Common Projects - Evolution
The sneaker has always been a staple in men’s fashion and the white trainer is the key wearable sneaker in any situation. Common Projects is a fairly new brand in the grand scheme of sneakers when compared to Vans and Converse but has quickly become a favorite amongst the style world. Located on the high-end price for sneakers, Common Projects usually run upwards or over $400 USD and maintain a strict stockist list, yet still manage to move the majority of their inventory while expanding the line each season. Making a name for themselves as a simple, refined, high-quality version of classic trainers, the brand has experienced amazing success in just a few years. Besides the use of high quality materials, minimal branding efforts both on the actual footwear and external marketing (which I view as a plus), the real value I’ve found from the brand is that they’ve learned from their production and consumers to make better products each and every season.
Through some of these photos I’m hoping to touch on some of the small things I’ve noticed in 5 plus years wearing the brand and watching them trial and error features and functions in their footwear line.
First off the uppers of the calfskin leather versions haven’t changed much since the original achilles model dropped (seen in the 2nd image). However additional colors and materials like suede and patent leather have been introduced in their uppers. You can see the strength and quality of the leather used in images 2-4 as this pair of achilles are over 5 year old shoes and have only been spot cleaned. Another thing that hasn’t changed in this model is the rubber sole used. You can see the wearing of the sole in image 5, and for several years of city wearing the rubber is still going strong.
Where the real changes have occurred are with the shoes lining methods and materials. The largest change with the lining since launching the original achilles was the incorporation of padding in the tongue and upper with their “premium” models. Which I believe has since been discontinued as of last winter, or at least the premium naming convention. The padding was great in theory but for me they just didn’t need the extra bulk and looked more like a skate shoe than the sleek silhouette of the original achilles. Image 7 shows two version of the “premium” model, the gray version which is from the first edition was super bulky and not as comfortable as the originals and the maroon shoe was the very next seasons premium version. As you can see from the image, the next version was a drastic improvement. The new model featured less bulky padding, a slimmer outsole, and an overall sleeker look that the model needed. The second change I just noticed with my newest pair, (image 8) a black “vintage” pair of achilles, which simply means the outsole is slightly yellowed like an aged pair. This modification was due in fact to what happens when the shoes were worn over a long period of time (like mine in image 6), the leather lining starts to breakdown and crack. This is probably just due to stress points during pronation and moisture, however the cracking becomes uncomfortable on your foot when worn barefoot. The structural change comes in the form of removing of the actual lining leather in this stress point (shown in image 8) and only leaving the exposed outer leather which is a sturdier leather that should hold up for longer wear.
Besides these simple modifications and observations, the use of new leathers like suede and patent leather and even an EVA upper, different soles like crepe, EVA rubber, and leather soled models have kept the brand fresh. I’m excited to see if a few more models become more refined like the patent leather crepe soled shoes, which need a way better version of the leather, and I’d love to see the leather soled derby introduced back into the line up. For now the achilles model still remains the classic Common Projects model and I believe it will remain the perfect higher-priced casual trainer.