Back Story

Jack Purcell:  How Setfree Addicted Me

The first pair of Jack Purcell's I owned:
The John Varvatos green/caramel purchased
from Undefeated in January of 2006.

Being the Uncoolest Dude in Hollywood means, by definition, that I don't know much about style, fashion or dressing sense. I had completely resigned myself to wearing whatever sneaker I could get at the cheapest price possible that would last for the longest time and cause me the least amount of trouble. Because of that, I would end up wearing generic sneakers from whatever 'warehouse' was having a sale that month.

My generic brand sneaker (above).
Notice the dirt, wear, and all around
general awfulness of these off-brand shoes.

However, being a practical man I knew I had to function with some kind of style or I was going to be dead in the water. Enter sneaker guru Setfree.

Setfree (above), the Godfather of my Jack Purcell collection.

For a bunch of reasons long, complicated, and difficult to recount, 'Free decided to give me some unsolicited advice: "We're going to Undefeated."

"Why are we going to a sports bar?" I asked.

Undefeated sneaker boutique on La Brea Boulevard
in Los Angeles. The place is the size of a closet
and full of hipsters.

Actually, it wasn't that complicated. We had a very important business meeting with an agency and he didn't want to be embarrassed being seen with me sporting an off-brand pair of white sneakers from a shoe 'barn'. He needed to butch-me-up and he had to do it fast.

January 2006: We load into my 1998 Volvo station wagon (the official vehicle of Robot Films at the time) and head down La Brea Boulevard here in Los Angeles. For those who don't know (and if you are one of my friends or relatives you probably do not know), Undefeated is one of the premiere boutique sneaker shops in the land. While this store is the epitome of cool, the actual parking is terrible. Being cheap, I dropped Setfree off at the door and I found a parking spot for the wagon in the neighborhood behind the store.

Undefeated has about the same square footage as my guest bedroom and sells all manner of cool-guy sneakers. It's small, crowded, full of young 'style-guys' looking cool, depressed and hipster. Being the Uncoolest Dude in Hollywood, I immediately got itchy just being inside the place. But by the time I got inside, 'Free already had my new sneakers picked-out: Jack Purcell John Varvatos, olive drab green with caramel smiley face and light beige toe. I was mesmerized.

"Buy one in each color," says Setfree.
"I only have $100 dollars," says I.
"Oh," says Setfree. "Well buy one pair at least."
"They're more than $25 dollars," says I.
"Don't make me punch you in the face," says Setfree.

I hesitated (remember I'm cheap), but the more I looked the more I needed them. Do I pay that guy in the parking lot to remove the dent on the Volvo or do I buy these brand new Jack Purcells? Life changing decision hanging in the balance...

I didn't buy a pair in each color that day but I bought those green Varvatos Jack Purcell's and it's a decision that has made all of the difference. The Jack Purcell became the foundation of my M.O. I wore them sparingly for the longest time. In fact, I didn't wear them more than two or three times those first couple of years. But I've since worn them a bit too much and have had to put them into semi-retirement. Nowadays, they'll come out for the occasional dress-up day at church or to visit friends, but certainly no longer good enough for a 'real' Hollywood meeting.

So for all that, I say 'Thank You, Setfree. You made me a (fashion) man that cold, cold Los Angeles day in January 2006. You are the godfather of my closet of Jack Purcell's and the one I blame when my wife catches me trying to sneak in that tell-tale green and tan shoe box into the house.