Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just Sneakers

It seems to me that some men spend as much, maybe even more, on their footgear than women. Air Force 1 ring any bells? It’s the Jimmy Choos of sneakers and Sneakerheads from Syracuse to Seattle covet them with all their fashion-conscious zeal. They’re growing in number. And many of them are ten, eleven, and twelve-year olds dipping into their piggy banks to splurge, in some cases, upwards of $700 for the hottest new releases.

Every boy has a right of passing. He takes a pilgrimage to Niketown and there before his callow eyeballs are the most spectacular shades of lust— electric blue, fire engine red, barbecue brown, radioactive green, and titanium. Some of the sneakers have copies of precious diamonds embedded in the rubber bottoms, others are proffered in attaché cases— gimmicks aplenty. A lucky few get the royal treatment and head back in a private lounge replete with leather sofas that could give the swankiest gentlemen’s clubs a run for their money. Those lucky few can have a custom-made pair.

For those that don’t quite have deep enough pockets for custom design the crème de la crème available to the public will still impress savvy cognoscenti. The lines have names like Vandal, Cortez, Power Max TB, HyperDunk Supreme, Zoom Sharkalaid, Blazer, and the elusive Dunk SB, to the more casual Retro Lifestyle. There’s the Air Jordan Sixty Plus signature series that pays tribute to master of dunk, Michael, the year he racked in sixty plus points. The very styles Jordan wore that historic season.

Yes, a lot has changed since I once sported Air Pegasus and Rebook tennis classics, but then again I was never a Sneakerhead. I did go through the fat laces stage, but not for long. And that’s another story. Any mentioning of this to a bona fide Sneakerhead would get nothing but chuckles. There’s a fine line between true aficionados who wear their wears and the posers who buy for quick profits selling to the bigger fanatics. It’s big business and the Nikes, Pumas, K-Swiss, Adidas, and Timberlands bank on the obsessions of these young men who have to grab the newest styles. The entrepreneurs buy in bulk and sell their premium edition quintuplicates.

Nike Air Force 1s have been around since ’82 although they were discontinued the following year and didn’t come back until ’86. They were designed by Bruce Kilgore who is considered the Leonardo Da Vinci of sneaker design. He’s also responsible for the Dunks Series, Air Jordan 2, and the Shox. Air Force 1 was Nike’s first basketball shoe packed with Air cushioning, the cutting edge of its time. They’re named after the plane that carries the president to his doings— the idea that wearing these shoes puts you in a luxury state of mind. They’ve been released in over a thousand different color combos.

The 25th anniversary of Air Force 1 saw limited editions. The hottest of which is Lux 07 affectionately referred to as “Crocodile” that comes barbecue brown and barbeque brown-met gold with 24K gold-plated removable lace tip. There was also the Anaconda version in glistening white snakeskin. Both of these marvels of bipedal craftsmanship can be acquired at marked down for $1799. Certificate of authenticity comes along free of charge.

For the fashion-conscious with smaller purse-strings the Nike Blazer hightops vintage edition in blue suede would make Elvis smile. You can get those for under $70, a real steal.

There are sneaker swaps now throughout the country to police the abuse of counterfeiting and there are many young men who have so many pairs they can go 4 or 5 years without wearing the same pair two days in a row. Those that are devoted to their passion might camp out overnight to be the first in line for the special releases.

I know this is beside the point, but I have yet to buy a pair of Converse All Stars.

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