The search for like-minded fans of soccer, sneakers and streetwear is never-ending. As we continue to carve out a niche it’s always reassuring to meet someone that gets it. Neal Heard is very much, that. Having authored ‘Trainers’ and ‘A Lover’s Guide to Football Shirts’, the Welshman has turned his love of sneakers and Soccer into a full blown career. With a recent kit collaboration, the launch of a Youtube channel and more on the horizon, we linked up with Neal for a quick Q & A.
KTTP: Give us a brief background of where you’re from and what you do for a living? team you supported?
Neal Heard: For my sins I am from Newport in South Wales, by which I mean, I support Newport County who are perennial under achievers, but that’s my town and my team.
KTTP: When/how did your love of sneakers start?
NH: I was an 80’s Football Casual, which today, most people would call a Soccer Ultra on a global parlance sense. The movement was way ahead of it’s time and is way too over-looked. We picked up on European sportswear, like Fila, Lacoste, Kappa etc and British Heritage brands like Burberry and Aquascutum way before the mainstream. This movement was well into their Trainers (as we call sneakers) at about the same time (late 70’s early 80’s) that our more well known cousin, Hip Hop started digging them too, but we weren’t influenced by Hip Hop or Breaking but lead our own style, which mainly centered around adidas running shoes.
KTTP: What are some of your favorite sneakers?
NH: Well being an old casual, I would say adidas Trim Trabb, Stan Smith, Munchen, ZX series etc etc but I do also love the pre 80’s Nike.
KTTP: You’re also an avid vintage Football shirt collector, what are some of your favorite kits?
NH: I always go back to the NASL shirts from the late 70’s early 80’s, the late 80’s and early 90’s shirts of Serie A of Italy and anything obscure or unique. As for examples, I would say the 1981 St Etienne Le Coq Sportif Super Tele shirt, Chicago Sting and Tampa Bay Rowdies, Smapdoria 91 with ERG as sponsor, oh lots and lots.
KTTP: What are some good sources for finding rare kits?.
NH: Well obviously it’ got easier with Ebay and the internet, but you usually find the odd jersey in Charity/Thrift Shops.
KTTP: Tell us about your books ‘Trainers A Lovers Guide’ & ‘A Lovers guide to Football Shirts’ how did the ideas come about and how long did each one take?
NH: Well simply these were my interests, as well as my areas I earnt a living from. I spent the 90’s searching for deadstock vintage trainers and this lead me to write the book in 2003. The same thing kinda seemed obvious with football shirts, which are only now being appreciated as style items.
KTTP: How do you feel about the current trend of soccer boots emulating sneaker culture with limited/rare releases?
NH: I must admit, I love the old skool Black and White models, but I am old now. I think it’s just the trend of everything going that way. Design and hype are just way more prevelant in society now, and boots also reflect this.
KTTP: Tell us about the kits you’ve recently collabed on
NH: I am proudly working with Le Coq Sportif on a small apparel collection based upon the 1981 St Etienne shirt I love so much, which is a dream fulfilled and I am also developing a pair of Trainers with them, which again, is something I had long wanted to do, so now I just hope I do it all justice.
KTTP: Via your instagram I’ve noticed you have another project in the works. Are you able to talk about it?
NH: I have started a Football meets fashion/street wear label called Lover’s F.C which plays with the cross over between shirts and street style, and it is sold across Europe in Urban Outfitters stores and I am also opening a pop up shop in London. I have been lucky enough to launch a collaboration label with fashion label Y.M.C and am looking to do more collabs with unique and linked houses.
KTTP: What else can we look froward to as far as future projects?
NH: I have started a You Tube Channel about the search and visits to interesting places with great archives of both Trainers as well as football shirts and clothes which are part of common culture, it’s called Lover’s TV and the first show was the record of our visit to the Northampton Shoe Museuem which had an archive of 700 VTg trainers, and the show is called Shoe Gaze, go follow the channel, there’s more to come.
For more on Neal Heard and all his endeavors check out: nealheard.shopify.com or Ig: @nealheardtrainers