You can go ahead and call it a comeback if you want — NYC streetwear brand Recon is returning from hiatus, and papa's got a brand-new bag. We're talking sneakers, and we're talking a big launch for the Global Hi model: special editions from Stash, Futura and Wane (available now for pre-order on Finish Line), and a whole mess of colorways waiting to drop next (not to mention all sorts of things that you might see in some of the photos here). We caught up the brains behind the operation — NYC legends Stash and Udi Avshalomov — to talk about the rebirth.
I think it helps to have a little background about you, and your background on sneakers from you before we get into Recon.
Udi: I’m not really good in talking about myself — I’ll give you someone who can give a little bit of my background. I think he’s one of your friends.
Stash: Hey, it’s Stash. Just creating with the man, doing our afternoon sesh.
Then you can tell me, where did your association with Udi start?
Stash: Broadway Sneakers, probably. I met this dude when he was the local dude who knew everything we didn’t know about footwear. He definitely blessed me. Early on. Whenever I needed to go on a trip and needed some shit nobody had, I definitely went down and saw Udi on Broadway.
On top of that, his vast knowledge from being in the retail industry, when he applied that to wholesale you can just imagine how that worked, he already came with the knowledge.
Recon — we haven't heard much from there lately.
Stash: Recon has been at the forefront of streetwear since ’98, and took a hiatus a few years back. To preserve its heritage we didn’t want to get too far deep into where the streetwear industry was going. My mentality said I’d rather leave on a high note than let it sour. We just stepped off the scene, but we didn’t go anywhere. I didn’t want the milk to turn into yogurt, so we put it back in the fridge, you know what I’m sayin’? Until Udi’s inception of bringing it into the footwear game, I had no real desire to move forward.
So what was the motivation to bring it into footwear?
Stash: Just the opportunity, really, just completing the story, coming full circle. He can bring something to the table — he’s been a friend...
I never was a sneakerhead, but I definitely made sure that the culture that had to eat at my restaurant had a full menu. —Udi Avshalomov
Udi: I tell you, it’s funny you called us together — we pretty much grew up… Are we done with my background? I tell you what, I never know how to explain it, because all I was was an immigrant who was trying to make a living. But at the same time, before I fell in love with girls, I fell in love with sneakers. And that put more food on my table than girlfriends did. And I found myself a loving slave of retail. And why do I say “loving slave”? I did it with an at-will contract. Meaning I had no problem living and eating and shitting and sleeping in my stores because again, it helped my family eat when we were in survival mode. At the same time, when something gives you the right to eat you kind of fall in love with it, and that’s when I fell in love with sneakers — not that I was ever a sneakerhead, I never was a sneakerhead, I never collected sneakers, but I definitely made sure that the culture that had to eat at my restaurant had a full menu. Whether it was something at $9.99 to $100 — fresh ain’t determined by price, fresh is determined by the individual.
And obviously in New York, it runs the gamut like that.
Udi: Well, I’ll tell you, New York, the way I made my name for myself is, I never made a name for myself by having a pretty store. I just made a name for myself by having pretty products. So I think a lot of the kids like Stash, who were the true connoisseurs of the game, the true inceptors of the game, the guys who defined — the top guys when they entered my store I knew I was dealing with the Zagat of sneakers. I knew if I could satisfy Zagat, I could probably make a little bit of a better living than just survival. Because the guys I used to compare Stash to, I called them my family of Zagat. I lived and died by them. They weren’t caring about my fixturing, they weren’t caring about my lighting, they just cared about the content that was on the table. What were they gonna eat? These kids ate sneakers for a living.
But basically what happened, why we created footwear, when me and Stash got together — me and Stash got together like ,”all right, we’re 40 now, so what’s up?” It was basically on the “what’s up?” conversation, he was looking at me that I was already getting my way out of retail and getting my way hardcore into wholesale whether I do production for a lot of people — I made the first J. Crew sneakers, all the Wallabees for Ghost — if you look at my track record I did a lot of experimenting before I learned the cobbler language of making shoes. I sat with Stash one day, and for us no matter what he was showing me, if he was showing me a t-shirt, somehow we always got to the conversation about “yo, did you see so-and-so’s kicks?” “Did you see Nike’s new shit?” “Did you see adidas’s new shit?” Because we always paid homage to the fathers and grandfathers who put food on our plate. I think the inception of making Recon sneakers was almost like, you know what, I’m talking to him about my new office and about going to China, and again I would get into a conversation of “you can’t believe these fucking adidases I seen on the plane.” For us it almost rolled into, “you know what, we should probably make what we really love.” And that’s what it really came down to. We’re known underdogs and that’s what keeps us fed, but it’s an expression of what created us. Of the product that created us. Although Stash was always an artist and I was always a store owner, it always came down to, “yeah, but my kicks are fresher than yours.”
That’s what it always comes down to when you strip the rest away.
Udi: Yeah, and you know what, I think that’s representative of our new America, new generation entrepreneurs. I’ve been a partner with Jay Z for over four years ever since I did — more, since ’97 ever since I did the Air Force 1 with the Rockafella logos he’s been a customer at my stores — I can sit with him in the most fancy restaurant and no matter what it gets to the conversation of “where’d you get those?” Or like, “did you see these shits?” No matter what happens, we’re junkies to the game.
So at the end of the day it turned into, I think it was just organic or naturally that it would come to be one day where me after doing retail for 20 years and licensing for five years that a baby should be born. And I think Stash, outside of doing his growth and success as an artist of the street culture and an interpreter of footwear through all the major brands whether it was Japan — Nike, adidas, Sebago, Gravis, DC Shoes — I don’t think there’s a sneaker brand that ever spoke to the lifestyle community in the world of artistry that didn’t have to get some kind of certificate from him. Or at least he’ll come up with a free pair of shoes, shit. Anyway...
it’s not what you drop with, it’s what you follow up with. —Stash
It started out almost like some kind of Abbott and Costello kind of thing.
Stash: Now it’s Tom and Jerry.
Udi: Yeah, I think it was pretty much a Tom and Jerry type of thing. I think it would almost be stupid for people to know we were sitting in an office for more than two weeks together, and not think we were gonna come up with a sneaker. Recon never needed me for the blessings of integrity, Recon never needed me for the blessings of a dope shirt. I think the what it needed to come full circle was a pair of kicks. I think that’s where we came up with — I think it took us less than 30 seconds to come up with it, because it’s naturally what we think about every day of the week for years. So it’s 30 seconds to come up with it, but it’s a lifetime of efforts.
It was just something — I think it’s Stash’s form of expression as an artist on what he did with the story of it, bringing is presence to the table to also bless the palette of the launch.
Which is Futura....
Udi: And Wane. And I think what I had to do — Stash told me, “yo, I can help you, but you gotta make it. You gotta go to China…” I had to deal with the factories and the Chinese and the molds, the language I always loved as a business, as a capitalist — I never thought if blue was hot. I was like “how do they make it blue?” And that’s what happened. Then we actually showed them around to some people within the sneakerhead community, and out of nowhere one day I get a phone call — when was it, after the Magic show? I went to Magic to show the third collection of the Rocawear sneakers, and I kept a little duffle bag that was Stash’s. We showed it to — it didn’t matter who they were, if they were nationwide or other parts of the world, on just their opinions. And then I think it was the second night, I get a call to my room from someone at the management of FinishLine, and they were like “we heard you’re doing this brand, and we’d like to take a look at it.” They know a lot more than us about what’s going on across the country — they see much more than us, much bigger guys. I let them take a peek, and they saw it, they were kind of blown away, and they offered to help us to launch it, which we’re pretty grateful for.
Aside from the collaboration ones, it looks like you have quite the lineup ready to go.
Stash: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of styles to complement it, too. I think Udi’s point too, just off the cuff, it’s not what you drop with, it’s what you follow up with. So I think as exciting as it is for the launch, the major impact will be what he follows it up with, which will cement Recon’s place in the footwear industry. I think we’re fortunate to have inherited an audience within our community, but I think it’s only going to broaden with the styles and the overall mentality that Udi and the brand wants to come with. We’re psyched to be down, and it’s nice to see it organically growing again.
Are you already working on the next step of this?
Udi: We just now came from a place on something that we’re working on — figure out the combination that you’re speaking to, so we definitely gotta come with something insane, because definitely we don’t want to lose what we’ve worked for for so many years. Because at the end of the day, it’s easy to make a dollar, it’s your reputation that you can’t replace.
Stash: Just on a side note, obviously I can speak for myself, but having Wane and Futura involved is because of the humility and the longevity of their careers, that we’re all accessible, and that’s what made Recon what it is, is that we are accessible. And we’ll continue to be so for our audience; whatever we do independently, but collectively for Recon we all stand by it and support where Udi’s going — you know, each one of us, whether you see us together or independently, all feel the same way. It’s nice to have a band of brothers that believe in the same thing