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Never trust a man in retro tennis shoes

Do companies like Nike come up with new designs for shoes anymore, or do they just re-release shit from a long time ago?

I only ask this because I accidentally clicked, on Twitter, a link to a post on Complex about the top 10 sneakers of the year (I know), and the only ones that weren’t identifiable to me as something people used to wear at some point or another in my childhood were Kanye West’s Air Yeezies – and even those look like a pair of ’80s-era Nikes that he made a lot gayer by adding a few unnecessary features, in a process not unlike how he produces rap songs by taking songs from the ’70s and ’80s, speeding them up, adding autotune and what have you.

You guys know I could generally give a rat’s ass about shoes. I wear shoes that look like I may have gotten them for free from one of those charities that collects shoes people don’t want anymore and airlifts them to Africa. It’s the rare occasion when I shop for shoes, and when I do, I’m not sweating the design as much as the price and the overall quality of the build. Fuck trying to look cute. It used to be only teh ghey guys and people from unfortunate backgrounds gave a shit about trying to impress people with their shoes.

Which brings me to my point: How can kids possibly think they’re cool, wearing the same shit we used to wear when we were kids? People didn’t do that shit when we were kids. When my father was a kid, he wore Converse All Stars; by the time I was a kid, you could buy two pairs of knockoff All Stars, known as buddies, for $5, from a big-ass metal bin at a store called Venture. They didn’t even bother to separate them by size. I guess they figured, if that was all the ambition you had in life, you had plenty of time to dig through the pile. But at some point, the cycle was broken. Kids these days don’t pay $15 for a pair of Air Jordans. They’re probably paying more than people paid back in the ’90s. (Obviously, I wouldn’t know.) What gives?

I was very young at the time, but I seem to recall these Dunks, which might be the most popular retro tennis shoes, being the very first Nikes you could buy at K-Mart. They were very basic-looking, and hence had been shoved aside in favor of Nikes with ever more elaborate designs. They cost about the same as Pro Wings, which had fairly elaborate designs but were made out of shittier material, and you were arguably better off with a pair of Pro Wings than a pair of Dunks. At a glance, it looked like you had on a pair of Jordans or some shit. Whereas, in a pair of Dunks, it was obvious that was the most your parents could afford. Someone even came up with an acronym. The word Nike was said to stand for Niggas In K-Mart Everyday. Lollerskates.

And I’m assuming that’s why you can no longer find Nikes at K-Mart. Not because there isn’t a shedload of money to be made selling shoes at a lower price point, but because doing so would detract from the perceived value of the Swooshtika. Which of course has no real value, other than what people attach to it, based on their own fear, insecurity and idiocy. It could be worth hardly any more than the leather it’s made out of, or it could be worth hundreds of dollars, depending on what you can trick people into paying for it. But you can’t have a pair on the one hand that cost $15 and a pair on the other hand that cost $150. People might start to wonder what’s the difference between the two.

Otherwise, why wouldn’t they make shoes to sell at both K-Mart and Foot Locker? The materials probably cost more or less the same, i.e. hardly anything at all, regardless of the shoe’s design. And cost of labor obviously wouldn’t be an issue, since we all know Nikes are made in sweatshops and/or foreign countries where they just don’t have the same standard of living as we do here in the US. With a shoe like the Dunk, which has been around since forever, you’re not spending any more money to design and market it, so there isn’t as much of a mandate to charge a premium for it. For all we know, the profits on the two of them might be more or less the same, what with as much as they pay these athletes.

It just goes to show how much more sophisticated marketing has become since the days of the Air Jordan and those TV commercials with the Beatles’ “Revolution.” (The latter of which, as I recall, was Michael Jackson’s fault.) These days, you can’t just find an athlete people admire (because they don’t know what a sociopath he is off the court), or a song people like (regardless of what it’s really about), and use it to trick people into buying shit they could give a rat’s ass about otherwise. The book No Logo by Naomi Klein, which was recently re-released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Battle of Seattle (I believe there was a movie about it with Andre 3000), breaks down the process through which corporations like Nike have gradually sold us off into modern day slavery, using the concept of branding. It’s some deep shit, and I’m sure the science behind it has only gotten that much more advanced in the interim.

In that sense, it’s hardly any wonder kids these days are fascinated with retro tennis shoes. Their minds are warped from having grown up bombarded by brand messages from Nike and the rest of these corporations. They were born into an age when there was already such a thing as the Air Jordan and a Nike commercial with a Beatles song in it. I experienced a little bit of that, having only been born in the ’80s myself, but not nearly to the extent that they did. So, every now and again, I’ll contemplate buying an expensive pair of shoes, on the outside chance that it might convince a girl to have sex with me, but then I’m reminded that it would only work on the kind of girls who got AIDS from Darnell “The Bossman” McGee. Kids these days probably never even heard of Darnell “The Bossman” McGee.

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