Packer Shoes x Saucony Hangtime: Attack of the Woodland Snake
When it comes to the lifestyle market, Saucony has come a long way in just a few years. Recognizing that many of their older models still had a chance to be not only relevant, but successful in the contemporary sneaker landscape, Saucony created their Originals division, which focused not only on resurrecting their dormant classics from the archive, but also partnering with the right shops and collaborators to re-introduce the brand in the right way. It’s been a somewhat gradual process, but through consistently strong product and the foresight to align with the right partners, they have become a formidable competitor in one of the hottest trending segments of the market.
Using a similar formula that has worked so well for brands like New Balance and Asics, Saucony has managed to keep their retro offerings in demand by resisting the urge to distribute certain products to malls and large chains and instead staying true to the core group of independent shops that were so instrumental in co-signing their initial revival in the first place. Nowadays, Saucony’s heritage runners are thriving and the brand is no stranger to showing their appreciation to those who helped lift them back up into the spotlight, frequently teaming up with their loyal longtime stockists for a variety of different collaborative projects.
Obviously, running collabs have become quite the hot commodity in recent years, but those who remember the earlier days of Saucony will recall that they were once a respected name in the basketball
category as well. Granted, it’s been some time since that was the case, but there are a few models, such as the Hangtime, that have endured the tests of time and remain fondly regarded by older sneaker enthusiasts, as well as the younger generations that were introduced to the shoe in its retro form when it returned to shelves back in 2010.
Originally released in 1987 under Saucony’s Spot-Bilt subdivision, the Hangtime remains a seminal silhouette from its era and is more than ripe for some modern-day re-interpretations. New Jersey sneaker institution Packer Shoes was one of the first shops to jump at stocking the Hangtime when it re-launched three years ago and has now taken it upon themselves to further remind us of Saucony’s b-ball roots and the trendsetting snakeskin materials that appeared on many of their vintage offerings.
Known as the “Woodland Snake”, Packer’s twist on the Hangtime blends the OG Saucony snake motif with one of the most interesting camo applications we’ve seen in a while. The shoes will be releasing exclusively at Packer Shoes both in-store and online this Friday, November 22nd, along with two matching 5-panels designed by fellow NJ-based brand, Faded Royalty. Continue on for a full look at the “Woodland Snake” collection, as well as an interview with store owner and certified sneaker historian, Mike Packer.
Sneaker News: The Hangtime is not a shoe that we see pop up very often these days. What was it that drew you to the model for a collab project?
Mike Packer: I think it was the success we had going back almost 3 or 4 years ago when Saucony first brought it back in its original form with the suede. We were one of the retailers that helped them bring it back in the beginning and we saw that it had, maybe not the market that the runners have, but there is a market of people who want that archive of what Saucony has done in the past.
So we wanted to switch it up a little bit with the Hangtime, which in its day was really a pre-cursor to a lot of stuff that was popular afterwards. So the Hangtime has its place in time as far as Saucony is concerned and as really as far as sneakers in general.
So with that, we like with all the projects we do with Saucony, we wanted to tap into what the Hangtime can be. In other regions of the world, Japan specifically, it always had a nice following and if that’s something that we can start off here in doing…
It’s not only us that’s looking to do it, but thankfully we’re the first to bring a collaboration to the States. In Asia, White Mountaineering just came out with one and we were getting a lot of requests for that. And there are some others domestically that are working on projects with Saucony for the Hangtime too. It’s good to be at the forefront of that.
SN: Camouflage and snakeskin have both been heavily used in sneaker designs in the last few years. Is it possible for such timeless elements to go out of style, or will they always work as long as they’re executed well?
Mike: I think to be executed well is the main point of it all. To be honest, when we were in the materials room over at Saucony, we had a good idea of what we wanted to do with the shoe, and this was not really one of them. But when we came across something in
one of the material books and then were able to match our overall snake element with it, it was something that we couldn’t pass up. We figured, what the hell? Why not just sample it, so after we did and it came out the way it did, we figured let’s go with it.
SN: This shoe seems to be more about interesting materials, and less about trying to tell a story. Do you think there’s too much reliance on storytelling these days instead of just letting the strength of a colorway speak for itself?
Mike: I think that it can get overdone. You can only tell so many stories. We didn’t go into this to tell a camo story. It was about finding a material that made us say holy shit. Obviously these days, you’ve gotta call it something, so that’s how the name sorta came about. With the Hangtime, we always wanted to do it with a snake element, and that was our first choice and not because of anything
other than the fact that back in day, Saucony, along with adidas, were really the first to use snakeskin on a performance shoe to bring it to the streets. So we’ve always wanted to do this, going on probably two and a half years in the making. So that’s the one thing that’s never waivered – the flavor we wanted to use in bringing it to the market.
SN: The camo pattern on the shoe looks pretty unique. What is that material and how did you find it?
Mike: It really just came straight out of one of the material books. There were all these leathers we were looking through and I don’t remember too many camos, but this was one of those things where we just happened to find it and wanted to try it. I can say that for the price of the shoe, this material we used is well worth it. Working
with Saucony and the material library they have now that they’re owned by Wolverine, they’re able to bring products to the market using materials that if they were made by some other companies or sourced to different regions, this would be a $175 shoe.
SN: You obviously know going into the project that the Hangtime is a relatively underappreciated silhouette. Is it a challenge to take the road less travelled and work with models that aren’t necessarily mainstream crowd-pleasers?
Mike: No, I think that’s what sets not only us apart, but a lot of other stores that are in this market. Concepts just did something really cool on a Fila Tennis Low or things we’ve done in the past like the FX-100. Even going back 5 or 6 years ago to Saucony runners. Who thought Saucony runners would be what they are
today? Being ahead of the curve is a good thing, but being realistic, is this something within the Saucony family that can be as successful as the runners are? You hope it will, but it could be something that’s a nice addition to what’s already in place and not just with the collaborative efforts that come from Saucony.
SN: Saucony’s Originals division is predominantly focused on retro runners, but the brand was once a force in the basketball category as well. Do you think there’s potential for some of Saucony’s other classic basketball models to make a comeback in today’s market?
Mike: Definitely. The Hangtime is obviously one that we’ve worked with, but there are two or three that we’ve sent the originals to them and they’re just sitting on the desk of someone who I won’t name at this point (laughs). It’s there and it can be had. From the Spot-bilt/Saucony days, there are a good three or four that could be very relevant in today’s world.
SN: We saw two other snaked-out Packer colorways of the Hangtime previewed in a recent issue of Sneaker Freaker. Can we expect those to follow anytime soon?
Mike: If all cards fall into place the way they should, yes.
SN: Will there be any other collab projects from Packer Shoes before the end of 2013 or will we have to wait for next year’s 10th anniversary celebration?
Mike: The year is not finished yet, so I think it’s safe to say there will be something to round out the year nicely. And with 2014 being the 10th anniversary in Teaneck, we have somethings set up that are all falling into place.
The Packer Shoes x Saucony x Faded Royalty “Woodland Snake” Collection launches this Friday, November 22nd exclusively both in-store and online @ PackerShoes.com at 12pm noon EST. Click here for full info.
Photos by O’luyemi N’namdi (@FlyHumanBeyond)
Thanks to @adam313 for coming through with the snakes!