By: Charlie Green
T Blake’s Tom Sachs Mars Yards
One other kid collected sneakers in Tyler’s Connecticut hometown in the 2000’s. As someone who values being a unique individual, Tyler attributes his passion for sneakers growing because it was something that set him apart from his peers. He liked being a big sneakerhead fish in a small pond, but wanted to connect with others who shared his interest. He turned to the internet as an outlet to connect to the sneaker community. T Blake (as he’s known on YouTube) was on his sneaker game every day. He would exhaust Sole Collector’s website, making sure to comment on every article in order to achieve that coveted 5-star rating. His early local reputation as the “sneaker connect” has stayed with him as the 100,000+ subscribers to his channel can attest.
“I love storytelling even more than aesthetics,” Tyler says. It is this about Tyler that makes his collection different and really awesome. Among his most meaningful are a pair of Doernbecher’s. Nike’s relationship with the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital began in 2004 and has raised over $4 million (more information Here). Several kids are chosen each year to design a Nike shoe for auction. All of the proceeds from the auction go to the children’s hospital, and Nike also makes these shoes available to the public in limited numbers. “Seeing sneakers where each kids’ story comes through in such a unique way makes them most special to me.”
The other shoe at the top of T Blake’s sentimental list are his Tom Sachs Nikecraft Mars Yard sneakers that he acquired from a buddy for retail. “It was a nice culmination of sneaker culture that I had grown up around in my adulthood in Massachusetts, and also that great storytelling in material that I love.” He kept them safe and unworn in his closet for years, but when asked to speak on a panel at Ad Tech in San Francisco, the Mars Yard’s were the logical choice. It’s a shoe that symbolizes innovation in technology and is pretty unique to boot. It’s one of the only sneakers T Blake owns that he has really never seen anyone else wearing. “Every time I lace it up, I know it’s going to be a great conversation starter.” The shoe is so rare that he is known for owning them. His audience often tags him when they see the shoe posted or up for sale online. “Not only does the sneaker mean a lot to me, but it’s like an extension of myself.” Until the T Bleezy’s are released, this will be Tyler’s signature shoe.
Tyler defines sneakerheads as people that make purchasing decisions based on their own personal love and enjoyment of a shoe, and nobody else’s. For some people, it is hard not to get caught up in the current trends and hype. For Tyler, “it’s hard to really love something if in the back of your head you know you’re just doing it for someone else.” In the shoe game, Tyler notes, “there’s always somebody with more money, more propensity to spend, more ability to flex on the gram and you’re wasting time and money” if your end goal is just to be on trend. He describes his style as “consistent.” He is brand-loyal and supports the products that he loves and respects. This authenticity is evident in all of his many projects. “I try to keep it so that my viewers have trust with me. If I title a video something, that’s what they’re gonna watch. If I put them on to a product, that’s what they’re going to get. If the product sucks, I make sure I tell them that, too.”
According to Tyler, the popularity of sneakers on YouTube has been impacted by mainstream media’s reporting on the resell value of sneakers. During the time that Tyler and many others were making videos about shoes they loved, a whole new audience subscribed to those channels trying to “catch on to the whole ‘limited edition, making money reselling sneakers’ thing.” The popularity of this growing niche on YouTube has been great for young people, providing a roadmap to success, a way out. However, the pressure of staying relevant for someone who is trying to run a personal brand terrifies Tyler. He has no interest in that “rat race,” and has kept his channel pressure-free by sticking to what truly interests him. A sneakerhead, by his own definition.
Tyler is still a big fish, but swimming in a much bigger pond now. However, there is still much about Tyler that sets him aside from others in the sneaker world. Tyler’s determination to maintain honest and true to himself is remarkable. He turns down more paid gigs than he accepts. He refuses to get caught up in worrying about growing his numbers of subscribers and views and likes, and keeps his channel consistent with what his original audience appreciates – with what he appreciates. Tyler is someone who communicates with his fans and has had kids reach out to him for advice and recommendations for college. “I consider this a far bigger compliment than someone viewing or liking my videos.” With his work ethic and positive and down-to-earth approach, the sky’s the limit for Tyler at age 23. I’m truly excited to see what he has in store for us in the future.
Do you have a pair of sneakers that tell a story? Share them with us. Post your pictures to Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #SneakersTellStories and include why they are special to you for a chance to be featured on the weekly blog.
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