Yesterday the above Air Force 1 customs popped up all over the internet. I’m not an Air Force 1 fan but the idea of interchangeable elements on sneakers has always fascinated me. Hell, when you have as many sneakers as most of us do, anything that will save you space is worth consideration. Aside from my opinion on the shoes, there is something else that I think is the bigger issue at hand.
I find it fascinating how much hate @johngeiger_ and @theshoesurgeon receive. I have to say, I admire the fact that they keep pushing outside the box ideas and surpassing the comfort zone of where those of us allow ourselves to take this hobby/business of ours.
I realize that it’s something that most people are above, saying that this whole sneaker thing is about “us” as a collective group, but I truly believe it is. More on that in a minute, though.
Yes, adidas did the interchangeable zippered upper back in 2010 on a trio of shoes. Surprise. Nothing you do is new. Unless you are Elon Musk, Zuck, or Bill Gates, especially in the world of fashion, it’s all been done. If you need proof, take a look at a Kanye West designed shoe or the upcoming Victor Cruz signature. Modern fashion is built on the past. The challenge to people looking to get creative is putting all the pieces together in a format that changes the currently trending thought process. This is why a company like JNCO Jeans is back in business. They go against the current most popular style in the most aggressive of ways. Good or bad, you’re free to have your opinion on what’s cool or not, but there will always be someone to go completely against the grain of your comfort level. Sometimes, it’s just to make statement.
Back to my point about sneakers being a collective thing though. I understand the immediate response to send an opinion on the latest buzzworthy sneaker news like the “Functional Zip” Air Force 1–it’s the way we’ve been groomed to be on social media. The system encourages it and the subsequent attention in the form of retweets and likes reinforces our natural want as humans to be accepted.
There are enough people making money off of our collective passion for sneakers that don’t give a damn about a single pair of shoes or a single sneakerhead (or whatever term you prefer). After my experience working in this business on the corporate side, it made me realize that the biggest problem holding back true progress towards anything sneaker enthusiasts might appreciate seeing is a lack of support for each other within the community.
If you were around in 1999 and 2000 on Niketalk or ISS or attended Sole Collector events in the years that followed, there was much less hate because we were all excited to simply connect with other people that shared our passion. Nowadays, there are many more of us that share this passion and that should be our greatest strength in creating change.
So, regardless of whether you like or dislike John Geiger’s ideas, or Dominic Chambrone’s ability to make them a reality, I challenge you to think differently about it. The machine that is sneakers feeds off of the perceived ignorance of “us” and until we look past our own egos and support one another, we’ll just keep piling trash on top of trash for ourselves and dollars on top of dollars for those that don’t give a sh!t about us.
If you read through all of that (thank you) and think I am complete BS, check out my friend DeFY New York’s review on those adidas below.
Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, StockX, and Stadium Goods better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.