Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. Style is, I suppose, in the ey
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Style is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder.
This beholder believes some examples of contemporary style veer toward a level of tastelessness last seen at a vole-stuffing convention.
I’m especially moved to involuntary ululation at the dress sense of many tech executives.
For too many, it looks like several malfunctioning algorithms fought over their choice of clothing.
When it comes to shoes, however, most seem to favor soft, sneakerish footwear, as if it makes them appear more friendly than their wearers’ patently feelingless interiors.
Perhaps this is what spurred K-Swiss to do something dramatic.
The sneaker and sportswear company has just released The Startup.
This, Good Lord, is a sneaker collection for CEOs.
May I quote the company’s reasoning, written, perhaps, over a very cheap Riesling:
These sneakers are purpose built for the hustle, the grind, the journey of building your business and brand. Whether you’re in the office, entertaining a client or running through the airport, you’re never clocked out and constantly on your feet. Here is your versatile shoe, blending all-day comfort with sophisticated style.
Naturally, K-Swiss released some appropriately hustleful ads to celebrate this moment in time.
In one ad, podcaster Jordan Harbinger offers:
Sometimes, risk is just playing it safe. Sometimes it just looks like you’re being responsible.
You may look to his shoes and think: I wonder who was responsible for those.
There’s another ad, featuring photographer Erick Hercules who declares:
The way I cultivated my ambition was by looking at myself and seeing where do I really want to go.
You may look to his shoes and muse: Did he look at himself closely enough? I’m not sure where I’d want to go in those.
I jest, of course. These are perfectly anonymous shoes with a K-Swiss logo slapped upon them.
But really. Do these shoes say tech CEO to you? They do to me, of course.
None of those brands have, though — at least to my knowledge — shoes labeled as Sneakers for CEOs. Yes, with a TM trademark sign, too.
You see, K-Swiss has spotted a market gap, tiptoed into it and made it part of its brand.
Perhaps the most glorious element with these Startup shoes is that they cost a piffling $69.
Moreover, you can only buy them online.
The company claims they’d cost $120 if you had to buy them in a store.
Surely this will have an additional appeal to startup CEOs — especially those in tech — who are known for their frugality and absolute resistance to losses.
Then again, what if you’re in a meeting with a sickeningly slick VC and they notice that your sneakers are the cheap kind?
Will you worry you’ll be laughed out of the Valley?
Or will you stand there bravely and quote a line from one of the K-Swiss ads?
I have a vision for every part of my life.
And then you can add:
If you fund me, my vision is that I’ll get a pair of Lanvins. Honest.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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