Confessions of a sneakerhead
«ogmike» works at Galaxus and has a special hobby: He collects sneakers. We’ve talked to him about what he’s experienced in the sneaker scene over the last 30 years.
For most people, sneakers are not more than comfortable shoes, at best a trendy accessory that gives the final touches to an outfit. But there are a few who see more than that: sneakerheads. A sneakerhead is a person who collects limited and special editions of sneakers and has a lot of background information about the scene. «ogmike» is one of them. «ogmike» is his scene name and stands for «Original Mike». Time to ask him a few questions.
Let’s start with a typical question: Sneakers fascinate me because …?
ogmike: … from a historical point of view, they’re the status symbol of the streets.
Your first pair of sneakers?
The first sneakers that I remember buying and that I saved up for were Air Jordans 4. I was 15 at the time and I bought them from a shop called «Small World» in the old town of Zurich.
Lets be honest: How large is your collection really?
I used to have so many that I couldn’t have answered this question. Today, I only have models that I really like and get off on. Unfortunately, shoes aren’t made to last forever. After a while, they start to crumble and go yellow. Even if you never wear them. Ironically, if you wear shoes, they last much longer than if you only display them at home. I keep my current collection in two cupboards. Each double door takes about 70 pairs.
What about «two are better than one»?
I actually have a few models twice. I wear one pair and leave the other pair at home on display.
What do your friends and family say about this special hobby?
They don’t get it.
What’s your favourite brand?
Nike. Nike Jordan to be more precise.
Complete this sentence: Perfect sneakers need to …
… have adaptive lacing technology and be so light that you can hardly feel them. And they should glow.
Give us a fun fact from your time in the scene?
My scene name used to be «sneakerpimp21».
Which are your three favourite sneakers in the world?
HyperAdapt, Jordan 4 in cement grey and Air Max 1.
Nike HyperAdapt (with adaptive lacing technology)
Nike Jordan 4
Air Max 1
How much did you spend on your most expensive pair of sneakers?
Let’s put it this way: I swapped them for 40 other pairs of sneakers.
Which are the most ugly sneakers ever?
The ones Adidas and Jeremy Scott came up with together: Teddy Bear. Horrendous.
How do you keep up-to-date on the release of new models?
It’s interesting to compare what it used to be like and what it’s like today. 30 years ago, rap and hip hop videos and magazines were my only news source. Plus, there used to many rumours that you’d just have to trust. It’s a totally different story today: I use various apps such as «unlaced». They provide release calendars and even links to buy the new models once they’re released. It’s obvious that it used to be harder and a lot more time-consuming to stay informed.
Are there subgroups within the sneaker scene?
Yes, there are. The basketball scene is one example. They were influenced by Jordan’s Nike series. Hyperbeasts are another example. Hyperbeasts are sneakerheads who only buy those models that either have a high resale value or were worn by Kanye West. And then there’s the runner scene. Image them as the «alternative ones» within the scene. They focus on running shoes.
Have you ever camped outside a store so you’d be the first to get your hands on a limited or new model?
Yes. I used to fly to New York or London just for one night to get special kicks that didn’t exist in Switzerland. My mum worked for Swiss at the time, so it didn’t cost me too much.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get a pair of sneakers?
In 1992, I was in Harlem, New York, and had just bought a new pair of sneakers when I saw a gang in front of the store. It used to happen a lot that they’d steal shoes from off your feet. They’re worth a lot of money. It was clear what they wanted from me. I acted as if I was deaf-dumb and got away with it because of my accent. They left me alone and walked away.
When’s the moment that anyone can call themselves a sneakerhead?
When you know the history behind kicks and have your own sneaker stories to tell.
What happens to dirty, worn-out sneakers of yours?
To be honest, my sneakers have never been dirty. I never walk across grass in them and I don’t drive in a lot of them. I also change them so often that it never comes to that point. If they go yellow, I invest in professional shoe care. I even invented a new way of walking that doesn’t cause shoes to wrinkle: walking without a rolling movement. Some people keep a piece of plastic inside the tip of their shoes to avoid wrinkling. But I wouldn’t do that. It’s uncomfortable and requires buying them half a size too large.
Photo credit: ogmike
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