Sneaker Freaker (Australia) Article

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Jul-2006: Ten-page feature in Sneaker Freaker magazine – and my most detailed article to date. Images from this article have been copied all over the Internet without credit.

Article Details

Published Article


By Ian Fieggen and Simon Wood, Sneaker Freaker, Issue 8, 20-Jul-2006

Article Transcript

Meet Professor Shoelace, He Loves Laces!

SNEAKER FREAKER: One area of sneakerology we’ve somehow managed to avoid is the vital area of laces. Personally, we keep ours loose and we prefer cotton over nylon, other than that, it’s straight vanilla round here – no crazy lattice switchups or duo-colour checkerboards. Recently however, we were introduced to Ian Fieggen (aka Professor Shoelace) and were humbled by his academic knowledge of this black art. The prof has created, without doubt, the best shoelace website in the universe Here, he laments his latent love of laces and introduces fifteen of his personal favourite ways of rigging rides, including helpful diagrams. Then we learn how to modify your aglets to the correct length and tie his very own ‘Ian’ knot, the world’s fastest way of shackling sneaks. Just don’t mention velcro or boondoggles! (Not.)

IAN: I can’t recall exactly when I turned into “Professor Shoelace”. It was probably some time around the year 2000, when I first added the details of my “Ian Knot”, the World’s Fastest Shoelace Knot, to my existing hobby web site. I’d been sharing information about my knot in various ways for almost 20 years, but for the first time I was getting feedback from people all over the world. Suddenly, I found myself answering all sorts of other questions about shoelaces! How do you lace shoes straight across? Why do my shoelaces come undone? Is there a more secure shoelace knot? What do you call the tips of shoelaces?

I soon realised a couple of things. Firstly, there was a great deal more to shoelaces than I’d ever imagined. Secondly, there wasn’t a whole lot of information out there, probably because most people’s immediate reaction is: Shoelaces? That’s kindergarten knowledge! Plus the fact that there’s no money in it.

That’s when I figured that this was one way that I could contribute to the Internet. I’d add the few snippets of shoelace knowledge that I had to my site, thus keeping those visitors happy as well as saving me from answering quite so many questions!

And so I started “Ian’s Shoelace Site”.

That was six years ago. Since then, the Internet has grown, the number of visitors has grown, and despite constantly adding to the site, the list of future additions continues to grow as well. Who would have known that there were more than a dozen different shoelace knots? Or that nearly half the population could be tying their shoes with a “slip knot”? Or that there are around two trillion ways to run a shoelace through six pairs of eyelets? Looks like I may be busy for a while yet.

Now as any true sneaker freak will soon realise, there aren’t too many sneakers out there that don’t come with shoelaces. Besides the occasional Velcro, elastic, latches, spring toggles, or the now infamous “Disc System”, there’s no substitute for good old fashioned shoelaces. This is mainly because they’re cheap, simple, easily replaceable, yet very effective. The shoelaces run through the eyelets, which act as a series of “pulleys”, ensuring relatively even distribution of the tension that holds the sides of the shoe together. In theory, shoelaces are an elegantly simple device needing no further thought than pulling them tight and tying a shoelace knot.

In practice, there’s a whole lot more to shoelaces. That is, unless you’re one of those people who is quite content with your shoes laced as they were when they first came out of the box and tied with the same simple shoelace knot that you learned as a child.

In this section, we’ll cover some of the main things that are of interest both to sneaker freaks and to anyone else who uses shoelaces.

As far as tying shoelaces goes, not everyone is interested in learning a new shoelace knot. For many people it was hard enough to learn the first time to never want to go through it again. Whilst the “Ian Knot” makes a great party trick, and anyone who learns it can’t imagine using the traditional, slower methods, it’s hardly crucial knowledge.

However, anyone who suffers because their shoelaces keep coming undone would almost certainly be interested in knowing more about shoelace knots. This is usually due to them inadvertently tying an un-secure “slip knot” instead of a secure “reef knot”. There’s only a very subtle difference between the two; luckily, the solution is equally simple.

Another source of frustration for sneaker freaks is a shoelace knot that refuses to sit straight. Instead of the loops sitting across the shoe (from left to right), they twist to sit along the shoe (from ankle to toe). This is an almost certain sign that the wearer is tying a “slip knot”, so the solution will not only make the bow sit straight, it will also help keep the shoelaces securely tied.

The real fun of shoelaces is in the lacing method. Although 2 trillion methods are mathematically possible, there are really only a few dozen methods that people use, either for looks or for functionality. Each has it's own advantages and disadvantages, such as ease of tightening or loosening, binding strength, speed, comfort, appearance, wear and tear, even to adjust for shoelaces that are too long or too short.

Next time you step out with some hot sneakers, why not add a touch of individuality by lacing them differently? There’s the clean looking “Straight Fashion Lacing”, or the more decorative “Lattice”, or the popular “Checkerboard”, or even the distinctive “Ladder Lacing”. Better yet, try one of them using some fat or colourful laces and you’ll soon see how many people notice.

Speaking of laces that are too long, this is a real problem nowadays. Am I the only one with narrow feet, or the only one who doesn’t like my lace ends dragging in the dirt? I’ve taken to shortening all of my laces to length, sometimes by as much as half a metre! As a result, I’ve tried all sorts of ways of creating new aglets (the tips on the ends of the laces). My favourite material is heatshrink tubing, which results in aglets very similar to the original manufactured ones.

Now I don’t expect anyone to become as fussy with their laces as I am, like shortening them precisely, or ensuring that all their laces cross over each other in the same direction, or making sure that they’re not twisted or otherwise “untidy”, or tying a perfectly symmetrical knot. What I do hope is that this section will leave you with a few more practical and creative options for your shoelaces that will allow you to put the “finishing touch” to your sneakers.

– Ian “Professor Shoelace” Fieggen

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This page last updated: 05-Jun-2024. Copyright © 2020-2024 by Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.

Website created by Ian Fieggen (aka. “Professor Shoelace”), inventor of the Ian Knot.

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