It all started on Nov. 25 when the A Bathing Ape store in New York City announced that it would not be selling its much-hyped Adidas NMD collaboration the following day, due to a mechanical problem with the shop's front door. The brand is opting to put all of its allotted pairs on its webstore. It was just the tip of the iceberg around these shoes and, sadly, the madness around the release turned out to be a microcosm of the state of sneaker “culture” in 2016.
The cancellation of in-store release is nothing new. It all started with the New York Police Department stopped the launch of Supreme’s collaboration with Nike on the Air Foamposite One, which brought on riot-like conditions on Lafayette Street in New York City in 2014. Supreme has only sold its higher-profile Nike shoes—notably the Air Jordan V, Air Force 1, and Air Max 98—through its online shop. But for BAPE to not drop its Adidas sneaker at its NYC location, it felt a bit odd. The Tokyo store had decided to do a traditional line for the NMDs, and there were easily over a 1,000 people in queue for the shoes. This was mind-boggling to some, but Bape has typically had large turnouts for its hyped products in the past. But here’s where things start to get crazy. I’m talking about the type of situations that make you say “Fuck sneakers and everything they stand for right now.”
It’s a well-known fact that not every pair of sneakers a store releases gets sold to the public in the conventional fashion. The store employees often get first dibs on the shoes—which is totally fine, by the way—and then the rest are meant to be sold to the public. But there are people who often convince store managers—usually by throwing them extra cash—to sell them sneakers out the backdoor before everyone else has a chance to get their hands on them. This practice typically tends to occur with wider-distributed Air Jordans, but it also happened to the Bape x Adidas NMDs. Allegedly, an unknown reseller posted a picture of himself with over 100 pairs of the sneakers in bags from an Adidas store, of all places.
There’s long been a suspicion that in-store raffles for limited-edition sneakers have been rigged in the favor of friends of retail outlets, but seeing the proof makes you never want to shop at an establishment ever again. It feels nearly impossible to get a pair of shoes online these days, due to the use of bots and crashing websites, but seeing such an unfair advantage happen at brick-and-mortar storefronts is disheartening on many levels, especially if it’s coming directly from a footwear brand.
The only thing that’s more depressing than striking out on a pair of sneakers is seeing the violence these pieces of cloth and rubber bring out in people. There’s been too many disturbing incidents around sneaker release the past few years and the Bape NMDs presented yet another depressing example. At the release at the Adidas store in Vancouver, a shirtless man was reportedly whipping his belt at people in the crowd, and that was only the half of it. The man was then tackled from behind by someone in the crowd before being swarmed by horde of bystanders recording the incident on their phones. Too often, these outbursts happen at sneaker campouts, and the line for the Bapes was no exception.
As of now, Bape’s New York City store has not yet released the sneakers, although the brand’s Twitter account announced that she shoes would be sold online. The resale value on the NMDs has also gone over $1,200, according to sneaker stock market website StockX.
Look, it’s 2016 and sneaker culture, or whatever we want to call it, is bigger than it’s ever been. Nearly everyone is trying to get a sneaker on the day it comes out, whether they have a passion for limited-edition footwear or not. It’s awful, though, that it’s bringing out the worst in people. There’s no need for any of this nonsense to happen over a pair of sneakers, especially a sneaker like the NMD that’s seen 100-plus different versions in the past 12 months. Black Friday was enough of a mess this year, and the last thing sneaker enthusiasts needed was what went down with these Bape x Adidas sneakers.