I blame my dad.
He worked at MG Rover (before they went bankrupt) but he also bought and sold sneakers as a side hustle. Once or twice a year we would fly to New York, stay with my aunt in Jamaica, Queens, and fill both suitcases with heat. Back then, the latest sneakers were released in the US months before they were released in Europe, which meant we always had a jump on the competition. Driving around Birmingham with a suitcase full of trainers in the boot of my dad’s Rover 75 may not sound glamorous, but I still remember being the coolest kid in school when I put on my Nike Shox and TNs in PE.
Fast forward 10 years, and the force is still strong. By day (and most nights) I’m a lawyer in the City, and the rest of the time I’m a die-hard sneakerhead. At college and university, I’d pretty much retired from the sneaker game because, let’s face it, it’s an expensive hobby. My student budget just about stretched to rice and pasta, so there was no room for Air Jordan 5s.
After I left university and started working at a law firm, though, my swimming instructor started telling me about his sneaker collection. I pretended not to be interested, I’d given up the game, but I wanted to know how things had changed and whether I had it. My instructor explained that these days you can’t be a true sneakerhead unless you have a pair of Yeezys, and they’re impossible to get; challenge accepted. Like an addict relapsing, I became obsessed (again) with sneakers, and two weeks later I celebrated my first pair of Yeezys
Now I’m a litigator, which means I help banks, hedge funds and Fortune 500 companies win in court, but as any sneakerhead will know, avoiding weekly Ls on limited releases is the hardest game in town; and working in the City makes it much, much harder.
First, you just have to get used to being the only sneakerhead in the room. Most people in the City are (very) old men, and the only pair of trainers they own are a pair of old running shoes they probably left in one of their beach houses. That means that when dress-down Friday rolls around, my Air Jordan retros usually don’t go down too well. Some people disapprove, which is fine, but others just stare as if they’re some kind of alien life form. Yes, these are the people in the depressing category of people who never watched Space Jam.
If that isn’t enough, try getting in position for a hyped release when you’re working in an office like mine. I’m sure there are millions of professionals across the country like me who have a standing ‘Strategy Meeting’ in their diary every Thursday morning for the weekly Supreme drop. I think I’ve now finally come to terms with the fact that buying sneakers while you’re at work is just too difficult. Once you’ve pressed refresh on Yeezy Supply so many times your office IP address has been blocked, or you’ve had to quickly minimise your screen as if you're doing something NSFW when your boss walks in, you realise it's best to leave some activities at home.
There’s no doubt though that the most annoying, frustrating, ridiculous thing about being a sneakerhead and working in the City is the notorious in-store raffle. How does anyone with a job take part in these stupid things? For starters, I don’t think I’ve had a lunch break since 2011, so the idea of telling my boss “I’m stepping away for an hour to queue at FootPatrol with some 16-year-olds for the latest pair of NMDs” is a non-starter. If any stores are reading this, please stop doing these. Some of us have to earn a living to buy your merchandise, which is hard enough as it is.