Sneakers Tell Stories Vol. 7

By Charlie Green

Nathan’s Nike Air Mowabb

Nothing tells a more descriptive story than a worn pair of kicks. They’ve been everywhere with you: that unforgettable concert, that first date, that trip to Europe, etc… Sneakers right out of the box are fresh, but the ones that you’ve lived in are unique to you.  This is Nathan’s story:

If you grew up in NYC in the mid-90’s, you remember the hip-hop style of that era.  The trend of Nautica polos and baggy Tommy Hilfiger carpenter jeans slowly shifting to utility brands like Helly Hansen, Timberlands and North Face Steep Tech jackets.  Nathan grew up in Queens, and was in high school during this time.  Every sneakerhead can remember the shoe that started their infatuation.  For Nathan, it was the wild colorway of the iconic Nike Air Mowabb.  Nathan remembers thinking, “I MUST have that shoe.”  He compares shoes back then to the iPhone 7 now.  You could look at a shoe and be fascinated by the technology.  He remembers being blown away; “How did they cram an air bubble in there?!”  He saved up for two weeks to buy the Mowabbs, back when it only took two weeks of saving to buy a pair of Nikes.

1

Groups like The Wu-Tang Clan, The Lost Boys and the Notorious B.I.G. dominated east coast pop culture in the mid-90s.  Naturally, the kids in NYC adopted the style and the Nike ACG line, which had debuted in 1989, was at the forefront of street fashion.  Silhouettes such as the Air Mada, the Air Escape and (you guessed it) the Air Mowabb became a more street-friendly, sneaker version of the utility boot. Putting the Mowabbs on for the first time is vivid for Nathan.  He recalls thinking, “This is a wild outfit for the streets!”  They were perfect for a kid living in the city.  They could get scuffed, battered and drudged through the snow and it only added to their character.  It didn’t bother Nathan that his red and black North Face jacket did not match the loud colorway of his new kicks.  Mismatched was the look of the time, and these shoes were fire no matter what.

2

After a few years of wear, Nathan’s Mowabbs were tired and he tossed them.  Over the years, he regretted scrapping them and regularly searched on eBay for a pair of his “underrated” favorites.  They were always as beat up as his had been.  He was able to secure a new pair in the beginning of 2015 when they retroed for the first time.  This was the same year he traveled to Morocco with his fiance.  He wanted to bring only one pair of sneakers on the trip, and thought, “What sneaker fits best with this environment?  We’re in the desert, right?”  One of his old sneakerhead friends commented on his Instagram post telling him that he’s never seen the Mowabb in a more perfect setting.  In so many ways, this was the perfect shoe for Nathan to be wearing when he proposed to his girlfriend in Morroco.

4

Nathan’s sneaker story is one of maturation.  He can recall many shoes that have come and gone.  “Throughout my history, I have gotten rid of sneakers.”  He went through a Nike Dunk phase and a Jordan retros phase, but those were just that – phases.  All that remains are quality shoes.  Nathan loves the playful font used on the outsole of the Mowabb.  He craves more of that bold, fearless, innovative style that Nike was known for in the 90’s, and hopes they will find a way to reinvent it.

3

Creations from NikeLab and their exciting collaborations with brands like Acronym have re-invigorated the sneakerhead in Nathan and others in his generation.  Many of these new sneakers have clearly taken inspiration from the Nike ACG era.  When asked for his definition of a sneakerhead, Nathan emphasized that in order to be a true sneakerhead you must have unique, individual opinions “based on your OG-ness.”  Sneakers define Nathan’s style and how far it has come over the years.  He no longer makes impulse purchases, and says he’s “too old” to change his mind now.  “Whatever pairs I do have and collect now are staying with me… I’ll never get rid of them.”

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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