Trends: Ugh, Those Stink! I’ll Give You 1,000 for Them.
Dispatches, April 1997
Trends: Ugh, Those Stink! I’ll Give You $1,000 for Them.
The latest Western icon to take Japan by storm: gamy old Nikes
“For many, many hours,” confides Masato Kakamu, a Japanese student at the University of Washington, “my friends will stare at them, whispering, ‘Oh, they are so beautiful.'”
Etchings? Fabergë eggs? No, fetid sneakers. Over the past year, old Nikes like Kakamu’s fluorescent orange 1980 Roadrunners have become objets d’art among Japan’s twentysomething bad boys and girls. Mint-condition rarities, such as the actual high-tops Mr. T wore in Rocky III, can fetch upward of $5,000 in Tokyo’s chic Harajuku district, and
“In the early days, Nike was quite a radical company,” notes Tace Chalfa, whose Seattle resale shop, The New Store, is the largest American exporter of vintage sneaks. “The shoes have grunge appeal.” Connoisseurs, Chalfa explains, are a bit like cigar snobs–“picky and arrogant”–and while illicit Cuban imports are not their thing, they do support their own brand of shadowy
Still, to some, any remnant of Nike’s humble origins is a relic worthy of sacrifice. Chalfa recently spent four months trying to find a pair of platform-soled boots that Nike once crafted for rocker Alice Cooper. “I tracked the shoes to a guy in Montana,” says Chalfa, “but he’d already chucked them.” Unlucky for him, to be sure, but also further proof that any weekend warrior
Photograph by Rex Rystedt