10 years ago, I owned a single pair of running shoes – lace-less, powder blue Skechers that had been in my closet since high school. Then, I met Felix, and everything changed. He introduced me to the complex world of sneaker collecting
The first time I saw him in 2008, he was wearing a Supreme varsity jacket, and I remember thinking that he had more style than any other guy that I had met. I was into him
On our first date, he brought me to Goodfoot, a boutique on St-Laurent that sold the latest Nike SB grails. I was intrigued. At night, we scoured web forums as he taught me about the latest releases and how sneaker collecting was about more than the shoe itself. It was about the culture. He fell into it because of skateboarding. I was fascinated
Then, he introduced me to Just for Kicks, the incredible documentary by Thibaut de Longeville. I discovered Tinker Hatfield (you have to google him.) He’s the design genius behind the Air Max and the Jordan III to XV, among others. I was hooked
By the time we travelled to New York together for the first time, I had only one objective: get my hands on a vintage pair of Jordan 3s, and I found them at Flight Club, of all places
A shared passion
Since then, Felix and I favourite pastime is sneaker shopping. We have been known to stand in a line or two, but prefer the online chase (which includes waking up at 3AM to for an elusive release.) We’re avid fans of the outlets to get our hands on a rare sample. And, when we travel, we make sure to hit up all of the best sneaker shops
So, all that to say, ten years later, I no longer have the Skechers, but share three closets full of Nikes, Adidas, and Vans
Sneaker collecting is like a drug. No, it’s more like that amazing Netflix show that you binge watch in a day. Once you dip your toe into the sneaker world, it’s really hard to come up for air. There are just so many layers to it that there’s always something new to learn
Just in terms of design, sneakers combine both art and technology. Sure, fashion will dictate the hottest styles. It’s by no coincidence that Adidas’ latest releases resemble a Balenciaga Triple S. However, models are created first and foremost for the needs of athletes. Technical innovation is really what drives the industry. For example, the famous Reebok pump was designed so basketball players could customize their fit for better support
Speaking of Reebok, there’s also the marketing aspect too. The war between the giants like Nike and Adidas is enough to make any business major cum. The market is really controlled by 6 brands tops: Nike (which owns Converse btw), Adidas (of which Reebok is a subsidiary), Puma, Under Armour, New Balance, ASICS, and maybe Vans, if you’re taking a broad approach. Regardless, all of these companies are best in class
Oh, and the resell market! Understand stockX and Wall Street will come to you like second nature.
However, personally, what I love the most about sneakers is their cultural meaning. They have played an important part in pop culture since the 70s.
Did you know that Vans success beyond California skaters happened thanks to the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
Did you know that the first sneaker endorsement for a non-athlete was with RUN DMC & Adidas?
Did you know that in the 90s, people were attacked walking out of Foot Locker for their Jordans?
Did you know that hypebeast trend can be traced back to 2005 with the release of both the Nike SB (Nike Skateboarding) Pigeon and Diamond? (PS: A tribute to the Diamond SB is being released this month)
Today, everybody likes to call themselves a sneaker head. Instagram has been a catalyst. Everyone wants the hype model of the moment to flex on the ‘gram. Yet, I think it’s important to unpack the phenomenon, to know the history, and to make educated purchases. A kick-ass retro found at Renaissance can be so much better than the latest Yeezy
Therefore, in these monthly missives, my goal is to guide you to past the hype, to dig a bit deeper so that hopefully, you fall in love just as hard as I did