Nike SNKRS Presents: Masters of Air, Vol. 1

Many classic sneakers resurface over and over again, year after year. Casual observers are familiar with those shoes and enthusiasts know them by heart. Their names conjure a certain mood and feeling. The Adidas Superstar. The Jack Purcell. Air Force One. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, The Reebok Classic. Adidas Samba. Jordan One. The list goes on. And one deserving to be on that short list and is one of my favorites, the Air Max.

I've heard industry stories that a particular shoe may perform well in a focus group but when publicly released the shoe bombs in sales. The are other shoes that perform poorly in focus groups, but when they enter the public eye the shoes suddenly develop an instant cult following.

I haven't heard if the Air Max was ever "focus-grouped", but it has achieved cult status among many people as evidenced in this movie short, Masters of Air, Vol. 1 from Nike SNKRS.

I haven't really reached the same level of fanaticism but I can admire the dedication. Growing up in a house with modest means it wouldn't have been out of the ordinary to wear out a pair of inexpensive sneakers and not have them replaced for a very long time. We all know that kids go through shoes quickly because of the usual active-kid-thrashings and rapid, unexpected growth spurts. I personally didn't go through a lot of growth spurts but I did deliver a large amount of wear-and-tear to any object within my immediate vicinity (including what I was wearing).

I remember while participating in an overnight weekend school camping trip the idea of having shoes in good condition was made apparent. My schoolmates and I spent those spring days trekking through the rainy forests learning things you're supposed to learn on soggy trips like that. Except I wasn't learning. I was distracted by having one foot water-logged the whole time. I remember wearing a sneaker with a huge hole on the bottom of the sole where my big toe wore through. During the trip it wasn't enough to have muddy water creep up through the hole but to proceed to wear another hole in my dingy cotton sock because of the hiking. I must have felt every single sharp pebble while marching along the wooded trail.

I was too embarrassed to say anything to anyone at the time but I pulled to the side of the trail, bent down and feigned tying my shoe for a couple of minutes. I slipped my foot out of the shoe and quickly put couple of layers of leaves inside to plug the hole. Then I slipped on the beat up sneaker and resumed slogging through the forest. Within a few minutes the leaves had disintegrated and I was left with the same mushy situation.

Maybe that event helped crystalize my fascination of shoes. Especially sneakers. Later, when a schoolmate or friend would wear a stylish pair of shoes I would take a mental picture of the shoe and store it away in the depths of my brain. I would tell myself, "Once I earn enough money I gonna git those shoes." At the end of the day I may have not purchased that particular shoe when I got my own independent money but I would just heap mounds of design appreciation upon the memory.

For me shoes have become much more than fashion accessories or simple protection. They have become design totems. Some are innovative and some are important to street culture. Some are comfortable and beautiful. Many are neither of those attributes. Some are excessive, coveted status symbols and some are merely protection for the feet. At the end of the day they are just a vehicle for creative solutions (or to capture one's feet stink) and represent the wearer. The old saying of walking a mile in somebody else's shoes still apply. I still love the design of many and what they represent inwardly and outwardly.