Nostalgia seems to dominate the contemporary internet landscape because remembering days of yesteryear inevitably bring back fuzzy memories of childhood friends, crushes, and a sense of carefree living that come and are gone in an instant like a summer storm in the Midwest. No matter how old you get, certain things stick with you. Having spent the last several weeks discussing various topics as part of our ongoing roundtable discussion, we decided to take a more personal approach and recall some of the shoes that were as memorable as a first love. These are our “tongue kiss” stories.
Pete Williams – Airwalk One
Thinking of the sneakers I had as a child, the first I specifically recall wearing are a pair of Nike runners (model unknown) I wore for long distance running in track & field meets, and I do remember once asking for a pair of Reebok Pumps circa 1992, but it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that I seriously started considering exactly what I was putting on my feet. The Airwalk One was the gateway. It was 1996, and that shoe was simply the coolest thing out. After grabbing a pair I started skateboarding, and after picking up a few copies of Transworld and Thrasher I realized what I needed more than anything in the world was even more gear to match my new found hobby. Those pages said skateboarding was not just a “sport,” it was a lifestyle, and if I wanted to be truly involved I need to dress the part. By 1997 I was decked out in oversized Freshjive, DROORS and Alien Workshop tees with army fatigues, forest green eS Unos, and a Birdhouse snapback featuring a dog sniffing glue. To be honest this was a huge turning point for me and outside of a few minor tweaks, I really haven’t given up that skater/streetwear aesthetic since. Hence my current career choice…
Luis Ruano – Nike Griffey Max 1
I grew up in the Bay Area so my allegiance has been with the Giants since I can remember, but as a kid, The Kid, was my favorite player. The epitome of cool, Ken Griffey, Jr. was that dude. The backwards fitted, the sweet swing, and his charismatic approach to America’s pastime was something every youngster mimicked on the Little League diamond. Unfortunately, my folks weren’t balling enough to spend $140 on sneakers for an 11-year-old, so I had to settle for some Reeboks from the sale rack at Mervyn’s and after plenty of pestering, a Jr. Mariners batting jersey from Champs. Brand synergy went out the door that year and an adoration for kicks began. It wouldn’t be until 2009 that I would finally claim that original Freshwater colorway, although ironically enough they’ve been sitting in my closet for the past few years untouched.
Brian Farmer – Nike Air Sonic Flight
It wasn’t until after I took the Christmas photo that I realized how dope these sneakers really were — and by that time it was too late. I ran up and down the stairs of my parents townhome countless times, not paying any attention to that Christmas photo. Many years later, I was daydreaming on the stair landing when I noticed the crisp purple Swoosh, and the turquoise that peaked out from underneath the sole. I took a closer look at the picture; I still couldn’t identify the sneakers. I knew there was a slim chance I’d ever get the opportunity to appreciate them again, let alone get my hands on another pair. Thankfully, this discussion made me dig up the photo and begin browsing the internet for sneakers that matched. I was finally able to find my favorite pair of sneakers from when I was a kid -the Nike Air Sonic Flight Mid White/Black/Purple circa 1992.
Alec Banks – Nike Air Raid
Looking back on the sneakers I had as a kid, most were closely associated with playing basketball and all served an “on the court” functionality. There were the Air Jordan XI’s. The Air Jordan XII’s. And the Air Penny 1’s. But it was the Nike Air Raid that really sticks out in my mind because I wanted – no I needed them – simply because of their design aesthetics and their “off the court” attitude. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, it was Nike’s first basketball shoe marketed for streetball and had an ad campaign from Wieden+Kennedy featuring Spike Lee that recalled his infamous, cultural rants from Do the Right Thing. Hatfield would later comment “that X was about strapping up to go into battle, because you’re going to get knocked around the frickin’ cage and you need to strap yourself in.” The X strap could be called a gimmick – much like the “Glove” attributes of the Zoom Flight 98 – but at that time it was the perfect design complement that captured the spirit of the early ’90s. Somewhere there is a picture of me in my Air Raids with my jeans on backwards like Kriss Kross and an African fertility necklace – but that’s for another time.