Curated By Rhys: The Sneaker Round Up - March
March is just over and this month has been littered with Sneaker Releases, more so than normal being Air Max Month. I am Rhys, (Curated by Rhys) you may know me and maybe have read some of my work. I am here to present a SneakerRound Up for March, the releases I was feeling, I wasn’t and most importantly what I picked up and spent money on, let's begin.
I went into March with a couple of pairs in mind, these were pairs I was hoping I’d pick up, we begin with the Nike Air Vapormax 97, this hybrid being born out of the Air Max 97 upper which has been combined with the Vapormax Sole unit. This being blessed in my opinion as one of the Air Max 97’s best colour-ways, the rather eye-catching Tokyo colour way, which combines, black, silver hues and volt across the branding and air unit. Of Course with this sneaker having a Vapormax air unit, the volt pops and looks fantastic. As well as this I was also keen to pick up the Sean Wotherspoon 97/1, which has the Air Max 97 upper adorned a top of the Air Max 1’s iconic and innovative tooling system, which has been presented with a corduroy upper with applicable denim hits on the sneakers pull tabs and even an assortment of interchangeable velcro patches. Of Course the Sneakers you’d like going into a month or a particular release window don’t always correlate, you can’t have them all and sometimes you’ll miss out or you may even surpass your desires and expectations, the later was certainly the case for March.
This leads us into March and the first Sneaker I picked up was the continuing collaboration between Virgil Abloh of Off-White and Nike in the form of the European Exclusive Air Jordan 1 (Energy). Now this wasn’t a sneaker that was on my radar or I particularly cared for but of course I entered a couple of online raffles and whas trying my luck. I mean the shoes predicted resale value is around £1k and at present a couple weeks after release this was certainly the case with the sneakers exceeding £1200 for a desirable size. By chance I happened to win a raffle and pick up a pair for £159 the UK retail price. If you follow me you’ll know straight up I’m not massive on Jordan’s - I’ve had a couple of pairs and some are cool but I’m more of a low top/runner guy. Winning put me in a predicament of sorts, do I wear the sneaker or pocket the rather healthy profit, in short, I decided to wear the sneaker, debuting them on a rather rainy and wet day. For a sneaker that I wasn’t originally that focused or interested within I’ve became quite fond of them, having worn them five days in a row to necessarily break them in. This is a sneaker which is quite laid back in regards to the colour-way, mainly being presented in white with necessary blue hues on the mesh and the outsole. The material composition is boastful and really quite intricate, especially when you have the sneaker in hand and can study them fully.
The sneakers upper and main body is comprised of a plush white leather which is of reasonable quality - still we aren’t talking the level of the shattered backboards, which everyone seems to use as a benchmark but its of a decent standard and moreover consistent across all panelling. Moving onwards from the leather we now reach the more interesting materials used, this is in the form of the mesh which adorns the toe-box and the sneakers mid panelling. This is met with a deep cut rough suede which swoops around the collar of the sneaker and the back panelling. This allows for the dissected swoosh to be appropriately stitched down with the orange and royal blue threads which provide the relevant pop to the sneaker, this, of course, being finished off with the resin like lower back panel and the exposed foam tongue which was present across the majority of Virgil Abloh’s The Ten Collaboration and is a mainstay from the Blazer low vintage which favoured the exposed tongue as it provided a vintage look and appeal. In 2018 everyone raves about clothing having character, whether this is a moth-eaten vintage t-shirt or a beaten and heavily worn pair of sneakers. This is a sneaker which is well made and will wear and age well, having a changing patina and further appeal once worn consistently. For a sneaker I had no intention of picking up I am happy with them and look forward to charting the progress of wear and presenting them in a different way than your typical YouTube or Instagram Hype magnate.
Following onwards a sneaker I had firmly in my sights from viewing the initial images was the Nike Air Vapormax 97, as previously stated my desired colour-way for this sneaker was in the Tokyo iteration, which presented the sneaker with a predominantly black upper with light 3M hits adorning the upper waves, this being accented with Neon detailing on the sneakers swooshes which interlinked and complimented the Volt Vapormax Air Unit, this being a mainstay of the Tokyo colour-way irrespective of the silhouette. In my eyes this is a sneaker you will either like or dislike, many purists cannot bare to see the Air Max 97 become mutilated and combined with the Vapormax tooling. The reasoning behind my desire for this sneaker was that in December I had passed up on picking up the Tokyo Air Max 97, I regretted this and when I heard these were dropping ahead in March I had to pick them up. I had previously avoided the Vapormax as the Flyknit upper typically associated with the sole unit did nothing for me. They are often very narrow and lack the necessary support when you have a large and wide foot, this continued into the Hybrid unfortunately I picked up my true size a UK11 and they are a little snug around the toes, in hindsight I would have opted for a half size up, still being wearable but allowing for necessary breathing room. This wasn’t the only sticking point for the sneaker the pricing was also rather high for what was being offered the RRP being £185 at many retailers and even exceeding that at some boutiques, this being a stumbling block for many with some simply dismissing the Hybrid fully after seeing the retail price.
I understand the development of the Vapormax technology and the sole unit was a rather drawn-out process and Nike need to make the necessary returns on the silhouette for the research and development but consumers can be more easily lead into the technology and abetted with a lower and more appealing entry point. The sneaker is one I have worn regularly partly as I like the look on feet and they can be easily paired with different pant’s and also as they cost me £185 and I’m attempting to get the necessary wear out of them for my investment. As for those interested in the comfort, they are steady and sustainable, the Vapormax tooling is relatively reactive and allows for an increased bounce, but if I am being honest I far prefer zoom air and Asics Gel Technology. This is because I feel that the Vapormax is made a light and flighty individual who doesn’t put a lot of weight and or power into a stride, someone heavier and the Vapormax tooling may not be able to offer the same power return and performance.
We now move on to my most anticipated release of March and maybe even 2018 as a whole, its a little early to say but its a hell of a sneaker and one I haven’t seen as much interest across the board, from both sneakerheads and general consumers in a very long time. We are of course talking about the Sean Wotherspoon 97/1 Hybrid, the winner of Nike’s 2017 Vote Forward campaign which pitted nine of Nike’s biggest devotees against one another with the winner’s design being produced for the 2018’s Air Max Day. Anticipation and interest in this sneaker has been rife since the winner was chosen, this was, of course, the case in the run-up to the release on the 24th March in the UK and the 26th Air Max Day for those in the US. As is typical with a release of this magnitude speculation was rife from various outlets and individuals on how many pairs had been produced and many commenting that this would be an easy pickup with some being wary and rightfully so. In my opinion, the release was reasonably available in regards to total units, with these units being spread heavily across many retailers which individually didn’t have a lot of pairs. This combined with the excessive demand for the sneaker resulted in many being unsuccessful and the sneaker now selling for in excess of £400.
I was one of the lucky ones I managed to pick them up in my desired size for the UK Retail price of £125. The sneaker utilises the Air Max 97 upper with the Air Max 1 tooling, the upper is adorned with a plush corduroy with a vibrant colour spread and even incorporates denim hits on the sneakers pull tabs and provides the wearer with a plush velour sock liner. This sneaker transcended the marketing budgets and simple reach, it was chosen by the people and the demand reflected that. The Air Max 1 and Air Max 97 are two of the most revered and in demand silhouettes from Nike’s Air Max iterations so when they are appropriately combined and Corduroy is thrown into the mix its surely going to be a special release. Apart from the obvious Hype surrounding the sneaker I think there is an element of legitimacy in Sean Wotherspoon’s creation and his background is heavily reflected and embodied within the sneaker, in an era with stores and shoe manufacturers creating fake stories and nonsense to further appeal and sell sneakers the authenticity of Sean and his love for Air Max Nike and vintage clothing spoke through and was presented well within this collaboration. I need a double up but I am wary of spending £400 on a pair, they’re cool but I believe I could spend the money better elsewhere.
It was a particularly strong month for Nike especially with strong efforts being made from a number of frequent collaborators, in the later of the month these were from Virgil Abloh and Errolson Hugh presenting collaborations on the Vapormax. These came in the form of the Acronym Vapormax and a further muted black iteration of the Off White Vapormax. Adidas main output and marketing efforts went behind a relatively non-starter - the Deerupt: A take on Adidas' famed NMD line without any boost and any thought as it looks like.
I’m not one for throwing shade without due course but it begs the question what were Adidas thinking with this effort. The time and effort spent attempting to market such a stale and uninspiring silhouette which has ultimately failed to capture and receive any flair. Paid Partnerships are great as they allow for effective marketing but this just seems like a „Let's throw something out and see what sticks“, with not even influencers capturing the imagination of consumers to drop £90 on this so-called sneaker. “When this is combined against Nike’s recent and far more organic marketing effort on Acronym’s latest Nike collaboration on the Vapormax, which showcased Acronym head and heavy supporter musician John Mayer in a Tarantino esque western themed advertisement:
If you compare the two no question can be left, the simplistic well though and well built approach worked, even the products are worlds apart and I think that’s been the case for Adidas for a little while: This being felt with the majority of the latest Spezial Release still sitting on shelves and limited interest being present in the recent NBHD collaboration which was a hard pill to swallow at very heavy price points and limited marketing and awareness available to what was a cool collaboration. Let's wait and see what Adidas has to offer the next month, right?
So this has been the first Sneaker Round Up, As always I’d love to know what you have picked up, what you haven’t, what you’re rating and what you’re hating.If you have enjoyed what you have read be sure to check out Curated by Rhys for further commentary on the Sneaker and Streetwear scene and I’ll see you next month for April’s Sneaker Round Up.