By: Charlie Green
Byron’s 11 Lab 4s
“I’m from South Carolina, but South Florida raised me,” says Byron, a military kid who bounced around. Regardless of where he was living, Byron was paying attention to shoes. His affinity for sneakers can be traced back to childhood trips to the local mall with his mother and aunt. Byron’s mom had over 200 pairs in her closet. “Seeing their love for shoes kinda rubbed off on me,” he says. That love coupled with being a teen in the golden era of hip hop created the sneaker enthusiast we see in him today. Byron recalls watching shows like BET’s Rap City and Yo! MTV Raps, and being fascinated by how people from other places were putting outfits together. Byron’s father always stressed the importance of working hard. He also stressed the importance of rewarding yourself for that hard work, even if it was something small. After a long week of work at Winn-Dixie and Publix, Byron would go to the mall and buy himself a CD and a pair of shoes. With every paycheck. “A pair of Asics, a pair of Saucony’s, a pair of New Balance, anything. That was my thing.”
Byron’s all-time favorite shoe in his collection, his “grail,” as a hypebeast would call it, is the Air Jordan 11Lab4. The lab series is about celebrating versatile materials used on Air Jordan classics. He was perusing through the mall with his wife when he came across an all patent-leather retro Jordan 4. The unique details and sheer quality of the shoe stood out, right down to the box. His wife reminded him that he had just purchased the “Red October” Foamposites at the previous store. “You have to make decisions, especially when you have children. You have bills that are due as well.” Later that year during the holiday season, as a demonstration of true love, his wife surprised him with his grails. “It was almost like being a kid again. I didn’t expect them and to open that gift that year for Christmas? It was just a feeling that I’ll never forget.”
Byron values comfort in his style. Nothing too flashy, he is a “t-shirt and jeans” kind of guy. When he and his wife go out, she always jokes, “Let me guess, either jeans and a polo or khakis and a polo.” It’s more complex than that, though. The perfect outfit begins and ends with the shoes. “I can buy a pair and hold them for 6 months, 8 months, a year even and not wear them.” He waits until he finds the perfect pair of pants or shirt to compliment his kicks. His style may be simple and even predictable, but his outfits are thoughtfully curated. Byron believes that your shoes speak volumes, and his speak loudly. For Byron, the ultimate compliment is someone asking about what’s on his feet.
As a self-described sneaker enthusiast, Byron appreciates much more than just the hype behind a sneaker. The history of a shoe’s silhouette or colorway, the memories from his childhood, these are the things that make a shoe significant to him. The kick’s legacy that he holds near and dear is absent in today’s generation of younger sneakerheads. “I can remember as a kid, going into Foot Locker, not having to have a raffle ticket, not having to stand in line for hours on end,” just walking in and buying a pair of Jordans. Many other 80’s babies feel the same way. The sneaker means more to this generation because the shoes are something that they coveted as a kid. Not just the ‘hyped’ shoe coming out that Saturday. “Man, I wanted those so bad 10 years ago, 5 years ago, but mom said I couldn’t have ‘em.” Now, as an adult with a job, Byron is able to enjoy the retros that are hitting shelves (within reason).
Initially, Byron resisted social media. “Anybody that I need to contact, I have their phone number. I don’t need to hit them up on Facebook or Instagram. I can actually call them.” Well, @seemohrsohl is doing something that he never thought he’d do. He’s using social media channels to indulge in his passion for shoes. His wife and daughter, who both share a love for shoes, have encouraged him to make a profile dedicated to his collection. Byron admits it has been a great experience. “I’ve met a lot of people and had a lot of great conversations and look forward to seeing where it goes.” I’m excited, too.
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.