The long anticipated follow up from Tom’s low top, the Lost Art Inspired 440 last year, the final piece of the trifecta, the 440H arrived.
Looking like a Prada shoe fucked a 1970’s basketball shoe whilst a walking boot crept up and joined in, it’s an instantly striking colour way for a beautiful shoe.
Usually, I recoil in horror at a hi-tops, honestly.
I’ve had a handful of hi-tops in my life, and aside from the embarrassing mid 2000’s Muska inspired Supra era, I’ve absolutely hated them all. From Sk8 Hi to Nike Blazer Mids, they’ve all been equally chunky, dull and nothing short of painful. So, when the Tom Knox was previewed, I was in two minds. On the one hand, they looked fucking sick - with the full leather grained upper and the water-resistant nylon mesh looking like it’d be able to handle the drab northern weather (and who doesn’t love an all black shoe, as boring as it might seem). But on the other, I was a little scarred by previously unfruitful purchases and £75 is a lot to spend on something I’m gonna end up tossing to one side.
When New Balance Numeric first hit the shelves, they absolutely tanked, I’m sorry to say it. But, the sizing was off, the quality fell short and they really didn’t manage to encapsulate the things that had made New Balance so unique in other areas of the brand.
After the first run of shoes, the sizing thing had sorted itself out, and with the general consumers memory lasting all that of a goldfish, the past problems were forgotten. Since then, it’s been strength to strength for New Balance. With unique shoes that act as a hybrid between the comfort and quality New Balance are famous for and long lasting product that gives a unique board feel every time, you’re in the money. Combine that with the fact you’ve got a solid team of UK based killers and someone like Dave Mackey acting as TM, you know the skating’s always gonna come correct.
The 440H is clearly inspired by the things Tom holds dear, from the unquestionable functionality of the shoe, the homage to the classic New Balance stylings throughout the mid tongue orange strip and the reflective heel underlay, to the wet cobbled image in the insole. The stamp of Knox, is clearly set upon the shoes and I think that’s one of the things I like the most about the shoe. Not only is it dangerously comfy and flawlessly stylish, you can see the thought behind each detail, the more you wear them, the more you feel connected to the process and really understand why they’re built the way they are.
Now, you might think I’m overstating and it’s more than possible that the Jenkem Mag article breaking down Tom’s Atlantic Drift Easter Eggs has had that affect on me. But honestly, I’m a horrible cynical little shit, usually, I hate everything or at least like to talk like I do. I was fully geared by to tell you how much of a rip off these shoes are, and how you shouldn’t bother wasting your money. But I have never been happier to be wrong.
There’s absolutely nothing I don’t want to do in these shoes, and being honest, there’s not much I haven’t done in them - but for legal reasons let’s not go too much into that.
Like everything, nothing is without fault, and for it’s impressive good looks, charm, comfort and longevity there’s always gonna be some drawbacks. And I’m anything but a dishonest reviewer. So let’s get to the shitty bits.
The insoles although beautiful and very artistically inspired are an absolute pain in the arse. Now, hi tops are never the easiest shoe to get on, but fuck me, the insoles are so thin that every time I tried to put them on, they would fold and crease up towards the toe box, which is frustrating as hell and uncomfortable. It was easily solved by chucking in my FP insoles, but still, annoying.
Also, I’ve not rolled my ankle as badly in my life as I did in these shoes. Now, I don’t wanna blame that entirely on the shoe, because it’s more than likely being a fat lazy bastard in my mid 20’s who really is not as good at skating switch as he likes to think, had a profound effect on this. But, I do feel like it was massively exacerbated by the hi tops themselves, and that’s probably more of a critique of hi tops as a whole, rather than just this shoe.
I know I’m grasping with those bad points, but it didn’t feel right to have no grievances with a shoe, so there you have it. I’ve waited on reviewing the shoe as I wanted to bust them to death first, but I’ve struggled to do so. Not for the want of trying, but as testament to their longevity the NDurance rubber outsole technology
and the extra protection in high wear areas such as the toe box £75 actually feels like a steal. And this is coming from a certified skateshop leech, so you know my purse strings are tight.
Hands down the most visually appealing shoe I’ve had in recent years and the only one that anyone’s ever stopped me in the street to ask what they are, the Tom Knox 440H is an absolute classic. The man who can do it all, has done it all. I don’t get how it’s fair but it doesn’t seem like there’s anything he can possibly do wrong, apart from the shit insoles.
- The shoes are comfy as hell
- You have eyes so you can see how nice they are.
- Get a shoe horn (trust me)
- They don’t make you skate like Tom Knox
- But they do make you feel like Tom Knox
- Long last durability and comfort for the great northern winter ahead.
- An instant classic.
- 9/10 would buy.