Christian Gafner, Co-founder / CEO (is the handsome one on the left)
As reported in an earlier Tempus Fugit missive, I begged Santa Clause (i.e. Mom and Dad) for a pair of leather Adidas. There were a few small obstacles standing between me and Christmas happiness:
1. While some kids in Oberlin had Adidas shoes on their feet, no retail stores within hailing distance sold them.
2. The stores that sold them were so far away that you had heard of these cities on the local news, but they might as well have been in East Germany. The roads that connected my small hometown and the metro Cleveland area were not, shall we say, advanced or well coordinated.
3. I had what were considered at that time, seriously undersized feet for my age. Meaning that while Adidas and Puma might make shoes in my size, those were not the sizes that specialty sports stores in Northern Ohio (or really anywhere else in the US) would likely be ordering for their stores.
Spoiler alert - somehow (hand to God, to this day I don't know exactly how), Mom came through and under the tree were a pair of size 1 Adidas Cadets.
|Shamelessly borrowed from the worldwide info web|
Curious to relate, just like that 8 year old kid in Ohio, there was a whole country of kids (East Germany) young and old who loved and wanted sneakers. And ilmia was the brand. The Berlin Wall came down, Germany was re-unified, and ilmia tucked in for a long nap that would have been the envy of sleeping beauty, until they were awoken by a few princes, and a princess.
Which brings us nearly up-to date. I started coming to BaselWorld as a journalist in 2011.
At the time, ilmias were a well-kept secret, and had I not seen them featured at the ochs und junior shop in Lucerne I would not have known about them. And that is when I first met Christian and put my money on the table and put a pair of ilmias on my feet.
For those of you not aware, Christian is the designer behind the first MIH watch -
|Courtesy of Embassy & MIH|
So one week ago, I found myself fresh off the train from Zurich to meet him and see the new batch. And so to one of my "other offices", Caffè Spettacolo just opposite the Biel/Bienne train station, where I got to see what is up next for ilmia. And a friendly travel tip from your old pal Henki - next time you're in-between connections at the Biel/Bienne station, or you need an easy to find rally point? I highly recommend the Caffè Spettacolo.
And I got the hook-up, and put my marker down for a pair of "samples".
And as any good sneaker-head would, I got my pair signed -
1 / INFINITY. I like that ; )
And while I got a chance to look at the new, I also got a brief re-wind through the old -
Have no doubt, ilmia made some serious athletic shoes back in the day.
And if you were a kid on what we used to think of as the "wrong side" of the Berlin Wall, and you couldn't get your hands on the Adidas Rom or the Puma Roma? ilmia had you covered -
Now I can't speak to how the "old school" ilmia kicks fit and feel, but my pair fits well, super soft and comfy. And to quote the youngsters hanging out at Bodega in Boston, they are:
Per the Urban Dictionary:
Biel/Bienne was my first stop on an horological wander that took me Switzerland and France. The story starts with -
A Love Letter to Besançon - part 1