The most important sneaker co-sign of the year happened last week, but it didn’t come from a rapper, basketball player, or magazine. It came from a 38-year-old singer/songwriter who lives in Montana: John Mayer.
Mayer posted on Snapchat that the Acronym x Nike Air Presto was “the sneaker of year,” and his declaration reverberated through the Internet. Part of the reason that Mayer’s opinion held weight was because the shoes were really, really good, but also because he’s the tastemaker’s tastemaker; the sneakerhead’s sneakerhead; a man whose viewpoint on street culture has been respected for a decade.
Although his music may be closer associated to free-spirited, suburban college students, Mayer’s made a transformation from a flip-flop-wearing guitarist to a sneaker and Japanese streetwear enthusiast.
This isn’t the first time Mayer has given his stamp of approval on a pair of sneakers, either. Almost a year ago to his Acronym x Presto co-sign, he also expressed his admiration for the Acronym x Nike Lunar Force 1s, saying, "WHAT ARE THEEEEEEESE? Stop yelling and I'll tell you. NIKE x ACRONYM LUNAR FORCE 1. I'm a head for the *right* sneakers..."
Mayer’s nose for the “right” sneakers is exactly what makes him worth listening to when he has something to say about footwear or style in general. It’s no secret that he’s a Visvim aficionado, with one of the biggest collections of the Japanese brand in the world. The album cover for his 2013 album, Paradise Valley, looked like a photo from the brand’s lookbook. But Mayer’s taste for the life’s finer things -- usually of the streetwear variety, but, holy shit, have you seen his Rolex collection? -- has been well-documented over the years.
The year was 2006 and the second wave or resurgence of streetwear was at its peak. Hype blogs such as Hypebeast and Highsnobiety had just launched the previous year, Pharrell was rapping about A Bathing Ape sneakers, and the niche but growing street culture community was obsessed with all-over-print hoodies, Evisu jeans, and Nike SB sneakers. In the eye of that confetti-colored storm, Mayer connected with Just Blaze to perform together at ALIFE in New York City, then one of the most important sneaker boutiques in the world. This moment was not only representative of the diverse landscape that was streetwear a decade ago, but it also cemented Mayer into a statesman for a culture that was trying to define itself.
Around the same time, Mayer had his own blog on Honeyee.com, a Japanese streetwear blog owned by Hiroshi Fujiwara. He’d give his opinion on sneakers and clothing brands he was into, around the same time he was spotted wearing sneakers such as the Concepts x New Balance 999 “The Kennedy,” Nike Air Max 90 “Infrared,” Nike Air Stab, Parra x Nike Air Max 95, and Nike Terminator “Georgetown.” What’s impressive about Mayer’s footwear choices isn’t that he had good shoes on his feet, but his taste level was his own. Too many times, celebrities are dressed by stylists and aren’t able to formulate sense of how their clothing choices reflect their personal takes on how they want to look.
Although Mayer isn’t your typical streetwear influencer -- he’s not a rapper, didn’t grow up in a major city, wasn’t around when people were buying Adidas Superstars at Jew Man’s in New York City -- he has a genuine view on everything that makes up this world that allows his views to hold weight. That’s why people should pay attention when he says the Acronym x Nike Air Presto is the sneaker of the year.
Look: John Mayer sings chill, guitar-heavy songs that, on their own, would typically have little crossover appeal to a hip-hop audience, but he chooses to make music with Frank Ocean, do songs with Kanye West and Common, have artists like Futura in his music videos, and work with Japanese streetwear brands such as Neighborhood. He’s even jokingly been able to make Kirkland’s Costco sneakers an Internet trend. Simply put, he’s a rich guy who spends his money the right way and isn’t afraid to have fun when it comes to sneakers. He’s something that, when it comes to sneakers, clothes, and working with your friends, we should aspire to be. And it’s why him liking the Acronym x Nike Air Presto, two brands he’s been wearing for years, matters.