Extremely limited. Super expensive. Overhyped. Camp Outs. Almost mystical. This all sounds about right when it comes to “grails”, correct? Blah, Blah Blah…who made those rules? Why have these unspoken standards caused such a divide in the sneaker world? Thank you random Instagram influencer who knows nothing about sneakers but posted a picture of the latest Kith collaboration and letting your followers know that if they don’t have these, they aren’t up to some fake “cool” level you’ve set. I’m here to say it’s not about what they think, it’s all about YOU…be an individual and rock what you like no matter if they are popular or not.

We all know the legends, Undefeated 4, LOS Jordan 1, Pigeon Dunks, etc. but what about sneakers a tier below? With hype being at probable its highest levels, I feel like the sneakerheads’ idea of a “grail” has been terribly tainted. Instead of searching for something special to them for whatever reason it may be, the sneakerhead is possessed all too often by the hypebeasts to only pursue pairs that gain acknowledgment from the world. Once they actually get their hands on it, the shoe sits in the closet until the highest bidder comes knocking. At that point I have to ask, was it really your “grail” after all?

Photo Courtesy of GQ

A “grail” can be anything special and maybe elusive to you. Don’t get me wrong, if I am able to get my hands on those hyped items I’m rocking them like there is no tomorrow. But, I recognize that there is such a vast sneaker world out there with so many options and stories to be told by each pair. For me personally, both the Jordan 1 “Shadow” and “Royal” are the “grails” I’m chasing. Yes, yes, I know they aren’t Off-Whites or some 1-of-100 pair release but honestly who cares? They’ve always eluded me and I just think they are the best Jordan 1s ever made (don’t @ me). You better believe that as soon as I get my hands on these, they will be in HEAVY rotation. I want to wear them until they can’t be worn anymore. That’s what gets me excited as a sneakerhead, simply the opportunity to wear something dope.

Photo Courtesy of Modern Notoriety

Sneakers have come so far, at this point they have become wearable pieces of art. Why not show that off? I mean, you bought them and we all know that the more they sit in the closet the more chance you have of one-day opening that shoebox to only find dust that’s worth nothing. Sneakers are meant to be enjoyed not just hoarded for “cool points”. All I’m saying is that sneaker culture is supposed to be a place of expression of individuality while being fresh in your own right, not non-inclusion and separation based on who can spend the most. I’m all for the Complex Cons and Sneaker Cons, in fact, I want to actually go to more of those. It’s amazingly awesome to see the culture gather like that, but let’s get back to these events and the culture as a whole being a celebration of the shoes, you know the thing that made this culture awesome to begin with!


  1. It’s an interesting topic. For many years, I had two of these lower-tier grails: the black/cement 3 with “Nike Air” on the back, and, like this author, a decent edition of the royal 1. For years I wanted these shoes – after a few drinks, I may or may not have literally stopped people on the street who were wearing them to talk about their sneakers. And then, in the course of the last year and a half, I got both. The 3s I bought easily at retail, the royals I got for a small markup on resale. I was stoked, of course, but there was also a part of me that thought, “damn, now what? That was way easier than I thought it would be. Maybe I should have set more ambitious grails for myself…”

    Which is crazy – the reason I wanted these shoes so badly was that I liked them, not just that they were hard to find. I know that, to me, the royal 1s are cooler than whatever hyped-up collab is burning up Instagram this week. I used to dream about these shoes, and now I get to wear them on a random Thursday morning without even thinking about it. Isn’t that exactly what I wanted? But there’s part of me that feels like I should always be chasing after something that’s totally impossible to find. So I guess I’ll keep finding new grails to pine over, always making sure that I’m forever unhappy.

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