As heretofore mentioned, I’m not sporty. I’m “game,” to be sure — like, for an 11pm sledding run — but definitely not good at games of the athletic variety. (I kick ass at Scrabble, Settlers of Katan, and Hearts — not so much volleyball.) Thusly, I always approach gyms (and gym culture) with some trepidation. Treadmills look like accidents waiting to happen; elaborate pulley-and-lever weights systems intimidate me; and I’m always that girl complaining that the music in spinning classes is too loud. So I’ve never managed to tap into athletic apparel (though look for an upcoming column on skiing paraphernalia, the pursuit of which is currently giving me an ulcer).
What I have become slightly obsessed with, however, is sneakers. I’m not talking about the “let’s watch you walk and tell you how bad your instep is”-running-store-type of sneaker; I’m talking about kicks.
It started last year, when I wrote about the righteous dunks I bought for my trip to Florence. While I was compiling a list of the top spots in New York to buy hard-to-find editions, I got completely addicted. I wasn’t even interested in building a well-stocked library of my own (alas, my feet are too small), I was into the community — from blogs to stores — that keep watch on impending sneaker releases with a religious fervor. I mean, blogs like Nice Kicks have twitter and text message updates. On Sole Collector’s “release dates” page, they stress that information is updated continuously (and they mean it). Maybe I’m fascinated because it’s the only wardrobe-related phenomenon that I’ve actually seen men obsess over. You should see the comments section on these blogs: Grown men are debating the finer points of stitching! It’s incredible.
I did a little digging on what those in the know believe to be the “illest” releases of 2008. The biggest debate was between the Jordan Countdown Package XI/XII and the Nike 112 Pack by DJ Clark Kent (with the phrase “over-hyped” of course used to criticize both). While I understand the appeal of the classic Air Jordan look (the stark black and white; the sleek design), I’m going to have to go with the 112’s street value — the iconic dunk design rendered in neon yellow and textured gray. Plus, apparently the name refers to the first three digits of Brooklyn zip codes. That, and you can get the Nikes on eBay for under $300, whereas the Jordans are fetching $450 or more.
If you want to start following along, sites like Hypebeast (an online magazine), Sole Collector and Nice Kicks are great places to start. For ‘09, the building buzz is around Nike’s new Premium Dunk High dubbed the “Un-Heaven’s Gate” (apparently it was originally named “Heaven’s Gate,” then Nike dropped it, and now they’re releasing it for real) — a sexy purple-and-black style that drops this summer. Also on the calendar: Jordan’s “Six Rings” limited-edition series in March and Jordan’s Dub Zero returning to shelves in April. Get pumped.