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High-speed Heels
The Argus - Nov 18, 1998

KIDS always nagging you for new trainers? Well you haven't seen anything yet.

The latest must-have shoes are more than just a pair of natty pumps.

Soap Shoes are about to become the latest thing.

The specially-designed shoes, with a concave sole that slides, could replace skateboards and in-line skates on the streets.

But, at a cost of between 90 and 110 a pair, they are no stocking filler.

Brighton is one of the first towns to stock the trendy trainers, which have non-stick soles and allow the wearer to slide at speeds of up to 30mph - a skill known as grinding.

The shoes were invented in America by Californian Chris Morris, a 32-year-old in-line skate sales rep who took three years to perfect the design before he launched them in the States and the UK.

He came up with the idea to get around in-line skating bans in some parks and public places, believing nobody could be stopped from wearing their own shoes.

The shoes combine the skill of skateboarding with the thrill people get sliding across wooden floors in their socks, and the concave bottom allows wearers to slide along any surface where the concave part of the shoe is the only part in contact - including kerbs, benches, ledges and handrails.

Soap Shoes are made of Dupont Wearforce high performance abrasion resistant fabric which lasts longer than other shoe leather. The heel is reinforced and the slippery plastic plates on the sole screw in so can be replaced when they wear out.

Some Soap Shoes have rubber panels on the side which act as a brake so the wearer can control the speed.

Sales are just starting to pick up and stores claim that, so far, black is one of the most popular colours because kids are trying to get away with wearing them to school.

Jason Beeden, 30, manager of Re-al in Dukes Lane, Brighton, one of the first places to stock the shoes, said: "We always try to be first and be ahead of the trends.

"It's mainly kids who skate who have been buying them, but at around 95 they're quite expensive.

"They're just becoming really popular now so I expect to get a lot more people in asking for them.

"They look like normal trainers and we've had people pick them up without realising, but they're not really designed for wearing like other trainers."

Legends in Western Road, Brighton, have had youngsters trying to buy the shoes even though they have not yet had any in stock.

But they are already selling well at ESP street sport shops in Bognor and Chichester.

Owner Eddie Stenner, 39, said: "A lot of kids that do in-line skating buy them because they can still do all the tricks but they're not restricted by the weather.

"They can wear them like normal trainers and then grind when the opportunity arises, whether its the freezer rails in a supermarket or railings at school.

"They're not that expensive when you consider how much trainers cost and they're no more dangerous than someone buying a fast car when they've just passed their test."

And it's not just young kids that want them. Skateboarder Seth Wells, 28, of Rose Hill, Brighton, said: "I definitely want a pair. Churchill Square or the skate park at the Level would be perfect. You can wear them like normal trainers and then jump up on railings and impress your mates."
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