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Psychological Travel Notes, Marseille

The thing is, everybody wears very good sneakers: With tight fitting sweatpants, peaking below striped djellabas and dashikis, combined with dresses, tracksuits and leggings are the chunky, the limited and the collaborative, gleaming white or radiating volt, pink and, sometimes, a multitude of iridescent. Intermediate-level Vapormaxes (Utility, Flyknit, Plus) seem to be stakes to play dans la rue, one-upped by 720s, Kiko Kostadinov’s Gel-Delvas and the bulbous sculptural offerings Han Kjøbenhavn and Puma have been putting out lately. The general selection slants soccer and running, mediterranean street kid and La Haine. Athletic footwear choices speak of discernment and respect for the urban space: look good when stepping outside, you owe the streets of Marseille.

Marseille is an impressive, varied assembly of architecture. Both the elevated and the mundane are housed in thoughtful (or at least, deceisive) structures that weave into a gritty, dense fabric that presents its scars as proudly as its triumphs.

A young man passes, his architecturally sculpted upper body squaring Rue d’Aubagne. Grey technical fabric spans voluminius chest muscles, disproportionally slim legs stick out from boxer’s shorts in shiny leggings, their panelling suggesting a martial future for everybody. His hair is cropped into a precise fade. Above the left ear, a succession of shaven vertical lines combine with a longer horizontal one: a thick barbell, the straightest possible, most elegant commitment to his sport, to be renewed daily, during morning routine.

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