The topics in Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix show, Patriot Act, change from week to week. One thing always remains constant, though—each episode starts with Minhaj walking on stage and delivering a subtle wink to a certain subgroup of his audience: the sneakerheads.
The 33-year-old comedian dresses fairly modestly, wearing mostly monochromatic pieces in his outfits. He admits that he styles everything he wears with a kicks-first mindset. It shows.
Minhaj’s sneaker rotation on Patriot Act has been elite, featuring the “Union Los Angeles” Air Jordan Is, the Nike Air Fear of God Is and his current favorite, the sacai x Nike LDVs.
“It’s like a little wink,” he says. “We’re going to do this 25-minute deep dive on student loan debt and it’s this super nerdy comedy book report, but I’m also wearing some ‘Union Los Angeles’ Air Jordan Is.”
His passion for sneakers started long before he found fame. On his 10th birthday, Minhaj’s mother gave him a decision to make: pick new sneakers or a new video game console.
“I’m a September baby, so when school starts, it was like a thing: ‘Alright, what’s your shoe gonna be?’” Minhaj says.
He flexed on his elementary school in the Nike Air Penny Is, and the tradition continued each year.
“A lot of kids at my school were either wearing Stan Smiths or Vans, and to me, I was always a basketball shoe guy,” he says. “It was my thing. It was my way of standing out.”
His birthday coinciding with the start of school wasn’t the only factor that contributed to Minhaj picking shoes every year. Come each September, he says he was still riding the high of the previous NBA playoffs.
When Minhaj ponders basketball’s most iconic moments, he recalls the sneakers that were gracing the court with just as much enthusiasm.
The first sneaker he remembers seeing on-court was the “Concord” Air Jordan XIs.
“I remember seeing them in Eastbay and then seeing them in the ’95 playoffs when Nick Anderson played MJ and being like, ‘What ARE those?’” he says. “They were just so iconic.”
Soon, his yearly birthday kicks weren’t cutting it. Minhaj snagged a job at a grocery store and started saving up so he could add to his collection. His first purchase was the “Pure Money” Air Jordan IVs.
That same joy Minhaj felt as a kid when he saw Michael Jordan lace up his “Concord” XIs or dropped his own cash on the “Pure Money” IVs is still present today.
“The Nike Air Yeezy 2 ‘Red October’ is that one shoe where I remember when it came out I was like, ‘Woah, those are crazy,’” he says.
The flashy shoe has a resale listing as high as $10,000 on Flight Club, so Minhaj has yet to try it on.
“I’m at that age now, man, I’m 33, I don’t know if I can pull off every shoe,” Minhaj laughs. “There’s some stuff where it’s like, I’ll let Justin Bieber wear that.”
It doesn’t take much to convince him that he can rock any pair of shoes, regardless of his age. If anyone has the spotlight to show their personality through sneakers, after all, it’s Minhaj.
“We shoot the show where I’m standing, I’m not behind a desk,” he says. “You see the shoe in a light—I work the stage, I’m on top of the LEDs. It’s just a cool moment. It’s my way to pay homage to my childhood and have fun.
“The news can be scary and terrifying and divisive but I want to have fun, that’s the whole point of comedy. I try and show my personality through my shoes.”
Photos via Getty.