Plenty of pictures here
Here’s a bit of a different topic for review: sneakers. I’m not sure if it’s a bit of a vain topic (what are we going to review next, Seersucker Suits?!), but I’m pretty enthusiastic about this particular pair of footal (it’s a word as far as I’m concerned) accessories. I’m sure most everyone else doesn’t care about it, so stop reading here if you want.
If somehow you’ve ended up on this page after searching for something as inconsequential as this sneaker, please use the comments to correct any of the color, material, etc., etc. information contained in the review. For example, I’m not sure if “Brown” and “Dark Brown” are two different colorways or not.The colorways are officially “Dark Brown” and “Brown/Tan.”
History for history’s sake: Oakley’s best known for their aggressively styled sunglasses and “extreme sports” gear. There’s something to be said about designing a functional, fashionable product that still stands today as functional and, even more mind-bogglingly, fashionable today, and their M-frame sunglass product has been around since at least 1993 is testament to their industrial designers’ and product engineers’ abilities. I had known for a long while that Oakley made sneakers though they were always a niche product: few people wore/owned them, but they were (and are) one of the few brands which makes entirely black and entirely white sneakers. That doesn’t sound very significant, but think of how many all-black sneakers you’ve seen. Sure, there are plenty of all-black shoes, but not athletic sneakers. I’ve seen cooks, chefs, and that guy who thinks there just might be a pickup basketball game after church and he’d better have appropriate footwear (the all-black Oakley sneakers), if only because they’re the only game in town for that tiny niche of needing to look appropriate in church and on a basketball court.
Jump forward some number of years later, and as I was doing research for a project for a friction class in college in early 2004, I came across a picture and review of the Oakley Twitch. Unfortunately, the website, kicksology.net, was “retired,” the article no longer available, even to the WaybackMachine and Google’s cache. Finding no other review (or even much discussion) online, I guess that makes me the official messenger, as the sneaker as been discontinued, so even Oakley’s website doesn’t mention it. The image of the shoe so impressed me that I decided I was going to buy a pair ASAP (there are few products (or “anythings” really) of any sort that move me in a such a way. Knowing that Oakley shoes were hard to come by, I vaguely remembered that Amateur Athlete (in the Westgate Mall in Bethlehem, PA — tagline: “Westgate Mall, The Mall Time Forgot!”) carried the Oakley brand and hoped they stocked the particular sneaker. My second day home for spring break, I visited the store to find that not only did they have the model, they had it in my, not rare, but infrequent size, 13. I’ll go into colors and details later, but they had the “Storm” colorway with the awkward but endearing rubber Lip feature (or it a Nose). Truth be told, I was hoping they’d have the same sneaker from the kicksology review, the Brown-Tan colorway with Lip/Nose, but it was close enough.
The sneaker: at risk of being labelled “superficial,” I’ll address the comfort, etc. issues first. From 7th grade (1996ish) until I bought my first pair of Twitch sneakers (spring 2004), I wore “skater” shoes. In simplest terms, I never skateboarded (or “shredded”, “grinded”, or “thrashed”), but I liked how that “genre” of sneaker looked. I was reasonably active, but not particularly athletic, though I purchased sneakers specifically for tennis and church-league basketball because skateboarding shoes, while comfortable, have incredibly flat soles, thick tongues to pad your foot during “sick” tricks, and literally weigh about a ton (each). As detailed above, my first experience with the Twitch was at Amateur Athlete in the Westgate Mall, and my first impression was that my various sneakers from the past 6+ years were heavy. It wasn’t like wearing nothing, but it was quite the improvement. The soles were just as flat as the skateboarding shoes, but that didn’t stop me from losing plenty of intramural football and softball games with them. The not-excessively-padded tongue made the sneakers feel a bit more “connected” to my feet, as with the padded tongue, it felt as if my feet sort of “floated” in the sneaker. Generally and specifically, very, very comfortable, but it’s rare that someone would buy shoes if they were not comfortable (note: women are excluded from that generalization). *Note: the sockliner (insole(?)) varies per pair. One had little arch support while another pair was more accomodating.*
Simply, these are pretty much the coolest looking shoes ever. Oakley made them in a wide variety of colorways, and even had two varieties of the shoe going at once. Twitch sneakers are generally either designated as either normal (no special label, just “Twitch”) or “Noseless” (also called “Twitch NL”) which refers to the bumper on the, well, nose (actually called “toebox”) of the sneaker, which, to 2006 Dan, had very little functional purpose, but, to 2011 Dan, has shown to be invaluable for avoiding scuffing at this very sensitive area on the versions with smooth leather or suede instead of rough suede.
with little functional purpose (other than to avoid some scuffing) . But function or not, it does add a curious aesthetic detail that brings the visual area of the rubber into the leather body of the shoe. This visual melding of two different functional aspects of the shoe (body and outsole) is rare in non-specialized sports shoes/sneakers. [2011 note: I sounded awfully confident in this absolutely made-up “fact”] “NL” versions of the sneaker look a bit more “serious” as there is nothing eye-catching about the toe-box when it’s plain leather. Also, if I consider my online pursuit of the sneakers to be formal research, the “Nosed”/Normal varieties are decidedly rarer than the NL variants. I’m not sure why it’s “Lip” and “Noseless” instead of “Nose” and “Noseless,” but being that the internet is my primary source for this, there’s plenty of room for it to be all wrong. I’m basing this on searching for the shoes from 2004-2007 on the secondary market, as production stopped in 2003 (I think), then even liquidators’ supplies dried up by 2007 or so. The last pair I bought was a second instance of the Storm Normal/Nose version [which, coincidentally, I’m wearing as we speak. 2020 note: this link is dead, and I have no idea what picture should be showing up here]
A tour of the shoe: the outsole has an aggressive pattern than looks as if it were constructed by taking numerous pieces of rubber, and arranging them on the sole. What makes the outsole different is that it, like the “lip,” extends onto the medial side and lateral side of the sneaker, again visually mixing different functional parts of the sneaker. It looks aggressive without the “my sneaker can beat up your sneaker” look of some sports shoes. As the previous pictures have shown, the upper of the shoe isn’t over-the-top, but it’s still eye-catching.
Onto the colorways:
First and foremost, I’ll say that I prefer the Normal/”Nose” variety, but being that those are tough to even find pictures online, I won’t make a distinction. I’ll start with the three pairs that I own (most of these pictures were found online, not taken by me. You’ll definitely be able to tell which ones are of shoes I own/have worn.).
- Brown/Tan — the first colorway that I saw. Probably could be worn somewhere where sneakers are a faux pas. Light-colored rubber with white mid-sole.
- Storm (Blue, Light Blue, Blue is rough suede, light blue is smooth suede) — first pair purchased. This colorway lends itself a “sporty” but not particularly “athletic” look. Light-colored rubber with white mid-sole.
- Tan/Honey (both leather) — Second pair purchased (as of today , haven’t yet made the yearly sneaker rotation). More “serious” looking. Black rubber with black mid-sole (exclusive to this colorway). Frequently found at Overstock.com. I don’t think this colorway is available with the nose/lip. These shoes got beat up especially quickly because of the tenderness of the leather and lack of the rubber nose.
- Dark Brown (Brown/Light Brown*leather/suede) — Third pair purchased; at least one year away from becoming rotated in. “serious” looking. Almost “dressy.” Brown rubber with brown mid-sole. I do not believe this colorway exists in a nose/lip variety. 2011 comment: I wear these very rarely because the leather is so sensitive to scratches.
- Oatmeal (Black and Off-white) — Sort of silly looking. Relatively common on ebay [in 2006]. Black rubber with white mid-sole. With the nose they look a bit less silly; I found a pair with the nose on eBay for the right price.
- Ocean (Navy Blue/Light Blue) — Good mix of colors. Sometimes found in random sizes through Froogle.com [2011: remember Froogle?!]. Black rubber with gray mid-sole. I do not believe this colorway can be had with the nose.
- Cement/Navy (White/Navy) — Most “athletic” looking of all colorways. Almost looks like a cross-trainer type sneaker. Only able to find one picture in the billions of pages Google indexes. Some have shown up on eBay and I’ve found more pictures. Dark blue rubber with gray mid-sole (blue rubber exclusive to this colorway). Here’s one without the nose.
- Red/Tan — bright “casual” look. Frequently on eBay (but never in the right size. Brown rubber with tan mid-sole. I’ve never seen this colorway with the nose.
Well, I think that might be the most thorough discussion of that topic since the design of the shoe within Oakley.
The Oakley Twitch receives 5 big stars for being impossibly cool-looking and all sorts of comfortable as well. Sure, some of the colorways aren’t that appealing (I’m looking at you, “Oatmeal”), but the successful varieties create a sneaker that doesn’t look out of place at events where sneakers aren’t normally allowed. The fact that Oakley discontinued the sneaker doesn’t help or harm its rating; I’m sure that if the designer were to have things his or her way, it’d still be widely available. Really, if you come across a pair of size 13US Oakley Twitch sneakers, buy them, no matter what color they are. I’ll pay you back. (Um, if anyone actually takes me up on this offer, let’s set a limit of $50 for the sneakers.) The Coil Over, Flinch, and Coil are similar in design to the Twitch, and being that the Coil Over is my current sneaker (its year is up in April), I can assure you that it’s not the same.