Guest post by Newcastles finest, Scratch.
The thoughts behind this were sparked by a conversation I recently had with Well Dressed Dad and his requirement for a… get this, a pair of trainers! (WDD comments: I think I asked about some lightweight summer shoes…)
Ha ha no, I cannot really imagine it either but there you go and it just shows you’re never too old to be surprised. After running through the usual suspects of Stan Smiths and so forth I did tumble to the suggestion of this new and rather bravely weird beast from Clarks. The Trigenic.
I say new, they were released in a flurry of PR fanfare in 2014 which resulted in – as far as I can see – a lot of “likes”, Pinterest activity and not really many pairs sold. I am yet to see a single person (apart from me) wearing them in real life.
Two models hit the market – the Trigenic Dune which was a sort of hybrid of a desert boot and a weaver and the Trigenic flex which is far more obviously “sneaker” in its appearance. Both riding on a super futuristic vibram sole unit that wilfully clashes with its upper design.
Now, I’m not quite sure what the intended market is here – is it Clarks fans who want something sort of more trainer? Or is it sneakerheadz (sic) that want something a bit smarter? Or is it old folk who have knackered feet?
I honestly don’t know – they seem to be touted very much as a trainer alternative but go on, have a look at them… they don’t really look very “trainer“ to me.
Either way I grew to quite like them – the Flex’s not so much but I did like the super neo x old fashioned mashup that the Dune offered. The original PR for the shoe showed them in lovely tumbled leather with removable insoles and so forth. See pics.
While searching out a pair of these it became obvious to me that for reasons known only to Clarks, they weren’t really released despite featuring heavily in the initial launch. The Dunes that were widely available were without the kinky looped footbeds and in flat dull leather. Gah. Disappointment and thwartation.
Cut a long story of extensive internet surfing short, incredibly I have managed to lay my hands on a pair of the brown ones just like in those pictures and very nice they are too. The sole unit is very interesting indeed and is perhaps what the shoe is all about. I have not seen any other shoe on this unit so I can only guess it was developed exclusively for this project by Vibram. It has a very barefoot feel to it – looks cushioned but it isn’t really. Closest I’d say is that it’s like walking in sandals – a firm and natural ride without giving the posture correction as say a Nike Free 3.0 tries to coax you into.
They are an acquired taste without a doubt but they fill a hitherto unoccupied hinterland being neither a trainer nor shoe. Clarks have invented a quite new category here to my mind and it’s one that goes mighty fine with chino’s, denim or fatigues; and new is good man, in this world of tired retro’ing everything and “heritage” this and “heritage” that, progression and experimentation should be supported.
How long these oddities will be around for is anyone’s guess. It looks like the Dune model sold exceptionally badly as it already seems to have ceased production and Clarks are backing the Flex model as its moneymaker. Shame really but that’s business I suppose.
I think a lot of time, imagination and effort has gone into the Trigenic project – it is brave and very singular. It’s not an obvious choice by any means so I would say no matter what sort of footwear you’re into, think a bit outside the norm and have a look at the Trigenic. You probably won’t end up getting some but you never know, you might just surprise yourself.
*A word of warning. If you do take the plunge on these, the bitter voice of experience recommends staying vigilant for dog eggs at absolutely all costs.
And while the Dunes look to be all gone and no more, the Flex version appears to still be available: