Sunday March 1st 2009 was the first ever “Sneaker Con” held in New York City. The event is an opportunity for area “Sneaker Heads” to get together and buy, sell or trade collectible footwear and see displays from some of the hottest sneaker spots in NYC. Considering the wealth of sneaker collectors and high-end streetwear retailers in and around New York City (Alife, Rare Breed, Nort, Transit, Michael K’s, Supreme, etc.) it is surprising a Con[vention] like this had not been tried before, but the facts that it was on a Sunday afternoon, reasonably priced ($10) and a chance to see some Spring 2009 heat, it was basically a no brainer to attend. Also, I was accompanied by Amber De Leggas,who is not a sneaker fanatic like myself, but based on the amount of fun we had at New York Comic Con a few weeks earlier (see previous post) she was more than willing to attend and take a shot at recreating that magic.
The event was held in the lobby of a comedy club on 8th avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, and while the vibe was fun and the music was bangin’, the space was way too small for the amount of Sneakerheads crammed into this tiny floor plan, but in the organizer’s defense it was the first year for the event, so expected attendance is hard to gauge, however they should seriously look into a larger venue for next year’s edition. Once we got inside and took a look around we quickly realized this would not be as good as Comic Con (there was no 20 ft. high He-Man statue anywhere), but it would definitely be a fun way to spend a few hours. While all the vendors had cool displays and kicks most people only see on Hypebeast and Sneaker Freaker, a few booths really stood out from the rest:
Two Artists That Would Paint Anything You Wanted on Any Shoe You Wanted
These guys had some cool stuff on display, mostly airbrushed skylines and graffiti-styled lettering, but the most unique thing at their booth was an 8-Hole Timberland boot with President Barack Obama’s likeness airbrushed on the side. I am not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that people are so enamored with our new president that they want to have his face painted on their steel-toe work boots, but I question the person who buys a fresh pair of Tims and says “You know what would make these boots significantly better? A painting of President Obama!”
MIKE is a NYC based street artist that has gained notoriety by appropriating signature Nike colors and patterns like “Infrared,” “Elephant Skin” and “Cement” and putting them on non-Nike merchandise like sunglasses, beanbag chairs and wind breakers. While he is clearly not entitled to use the patented patterns (evidenced by the amount of times Nike has tried to cease his operation with protracted litigation), most of the pieces he produces are awesome in the same way a producer digging in the crates for an old sample and then repackaging it for current tastes is awesome. The coolest piece on display from MIKE at Sneaker Con was a pair of sunglasses covered in Nike’s “Elephant Skin” print (Air Jordan III), which came with a hefty $200 price tag. While this may seem astronomically high for sunglasses not made by Oakley or a high couture brand like Gucci, it is understandable that he needs to charge premium prices to cover the overhead in a company whose 2009 prospectus includes being sued by one of the biggest corporations in the world on a near monthly basis.
Kicks & Chicks
While it might seem odd to mix fetishes like obsessively collecting sneakers and looking at well-proportioned young women in various stages of undress, the guys at Kicks & Chicks might be onto the best adult entertainment combo since Scissors & Lace (strippers cut customer’s hair) and strip clubs that serve steak dinners, with the simple, yet brilliant idea of taking photographs of models holding sought after sneakers. The company brought several models to Sneaker Con so they could interact with fans, but it was abundantly clear these were just typical hired models and in no way affiliated with sneaker culture. The typical conversation between convention attendees and models went something like this.
Sneaker Head 1: Aren’t you the one from the website with the Jordan 4’s balanced on your a** crack?
Sneaker Head 2: Nah man, she’s the one with the Puma Clydes covering her nipples!
Model: You guys got any blow?
Guy with pair of Eminem Air Jordan II’s
Last fall Jordan teamed up with Slim Shady to release 313 (Detroit’s area code in case you haven’t seen “8 Mile” recently) pairs of a black/gray/red colorway of the classic Air Jordan II accented with Em’s signature chicken-scratch handwriting and the backwards “E” logo on the tongue instead of the “Jumpman.” These sneakers were damn near impossible to get your hands on because of the extremely limited number of pairs produced and the popularity of Shady and Air Jordan. I asked the guy how much he wanted and he said “$900 and they’ve only been worn once on New Year’s Eve.” First, wearing a collector’s item like this so some drunken hoodrat will think you are cool and possibly vomit on them while she is hooking up with you as the ball drops is effin stupid and people this buffoonish this should not have access to stuff this cool. Second, the price is a little crazy, I am a huge Eminem fan (see previous posts) AND a huge Jordan fan (see my feet) and I wouldn’t spend close to a “G” on these unless I could be provided with conclusive evidence they were the pair of kicks he wore when conceiving Hayley.
New York Sneaker Con 2009 was a good time and chance to see some of New York’s best collections in one place, while no where near as good a Comic Con I am still eagerly awaiting next year’s event and will continue attending as many conventions (of any kind) as possible.