Crooked Tongues presents a look at the Brooklyn-branded version of the PRO-Keds Royal Master from the brand’s Throwback Pack.
Every now and again, PRO-Keds calls in the NYC collaborative favours to remind that they were the original object of desire in that city. We Brits never saw that hype, so the brand’s always got some catching up to do over here in terms of telling the story of why we should pick up their output over say, Converse or Vans. But PRO-Keds was a basketball-centric wing of KEDS and for many shoe gurus from the five boroughs, this brand’s output was their first pair — 1972’s Royal Master is a masterpiece and after the legendary 69er arrived with a Biz Markie co-sign and the Shot Maker got some excellent Bobbito colourways, this model that dates back to the Lou Hudson, Bob Love, Nate Archibald, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jo Jo White endorsement days when a shoe like this was considered top tier court performance. Compare this to say, a pair of Foamposites and consider that once these held the same amount of clout on the streets.
We’re glad to see that rather than attempting an ill-fated Royal Master 2012 style upgrade, the Throwback Pack from PRO-Keds does what the name suggests — it’s defiantly basic, but that suede texture and reassuringly wide toe-down view (which accounts for this shoe’s popularity with the b-boy fraternity) is a moment in time crystalised. A time before people beefed over Complex Top 50s, snitched by email or had to pay auction resale.
This Brooklyn edition comes courtesy of our friend DJ Clark Kent, who — like Bob and the Biz — remembers these from the first time around and appreciates that they’re best served simple. If you know Clark, you know that he’s quite fond of Brooklyn and that heel embroidery is accompanied by a Brooklyn Dodgers shade of blue and white. Many connsoisseurs’ fondest memories of this shoe are in blue suede, so it’s a respectful reworking in pretty much every way. Go too far with a PRO-Keds and you lose the point. With the likes of Cormega dropping Throwback Pack makeups (again, limited to 50) of this shoe, it’s clear that somebody’s doing their job right in picking people that understand the shoe’s essence. Even the Clipse, who part-own Play Cloths (who recently dropped their own Circular Vamp Oxfords and 69er Hi with PRO-Keds) are old enough to get it. It’s real rap footwear, but it’s accessible too. We don’t even know if these will make retail to match the rest of the Throwback Pack releases — it might be a promo only affair, issued by Mr. Kent himself, but it’s spotlighting a classic moment in sports footwear and that’s something to commend.