An Update – January 3rd, 2015

Happy new year everyone. After a few months of inactivity on the sneaker front, it’s about time to update you all on what’s been going on. While taking a break from the constant ramblings on Twitter, I was rediscovering life in Florence, Italy, my home base for the Fall 2014 semester. Rightfully so, I focused on real world matters, like traveling across Europe, the finest culinary offerings of Italy, and my studies, before attempting to keep my hold on a world from which I was several time-zones and thousands of miles away. I still followed the latest news, and even contributed some to Finish Line’s blog, but from quite afar. Alas, my semester abroad has come to a close, and the clock has started ticking on my surely hectic 2015. First, though, I’d like to reflect on the past year just a bit.

Positano, one of the many picturesque places I visited while staying in Italy

Positano, one of the many picturesque places I visited while staying in Italy

Even if I’m not going to write up an full-fledged list, I will say that 2014 had some gems. For new silhouettes, the adidas ZX Flux was king. Sleek build, just technical enough with the heel cage and embossed stripes, endless possibilities with the upper, and only $90? No question that adidas hit it out of the ball park. I only got my pair (the blue Italia Independent collaboration) with a couple months to spare in the year, but right away, I got the hype. They’re real comfy, too. Nike wasn’t left out of my equation, as I’m a big fan of the Kobe IX. Bringing Flyknit into the basketball space seemed like an oddball mission, but Nike accomplished it with a stunning model fit for the Black Mamba. If only I could have gotten my hands on the Masterpiece iteration for a reasonable price. Also, an honorable mention to the Kyrie 1. A very modern silhouette for Nike’s foray into the next generation of signature ballers. As far as retro sneakers go, my favorite drop was a Ronnie Fieg and Dover Street Market collaboration with Puma: the Trinomic XT-2 in black and white. Simple, yes, but with a luxurious feel and plush leather upper, the perfect beat-around shoe for my time abroad. This one quickly became a go-to for me as I traveled around Europe. After all, it’s pretty difficult to find a outfit that doesn’t match such a simple sneaker.

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Ronnie Fieg x Dover Street Market x Puma Trinomic XT-2 “Achromatic” in Black/White

Obviously, that’s nowhere near as much as I have had to say about any of the past years in sneakers. Perhaps 2014 was not that great for footwear. More likely, though, it’s due to my ever-changing perspective on sneakers. As a 15-year-old always looking for something to collect, sneakers were a fun outlet, and a form of expression that I never explored prior. I lived in the moment, buying sneakers based off of immediate utility. Unlike my 20-year-old self, I never thought about how many I actually needed or if the sneakers would be effortless to wear with any outfit. Nowadays, with the sneaker resale market so apparent, changing priorities and some new passions, I’m buying less sneakers and scaling down my collection. It’s still fun to observe the excitement from the sidelines, but at the end of the day, a lot of embracing sneaker culture comes down to going out and buying new pairs. Maybe these next twelve months will have some better sneakers in store.

As many people do, I set out some goals for the new year. Getting the most enjoyment out of my ever-decreasing time left at Colgate and figuring out what path I’d like to take after college are two huge ones, but I’d also like to keep up with my writing efforts. Whether that’s reflected on here, on Finish Line’s blog, or elsewhere, I don’t care, but I’ve been writing on the web since 2003, and the day that comes to an end is nowhere near in sight. Stay tuned, and let’s all start off the new year right.

 

A Word with Jonah Levine

Jonah Levine

You may not know who Jonah Levine is yet, but you should take notes. The eighteen-year-old from New York City has been a friend of mine for a few years. I first met Jonah through the sneaker community, but now, he co-operates Lucid FC, a streetwear label, with Betts and Chet DeHart, two eighteen-year-old twins from Atlanta. Even though Jonah is preparing to attend his first semester at LIM College, it does not look like he’ll be slowed down one bit. I sat down with the streetwear up-and-comer to talk about Lucid FC, the crazy events of his summer, what’s up next, and…Bakery Boys? Check the interview below to shed some light.

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Jordan Spiz’ike “OG” White/Varsity Red/Cement Grey-Classic Green

Jordan Spiz'ike "OG" White/Varsity Red/Cement Grey-Classic Green

For me, everything Jordan Brand has been falling out of favor in the past few months. The Jordan Future, while an interesting concept, never appealed to me, particularly because I was never fond of the Air Jordan XI in the first place. Outside of my beat “Bred” Jordan IVs and a few Jordan 1s, I have been more and more reluctant to wear my Js over other, more sophisticated and lower-cut sneakers. And I haven’t given an ounce of thought to copping any of the year’s Retros. Growing up past the MJ era, I have had no major reason to like any of the Retros outside of the aesthetic appeal. Now that my look is phasing past most Jordans, I had no need to go out and buy any more of them.

Nostalgia. That’s what brings a lot of older Air Jordan fans to sneaker stores many a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, I was never able to experience the Retros in their original form, and thus, never had that feeling…until now.

Back in 2009, when I was first getting my feet wet in the wide pool of sneaker culture, I had a removed admiration for Jordans. I barely knew the basketball bravado of Michael Jordan, but I loved the silhouettes and simple colorways used on the earlier models. And my main gateway to these sneakers? Naturally for me at the time, rappers. A few years back, I invested a lot of my time into music-listening, whether it be the same classics over and over, or new artists and albums. I followed the happenings and lives of musicians, especially one Kanye West. From him, I started following affiliated rappers, and what kinds of music and fashion they were into as well. Which brings me to this:

Kid Cudi in Jordan Spiz'ike "OG" White/Varsity Red/Cement Grey-Classic Green

If you showed me the “OG” Jordan Spiz’ike on its own, I might not have thought anything of it, but ever since I came across this image, I will always associate that shoe with Kid Cudi. Seeing him with the red sweatshirt, white tee, dark jeans and Spiz’ikes made me pay attention to the shoe. In fact, I liked the shoe enough that it almost became my first Air Jordan. In late 2009, I ran across a pair in my size at a consignment shop, and would have been tempted to cop, except for two words uttered by the attendant in the store: “paint cracking.” He informed me that the Spiz’ike’s midsole paint would have cracked the second I put my foot into the shoe. Although nowadays I would accept that as a formality, paint-chipping scared me far away as a new sneaker buyer. And so, I went ahead and purchased a different pair.

Almost five years later, my fashion/sneaker tastes have changed significantly. And yet, seeing news of a re-release of the “OG” Jordan Spiz’ike in tandem with the “History of Jordan” Air Jordan VI Retro made my eyes open wide. For once I felt a desire to cop a sneaker not purely for aesthetics, performance, or comfort, but for the nostalgia. I don’t like the sneaker nearly as much as I did back in the day, but those past memories keep me feeling connected. Even if I don’t end up grabbing a pair, that feeling alone has me satisfied.

Extra Butter x Sperry Top-Sider “Beach Getaway” Release/Event Recap

Extra Butter x Sperry Top-Sider Release/Event Recap

Last week, my brother Dylan and I happened to be on the Lower East Side Thursday night, right on cue with the in-store release of Extra Butter’s latest project – a collaboration with Sperry Top-Sider that resulted in a beach-themed A/O boat shoe and Striper sneaker. The shoes were inspired by the shop’s roots in Long Island. The Striper pays tribute the Long Island Sound, while the A/O’s snazzy design reps the Atlantic coast. And while I was not looking to buy anything, Dylan had his eyes on the A/O. Either way, we were both down to catch up with the Extra Butter crew, so we headed down just before the release time of 8 pm.

When we arrived to the store, all I saw was a line of buyers waiting outside. I expected to go inside, hang for a bit, and head out soon after. Of course, I underestimated the spirit of the shop. Turns out they had a full-on party in tow for the drop, and the whole crew showed out. Although I have stayed relatively active in sneaker-blogging over the past year or so, this is my first post on this website for the entire year. In the past few months, I have questioned my passion for sneaker culture, but seeing events like this, where a store has fun with a release, puts my doubts to the side. A big shout-out to Jason Faustino and the entire Extra Butter team. You guys personify drive, determination, and enjoyment in sneaker culture, and that’s a hard thing to do nowadays. Straying far from uninspired, that’s for sure. Hit the jump for a quick flurry of photos from the event.  Continue reading

Jake’s Take – #tbt to the Good Ol’ Days of Sneaker Culture

I recently dug through old stuff of mine through a Google search, and found this:

http://solecollector.com/forums/Wildman94-s-Collection-Pt-II-UPDATE-PEARL-FOAMS/75:1:1080849/p1/

Way back in 2010, that was my collection, and those paragraphs of personal anecdotes show how much I was enamored by my sneakers. To me, seeing and finding all sorts of new designs was like exploring a world prior to which I had never visited. And for each new sneaker I got, I had more than a cool article of footwear. I had a new, sometimes fulfilling experience to hold onto for some time. Whether I thought of the people that I waited with for the shoes, what the design stood for, or simply the hunt to find the pair, I felt an attachment that transcended “liking a sneaker.”

The best part about buying sneakers years ago? It was all care-free. I sought after limited models and whatnot, but I did not have to put in any crazy level of effort to get what I wanted. I also did not hesitate to buy something that I liked. In those days, I had a list of sneakers that I wanted to find. None of this is the same now. Thanks to the multifaceted effects of the proliferation of social media and the reseller market driving up participation and prices, I have to go through an arm and a leg’s worth of either stress or money to get any shoe I want. This is one factor that has stopped me from buying more sneakers than I would have years ago, but not the only one. In addition, I have realized through “trial and error” that I get tired of most shoes after some time. Either the experiences I  had or feelings I felt when I first bought the pair don’t ring the same, or I come to the realization that I don’t “need” the shoe, per se. So now, every time I evaluate whether I would want to purchase a pair of shoes or not, I reference all of the times my evaluations “failed” (shoes I eventually sold) and “succeeded” (shoes I still own) in terms of my matured tastes. And that list? If anything, I now just have a small list of sneakers that I would like to sell. Even though I’m at one of my lowest totals since getting into all of this, I somehow feel content with what I have.

I’m not trying to make any wide-ranging statement here, or argue that I can do one thing or another to change my current sneaker buying tendencies. Heck, I may very well be on the right path with what I am doing. This post is simply just a look-back at what things were like in my previous time as a participant in sneaker culture. Happy #tbt everyone.

Jake’s Take – Top Sneakers of 2013

It’s pretty funny that I’m writing up a “Top Sneakers of 2013″ list when I have my selections for the half-year point just a few posts back, but I digress. The second half of 2013 brought the sneaker world a number of releases that rounded out the bountiful first half of the year. It’s a shame I was at school for some of the key second half releases. Perhaps having a chance to see some of them in person and ranking them accordingly would have changed the composition of my ten picks. Enough with the banter though.

10. Air Jordan III Retro ’88

Air Jordan III Retro '88As much as I like the Air Jordan III in it’s original “White Cement” colorway, this release stood above the rest because of the commemorative factor. The Nike Air backtab was cool to see, but I’m not even talking about that. For me, Nike’s precision in dropping the sneaker at the exact time of Jordan’s  free throw line dunk twenty-five years prior made this release an event. And at the end of the day, the colorway is one of the most solid out there.

9. Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte III “Knicks”

Ronnie Fieg x Asics Gel Lyte III "Knicks"Ronnie Fieg put in work this year with Asics, and the “Knicks” Gel Lyte III offering from the East Coast Project was my favorite of the bunch. As a proud New Yorker, the blue and orange does for me what no other color combination can do. And if the colors themselves weren’t enough, little details like the color-blocking on the sole and the 3M accents make this running silhouette seem just right in colors normally associated with basketball. There’s not much that I can say against a “Knicks” colorway, especially one with the attention to quality and premium materials that Ronnie brings to each and every footwear collaboration on which he works.

8. Nike Flyknit Racer “Multicolor”

Nike Flyknit Racer "Multicolor"The great: The craziness of the multicolor knit pattern juxtaposes the sleek Racer silhouette to make for one hell of a sight. The not so great: Because every shoe looks different, and I’m more partial to the predominately volt and teal pairs, it’s not a shoe that I would get without doing some crazy scouting. Thankfully, I already have my Volt Flyknit Trainers, so it’s not an issue, but getting the right pair of the Racers would be insane. (Picture via modernART on Sole Collector Forums)

7. Air Jordan V Retro “Grape”

Air Jordan V Retro "Grape"I’ll admit…I went a little too crazy over the “Grape” Vs earlier in the year. Nonetheless, for all of the general release Air Jordan Retros that dropped this year, this one is king. Sure, there are gripes to be had when comparing this one and the ’06 version, but that white leather build with the purple and teal accents…nothing else like it. (Picture via Kicks Deals)

6. Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Knicks”

Air Jordan 1 High OG "Knicks"Although the team is currently in a state of shock, the Knicks allowed us New Yorkers to flourish earlier in the year. Plus, the sneaker world rallied around the team with better sneakers than ever. This was my favorite. In the 90s, it would be so paradoxical to love a Knicks-colored Air Jordan, but this iteration stood for Melo, and not Mike, so it got a pass. There have certainly been other sneakers out there with straight-up blue and orange color schemes, but the colors look nothing short of beautiful on the sleek, full-grain leather-comprised Air Jordan 1 silhouette. I said it on Christmas, and I’ll say it again: pretty sure I’ll never wear another pair of sneakers to the Garden now that I have and appreciate the “Knicks” Jordan 1.

5. Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 577 “Americana”

Ronnie Fieg x New Balance 577 "Americana"I don’t think any shoe has made me literally drop my jaw upon seeing it for the first time…that is, until I first laid eyes on this good ol’ New Balance. I have never really been into their inline stuff, but one thing that I have always said about New Balance is that they do wonders with navy and red. That notion had led me on a mission to find the perfect navy New Balance sneaker, and when I saw the “Americana” 577, I knew that I had found it. And seeing how the shoe came out in person, I was nothing short of thrilled. The effect on the pigskin makes it appear as if there are different shades of navy all over the shoe, and the red is bright as can be. Plus, the 3M hits and silver midsole splatter never hurt anyone. Ronnie Fieg had a lot of solid projects this year, but he saved his best for his last sneaker of the year. America’s colors at their finest. (Picture via Kith NYC)

4. Bape x UNDFTD x Adidas ZX5000

Bape x UNDFTD x adidas Originals ZX5000

Applause to Bape for executing a camouflage pattern so well that even someone who hopped on the anti-camo bandwagon could rave for days on their UNDFTD and adidas collaboration. They paired the signature Bape style of the pattern with beige and green suede, patriotically colored stripes, and a gum sole. *Bang*…that’s the sound of your mind being blown. Nowhere near overstated, but not understated either thanks to all of the details around the camouflage. With this premium sneaker in tow, I’m doubting any future prospects of picking up a camouflage sneaker. Nothing can even come close to this gem that the streetwear triumvirate of Bape, UNDFTD, and adidas brought to the world in April.

3. Nike Free Inneva Woven SP “Photo Blue”

Nike Free Inneva Woven SP "Photo Blue"While I’m all for classic silhouettes, there’s definitely something to be said for footwear with more up-to-date technology that both look and feel incredible. That’s the category under which the Free Inneva Woven, especially in that pure White Label colorway, falls. From the time I first slid this stunning blue Inneva on, the shoe was a summer go-to for me. The Inneva still keeps its distinct look with any ensemble, and the comfort is some of Nike’s finest, especially with thin socks (and sockless, for those that go that route). Free 5.0, Dynamic Fit upper, and NSW leather insoles…while this shoe will eventually be surpassed by something in the future (as all tech-based models are), for now, the “Photo Blue” Inneva is one of this year’s best. Just wish I could wear the shoe in the winter too… (Picture via Concepts)

1. TIE: Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Royal” & “Bred”

Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG "Royal" & "Bred"It would be blasphemy for me to not put these two on the same level. While one’s 2013 version has been out close to the entire year and the other’s has yet to drop, the pickups for both will be for the same doubling-up purpose. In most cases, this circumstance would drop a sneaker down into the other half of my top shoes, but not with these 1s, as they possess two of, if not my favorite sneaker color schemes out there. It just does not get more versatile, stunning, and classic than smooth black leather with gleaming red or royal blue, especially on the sleek Air Jordan 1 model. If my pairs last long enough, I would, without a doubt, wear both the “Royal” and “Bred” 1s into my old age. I’m looking forward to the day Jordan Brand drops easy-to-find versions of both, but for now, I can definitely live in the moment. Just gotta make sure I have my 1s in tow. (Picture via Trav409 of Sole Collector Forums)

And that sums up my 2013 in sneakers. I may put another post on the blog if I feel like it between now and New Years’ Day, but if I don’t, make sure to keep up with me on my Twitter, Instagram (both @jakepulver), and on Sole Selectah as I enter a new chapter of my sneaker blogging ventures.

An Update – December 23rd, 2013

Man, it’s been a while.

Five months have passed since my last post on jakepulver.com. Not exactly what I imagined when I started the website. At the same time, the reason for my abrupt pause was also pretty unbelievable. In July, I was recruited to write for an actual sneaker blog, which, even with my blogging past, I had never imagined happening. I was set to start writing in September, and in the span from late July to late August, I became a guest writer on the site.

Unfortunately, things did not work out the way that I believed that they were at the website, and I never ended up becoming a hired writer there. At the point at which I realized things were not going to work out, I was already in the thick of college work. With all of the assignments that I had, I just never got to starting the blog up again.

Fast-forward to the end of the semester, and I was contacted by one of the seasoned veterans in sneaker culture, and someone I look up to in all the madness: Jay Corbin. And now, I am happy to announce that starting on the turn of the new year, I will be writing for Sole Selectah, a website in TruStory Media’s network. I would like to extend sincere gratitude to Jay on this one. It’s one thing to just write for a hobby, but to know that someone respects that writing to attempt to push it to a new level is humbling.

I haven’t been too active on the sneakerhead social media scene as of late, but trust me…you’ll see me around a bit more now. Make sure to catch my writing on Sole Selectah in the near future, and stay tuned for one more post here before I start elsewhere.