Remember Ned Flanders, the cringe-worthy/loveable Christian character on The Simpsons? Well, he’s just done a sneaker collaboration with Adidas that will be released in October.
Part sneaker, part loafer, the shoes are the latest release in an Adidas Simpsons collaboration that already includes Flaming Moes and Krusty Burger sneaker designs.
The inclusion of a Ned Flanders piece, though, is an unexpected twist and perhaps an encouraging nod to how the cartoon character’s Christian character has stood the test of time.
For the uninitiated, Nedward Flanders Jr, known as ‘Ned’ is the Simpson family’s Christian next-door neighbour, is famous for greetings such as “Howdily-doodily, neighborino!”
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On the one hand, the Flanders family are depicted as a Christian cliche, complete with literal Bible reading, and dogmatic beliefs and practices. The family even runs a home business that makes Christian hook rugs.
But on several occasions, the show’s writers deal well with Flander’s faith, allowing his struggles and triumphs to be evident and nuanced.
“I’ve done everything the Bible says – even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!” says Flanders, in one episode, after his house is destroyed by a hurricane.
Despite his eccentricities, Flanders is generally portrayed as someone who is motivated by his faith to seek the best for others. He volunteers with the local fire department and actually owns the Simpsons’ house, which he rents to them at a reduced rate. And oftentimes, Flanders inspires those around him to do good themselves.
Flanders is also the owner of a business called the Leftorium – a store in the Springfield Emporium that specialises in products for left-handed people.
“I’ve done everything the Bible says – even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!” – Ned Flanders
In season three, when Ned invites his neighbours to a backyard BBQ to celebrate the Leftorium’s opening, Ned and Homer split a wishbone, which Homer wins, making a wish that Ned’s business would fail.
In the days that follow, the Leftorium does indeed begin to struggle and Homer finds himself with many opportunities to help his left-handed neighbour and other left-handed people, who clearly need the products Flanders is selling. Homer chooses not to help them … and then his conscience begins to plague him.
Yet by the episode’s close, Homer is convicted of his sinful ways and has directed his left-handed friends to the Leftorium, not only assuaging his own guilty conscience but saving Ned’s Leftorium in the process.
Unsurprisingly, Adidas pays homage to this iconic Flanders episode with a green shoebox that features a black and white picture of Ned Flanders in front of his Leftorium store with a sign proclaiming, “Left Handers Rule!”
The Flanders-inspired sneaker itself utilises the brand’s 2017 McCarten silhouette and closely resembles the brown loafers that Ned wears. And with green sides and a pink inner collar, the colours are an obvious nod to Ned’s sweater and collared shirt combo.
But unlike Flander’s store, the shoes are designed to be worn by both ‘righties’ and ‘lefties’ – which is surely a metaphor that will preach for some brave preacher in sneakers (and please email us if that turns out to be you!).
For the rest of us, surely if there is a cartoon Christian worthy of inspiring us to purchase a new pair of loafer-ish sneakers, Flanders is the guy.