This is HARD TO GET, a weekly newsletter about awesome stuff that’s (almost) impossible to find online.
It's New Year's Eve, and today's HARD TO GET is a tale of renewal... specifically, the alchemical renewal of would-be garbage into insane footwear.
Up top is the fireplace at Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, in Los Angeles. It's totally irrelevant to today's post except for the fact that a couple weeks ago we toured this house, then stepped outside and immediately saw another eye-catching architectural marvel, on some nearby dude's feet:
We stopped him to take a picture of this bewildering and beautiful sight: Hodgepodge neon-hued scraps of ripstop, velcro, leather, and mesh jostling for space atop marbled Vibram outsoles. "What," we asked the dude, "are those?" He told us we were looking at a rare pair of New Balance sneakers called the Test Run Project 3.0, TRP3 for short.
Turns out New Balance made these sneakers by stitching together surplus materials typically discarded during their manufacturing process. They call the results "the ultimate use of our leftovers," and note that, "because we are using surplus stock, no two pairs of TRP3 shoes are identical." (The outsole consists of 30% recycled materials.)
We have a documented soft spot at HARD TO GET for weird, one-of-a-kind "upcycled" apparel, and to our eye, these were way too weird to pass up. The guy outside the Hollyhock House told us he'd gotten his TRP3s at the downtown L.A. streetwear shop Bodega, which, we discovered when we headed over there, you enter by walking through a nondescript loading dock piled high with empty produce boxes:
No dice -- Bodega only had one pair of the TRP3s left on hand, in a too-small-for-us size 7. The New Balance site was sold out of all men's sizes, too. (They do still have some women's pairs available.)
It seems that a bunch of hypebeasty speculators scooped these up only to find that the resale-market was tepid, though, because the TRP3s are in stock -- for basically the original retail price, and in a bunch of sizes -- at resellers like Stadium Goods.
Meaning the sneaker scalpers' loss is your gain.
Peace till 2020!