Confessions of a trainer addict.
I admit it.
I have a problem.
It all started back in 1995 when I clapped eyes, and feet, on Nike’s newest iteration of their famous Air Max running shoe.
You’ll know them. The ones with the black / yellow / white colourway with graduated suede panels and nylon mesh and 3M reflective strips, coloured visible air-units spaced lacing system with high density mesh eyelets.
To this day considered by many to be the best trainer ever made, they were a technological marvel, a design masterpiece and comfy as hell.
Moreover they succeeded in hooking me, and numerous other poor sods like me, into a world from which there’s no return.
These were by no means the first trainers I’d owned. I’d had many pairs of Vans in the past. But those Nikes marked the first time I’d not worn a pair of shoes until they plain wore out.
They become the first pair of what would end up as a collection.
A collection consists of not just any trainers.
(I do actually own a pair of Rebook Pumps, the result of an early bit of experimentation, but they rarely see the light of day.)
My desire ignited by these neon masterpieces, I soon found myself making regular trips to the newly opened Nike Town on Oxford Circus.
When I’d exhausted their selection I ended up skulking round back alleys of Soho looking for limited edition releases in the exclusive and highly priced trainer boutiques.
New colourways and fabric versions were purchased as a matter of course.
Business trips to the States took on a new exciting angle. Would the Nike Town on East 57th Street have a slightly different selection to its European counterpart?
Then, in 1997, my first child was born. I was forced to temper my purchases. Funds became rather annoyingly re-directed toward less important things like nappies and babygrows.
More practically, a new baby meant I no longer had the time needed to cruise the shops to snap up any new releases.
But just when I thought I’d go out, those pushers in Portland pulled me back in.
Nike created the most amazing web utility the wold has ever seen: Nike ID.
The opportunity to create a totally bespoke, utterly unique pair of Nikes was too irresistible for me and I indulged myself whole-heartedly.
Throughout all this, I felt I’d avoided going overboard by not keeping my shoes in their boxes like many sneaker heads, who end up annexing spare rooms or renting lock-ups for their stockpiles.
No, I just kept mine stashed around the house. And basement.
Eventually, however, I was forced to face my own problem when my wife and son staged an intervention.
I came home to find they’d gathered every pair of shoes I owned and lined them up. The line stretched all the way from the front of the house to the back.
But far from halting my habit, this action, combined with the fact that we had actually run out of storage space at home, just prompted me to go underground. I vowed from then on to only get new purchases secretly delivered to the office.
The sneaker bloggers didn’t help matters, busily whipping up a frenzy of excitement for trainer addicts with their sneak previews of new shoes, sometimes months ahead of their actual release date.
Recently, those self made dealers have discovered a shockingly powerful tool to tantalise their prey: Instagram has led to photos of new shoes being pumped straight to addicts’ eyeballs the second each new pair is exposed to the world.
The number are astonishing. The feed of trainer blog The Drop Date for example is being followed by 177,000 people. Soho boutique Foot Patrol has 237,000 followers. Crooked Tounges has 56,600. Sneakerfreaker 530,000. Daily Sole 588,000. And Nike’s Innovation Lab has has 1.2 million people hanging on their every shot.
And then it starts getting scary, Kicks on Fire has 2.6 million followers. Nice Kicks has 2.4 million. Sneaker News, 5.4 million.
There is one thing about these bonkers statistics I find comforting however.
They prove quite conclusively that I’m not alone.
They also prove that this sort of habit isn’t simply a fashion thing. It’s more profound than that.
Is it about a love of design? Of technology? Of innovation?
Or perhaps it stems from something more deep-seated than that?
Satiating some deep human need?
Perhaps it is.
But I’m fucked if I know.
The above was an excerpt from Hiut Denim Co. — YearBook 2. We only printed 2000. They have all sold out.