Written by Gerald Flores (@ImGeraLd)
If you’re Catholic, you must be familiar with Lent. You know, that guilt-inducing season of the year where you atone for sins by giving up sweets, booze, or whatever type of vice you might have.
I like sneakers. I’m a part-time Christian. So, I decided to (kind of) give up sneakers for Lent this year. The honest way to do it would’ve been to abstain from wearing anything with a rubber sole all together. But, fuck that. Having to wear hard bottom shoes for more than a day is like a death sentence for the common sneakerhead. Also, I honestly don’t even own any shoe that’s a non-sneaker. Not a pair of boat shoes, Timberlands, nothing.
So the next best (or worst) thing I could do to myself was to severely restrict my habits. That meant no sneaker shopping, flexing kicks on Instagram, and wearing the same pair of shoes up until Easter Sunday.
When it came to choosing what to wear for this more than 40-day journey, it had to be a pair that was simple and unpronounced. The shoes had to be subtle enough so that it didn’t immediately signal, “I’m a sneakerhead.”
Adidas Stan Smiths are money. They’re clean white low-tops, with very little branding, that could be worn with pretty much anything. If I was looking for a high-quality, generic looking sneaker that would last me at least a month and a half, those were the ones. My dad wore Stan Smiths back in the ‘70s and #menswear bros wear Stan Smiths in the … whatever decade we call the one we’re in right now.
Seven weeks wearing the same sneaker is a long time for one who’s used to wearing a different pair almost every day, or sometimes even twice in the same day. It started out easy enough. I broke my Stans fresh out of the box on Ash Wednesday (March 5, for you non-Catholics) and I was ready to do observe the Lenten season.
It was only a week after until I realized this project was going to be harder than I first imagined. The fresh pair pair I broke out of the box started to give me foot pains. First world problem, I know, but I hadn’t broken them in yet. And as nice as Stan Smiths are, it’s not like they have the most modern technology, when compared to something like a ZX Flux or even a Torsion Allegra. “Well if Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, I can deal with a couple foot cramps,” I thought to myself.
What was really more difficult than what I was wearing on my feet was giving up on buying sneakers. While I was “fasting” from kicks, Nike Store had a massive clearance sale, along with ridiculous restocks. Not to mention all of the weekly releases that I missed out on.
I was barely at the halfway point and I reached a state of sneaker fatigue.
The hardest release for me to pass up was the AJKO 1 that dropped on March 15. I got word that the NBA Store, which is around the corner from the Complex Mag office, had a full size run leftover the Monday after.
That was the most tempted I’ve been to break my Lenten sneaker vows, but I was able to hold off.
It actually turned out good for me. I estimate that I saved around $1,100 these past seven weeks, and I’ll be using that extra cash to find those AJKO 1s on the resale market tomorrow. Or hopefully, god (Michael Jordan), will bless me for my troubles by randomly restocking them sometime this month.
Not only did I save a bit of money, it turned out I also saved a hell of a lot of time. I never realized how many minutes of my life was spent in the morning trying to pick out what sneakers to wear. My weekly routine became sort of automatic because there was no need to deliberate on which of my sneakers hadn’t made it to the weekly Best Kicks in the Office yet.
But shit got real around day 25. I looked around my closet at all of the different sneakers I wanted to wear. I even tried on a few pairs in my room, just to see what it would feel like. It got even worse when I got to the office and saw the piles of deliveries I had been receiving from brands. I really wanted to snap a few Instagram pictures to show my appreciation— let alone, fight the urge for the midday sneaker switch.
I was barely at the halfway point and I reached a state of sneaker fatigue. My thoughts turned to, “I’m really tired of wearing these shoes.” and “Why don’t we just scrap this feature idea and just run some type of Kanye West list instead?”
Luckily I stuck with it and you’re not reading 20 All White Adidas Sneakers We’d Like to See Kanye West Wear on Easter Sunday.
It was through continuing with my promise for Lent that I learned how my bellyaching about sneakers is really only a problem that privileged people have. I was being a bitch. I mean there’s people all around the word who don’t have the luxury of new shoes, or shoes in general, and who am I to complain about having to wear the same pair of shoes over and over?
And I did wear them over and over, and I took pride in them. I literally got my feet wet in them while trudging through two New York City rainstorms. I wore them so much that the picture of Stan Smith’s face on the tongue of the shoe actually started to rub off.
As I wore my Stan Smiths, I realized that they look so much better when they’ve been worn out and lived in. In fact, I first started receiving compliments on my sneakers after I decided to just beat them up.
When you work in sneakers, the first thing people always seem to look are the sneakers you’re wearing. I've always been of the opinion that the sneakers your choose to wear always reflect your personality. In fact, one of the reasons I chose to wear the Stan Smith was because it didn't reflect my personality at all.
Now I'm free to wear whatever I want, I've realized that it's not about what sneakers you wear, but about what you do in the sneakers you wear.