The story of Kickers in the UK isn't just about a footwear brand that has felt at home for over four decades. It's also about a cultural footprint that has spanned the nation's most memorable musical scenes and style tribes. A celebration of youthful creativity, the belief in the power of kids doing it for themselves.
Youth had always been the focus of the long-standing Parisian family business, which specialized in luxury shoes for children. But by the late '60s, changes in wider French society were threatening the company's future. One day the chairman found himself staring at a poster for the hippie musical 'Hair'. The musical's stars, with their long hair, denim jeans and bright shirts, represented a new casual era - but there wasn't a shoe to complete their relaxed look. The following year, 1970, saw the launch of the first Kickers boot: The Legend. Freedom of movement was enhanced by the crepe soles and soft nubuck leather of the uppers. Flower Power was celebrated in the heat-stamped 'fleurette' tag dangling from the laces.
Kickers offered a little bit of rebellion for everyday life; especially at school or on the terraces where they offered a durable break from the boring, standardized choices for men. Neither bovver boot nor rudeboy shoe but something in between; Kickers had a foot in both aspects of modern British music culture.
Elton, Bowie, Daltrey and other '70s greats all came to the first ever Kickers store, on London's King's Road. In the late '80s, guitarist John Squire, from Manchester's mythologized The Stone Roses, was a 'Perry Boy': a smart-casual in Fred Perry polo shirts and Kickers.
In 1990, Hacienda DJs from bands like Candy Flip, propelled the rave-related 'Baggy' look from the Top of the Pops, with Kickers bright red boots. Liverpool band The Farm cover featured a sheep in red Kick Hi's. Kickers had stealthily become an integral part of the 'Freedom to Party' dress code, worn as an expression of defiance against the government's crackdown on outdoor raves and 'repetitive beats'.
In the early '90s, Britpop heroes Jarvis Cocker and Noel Gallagher were both snapped on stage in Kickers, nodding to the bands who'd come before. A few years on, the Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys did the same. Artists like The Streets, So Solid Crew, and Miss Dynamite all wore Kickers too. The music changes but the song remains the same. True to their French inventor's ideals, Kickers have made their mark on music and youth culture in an inventively, inimitably British way.