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Is This Cool?

Recently, I came across a profile of an author who wrote yet another definitive book on defining what is cool. Such books are rarely cool, but it got me thinking about how this subject is a never-ending debate among editors, trend forecasters, designers, artists, stylists, hipsters, musicians and even some politic-ians. And while there is never a definitive answer, I figured, why not solicit feedback from our pretty cool industry? The fact is we are tastemakers who are always in search of the next hottest shoe, which requires immersion in many sources of coolness.

That said, we’re pleased to introduce the “Footwear Plus Cool Index” at—a running tab of what our industry thinks is hip across a variety of subjects. I encourage all to sound off and let a constructive debate ensue. Ideally, we’ll come up with a consensus on everything cool, from colors (Pantone reports violet, aurora and turquoise are tops for Spring ’10, but do they work on shoes?) to music acts (what tunes do you pipe into your store?) to trendsetters (who do your customers aspire to sartorially mirror?).

To get the ball rolling, here are some of my current assessments: Rock guitarists Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page are all cool, a fact made clear in the very cool documentary film “It Might Get Loud,” which delves into their respective creative geniuses. White’s retro fashion sense—authentic, not costume-y—only enhances his coolness. In fact, White just might be one of the coolest guys around right now; he even gives Johnny Depp a run for his money. Speaking of cool music, my pick for the coolest rock group ever? The Ramones. Their stripped-down sound and fashion statement, anchored by Converse All-Stars, is as relevant today as it was more than 30 years ago.

There are plenty of cool actors; George Clooney and Brad Pitt are popular references, and James Dean and Marylyn Monroe just may be the closest we ever get to eternally cool. But I offer Steve Buscemi and James Gandolfini, because coolness is not only skin deep. Many athletes are cool, like LeBron James, Lance Armstrong (his cause more than his personal life) and Serena Williams (despite losing her cool at the U.S. Open). A lot of writers possess coolness, and my first choice is goth queen Joyce Carol Oates followed by Flannery O’Connor. As for places, I’ll nominate deserted Jersey Shore towns in the fall, when the ocean is still warm. On the flipside, New York is the coolest city in the world, and it’s cool knowing that I’m always surrounded by cutting-edge artists, designers and other creative minds. But it’s not just the newsmakers who are cool. I have to say when my daughter slides her hand into mine when walking together through Riverside Park, it’s the coolest thing ever. Now, what do you think is cool?

The June 2024 Issue

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