• Designed by the Military...
  • 21 Day Test Run
  • Dependable Toughness
  • Comfort Guaranteed
  • More Miles for Your Money
  • Our Brand Philosophy

...for the Military

UK Gear’s training shoes were originally designed in association with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC). These elite fitness professionals were closely involved in the development and tested our products in some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth. Only when approved by the Military do we consider our products... Built to survive.

Style and Fashion : Precious things

>>28 September 2004

Men now buy more accessories than women.

ACCESSORIES. Foot spa. Chocolate. Flowers. Fitted kitchen. Baby. In the good old days before the oestrogen in the water supply started kicking in, these words were a vital dividing line between the sexes. If you were a woman, they made you so excited that your pupils would start to dilate. If you were a man, they filled you with indifference, boredom or dread.

But not any more. So pathetically girlie have men become these days - vide D. Beckham passim - that they have even started shopping like them, to the extent that blokes actually spend more on accessories per year than women do. Yes, really. According to a new report from Mintel, the British accessories market is worth an annual half billion pounds and men's kit accounts for 60 per cent of it.

Having never knowingly "accessorised" in my life, I was initially quite horrified by this. But then I remembered the special bag I keep in the sports cupboard upstairs and the special drawer I have in my wardrobe. Both are absolutely jam-packed with precious things. Things that my wife dare not go near or it will be instant divorce. Things like my darling original 1970s ski hat and my British-soldier-in-the-Malayan-jungle-circa-1957 hat and my leather belts and felt braces (buttons, not clips, obviously) and my silk ties (from vintage 1960s to loud 1980s to flouncy 1990s) and my scarves and other assorted knick-knacks. And I suddenly realised that, like a lot of blokes, I've been accessorising all my life. I just never knew the word, that's all.

UNTIL LAST WEEK I would rather have stuck hot needles in my eyes than wear a Burberry check baseball cap. But now that Burberry has officially stopped manufacturing them (it won't say why but it's pretty obvious - so many yobs are wearing them that it's giving the brand an even worse name than it already had thanks to Jade from Big Brother) I've suddenly become excited by their scarcity value.

Could it be, as one tabloid newspaper would have us believe, that they are now going on eBay for £200 a pop? Well no, sadly, it couldn't. In the last auction I followed the checked horror in question went for a very average £20. And there seem to be about ten of them for sale every day - so no major national shortage there, as far as I can see.

So what I've been hankering after instead is an increasingly rare Gap children's pink straw hat, like the one I saw advertised in a dangerous product recall notice in the store window. Apparently, if you're not careful you can get pronged by some sticky-out metal bits in the brim. But - on behalf of my four-year-old daughter who would be wearing the thing, not me, if ever I managed to procure one from some irresponsible person - I'm not scared. The sooner she learns that in the world of fashion exclusivity is more important than comfort or safety, the sooner she'll understand what it means to be a woman.

I've just been road testing the new PT-03 trainer - as developed, marketed and branded with the help of the Army Physical Training Corps. And not on some pantsy old assault course either, but under the toughest conditions imaginable: an afternoon up and down Oxford Street.

My verdict? Well, as a running shoe it's ace. Light but robust and well balanced with lots of support and great chunky grips. And it looks the business, too - a sleek, slightly menacing grey, like on a destroyer or maybe a torpedo boat - with pretty red detailing and fluorescent bits to give it that high-tech edge. Definitely, definitely not for use as casualwear, though. As my stepson rightly pointed out, wearing such obviously sporty trainers for anything other than sport makes you look a right Kevin.

The PT-03s are said to be a vast improvement on the cheapo ones currently issued to army recruits for basic training, but probably won't replace them because at £79 a throw, they won't pass the MoD budget test. This seems to me very short-sighted. If the Army is to have even a prayer of continuing to recruit the modern young, then fancy footwear is surely the very least it ought to be able to offer - preferably footwear impregnated with essence of skunk weed, alcopop and PlayStation, so as to break the kids in from civilian life as gently as possible.