Life is not an advertisement for shoes… sometimes – Normalitas

This Nike, nothing. The fashion of the time is Top Manta.
Don’t wait. Let me rephrase.

This week a local micro-brand sneaker collection launched in Barcelona and is making waves.

Produced on a small scale – there are only 400 pairs – between Spain and Portugal and with the support of two local designers, these are not the kind of shoes I would put on my foot 36. readyabrimeucorazónnn). And expensive: they cost 115 euros, or R $ 713. Almost the same price as an air max, Naike’s popular model, and more expensive than some of the air zoom range here in Europe.

Os tais (Top Manta / Reproduction)

But it’s not my taste or Pepe Pimentón’s for tennis that counts.

More than just monumental shoes with a mezzo tractor imprint, an African print mezzo, what is interesting is the collective behind the brand.

These are mainly Senegalese immigrants who, until recently, lived illegally in the country.


The Top Manta cooperative was created in 2019 by the Union of Barcelona Street Vendors to support the “matera” community and their families.

The name of the brand is an allusion to the original universe of its creators, also called “manteros”, characters of the Barcelona scene that we commonly see in the center selling imitations of bags and sneakers of major brands on blankets. or sarongs quickly when you paint the font).


According to the last census, there are now nearly 77,000 Senegalese registered in Spain. They are mainly concentrated in Barcelona and the Balearics.

They do not reach the main foreign communities in the country, such as Moroccans (762,000) or Romanians (667,000), and are even behind the Brazilians (just over 84,000), but their number has increased in recent years. , mainly the young population.


Besides the design of the sneakers, I also have mixed feelings about the advertising approach taken to launch this small collection – but again, it’s my money.

The campaign attacks the language and slogan of Náike’s advertisements, in front of which the collective positions itself as “competitor” or “antagonist”. It’s not that I’m defending Top Brand. But is it really necessary to resort to this strategy?


The commercial video begins with a guy looking out to sea and the voiceover saying believe in yourself.

Next comes that familiar Tenseype ad montage – a common type in nature, body in splendor, accompanied by an eloquent self-narrative very similar to that of a campaign from the giant “competitor”, culminating in the exact phrase “just do it”.


The provocation is deliberate. The turnaround follows. The video returns to the beach – but this time, in front of the guy, there is a boat. A canoe, almost. Crowded with people. The people who arrive, come from where? On the other side of the ocean, after, as we say around here, “pasar putas” (to be fucked) for a journey of no return.

They are illegal immigrants. Like Moroccans and others, they come above all from the African continent, fleeing wars or poverty, in search of a better life. Embark on precarious “pateras” or “cayucos”, nothing more than fishing boats, to get to Nazoropa and live the Zoropean dream. Many never arrive.

Scene from the advertising campaign for the launch of the Top Manta sneakers (Reproduction)

Cut to the same character fleeing from the police, his face crumpled to the ground, his hands on his neck, the screams. “Life”, now announces the sharp voice of a woman with a foreign accent, “is not an advertisement for shoes”.

The commercial ends with a rephrasing of the sayings of the Naiki: “It’s not just about doing it, it’s about doing it right”. The do-it-right finds resonance in the official campaign phrase, borrowed from the Wolof or Ulof language, spoken in Senegal and The Gambia: Walk Dem, or Walking Together.

Over time: the amount collected from the sale of sneakers (yes, no doubt, hence the high price) is used to “maintain” families and develop the activities of the cooperative.

Among other things, the Top Manta project has already made it possible to regularize the Spanish residence of dozens of Senegalese, in addition to currently giving direct employment to a few dozen of them and offering language courses and professional training.

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