly the only shoe to ever receive a review from, Dada’s 2007 kicks were engineered with a built-in speaker system and MP3 player.  The power button is located on the right tongue; the shoes also offer a wireless headphone option. The tech world’s biggest complaint with this “loudsneaker”? Not enough storage space.

4. Reebok Insta Pump Fury


Produced in Japan as a tie-in product for the popular anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the Insta Pump Fury was designed to resemble the Tachikoma droid character from the show. The shoe company worked in collaboration with MegaHouse Toys for the release, which was successful enough to warrant a few follow-ups. Sadly, they’re only available in Asia.

5. Adidas SpringBlade


People on pogo sticks look silly. So why not take the benefits of spring-loaded locomotion and transfer it to a sneaker? The shoe debuted in 2013, promising to offer a bouncy heel and better cushioning; later models confined the springs to the rear. Runner’s World once took them out for a spin. Their verdict? Comfortable, but taxing: Each shoe weighs roughly 12 ounces.

6. Converse CT Clear

What’s the point of owning SpongeBob socks if no one sees them? Converse did novelty footwear a favor by introducing their Clear Chuck Taylors, which were made of plastic, in 2008.

7. Nike Dunk High Pro SB Papa Bear

Produced in conjunction with the Bearbrick toy line of Japan, the Papa Bears are part of Nike’s “three bears” line, each sporting distinctive colors and a furry exterior. Buyers who liked the layout but didn’t want their feet to look like the floor of a hunting lodge eventually got an “Un Papa” version, with the fur switched out for suede.

8. Saucony Shadow 5000 “Burger” Shoe

Inspired by fast food, Saucony’s burger shoe comes in a sparse, takeout-style box. The sneaker itself is designed to resemble a hamburger, with red (ketchup), tan (bun), yellow (mustard), and green (lettuce) colors, and the laces come in condiment packaging.

9. Nike Footscape Hideout

There’s a lot going on with this thing, so bear with us. Originally released with woven stitching that made it resemble a bit of a Frankenshoe, Nike and design firm Hideout then tweaked the edition so it took on the Livestrong color scheme while maintaining the horse hair exterior.

10. Onitsuka Tiger Okatabi

While the five-toed Vibrams caught most of the “What on God’s earth…” press upon release, Onitsuka was quietly cornering the lobster-claw market. The Tiger line is modeled after the Japanese tabi athletic shoes of the 1950s. Laugh if off if you like, but Shigeki Tanaka won the 1951 Boston Marathon in a pair.  

11. Adidas Originals Tassled Golf Sneaker


Feeling fancy? Or like one sneaker tongue isn’t enough for your next golf outing or job interview? These Adidas feature three tongues capped off by tassels. It’s like having a holiday party on your feet 365 days a year.

12. Nike Air Baked Mid

Sneakers can be a poor choice for winter wear—unless you grabbed a box of Nike’s fur-lined offering back in 2009. They were part of the company’s Matagi imprint, named after Japanese winter hunters who capture prey like serows (a goat-antelope mammal) without modern weapons.

13. Adidas Wings

Kevin Wu, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Too subtle? Consider the glow-in-the-dark version. Then consider going to a lot of raves.

14. Camper Himalayan

Designed by Bernard Willhelm, the Campers have become a fashion must for trendy urbanites. For the rest of us, it’s a bold choice, and one that makes the Adidas Wings look like a pair of Crocs.

15. Adidas Originals Teddy Bear


Getting beat in a pick-up game of basketball is bad enough, but imagine your opponent tears it up while two teddy bears are strapped to his feet and taunting you. Originally released in pink and brown back in 2010, the latter now goes for $1500 on the collector’s market.  

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]


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