Last week was one hell of a week for sneakerheads in Aotearoa. The worst of the worst has risen to the surface and sucked the life out of many of us for no apparent reason other than dirty bloody greed.
I had no intention of chasing these Panda Pigeons a week ago. Damn, I'm not sure I even really registered that they were releasing until #teamGreedyBugger fired onto action. I certainly didn't expect them to release anywhere that I could get to them and I think you all know by now what I think of the online jumble sale that happens for kicks on the hypetrain.
Blow me over, when I found out that my favourite store in Queenstown was getting them, a lot changed. For the last couple of days I started wondering if anyone would be driving from elsewhere to come and cop them, because, let's face it, the shananigans has been at an all time high with this release.
If you don’t know the back story about the Staple Dunks it’s highly documented across the Internet, in essence though the original shoe released in 2005 as a collab between Jeff Staple and Nike SB caused headlines worldwide as the release turned into a full blown riot. 13 years later, 2 updated designs have been released, an all black version and these, a combination of the black and the original nicknamed the Panda Pigeon.
After two 9am visits to the store this week, just in case they didn't announce the release on their Instagram I was 100% sure that they would be releasing this morning. So, the alarm was set and my second attempt at camping was about to happen before the sun made it above the horizon.
My first attempt, the WC4 drop in AKL a few years back was one of the biggest cluster fucks I've ever witnessed. Not that that was the fault of Nike, nor everyone else who tried to hold it down respectfully, #teamGreedyBugger took vast majority power there and I still don't have those WC4's.
That Thursday morning was different. The gym bunnies stared and looked confused. An early morning office worker pretended to film the weather but really was posting about some sad fuck sitting on a chair outside a skate shop before most people were out of bed. I really did expect someone to turn up. A young asian fella with OG POD's drifted by, looked almost interested and then high tailed away, never to be seen again.
We've had Uncle Rick staying with us for a few weeks. Back in his home town of Birmingham, he's known as Running Rick by all the local skaters as he runs through their park most days, always with a huge smile, boat loads of positivity and motivation. He's become fascinated these last couple of weeks with sneaker culture. He laughed hard out when he came down around 8am to find out what all the fuss was about.
Young Oliver lived in AKL up until a couple of years ago and started skating there at the fine age of 7. He's since moved to HK, relishing the skate scene there and more recently onto Guam. He froths beyond belief about his useless wooden toy and his Instagram is a pleasure to follow.
Discovering that he could wangle a trip to the bowl in the skate shop, he tagged along with Running Rick. He still doesn't quite get the sneaker release thing, however, he is getting 50/50 stalls, rocks to fakie, 5-0 grinds and the odd entry into a feeble.
The staff were helpful beyond belief and their 6 pairs soon went to some very happy customers with no resellers in sight. One pair per customer and no phone orders. Mad props Boardertown, you did this perfectly.
I had a great hour and a half feeling tired and watching Oli get his stoke on and seeing Rick work his way through the skate shoes on display.
All of this rather spectacularly lead into me using that crazy focus stacking technique once I made it home. All in all, it's been a very worthwhile Thursday. The De La's are so comfortable having had their perfect UNDS and now I have the most beautiful pair of sneakers contained in my first ever pink box!
Release day camping also brings along other joys with it. It’s not like you’re going to turn up wearing ‘whatEver’. I’ve had the Nike Dunk SB De La Souls on ice for a few years now, these are the 2014 release, so it’s not quite so long, but I knew they needed to wait.
I copped these from Boardertown when they didn’t have a Queenstown store, the hype was minimal for some reason and I was able to get in a 100% simple phone order and delivery all the way down south.
I’ve spent time with them in hand, and I’ve popped a few photos over the years, but never actually worn them for more than 5 minutes, and certainly never walked properly in them. Dunks have a tendency to crease super easy in the toe box, which is a pet peeve of mine, so as I’m sure you can imagine I was a tad nervous about how these were going to go.
they come from the era that still had the padded tongue, and looking at them now the quality is insane. As for that toe box, after a full 6 hours of wear, there isn’t a crease in sight. I very much hope that I’m going to be able to say the same about the Panda Pigeons.
Shoes not only give me pleasure to place on my feet, they are also my muse for many a photography project.
Once you start taking photographs, your journey never ends. There is also something to learn and a new way to see subjects. I enjoy product photography. I may not be the worlds best, however, I do know that I can hold my own. Getting everything in focus though, that’s something that’s proved a little hard from time to time.
Last week, in the middle of reading about all of this terrible resell activity, I distracted myself from the negativity by learning about the feature on the Nikon D850 which allows the camera to be set to shoot a set of image with different focal lengths. I tried it out, using a few pairs of shoes and a few hours of life disappeared into a wonderful life long learner episode.
The beauty of focus stacking is that you can control where the focus of your image begins and ends. Manually, it’s a fair task to have access to a function that can take the effort out for you is just the best. My practicing lead me to be able to shoot this shot below. The focus begins at the front of the box and ends at the point of the board furthest away from the camera. I just love how wonderfully crisp it is from beginning to end.
The other great thing about sneaker culture is the way that it brings people together. As with all communities, there are good and bad sides. One of the sides that I don’t really like the reseller side. This is where people buy a shoe, then immediately flip it for profit. You can see why they do it, you can often make a few hundred percent profit in less than an hour or so for not so many hours work.
You can also see why them doing this is just shit. I don’t really like people trading off the back of a culture. It feels disrespectful to me. It’s a little conflicting, because consumerism is at the heart of sneakers. From the real early days when small sub cultures used to help identify themselves by what they wore on their feet, this behaviour has grown into a whole culture of its own.
Thanks to the invention of the Internet, us sneakerheads have managed to bring ourselves together. We can track each other down via Instagram and a multitude of Facebook groups. when things happen in sneaker world, it’s fairly easy to find out, and even down south we sometimes get together.
Kevin Downie - one of New Zealands’, if not the worlds most prestigious collectors has been running an exhibition of his collection in Invercargill. Hosted at the Classic Motorcycle Mecca in Invercargill. I’ve been wanting to visit for a wee while, and made the trip down yesterday to meet up with another couple of sneakerheads from Dunedin and Kevin.
I was lucky enough to find another pair of the Panda Pigeons that found itself home to a real collection avoiding the resell market AND a Kid Robot Pigeon, which Kev let us borrow to snap a few shots of.
The exhibition itself warrants a whole story by itself, however, if you want to catch Soled Out, it’s on until 10th February 2019 in Invercargill. It’s incredible, if you like sneakers / shoes / collections, you’ll be more than happy you made the effort to visit.