Social Encore: Slam dunking sneakers
BY JERMEL-LYNN QUILLOPO / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Some people collect baseball cards, comics, or coins. Many people who are in tune with hip-hop culture collect kicks (i.e. shoes). I have friends who will camp out in front of shoe stores just to get their hands on a coveted pair.
This Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m., you’ll be able to feast your eyes as well as sell and buy shoes no longer on the market during “Dunkxchange” at Loft In Space.
» Where: Loft In Space, 831 Queen St.
“Dunkxchange” got started seven years ago by owner, Curtis Brown, and founder Gary Hughes. Brown said he started collecting shoes around the age of 13 because of his love for Michael Jordan and the game of basketball. His favorite pair of kicks is his Jordan 11’s and he said he owns more than 400 pairs of shoes.
Brown said that when he was in junior high, his mom helped build his collection.
“I remember my mom would go buy them for me from a buddy at the Niketown while I was in school,” he said, “I was the first and only kid in junior high that had them. They were so different at the time and I loved to be different so it made it my favorite … even now nothing else compares.”
According to Brown, “Dunkxchange” is “an event were people can buy trade and sell all kinds of sneakers, clothing, hats, watches you name it. … All things that have to do with fashion, music, art and sneakers.” Wanting to cultivate a stronger a community, both Brown and Hughes wanted people to network by promoting in person shoe transactions.
“We want people to get a feeling of a safe environment to make deals and see things in person instead of doing it over the internet with no human interaction,” said Brown.
Like many items no longer in production, the value goes up over time. Many of these shoes can easily be worth more than double their original retail value. Brown and Hughes wanted to create a safe market for the shoe community and wanted to help discourage those selling counterfeit shoes.
Husband and wife James and Liz Yamilao are what some may call “shoe heads” and are familiar with shoe events like these. Liz has about 50 pairs of shoes, while James said he has so many shoes, he could wear a different pair every day for a year and a half if he wanted.
James Yamilao writes for local clothing company FarmersMarketHawaii. He started collecting shoes around the early 1990’s when he first saw Michael Jordan wearing Air Jordan 5s. James received his first pair of kicks (Air Jordan 6s) as a Christmas gift from his parents when they were living in Japan.
“I was shocked that for the first week. I wore them with a plastic bag around them so the snow wouldn’t get on them. … I used to clean the Jordans every time I’d come home from school.”
Yamilao said Nike has been retroing Jordans and seeing those shoes again bring back a lot of childhood memories.
Liz Yamilao admitted she was a Chuck Taylors kind of girl before she met James — but it didn’t take long until she started collecting herself.
“I was drawn to James’ collection because of how certain shoes had meaning to him,” she said. “Another thing that drew me to sneakers are certain designs & color ways. If I liked a shoe, I would try to get it in different colors.”
She said her favorite pair is her Lebron 8 South Beaches (which is now worth about $500), a pair that her and James have received a lot of attention for when their photo went viral.
“I have my Space Jam XIs that are probably worth $200-250, but the price could change say, if they were deadstock (unworn, never untied, etc) or if they were re-retroing the shoe,” said Liz. “The price of shoes depend on the state of the shoe and what year you bought them in. A lot of shoe heads will always try and get an older retro over a recent release.”
James said that it makes him sort of sick to think about the money that he has spent on collecting shoes.
“I think I could’ve bought a nice Lexus,” he said.
Brown said that he spent a lot of time his childhood in Hawaii and noticed that Hawaii lacks inventory yet has its own unique flavor and has the feeling of Ohana (family). Wanting the blend mainland and local styles together, “Dunkxchange” has teamed up with local companies like Fitted Hawaii, In4mation, and Crooks Hawaii.
James says that Hawaii doesn’t have many shoe events and events like these help expose the shoe culture. It is a good way to learn about sneakers and also a good way to snag shoes that many have been dying to own. Liz and James added that it is also a good way to make new friends.
“It’s really a chance to get to know other shoe heads and make new friends. I see the same names in forums and groups on Facebook all the time, but never meet them in person,” she said.
“What I like is when you see the same people in line at shoe releases and they end up becoming your friends,” said James, “It’s like lining up isn’t lining up and waiting to get your shoes, it’s more like chilling with friends and then getting your shoe. Aloha is still being shown.”
The Yamilaos have already started early with their son Ethan, hoping that he too will appreciate the shoe culture as much as they do. Ethan is probably Hawaii’s little king right now when it comes to infant kicks, because baby boy already has 27 pairs of shoes.
“We started with five booties that look like Jordan retros. … then pairs of Jordans, air maxes, and Lebrons,” said Liz.
“Dunkxchange” hopes to bring more sports inspired events that include basketball shoot outs and a skate contest. Brown said one thing that motivates him to keep promoting events like this all over the nation is to teach people a piece of culture that is often overlooked.
“I hope people see that the culture we support and live is not going to stop. I want people to feel like they learned something about a pair of shoes or opened up to other brands.”
Jermel-Lynn Quillopo is a multi-faceted, energetic individual with experience in both print and broadcast journalism. “Social Encore” aims to tell diverse stories about Hawaii’s food, events and people; share your tips with Jermel via email or follow her on Twitter.