by John Russel Jones

A lace-up canvas sneaker is about as mid-century modern as footwear gets, yet — especially as we head into Spring — the simplicity of it feels perennially new. The recent reboot of West Side Story has also given the style a bit of a re-tread, making it a fitting accompaniment for dance numbers, rumbles, or today’s equally challenging casual workplace. 

Back in 1951, Red Ball Jets, “the shoe with speed,” came on the scene, and established a cult-following all its own. The brand has been on an extended hiatus since the 1970s, but is back, making an encore with an exclusive at that temple of West Coast cool, Fred Segal. The collection includes a full color run of the High Top 51s in Black, White, Olive, Red and Gray.

Red Ball Jets feature a classic retro outer design (like other brands of that era; Converse, Keds, and PF Flyers), but stand on their own with a modernized approach to inner design with an ultra-soft insole and antimicrobial treatment.

Fred Segal and Red Ball Jets both carry the legacy of being instrumental at shaping what we know today as classic American Style. The shoes retail for $100.