Sneakers Tell Stories Vol. 5

By: Charlie Green

Drew’s Concord Air Jordan 11’s

There was a golden age of Nike Air.  Before the camp outs, before the raffles or bots, and before we took “L’s,” there was a special beginning to what we now know as sneaker culture.  Drew’s affection for sneakers began when he was a teenager in South Jersey in the mid-90’s.  Athletes like Andre Agassi, Ken Griffey Jr., Deion Sanders, Michael Jordan, and Allen Iverson were in their prime.  These names now grace the Hall of Fame, and their signature sneakers have become the vintage ones that represent an era of legends.  Drew’s oldest pair of sneakers are from this era.  His Concord Air Jordan 11’s from the first retro in 2000 are the beginning for him.  That time period is the origin of ‘hype.’

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Drew had a friend that worked at a store in the mall who put aside a pair for him.  They were not in his college-student budget, according to his parents, but he had to have them anyway.  “It wasn’t like it is today. There weren’t any lines down the block or anything, there were no raffles, people weren’t buying shoes online yet.  You had to go to the store, walk in and buy a pair.”  Man, those were the days.   You had to physically go and buy the shoes.  No re-sellers, no website crashes and no Michael-Jordan-crying emoticons.   Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get that back?

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Drew considered tossing his 14-year-old Concords at one point.  Although he takes pride in keeping his shoes in good condition, the soles were yellowing and they were old and worn.  On a rainy Sunday two years ago, Drew wore them to Flight 23 on 34th Street in NYC.  He started getting looks, and began feeling embarrassed about his ugly beaters.  As it turns out, the looks were not pity; people were impressed.  “How old are those?  Where did you get those?  They couldn’t believe I still had them!”  Drew recalls.  This was a turning point for him.  Drew recognized the value in his “beaters,” and promptly took them for a professional cleaning.  It was this experience at Flight 23 that inspired him to use social media as an avenue to tell the history of Nike.

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Growing up, Drew collected baseball and basketball cards, as well as Sports Illustrated and SLAM magazine.  His mom held onto his collection for 20 years, well after he moved into his current apartment in Jersey City.  About two years ago she drove up with the boxes.  “I couldn’t believe what she kept and what I still had. She had every Eastbay magazine from 1996 through 2000.  That’s how @nikestories began.”  He started posting old releases, vintage shoes and advertisements.  His following grew rapidly, and @nikestories now has more than 30k followers.  “People are really reminiscing about those glory days,” Drew says.  His passion for sneakers is evident in his Instagram feed.

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Drew is very selective about what he buys, for no reason other than his closet real estate is limited.  He has 35 pairs and sticks to retro Nike running, training and basketball shoes.  I must say, Drew is a breath of fresh air in a time when it’s all about the hype.  He’ll break out his 11’s once or twice a year until they physically can’t be worn anymore.  They have given him a voice that speaks to true sneaker enthusiasts, those of us who value the history behind the patent leather and full-length Air Sole unit.  The 11’s are the logo on his Instagram account and his favorite ad.  Drew says he’ll never let this pair go.  Sneakers’ worth cannot be measured in dollars, but rather in what role they play in the story of your life.

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.

Follow Drew:

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