Rent-to-Steal: It’s the Shoes! – Cheap Chic – popularity of stealing bowling shoes

Rent-to-Steal: It’s the Shoes! – Cheap Chic – popularity of stealing bowling shoes – Brief Article

Brett Ballantini

WE’RE PROUD TO FEATURE in this issue a sort of point-counterpoint discussion on Sport Bowling from two of the industry’s biggest figures. Hall-of-Famer Johnny Petraglia weighs in on the “con” side in his Commentary [page 16], while the entirety of our discussion with Roger Dalkin concerns the “pros” of Sport Bowling [p. 20]. The sport condition is one of the most controversial subjects to hit the sport in our lifetimes, and BOWLING DIGEST is reporting from the front lines to give you all the ins and outs.

But there’s another development in the world of bowling that has forced its way into sharing center stage in this space. In my continuing effort to shed light on any and all bowling fashion trends, I’m here to tell you that bowling shoes are the new hot trend–with the accent on “hot.”

I encouraged you long-timers to turn old bowling ball bags into chic purses suitable for the runway–or at least sell them to someone who might be willing to do so–in our last issue. This issue, with apologies to Spike Lee’s Mars Blackman, “It’s gotta be the shoes!”

You might already have noticed bowling shoes being absorbed into society as hip footwear. This is nothing new. In the cycle of fashion trends, bowling shoes become a staple every few years or so. However, this time around the shoes are hot more because they are, literally, stolen right out of centers than because of how they look–and that trend isn’t pleasing proprietors.

Pilfering from centers is definitely not a new problem. As one of my colleagues here pointed out, shoes aren’t the only thing some folks are notorious for walking away with after bowling; in the pantheon of college pranks, leaving without paying for your drinks, food, or even your games is still alive and well.

The Wall Street Journal writer Shirley Leung profiled the stolen-shoes trend in April, proclaiming that bowling shoes are so hot, people are renting them simply to steal them. But Leung also pointed out that the trend goes beyond simple pranking; the shoes have become “cheap chic.”

Why? Not even my wife, who regularly reports on the ins and outs of the fashion world, can convince me that these shoes are anything to shout about: “It’s less about the look–they’re basically preppy saddle shoes–then it is about saying, `I did something naughty’ by having stolen them,” she tells me.

Let’s review. The shoes are used. They look funny. Your size is posted proudly on the heel. And they’ve been worn by, say, a thousand feet before yours.

Bowling shoes are, by nature, tools, not fashion statements. The pair you see in the lower-left corner of the above picture packs all the requisite style and swank of a leather football helmet. And as for the flightier models surrounding them, even in their desperate attempt to be functional and stylishly unobtrusive, they’re pretty dopey looking. In fact, nothing casts a vote quite so strongly against bowlers as athletes as the shoes we’re forced to wear.

The latest missile launched in the battle against bowling shoe thieves are centers getting their shoes customized to look so ugly that no one will want to steal them. Don’t they get it? Ugly just doesn’t enter into it.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group