Introducing our next new Ambassador Dylan Hughes.
Collecting sneakers for a prolonged period of time ensures that the acquisition of certain sneakers comes with an interesting background story. My first blog gives you an insight into three of my best loved sneakers, how I found them, and what I did to acquire them. Any serious collector has a few stories to tell, and here’s a few of mine…..
Take my 1994 Air Jordan I’s, for instance. I’d been trying to find a pair for years, but the hunt had begun to intensify as I had decided I would be wearing these to my only sister’s wedding, about ten years ago. The only place, really, to find such an item in the early 2000’s was, of course, eBay. By then, the world’s sneaker collectors already knew of the forgotten fruit that lay still somewhat edible on the floor of everyone’s favourite auction site, so the prices were relatively high. I say relatively as they are comparatively way higher now. I lost many a used pair of originals from the 1985 and 1994 issues, often as the second-highest bidder, and the price for a box fresh pair was going to end up costing more than my suit for her big day. Eventually I found a pair being sold in the US, with one pretty grainy picture that oddly showed only the shoe’s heels. I recognised the shape right away as being that of the 1994 reissue, so I mailed the seller to enquire about the shoes- where had they been bought, original box, etc. The vendor, a nice lady who I assumed was a fair bit older than myself judging by her manners and tone, told me her husband had purchased them from an outlet back in 1995 and that they were housed, ‘in a box that contained lots of pictures of Michael Jordan playing basketball on it’. I instantly took a gamble that she was holding a pair of dead stock 1994 Air Jordan I’s in white/black/red colour way. I took my chances bidding and ended up winning them for about £90! She had never sent a package overseas before, so I gave her ample dollars for shipping and eagerly awaited my cheaper-than-retail I’s. I was unemployed at the time and every morning I was up and ready to sign for my bargain sneakers, yet a month had passed and no still no shoes. I had begun to distrust my new friend and doubted she had ever sent them. But her tone was always so sincere that I trusted they would eventually show up.
I think I had almost forgotten about them, well, of course I hadn’t, but I had lost hope of my feet ever being able to parade Mike’s first sneakers at my eldest siblings wedding. That was until I got a knock at the door one afternoon in early spring. I went downstairs nonchalantly, totally expecting it to be something for one of my housemates, and I opened the door to see a man with a very large box. Too large for a pair of shoes, I thought. The box was in fact for me, it had come from Michigan and he asked me to sign. I am fairly sure I just signed with a massive smile on my face and ran into the kitchen to find some scissors. I couldn’t even see through the sheer excitement and I tore the box open like a spoilt kid at Christmas. I rustled through the small pieces of Styrofoam until I uncovered what felt like a box. Like Indy finding the Holy Grail, the box’s label sat upright and stared me in the eye- AIR JORDAN 1 WHITE/BLACK/RED. I poured the remaining Styrofoam all over the kitchen floor and sat and marvelled at my latest addition—they were PERFECT. I couldn’t believe it, it was like the resurrection of my lost dreams- here I was, unemployed, sat with what is now apparently a $1500-2000 pair of Jordan’s. Yes, of course I didn’t even think about the value they may be worth and wore them to the wedding, and on many occasions since- they still look fresh today!
A few year’s previously, I had gone to Japan to follow the Irish national team on their quest to shock at 2002’s Football World Cup. I knew about the rich trainer heritage of the Japanese, who were really the first to start raiding the world of its dead stock sneaker resources, but no amount of reading up on shops in Tokyo could’ve prepared me for the footwear bazaar that was Tokyo’s stores. I had a few shops I really wanted to visit; one I had some dialogue with prior to travelling there to trade some Stussy Blazers with, and some others that just looked insane in the many Japanese magazines I had been hoarding since the early 2000’s. I wasn’t prepared for one small detail though: being a giant. Yes, at 6’4″ and a UK size 11/US12, I was actually laughed out of several stores. “THIRTY CENTIMETRES??? HAHAHA”- was the response from many of the boutique workers.
I had been trudging around Tokyo for about three days between matches and honestly, at this stage, men half my size laughing at the size of my feet had begun to grate on me. I found a weird shop, well, I am not sure you could really call it that as it was basically a stockroom that had a shelf which opened onto the street. It had no roof, nothing. I casually asked if he stocked size 30cm or thereabouts in the Air Jordan VI black/infrared, expecting his answer would be the same as the others. I had wanted this shoe ever since I first cast my eyes on it, in a window of a small sports shop back in Ireland. Since spotting it as a young lad in the early 90’s and having seen it dotted around stores in Tokyo, it became the must-have souvenir for the trip. The guy was like, “Yeah, wait there.” I totally expected him to come back with “30cm?, you crazy, man”. Until I saw him emerge from the darkened store room with a black and silver Jordan retro box in hand. The fit was perfect, but I hadn’t checked the price and they were something like ¥18000. “DAMN”, £140 with a few days and one match left to go was a sizeable chunk of my rapidly diminishing spending money. I tried to barter with the guy but he didn’t really get it, I think he thought I was trying to rip him off. For some reason I couldn’t justify sticking them on my overdraft, so I walked away, confused and upset.
I got about three minutes away from the store, my mind speeding like a Tokyo drag race, but I couldn’t see an answer to my dilemma. I stopped in the middle of Harajuko before deciding to go back and get them, then changed my mind, then changed it back again. I must’ve looked like a total lunatic, spinning round in the middle of the street, not knowing which direction to go. I stopped again and just stood there, with my back to some shoe stalls. Suddenly I got a tap on the shoulder, I turned round, and was faced by a Japanese lady I had attended college with back in London. I had not seen her since we both graduated two years previously and by this stage I was now totally delirious. Noting my obvious distress, she asked what my problem was. I explained the situation and she burst out laughing, replying “just go and buy them!” So I did. Hell, the shop owner was so happy I had come back for them, or maybe because he was getting rid of some giant-size Air Jordan VI’s from his micro-store— that he even knocked off 10% off the resell price.
There are of course some pieces which should have a much more entertaining story, but don’t. Like my 1992 all-black nylon Cortez. I was in a big Cortez phase around 2005 as they were pretty hard to get back then, and I was obsessing pretty hard over NWA and 90’s west coast rap-wear back then. I had begun acquiring every two-colour nylon version going, but I had always dreamed of owning a blacked out pair. I didn’t even know such a thing existed, so I hoped they would one day make them to my dream spec. One day while searching US eBay for vintage Nikes, I came across a pair of black on black Cortez II’s in nylon. I was astonished. There they were, but the size wasn’t right. I had a mini-panic before I checked out the seller’s store, only to find he had three dead stock pairs in sizes 9.5, 10. and 10.5 UK, the latter being my perfect size. I offered the guy a sizeable fee to end the auction early, but like any honest eBayer, he declined. So I decided that this was it, it was time to break the bank and exceed my previous highest fee for a pair of Nikes, setting my auction stealer bid to $301. I’d decided there were going to be many people on this planet that wanted them, but that I wanted them more and that was it! Count down six nervous days of waiting and manically checking the eBay listing about three times a minute. But I won them for $56. Result!
Check out Dylan’s crate here http://www.sneakerpedia.com/users/9501