Sneakers and Killings

Angel Gonzalez of Sneaker Freaker Magazine has seen firsthand what addiction can do. But not the typical addictions to substance so commonly seen on the streets. Gonzalez likens the most extreme aspects of sneaker collecting to an addiction with similar symptoms — including withdrawal, where obtaining the newest and hottest sneakers at any cost is of the utmost importance, even if it resorts to violence. The threat of armed robbery, physical violence, even murder is a very real danger for those waiting in line at marquee releases. At what point does sneaker collecting become something more than a hobby? Should those waiting for the latest releases require police protection in order to get home safely? You can read the full story over at Sneaker Freaker Magazine while an excerpt is seen below.

Though the USA is in the midst of an extended recession, it doesn’t seem to stop some kids from spending insane amounts of money on sneakers. Reading blogs and hearing stories about how ‘I dropped $1000 on this and that shoe, but I still haven’t paid my rent or electric bill’ are scary. Why? Because it’s actually happening. Sneakers really are addictive like crack, albeit in a different way. A small minority will do whatever it takes to maintain their habit, putting themselves repeatedly in a financially unstable situation. As long as they have the Hot New Shit, it seems the end justifies the means, even if it means resorting to bag snatching and violent crime.

I experienced a glimpse of this craziness firsthand a while back when I did my first camp-out for the New Balance x Staple White Pigeon release. I showed up at around 6pm on the day prior to release, with a small crowd of about 15 campers already present. The guy that was first-in-line was putting names down so we could keep track of everyone arriving. As the hours went past, more people showed up and as daybreak hit, more than 40 campers were waiting patiently. Minutes before release over 100 people showed up suddenly. This is when it started to get rowdy because the person handling the list had some ‘friends’ cut in front and behind him. Arguments went back and forth and that’s when the line started to curve and get noisy. As it turned out I did get my shoes and no one came close to being killed or maimed, but the intense feeling of that morning is something I will never forget.

Going back a few years, the launch of the Pigeon Dunk SBs several years ago at Reed Space caused a ruckus that had New York’s finest escorting kids out of the Lower East Side and into cabs for their safety. Nike also pulled the Air Stab from UK shelves in July 2008. Derived from the name stability, the Air Stab was unfortunately re-released into stores at a time when knifings in London streets were tragically all too common. When security guards at the Nike store in Regent Street were attacked with knives and suffered leg and back wounds during a shoplifting incident, Nike had no choice but to remove the shoe. The Runnin’n’Gunnin logo on the Stab clearly didn’t pacify campaigners. Less widely known is the fact that around the same time, the Bonnie & Clyde edition of Puma’s Clyde model was also withdrawn from UK shelves. Campaigners had objected to a small gun embroidery on the heel, a decision which seems patently absurd when stacked against the bloodthirsty standards of TV, film and video games.
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