Real Men Wear Tennis Shoes

Since menswear already killed the Flyknit (thanks a lot, menswear), now's a good time to take a breather and reflect.

Real men wear tennis shoes.

Not basketball shoes. Not running shoes. Certainly not aerobics shoes. Never Shape Ups.

Tennis courts are where classics are born. The track record is indisputable—Adidas' Stan Smith and Rod Laver, the classicly ugly Wilson Pro Staff Classic, Nike's Challenge Court IIIs, even Reebok with the Club C. In all of these cases, the style is undeniable. But, admittedly, the tennis shoe has lost some serious swagger over the past decade.

A few years ago, with the release of the Court Ballistic 2.3, I posited that Nike had brought the tennis shoe back, not unlike Rick Ross and Meek Mill throwing Tupac's ghost in everyone's face. I was a bit premature in my assertion, sure, and I'm man enough to admit that. However, the ode to the classic Challenge Courts gave hope and offered some promise for what was to come.

Nerds, meet the sneaker you actually should be wearing.

The Nike Zoom Vapour Tour 9 is the truth. It has an undeniable athletic pedigree—just ask Roger Federer and his seven Wimbledon Championships. Not to mention the able imagination of the legendary designer Tinker Hatfield, whom we have to thank for many of Jordan's greatest hits and one of the most undeniably ridiculous names ever. The Vapour 9 fits into a design legacy that includes Pete Sampras' Air Oscillate—another great example of high performance minimalism coupled with ahead of it's time style. Yes, it's a legacy that includes the last great Nike tennis shoe. The last shoe with unmatched on-court, off-court potential and a brilliant silhouette for color.

In navy and red (the latest colorway release) the Vapour 9 is at its refined best, much like Fed himself. It stands toe-to-toe with the brilliant Wilson Pro Staff. (Also, notably, a favorite of Sampras, who clearly knew what the fuck he was doing.) Most importantly, it finally gives our generation the real classic we've been waiting for.

We're overly inundated with hype in the sneaker world. Everyone's clamoring for more of the same. More flash in the pan. More marketing gimmicks. More uninspired design. We're reaching to try and make these other sneakers something they aren't, when what we really need—a true classic—is right under our collective nose.

  • Ben

    Jerry Seinfeld approves.