Originally published in KICKS 4, 2001…

Sneaker Pimps: Last year, I said it, this year I mean it: There could not be a better time to be a sneaker addict than right now, the Summer of 2001. Think about it-when has it ever been better? In the ’50s and ’60s, you couldn’t get too into kicks-unless you considered black Chuck Taylors to be the height of fashion. The ’70s brought out the adidas shelltoe and the Puma Clyde, but the technology was limited. The ’80s started the explosion, but most companies ended up relying on gimmicks like velcro and bizarre cushioning systems (L.A. Gear Catapult, anyone?) and neon colors better suited to running suits and Popsicles. The ’90s put us on track, but didn’t quite get us there.

So here we sit, in the summer of 2001. Shoe technology is out of hand, as designers strive to top each other, building wilder and wilder products pretty much every day (page 95). Shoes fit better, perform better and look better than ever before. I have a softer spot than most for the older stuff-there’s a pair of Lloyd Daniels’s game-worn British Knights sitting on top of my computer (above) and my closet is filled with vintage sneakers-but even I gotta admit that the new stuff is completely off the meter. Seeing that my ankles are so bad that even Glen Rice’s braces wouldn’t help, I welcome any new shoe that will keep my feet locked up tighter than Cadillac Anderson. Still, every once in a while I like to go retro.

And the best part is, I can. I never did get the black Air Jordan III’s back in ’88 (I didn’t make the volleyball team I was gonna wear ‘em on either, but that’s for another time), but I could walk into a Foot Locker this summer and buy a pair. The Reebok Question is still available, as is the adidas Superstar. You might even be able to find a pair of Converse Weapons if you look hard enough. And the return of the original Air Jordan is right on the horizon (page 110). Back in the day you had to buy two pairs of any kicks you liked or risk never seeing them again-now you can just go to your local friendly retailer and get virtually any sneaker from any time. Even black Chuck Taylors.

Peace,

Russ Bengtson

KICKS 4 Kobe